Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

The earliest stages of planet formation

(PhysOrg.com) -- Small dust particles in a disk of gas around a young star, according to current models, gradually coagulate during the first million years until kilometer-sized objects are formed. These in ...

Mar 26, 2012
4.7 / 5 (3) 0 | with audio podcast

Runaway planets zoom at a fraction of light speed

Seven years ago, astronomers boggled when they found the first runaway star flying out of our Galaxy at a speed of 1.5 million miles per hour. The discovery intrigued theorists, who wondered: If a star can ...

Mar 22, 2012
4.6 / 5 (19) 22 | with audio podcast

The origin of the moon's craters

(PhysOrg.com) -- Moon's craters, together with samples of the surface returned during the Apollo program, tell the story of impacts from two different populations of small bodies. The first rocky collection ...

Mar 19, 2012
4.3 / 5 (3) 0 | with audio podcast

Ultra-luminous x-ray sources

(PhysOrg.com) -- An ultra-luminous X-ray source (ULX) emits more radiation in the X-rays than do a million suns at all wavelengths. ULXs are rare: Most galaxies, including our own Milky Way, have none, and ...

Mar 19, 2012
5 / 5 (7) 1 | with audio podcast

Neptune on tiptoes

(PhysOrg.com) -- The formation and development of the solar system, long a topic of study for philosophers and scientists, is today often used as a case study for the formation and development of planetary ...

Mar 14, 2012
4.3 / 5 (3) 0 | with audio podcast

The origins of a torus in a galactic nucleus

(PhysOrg.com) -- Quasars are among the most energetic objects in the universe, with some of them as luminous as ten thousand Milky Way galaxies. Quasars are thought to have massive black holes at their cores, ...

Mar 13, 2012
4.3 / 5 (3) 0 | with audio podcast

Possible water in the atmosphere of a super-Earth

A "super-Earth" is an exoplanet (a planet around another star) whose mass is between about two and ten Earth-masses. Planets larger than this are closer to Uranus and Neptune in size (and perhaps in other ...

Mar 05, 2012
4.6 / 5 (10) 1 | with audio podcast

Black hole came from a shredded galaxy

(PhysOrg.com) -- Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have found a cluster of young, blue stars encircling the first intermediate-mass black hole ever discovered. The presence of the star cluster ...

Feb 15, 2012
4.6 / 5 (14) 13 | with audio podcast

Black holes and star formation

(PhysOrg.com) -- It has long been recognized that galaxy mergers or even close interactions can play a vital role in shaping the morphology of galaxies. One way they can do so, it is thought, is by triggering ...

Feb 09, 2012
4.1 / 5 (7) 7 | with audio podcast

Distorting the lens

(PhysOrg.com) -- One of the most bizarre predictions of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity is the existence of back holes, objects that are so dense that not even light can escape from their gravitational ...

Feb 09, 2012
5 / 5 (3) 5

Stellar embryos

(PhysOrg.com) -- Stars form as gravity coalesces the gas and dust in interstellar clouds until the material produces clumps dense enough to become stars. But precisely how this happens, and whether or not ...

Jan 23, 2012
5 / 5 (4) 6 | with audio podcast

Black hole jets

(PhysOrg.com) -- Black holes are irresistible sinks for matter and energy. They are so dense that not even light can escape from their gravitational clutches. Massive black holes (equal to millions or even ...

Jan 16, 2012
4.6 / 5 (7) 6 | with audio podcast

A universal law for star formation

(PhysOrg.com) -- Star formation is studied by astronomers not only because it produces new stars and planetary systems. It also generates copious amounts of ultraviolet light that heats dust which in turn ...

Jan 09, 2012
4.7 / 5 (3) 0 | with audio podcast