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Quasar outburst revises understanding of universe, quasars
An outburst from a distant quasar known as PKS 1441+25 in April of this year gave astronomers at the gamma-ray telescope VERITAS an opportunity to measure the density of the optical 'fog' that lies between the quasar and Earth and to deduce the surprising separation of the high-energy emission from the black hole that drives it. (2015-12-15)

NASA's Fermi satellite kicks off a blazar-detecting bonanza
A long time ago in a galaxy half the universe away, a flood of high-energy gamma rays began its journey to Earth. Observations provide a surprising look into the environment near a supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center and offer a glimpse into the state of the cosmos 7 billion years ago. (2015-12-15)

The XXL Survey: First results
Astronomy & Astrophysics is publishing a special feature on the first results of the XXL Survey. XXL is a large survey of the X-ray sky with the XMM-Newton ESA observatory. Its goal is to detect a few hundreds of clusters at a look-back time when the age of the Universe was about half its present value (z~1). (2015-12-15)

Hubble reveals diversity of exoplanet atmosphere
Astronomers have used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope to study the atmospheres of ten hot, Jupiter-sized exoplanets in detail, the largest number of such planets ever studied. The team was able to discover why some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected -- a long-standing mystery. The results are published in Nature. (2015-12-14)

Missing water mystery solved in comprehensive survey of exoplanets
A survey of 10 hot, Jupiter-sized exoplanets conducted with NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes has led a team to solve a long-standing mystery -- why some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected. The findings offer new insights into the wide range of planetary atmospheres in our galaxy and how planets are assembled. (2015-12-14)

Mystery of missing exoplanet water solved
Exeter academics led an international team of experts in analyzing observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope. Their combined power gave a detailed study of the atmospheres of 10 hot-Jupiter exoplanets -- the largest number ever collectively studied -- in a bid to understand their atmospheres. (2015-12-14)

NASA tests ICESat-2's laser aim
Close enough doesn't cut it in the spacecraft assembly cleanroom at NASA Goddard's Space Flight Center, where engineers are building an elevation-measuring instrument to fly on the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 or ICESat-2. Recently, engineers tested the instrument's pinpoint accuracy. (2015-12-10)

VLT revisits a curious cosmic collision
The spectacular aftermath of a 360 million year old cosmic collision is revealed in great detail in new images from ESO's Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory. Among the debris is a rare and mysterious young dwarf galaxy. This galaxy is providing astronomers with an excellent opportunity to learn more about similar galaxies that are expected to be common in the early Universe, but are normally too faint and distant to be observed by current telescopes. (2015-12-09)

Alternative stellar lifestyle: Common, curious, solved at last
Half of all stars are in binaries -- pairs of stars that orbit each other. Half of binary stars orbit so close that gravitational interaction significantly affects their evolution and demise. Today, scientists confirmed one of the possible explanations for a common group of exceptions: the blue stragglers. (2015-12-08)

ALMA spots monstrous baby galaxies cradled in dark matter
Astronomers discovered a nest of monstrous baby galaxies 11.5 billion light-years away using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The young galaxies seem to reside at the junction of gigantic filaments in a web of dark matter. These findings are important for understanding how monstrous galaxies like these are formed and how they evolve in to huge elliptical galaxies. (2015-12-04)

Earth-sized telescope finds clue to black hole growth
For the first time, astronomers have detected evidence of magnetic fields near Sagittarius A, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, taking the study of black hole growth from theoretical expectation to empirical fact. (2015-12-03)

NASA space telescopes see magnified image of the faintest galaxy from the early universe
Astronomers harnessing the combined power of NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have found the faintest object ever seen in the early universe. It existed about 400 million years after the big bang, 13.8 billion years ago. (2015-12-03)

Event Horizon Telescope reveals magnetic fields at Milky Way's central black hole
For the first time, astronomers have detected magnetic fields just outside the event horizon of the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. (2015-12-03)

What is the universe made of?
Matter known as ordinary corresponds to only 5 percent of the Universe. Numerical simulations made it possible to predict that the rest of this ordinary matter should be located in the large-scale structures that form the 'cosmic web'. A team led by the University of Geneva observed this phenomenon. The research shows that the majority of the missing ordinary matter is found in the form of a very hot gas associated with intergalactic filaments. (2015-12-02)

