Heavens

(Boston) – Boston University's Center for Space Physics (CSP) announced today that it will participate in NASA's next mission to Mars to study the planets atmosphere and climate history – particularly the history of water on the planet.

MADISON — Chemical clues from a comet's halo are challenging common views about the history and evolution of the solar system and showing it may be more mixed-up than previously thought.

A team led by a Yale University astronomer has discovered the least luminous, most dark matter-filled galaxy known to exist.

The galaxy, called Segue 1, is one of about two dozen small satellite galaxies orbiting our own Milky Way galaxy. The ultra-faint galaxy is a billion times less bright than the Milky Way, according to the team's results, to be published in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal (ApJ).

Scientists at Durham University have found the "missing link" between small and super-massive black holes.

For the first time the researchers have discovered that a strong X-ray pulse is emitting from a giant black hole in a galaxy 500 million light years from Earth.

The pulse has been created by gas being sucked by gravity on to the black hole at the centre of the REJ1034+396 galaxy.

A long-standing scientific belief holds that stars tend to hang out in the same general part of a galaxy where they originally formed. Some astrophysicists have recently questioned whether that is true, and now new simulations show that, at least in galaxies similar to our own Milky Way, stars such as the sun can migrate great distances.

There appears to be an upper limit to how big the universe's most massive black holes can get, according to new research led by a Yale University astrophysicist.

WASHINGTON -- Data from satellites and observatories around the globe show a jet from a powerful stellar explosion witnessed March 19 was aimed almost directly at Earth.

NASA's Swift satellite detected the explosion - formally named GRB 080319B - at 2:13 a.m. EDT that morning and pinpointed its position in the constellation Bootes. The event, called a gamma-ray burst, became bright enough for human eyes to see. Observations of the event are giving astronomers the most detailed portrait of a burst ever recorded.

Berkeley -- A flash of light that blinded even small telescopes six months ago was the brightest astronomical explosion ever observed - visible to the naked eye despite originating halfway across the universe.

The gamma-ray burst, catalogued as GRB 080319B, was the result of a massive star's explosion 7.5 billion years ago that sent a pencil-beam of intense light on a direct collision course for Earth. It is the only known gamma-ray burst to have had a visible component bright enough to see with the naked eye.

Berkeley -- Eta Carinae, the galaxy's biggest, brightest and perhaps most studied star after the sun, has been keeping a secret: Its giant outbursts appear to be driven by an entirely new type of stellar explosion that is fainter than a typical supernova and does not destroy the star.

GRB 080319B was so intense that, despite happening halfway across the Universe, it could have been seen briefly with the unaided eye (ESO 08/08). In a paper to appear in the 11 September issue of Nature, Judith Racusin of Penn State University, Pennsylvania (USA), and a team of 92 co-authors report observations across the electromagnetic spectrum that began 30 minutes before the explosion and followed it for months afterwards.