ALMA

  • On February 23, 1987, a supernova lit up the night sky, visible to the naked eye for the first time in almost 400 years. Now, more than 30 years on astronomers say they’ve finally found the neutron star that was produced in the explosion.
  • Astronomers have discovered a galaxy with strange clouds orbiting its supermassive black hole. Rather than all circling in the same direction, NGC 1068 has two rings that orbit in opposite directions – and that may answer a long-standing mystery.
  • A galaxy seems like a hard thing to miss – let alone 39 of them – but that’s exactly what a team of astronomers has just discovered. So where have these countless stars been hiding? About 11.5 billion light-years away, in a part of the light spectrum that’s invisible to many telescopes.
  • Saturn sports an impressive ring system, but Uranus also has some, although they’re usually too faint to see without a powerful telescope. Striking new images shows these rings in very clear detail thanks to thermal imaging, allowing astronomers to measure their temperature for the first time.
  • Roughly 4.6 billion years ago, all the planets in our solar system began to form in a huge disk of dust and gas that swirled around the Sun. Now astronomers have spotted the same kind of thing happening around a nearby young star, which could give us a better understanding of planet formation.
  • A team of astronomers has used a global array of telescopes to peer through the fog and capture some of the clearest radio images yet of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. And it may indicate that the object just happens to be pointing directly at Earth.
  • The galaxy W2246-0526 sits 12.4 billion light-years from Earth – almost the entire radius of the observable universe – and is the most luminous galaxy ever discovered, with the brightness of 350 trillion Suns. Now, astronomers have found that W2246-0526 is cannibalizing three neighboring galaxies.
  • Elements like oxygen, carbon and nitrogen weren’t very common until the first stars had fired up, burnt out and exploded. Now, astronomers using ALMA have detected the most distant – and hence, earliest – signature of oxygen, in a galaxy 13.28 billion light-years away.
  • Astronomers have discovered two enormous clusters of ancient galaxies that existed when the universe was only 1.5 billion years old. By observing these protoclusters, astronomers can better understand the nature of the early universe, and how it may have evolved into its current state.
  • Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) observatory in Chile have imaged a very active black hole at the center of spiral galaxy M77, which is apparently feasting on the universe’s largest donut.
  • With intense gravity and radiation, the region around the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy was thought to be too harsh for star formation. But now almost a dozen young rebellious stars have been spotted there anyway, triggering a rethink of our understanding of how stars are born.
  • ​The ESA has some good news and bad news for extraterrestrial enthusiasts. The good news is that a molecule thought to be a biomarker for life has been found in a comet and around a young star. The bad news is that the molecule isn’t the clear indicator of life that it was once believed to be.