'Fast radio burst' sheds new light on origin of these extreme events
A team of astronomers using the Green Bank Telescope uncovered the most detailed record ever of an FRB. (2015-12-02)

Exiled exoplanet likely kicked out of star's neighborhood
The Gemini Planet Imager and the Hubble Space Telescope have revealed details of an unusual exoplanet and its star that suggest the planetary system underwent a violent episode in its early history that ejected the planet to a distance equivalent to 16 times the Earth-Pluto distance and roiled the comet belt closer to the star. This resembles what many people think happened in our solar system's past. (2015-12-01)

NASA's Webb 'Pathfinder Telescope' successfully completes second super-cold optical test
Recently, the James Webb Space Telescope's 'pathfinder telescope,' or 'Pathfinder' completed its second super-cold optical test that resulted in the first checkout of specialized optical test equipment designed to illuminate the telescope's optics through to the instrument focal planes, and the procedures used to operate this test equipment. (2015-11-30)

NASA's Webb Space Telescope receives first mirror installation
NASA has successfully installed the first of 18 flight mirrors onto the James Webb Space Telescope, beginning a critical piece of the observatory's construction. (2015-11-30)

Simulating the jet streams and anticyclones of Jupiter and Saturn
A University of Alberta researcher has successfully generated 3-D simulations of deep jet streams and storms on Jupiter and Saturn, helping to satiate our eternal quest for knowledge of planetary dynamics. The results facilitate a deeper understanding of planetary weather and provide clues to the dynamics of Earth's weather patterns evidenced in jet streams and ocean currents. (2015-11-30)

Scientists spot jets from supermassive black hole snacking on a star
Scientists have discovered a hungry black hole swallowing a star at the centre of a nearby galaxy. Astrophysicist Dr Gemma Anderson, from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), said this is an extreme event in which the star gets ripped apart. (2015-11-26)

Aging star's weight loss secret revealed
A team of astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope has captured the most detailed images ever of the hypergiant star VY Canis Majoris. These observations show how the unexpectedly large size of the particles of dust surrounding the star enable it to lose an enormous amount of mass as it begins to die. This process, understood now for the first time, is necessary to prepare such gigantic stars to meet explosive demises as supernovae. (2015-11-25)

Next-generation infrared detectors win NSF funding
Scientists at Rochester Institute of Technology and Raytheon Vision Systems are getting closer to developing infrared detectors grown on silicon wafers for ground-based astronomy. Other application areas -- such as homeland security, remote sensing and biomedical imaging -- could also benefit from the technology. (2015-11-23)

Ultrastable materials investigated in depth
Within the scope of an ESA project, the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt in Braunschweig measured the thermal expansion of ceramics needed for space telescopes such as ESA's Herschel as well as that of single-crystal silicon in the temperature range from 266 °C to 20 °C with high accuracy. The latest issue of 'Physical Review B' contains a report dedicated to the latter of these two subjects. (2015-11-23)

Forming planet observed for first time
An international team of scientists in Australia and the United States has captured the first-ever images of a planet in the making. The accumulation of dust and gas particles onto a new planet -- the process by which the planet continues to form and grow -- has been directly observed for the first time. None of the nearly 1,900 planets previously discovered and confirmed outside our Solar System are in the process of formation. (2015-11-18)

UA researchers capture first photo of planet in making
Capturing sharp images of distant objects is difficult, largely due to atmospheric turbulence, the mixing of hot and cold air. But University of Arizona researchers captured the first photo of a planet in the making, a planet residing in a gap in LkCa15's disk. Of the roughly 2,000 known exoplanets, only about 10 have been imaged -- and long after they had formed, not when they were in the making. Results were published in Nature. (2015-11-18)

The birth of monsters
ESO's VISTA survey telescope has spied a horde of previously hidden massive galaxies that existed when the universe was in its infancy. By discovering and studying more of these galaxies than ever before, astronomers have, for the first time, found out exactly when such monster galaxies first appeared. (2015-11-18)

James Webb Space Telescope 'wings' successfully deployed
Recently inside the clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., engineers successfully completed two deployments for the James Webb Space Telescope's 'wings' or side portions of the backplane structure that fold up. (2015-11-16)

