Stellar (and Planetary) Formation Near Milky Way's Supermassive Black Hole Possible, New Study Suggests

An artist’s illustration of the vicinity of the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way galaxy, known as Sagittarius A* . Astronomers have discovered a population of more than 150 massive young stars (shown as blue dots) in recent years that orbit within 2 light-years from the black hole. Newer observational […]

Astronomers Detect Complex Organics Around Nearby Young Star; Produce Them in Simulated Conditions in the Lab

Artist’s impression of the protoplanetary disk surrounding the young star MWC 480. Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA, have detected the complex organic molecule methyl cyanide in the outer reaches of the star’s protoplanetary disk, where comets are believed to form. This discovery suggests that complex organic chemistry and potentially the […]

New Study Finds Unusual Mathematical Pattern in Cosmic Radio Bursts

A dramatic night-time image of the 64-m Parkes radio telescope in Australia, under the splenor of the Milky Way. The iconic telescope has detected during the last decade a total of 10 mysterious cosmic radio flashes, known as ‘fast radio bursts’. A new study now suggests that these astrophysical sources exhibit a surprising and […]

Astronomers Observe Cosmic Fast Radio Burst in Real Time, Yet Mystery of Their Origin Deepens

A schematic illustration of the Parkes radio telescope receiving the polarised signal from the distant fast radio burst FRB 140514, the first one to be discovered by astronomers in real-time. Image Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions

Detective novels aside, astronomy and astrophysics could well be considered as the next best occupation for anyone who loves […]

They Came From Outer Space! The Mystery of the Fast Radio Bursts

Artist’s impression of a fast radio burst appearing in the sky above the 64-m Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia. A handful of these elusive cosmic radio flashes, whose exact origin remains unknown, have been detected during the last decade. Image Credit: CSIRO/Harvard/Swinburne Astronomy Productions

In 2007, David Narkevic, then a physics and political science […]

Of Alien Life and Intelligence: Are We Ready for Contact? (Part 3)

A new study cautions that humanity isn’t yet ready to contact any extraterrestrial intelligence, while proposing that SETI should not be involved in transmitting any radio signals to other civilisations that might be out in the Universe. How accurate is this view? Image Credit: José Antonio Peñas/Sinc

“Imagine how foolish you would feel if […]

Of Alien Life and Intelligence: Angels and Demons (Part 2)

Looking up at the night sky we have mostly imagined other intelligent civilisations in the Universe as being either humanity’s entirely benevolent, wise teachers or its malevolent conquerers. How possible is it to make contact with just such types of civilisations? Image Credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

“Life, even cellular life, may exist out yonder in […]

Of Alien Life and Intelligence: The Limits of Perception (Part 1)

The Very Large Array of radiotelescopes in Socorro, N.M. Radiotelescopes are being used for more than half a century in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Is this means of communication also employed by other intelligent civilisations, and, if so, could we understand and perceive their presence? Image courtesy of NRAO/AUI and Photographer Kelly Gatlin; […]

Probing the Point of No Return: The Event Horizon Telescope

A computer-generated image depicting the event horizon around a black hole. The material that is trapped by the black hole’s gravity is accreted around the event horizon, creating a “ring” that astronomers call the event horizon’s “shadow.” The Event Horizon Telescope aims to image the “shadow” of Sagittarius A*, a supermassive black hole lying […]

Chandra Telescope Observes Impressive Pulsar Racing Away From Ancient Supernova

An extraordinary jet trailing behind a runaway pulsar is seen in this composite image that contains data from Chandra (purple), radio data from the ACTA (green), and optical data from the 2MASS survey (red, green, and blue). The pulsar—a spinning neutron star—and its tail are found in the lower right of this image. The […]