Deep Sky Astronomy & Telescopes

Galactic Interaction: Rivers of Stars

January 16, 2017

Discovered as recently as 1994, the Sagittarius dwarf spheroidal galaxy is a satellite of the Milky Way, and one with an interesting history. One of the nearest of the dwarf galaxies, the Sagittarius dwarf lies 25 kiloparsecs (roughly 82,000 light years) from the center of the Milky Way, and has passed through the disk of […]

Read the full article →

Pinpointing a Fast Radio Burst

January 5, 2017

Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are problematic. Since their discovery about a decade ago, the question has been their place of origin. These transient pulses last no more than milliseconds, yet they emit enormous energies, and we’ve had only the sketchiest idea where they came from. Now we learn, from an announcement at the 229th meeting […]

Read the full article →

Vera Rubin (1928-2016)

December 28, 2016

When Vera Rubin went to Cornell University to earn a master’s degree, she quickly found herself immersed in galaxy dynamics, lured to the topic by Martha Stahr Carpenter. The interest, though, was a natural one; it drew on Rubin’s childhood fascination with the motion of stars across the sky. You could say that motion captivated […]

Read the full article →

PanSTARRS: Digital Sky Survey Data Release

December 20, 2016

A 1.8 meter telescope at the summit of Haleakalā on Maui is the first instrument in use at the Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System) observatory. Pan-STARRS recently completed a digital survey of the sky in visible and infrared wavelengths that began in May of 2010, a project that surveyed the entire sky […]

Read the full article →

Tidal Disruption by Black Hole?

December 13, 2016

The supernova considered to be the brightest ever recorded may have been evidence of something even more exotic. The explosion was caught by the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASAS-SN), the event itself dubbed ASASSN-15h. Yesterday we looked at what happens to a star roughly as massive as the Sun as it goes through […]

Read the full article →

Glimpsing Our Solar System’s Future

December 12, 2016

The star L2 Puppis (HD 56096), a red giant in the direction of the southern constellation Puppis (the Poop Deck), is the subject of interesting new investigations using data from the ALMA array in Chile. The star appears to belong on the asymptotic giant branch of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, a category dominated by highly evolved […]

Read the full article →

Thought Experiment: The Asteroid Belt Astronomical Telescope

December 5, 2016

Could laser light be used to shape and polish an asteroid to high optical standards? That’s the question raised in an imaginative essay in Physics Today that posits the creation, a century from now, of the Asteroid Belt Astronomical Telescope (ABAT). It’s science fiction today, part of the series of speculations that the magazine has […]

Read the full article →

Fast Radio Bursts as Cosmological Probes

November 17, 2016

One of the brightest Fast Radio Bursts seen since the phenomena were first detected in 2001 has been observed by the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales. Maybe it should come as no surprise that Parkes was involved, given that most of the 18 FRBs that have so far been detected have been found […]

Read the full article →

Into the ‘Brown Dwarf Desert’

November 11, 2016

A newly discovered brown dwarf dubbed OGLE-2015-BLG-1319 is significant on several fronts, not the least of which is how it was found. Not only are we dealing here with another instance of gravitational microlensing, where the light of a background star is affected by a foreground object in ways that give us information about the […]

Read the full article →

A Dazzling Galactic Encounter

November 4, 2016

Sometimes deep sky objects are so striking that I have no choice but to write about them, even if they weren’t on the agenda for today. 114 million light years from Earth in the direction of Canis Major we see an interacting pair of galaxies. Michele Kaufman (Ohio State University) and colleagues have found arcs […]

Read the full article →