The Universe is pervaded by a mysterious form of matter, dubbed dark matter, about five times more abundant than the ordinary matter we are familiar with. Its existence in galaxies was robustly established in the 1970s. Scientists now obtained for the first time a direct observational proof of the presence of dark matter in the innermost part our Galaxy, the Milky Way.
In March last year the BICEP2 team claimed to have observed, for the first time, the effects of gravitational waves in cosmic background radiation. In September Planck demonstrated that the signal observed might be the result of 'contaminants' due to the polarized radiation produced by our Galaxy. A new paper confirms the Planck observation: even following a more accurate analysis (and the adoption of new instruments) there is still evidence of contaminants.
Galaxies can die early because the gas they need to make new stars is suddenly ejected, research published today suggests. Most galaxies age slowly as they run out of raw materials needed for growth over billions of years. But a pilot study looking at galaxies that die young has found some might shoot out this gas early on, causing them to redden and kick the bucket prematurely.
Cassiopeia A, or Cas A for short, is one of the most well studied supernova remnants in our galaxy. But it still holds major surprises. Astronomers have generated a new 3-D map of its interior using the astronomical equivalent of a CAT scan. They found that the Cas A supernova remnant is composed of a collection of about a half dozen massive cavities - or 'bubbles'.
Two phenomena known to inhibit the potential habitability of planets - tidal forces and vigorous stellar activity - might instead help chances for life on certain planets orbiting low-mass stars, astronomers have found.
The two hemispheres of Mars are more different from any other planet in our solar system. Non-volcanic, flat lowlands characterise the northern hemisphere, while highlands punctuated by countless volcanoes extend across the southern hemisphere. Although theories and assumptions about the origin of this so-called and often-discussed Mars dichotomy abound, there are very few definitive answers. Geophysicists are now providing a new explanation.
The astrophysics research group at Washington University in St.Louis built an instrument that is capable to measure the polarization properties of X-rays. This instrument, once flown in space, can be used in a novel approach to study the most extreme objects in the Universe, such as black holes and neutron stars.
Like the gaping mouth of a gigantic celestial creature, the cometary globule CG4 glows menacingly in this new image from ESO's Very Large Telescope. Although it appears to be big and bright in this picture, this is actually a faint nebula, which makes it very hard for amateur astronomers to spot. The exact nature of CG4 remains a mystery.
Fresh from giving the January Rossi Prize Lecture, the astrophysicists who discovered 2 enormous radiation bubbles in the center of our galaxy discuss what they may tell us about the Milky Way and how they could help in the search for dark matter.
Astronomers have discovered that the ring system that they see eclipse the very young Sun-like star J1407 is of enormous proportions, much larger and heavier than the ring system of Saturn. The ring system - the first of its kind to be found outside our solar system - was discovered in 2012.