Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune all have rings, leaving Pluto as the only outer planet without rings. But PSI Senior Scientist Henry Throop would love to change that. Using both giant telescopes on Earth, and a small spacecraft currently on its way to Pluto, Throop is searching for signs that Pluto may have rings orbiting it, just like its neighbors. Astronomers expect that Pluto could well have rings, they’ve just never been discovered. Until now astronomers haven’t found any rings. Throop is working with NASA’s New Horizons mission, which is sending a spacecraft to Pluto, to arrive in 2015.
Astronomers using the partially completed ALMA observatory have found compelling evidence for how star-forming galaxies evolve into ‘red and dead’ elliptical galaxies, catching a large group of galaxies right in the middle of this change. According to lead investigator Dr. Carol Lonsdale of the North American ALMA Science Center at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Virginia, despite ALMA’s great sensitiviy to detecting starbursts, they saw nothing, or next to nothing, which is exactly what they hoped it would see. For these observations, ALMA was tuned to look for dust warmed by active star-forming regions.
ESA officials announced that the High Frequency Instrument (HFI), one of two sensors aboard the European Space Agency’s Planck spacecraft, ran out of its vital coolant as planned on January 14. Without the coolant, the instrument can’t detect the faint cosmic microwave background (CMB), the remnant radiation left over from the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. According to researchers the instrument did its job, completing five full-sky surveys of the CMB since the spacecraft’s May 2009 launch. Planck’s mission called for a minimum of two such surveys. Researchers have already announced some initial results from the Planck mission.
Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have solved a longstanding mystery on the type of star, or so-called progenitor, which caused a supernova seen in a nearby galaxy.
Astronomers have discovered the most distant developing galaxy cluster known to date, shedding light on the formation of large-scale structure in the early universe. Researchers used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to find five tiny but bright galaxies clustered together 13.1 billion light-years from Earth.
An extremely hot, massive young galaxy cluster, the largest ever seen in the distant universe, has been studied by an international team using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Atacama Desert in Chile along with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Atacama Cosmology Telescope.
Astronomers have created the largest scale rendering of dark matter across the universe, revealing a picture of the invisible stuff thought to represent 98 percent of all matter in the universe.
In this year astronomers could discover planets in other solar systems, also amateur astronomers discovered new asteroids, comets, and some comet fly at minimum distance from our planet.
Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have discovered that one of the most distant galaxies known is churning out stars at a shockingly high rate.