apr 272013
Record-Breaking Pulsar Shows Einstein Was Right — So Far

  Astronomers have used ESO’s Very Large Telescope, along with radio telescopes around the world, to find and study a bizarre stellar pair consisting of the most massive neutron star confirmed so far, orbited by a white dwarf star. This strange new binary system allows tests of Einstein’s theory of gravity — general relativity — [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]

feb 222013
Distribution of Binaries in Young Star Cluster Explained

  Gravity remains the dominant force on large astronomical scales, but when it comes to stars in young star clusters the dynamics in these crowded environments cannot be simply explained by the pull of gravity. NGC 1818 is a very young globular cluster located in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Based on the populations of the different spectral classes [continue reading]

dec 012012
‘Dark Core’ in Galaxy Cluster May Not Be So Dark After All

  Astronomers were puzzled earlier this year when NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope spotted an overabundance of dark matter in the heart of the merging galaxy cluster Abell 520. This observation was surprising because dark matter and galaxies should be anchored together, even during a collision between galaxy clusters. These composite images taken by two different [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]

sep 292012
The First Glimpse of Black Hole Launchpad

  Using a continent-spanning telescope, an international team of astronomers has peered to the edge of a black hole at the center of a distant galaxy. For the first time, they have measured the black hole’s “point of no return” – the closest distance that matter can approach before being irretrievably pulled into the black [continue reading]