Queen's University Belfast lead research milestone in predicting solar flares
An international team of researchers, led by Queen's University Belfast, has devised a high-precision method of examining magnetic fields in the sun's atmosphere, representing a significant leap forward in the investigation of solar flares and potentially catastrophic 'space weather.' (2015-11-16)

NASA's Fermi satellite detects first gamma-ray pulsar in another galaxy
Researchers using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have discovered the first gamma-ray pulsar in a galaxy other than our own. The object sets a new record for the most luminous gamma-ray pulsar known. (2015-11-12)

The glowing halo of a zombie star
The remains of a fatal interaction between a dead star and its asteroid supper have been studied in detail for the first time by an international team of astronomers using the Very Large Telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile. This gives a glimpse of the far-future fate of the Solar System. (2015-11-11)

New exoplanet in our neighborhood
Scientists have discovered a new exoplanet that, in the language of 'Star Wars,' would be the polar opposite of frigid Hoth, and even more inhospitable than the deserts of Tatooine. But instead of residing in a galaxy far, far away, this new world is, galactically speaking, practically next door. (2015-11-11)

Oldest stars found near Milky Way center
Astronomers have discovered the oldest known stars, dating from before the Milky Way Galaxy formed, when the Universe was just 300 million years old. The stars, found near the center of the Milky Way, are surprisingly pure but contain material from an even earlier star, which died in an enormous explosion called a hypernova. (2015-11-11)

Astronomers eager to get a whiff of newfound Venus-like planet
The collection of rocky planets orbiting distant stars has just grown by one, and the latest discovery is the most intriguing one to date. The newfound world, although hot as an oven, is cool enough to potentially host an atmosphere. If it does, it's close enough (only 39 light-years away) that we could study that atmosphere in detail with the Hubble Space Telescope and future observatories like the Giant Magellan Telescope. (2015-11-11)

Ancient stars at the center of the galaxy contain 'fingerprints' from the early universe
Astronomers have discovered some of the oldest stars in the galaxy, whose chemical composition and movements could tell us what the universe was like soon after the Big Bang. (2015-11-11)

Dark matter and particle acceleration in near space
The CALorimetric Electron Telescope (CALET) investigation will rely on the instrument to track the trajectory of cosmic ray particles and measure their charge and energy. The instrument is optimized for measuring electrons and gamma rays, which may contain the signature of dark matter or nearby sources of high-energy particle acceleration. (2015-11-09)

GMRT discovers a dying, giant radio galaxy 9 billion light years away!
An international team of astronomers has discovered an extremely rare radio galaxy -- a giant, with an extent of 4 million light years caught in its dying phase at an incredible distance of 9 billion light years. This discovery, made by combining observations of the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, with other telescopes in space and on the ground, enables us to study properties of the magnetic field in the region between galaxies in the distant universe. (2015-11-06)

Hubble uncovers the fading cinders of some of our galaxy's earliest homesteaders
Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to conduct a 'cosmic archaeological dig' at the very heart of our Milky Way galaxy, astronomers have uncovered the blueprints of our galaxy's early construction phase. (2015-11-05)

Out with the old, in with the new: Telescope mirrors get new shape
Telescope mirrors of old basically came in one shape: they were round and fit nicely inside a tube. No longer. An emerging optics technology now allows these light-gathering devices to take almost any shape, potentially providing improved image quality over a larger field of view -- all in a smaller package. (2015-11-05)

First observations from SEPIA
A new instrument attached to the 12-meter Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope at 5,000 meters above sea level in the Chilean Andes is opening up a previously unexplored window on the Universe. The Swedish-ESO PI receiver for APEX (SEPIA) will detect the faint signals from water and other molecules within the Milky Way, other nearby galaxies and the early universe. (2015-11-04)

Astrosat's Soft X-ray Telescope sees first light
The Soft X-ray focusing Telescope (SXT) onboard Astrosat, India's first satellite dedicated to astronomical observations, saw its first light from an astronomical source in a distant galaxy, on Oct. 26. The SXT is India's first X-ray telescope based on doubly reflecting grazing incidence optics, containing 320 mirrors assembled together in 2 sets of 40 co-axial shells. The mirrors and the precision structure for assembling them were built at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Mumbai. (2015-10-31)

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