apr 022013
 
Black Hole Wakes Up and has a Light Snack

  Astronomers have watched as a supermassive black hole woke up from a decades-long slumber to feed on a low-mass object – either a brown dwarf or a giant planet – that strayed too close. A similar feeding event, albeit on a gas cloud, will soon happen at the black hole at the center of our own [continue reading]

mrt 122013
 
The Third Closest Binary Star System Found

  A pair of newly discovered stars is the third-closest binary star system to the Sun, according to a paper that will be published in Astrophysical Journal Letters. The duo is the closest star system discovered since 1916. The discovery was made by Kevin Luhman, an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State [continue reading]

feb 132013
 
Gaia will Reveal the Secrets of Ultracool Dwarfs

  Among the hundred billion stars which can be observed in the Milky Way, there is a group of stars, the so-named ultracool dwarfs, defined as stars with a temperature below 2500 K, which includes ultracool dwarfs and brown dwarfs. It is a really interesting group: they are the most ancient objects in our Galaxy [continue reading]

jan 212013
 
Auroras Also Occur Outside our Solar System

  University of Leicester planetary scientists have found new evidence suggesting auroras – similar to Earth’s Aurora Borealis – occur on bodies outside our Solar System. Auroras Bigger Than the Entire Earth: This image shows X-ray auroras observed by the Chandra X-ray Observatory overlaid on a simultaneous optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope of [continue reading]

nov 302012
 
Brown Dwarfs May Host Rocky Earth-Like Planets

  Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have for the first time found that the outer region of a dusty disk encircling a brown dwarf contains millimeter sized solid grains like those found in denser disks around newborn stars. The surprising finding challenges theories of how rocky, Earth-size planets form, and suggests that rocky planets [continue reading]

nov 212012
 
Planets Around White and Brown Dwarfs Probably Don't Support Life

  Astronomers find planets in strange places and wonder if they might support life. One such place would be in orbit around a white or brown dwarf. While neither is a star like the Sun, both glow and so could be orbited by planets with the right ingredients for life. A comparison between the white [continue reading]