aug 292012
Binary White Dwarfs Produce Gravitational Waves

  A team of astronomers led by researchers from The University of Texas at Austin has confirmed the emission of gravitational waves from the second-strongest known source in our galaxy by studying the shrinking orbital period of a unique pair of burnt-out stars. Their observations tested Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity in a new [continue reading]

jul 232012
Quasars Have Turned Down the Radio, And the Lights

  A new study reveals the behavior of quasars in both radio and optical light over the past ten billion years, and it seems they have become progressively more considerate of their fellow cosmic residents. Artist’s conception of a quasar. In the hearts of many distant galaxies, monsters lurk, in the form of supermassive black [continue reading]

jul 042012
Oh, Baby! A Rapidly Spinning Protostar Shows Off Her X-ray Spots

  X-ray observations have revealed something curious about the young star that illuminates McNeil’s Nebula, a glowing jewel of cosmic dust in the Orion constellation: The object is a protostar rotating once a day, or 30 times faster than the sun. The stellar baby also has distinct birthmarks—two X-ray-emitting spots, where gas flows from a [continue reading]

mei 262012
The Anatomy of a Stellar Outflow

  Astronomers used to think that star formation simply involved the gradual coalescence of material under the influence of gravity. No longer.  A Hubble image of a jet of emission from a young star (Herbig-Haro 111). A new paper reports that infrared spectra of a jet has uncovered a rich trove of diagnostic emission lines [continue reading]

mei 052012
Diagnosing a Supermassive Black Hole Flare

  Black holes can come in a wide range of masses. Some, with only about one solar mass, result from the supernova death of a massive star, while those at the center of galaxies (called supermassive black holes) have millions or even billions of solar masses. Supermassive black holes are relatively famous because they are [continue reading]