Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Diagnosing a black hole flare

(Phys.org) -- 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 ...

May 07, 2012
5 / 5 (4) 0 | with audio podcast

X-ray quasars, and a distance record

Quasars are thought to be galaxies whose bright nuclei contain massive black holes around which disks are actively accreting matter. The accretion process releases vast amounts of energy, often including a ...

Apr 30, 2012
3 / 5 (3) 0 | with audio podcast

A new paradigm for active galactic nuclei

(Phys.org) -- Seyfert galaxies are similar to normal galaxies like our own Milky Way except in one critical respect: their nuclei are fantastically bright, in extreme instances as luminous as 100 billion suns. ...

Apr 24, 2012
5 / 5 (3) 4 | with audio podcast

The earth is not at rest

(Phys.org) -- The Earth is not at rest. It orbits the Sun, which in turn orbits the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, which in turn moves within the Local Group of Galaxies - a collection of about fifty four ...

Apr 18, 2012
4.5 / 5 (19) 4 | with audio podcast

Some stars capture rogue planets

(Phys.org) -- New research suggests that billions of stars in our galaxy have captured rogue planets that once roamed interstellar space. The nomad worlds, which were kicked out of the star systems in which ...

Apr 17, 2012
4.8 / 5 (11) 16 | with audio podcast

1000 days of infrared wonders

(Phys.org) -- For the last 1000 days the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC), aboard NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, has been operating continuously to probe the universe from its most distant regions to our local ...

Apr 16, 2012
5 / 5 (4) 0

Measuring magnetic fields

(Phys.org) -- Polarized light is a familiar phenomenon, as people who prefer polarized sunglasses can testify. The electric field in a beam of light can vibrate either left-right or up-down, and the scattering ...

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

Laboratory astrophysics

(PhysOrg.com) -- The term "laboratory astrophysics" might sound like an oxymoron; after all, how can equipment in a small room possibly simulate cosmic effects seen in the vastness of space. But in fact, much ...

Apr 02, 2012
5 / 5 (1) 0

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