mrt 022013
The Mysterious Structure of a Stellar-Mass Black Hole

  Like an immense donut (or toroid) that expands daily. That’s how Jesús Corral-Santana, a researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), describes the odd – hitherto unknown – structure of the binary system Swift J1357.2-0933, consisting of a ‘normal’ star and a stellar-mass black hole (which feeds off its companion star). The [continue reading]

feb 282013
The Mystery of a Super-Fast Spinning Supermassive Black Hole

  Two X-ray space observatories, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton, have teamed up to measure definitively, for the first time, the spin rate of a black hole with a mass 2 million times that of our Sun.  This artist’s concept illustrates a supermassive black hole with millions to [continue reading]

jan 282013
Possible Birth Of A Quasar Witnessed

  Sighting may help improve understanding of the early Universe   Scientists in Australia believe they’ve identified a quasar in the process of lighting up, for the very first time. This discovery could help scientists answer lingering questions about how these exceptionally bright celestial bodies form, and how they helped the ancient Universe shape today’s galaxies. [continue reading]

nov 182012
Magnetism Combines with Gravity to Shape Black Hole's Environment

  With a well-deserved reputation as monstrous destructive machines, black holes owe their power to huge quantities of mass that warp space and time until the gravitational force they command sucks in everything – even light. No surprise that astrophysicists have long considered gravity the dominant player in shaping the accretion disks of dust and [continue reading]

nov 102012
Symmetric Jets of Planetary Nebulae Explained

  Odd pair of aging stars sculpt spectacular shape of planetary nebula   Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have discovered a pair of stars orbiting each other at the center of one of the most remarkable examples of a planetary nebula. The new result confirms a long-debated theory about what controls the spectacular and symmetric appearance [continue reading]

nov 102012
Galaxies without Stars...

  The problem of the missing hydrogen in the early Universe   Hydrogen is the most common element in the Universe, making up 75% of all normal matter and the content of stars. Although stars themselves are hot, they can only form out of the coldest gas when a massive cloud of hydrogen can collapse [continue reading]