Just months after their discovery, gravitational waves coming from the mergers of black holes are shaking up astrophysics. _ By Natalie Wolchover, Quanta Magazine
Mysterious high-energy particles known as cosmic rays zip through space at a wide range of energies, some millions of times greater than those produced in the world’s most powerful atom smasher. Scientists have long thought cosmic rays from inside our galaxy come from supernova explosions, but a new study has fingered a second source: the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way. With this new result, the search for cosmic ray origins, which has frustrated scientists for more than 100 years, has taken an unexpected new twist._ Science AAAS
THE SECRETS OF PLANET FORMATION are becoming harder to keep. In November, using a new observing method, scientists snapped the very first pictures of an extrasolar planet still gathering up mass from its dusty, planetary nursery. Called LkCa 15 b, this immature gas giant has opened a window into the poorly understood process of how planets form.
In January, The Kavli Foundation spoke with three planetary formation experts. The discussion covered promising new ways of studying how giant planets form and whether they can explain the rise of our entire Solar System.__The KAVLI Foundation
Hubble Space Telescope astronomers have been able to pick up the faint infrared glow of a giant planet located 170 light-years away from Earth. Not only is it glowing, but also rhythmically flickering as the planet spins on its axis like a top._HUBBLESITE
One hundred years after Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves, scientists have finally spotted these elusive ripples in space-time. In a highly anticipated announcement, physicists with the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) revealed on 11 February that their twin detectors have heard the gravitational ‘ringing’ produced by the collision of two black holes about 400 megaparsecs (1.3 billion light-years) from Earth._nature
LIGO signal reveals first observation of two massive black holes colliding, proves Einstein right
Jennifer Chu • MIT News Office
A team of Australian researchers used two Maunakea-based observatories – Gemini North and W. M. Keck Observatory – to discover why some galaxies are clumpy rather than spiral in shape and it appears that low spin is to blame. _Keck Observatory
Astronomers have used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope to study the atmospheres of ten hot, Jupiter-sized exoplanets in detail, the largest number of such planets ever studied. The team was able to discover why some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected – a long-standing mystery._ESA
ESO’s VISTA survey telescope has spied a horde of previously hidden massive galaxies that existed when the Universe was in its infancy. By discovering and studying more of these galaxies than ever before, astronomers have, for the first time, found out exactly when such monster galaxies first appeared._ESO
Scientific Article: We construct a 3D map of the spatial density of OB stars within 500 pc from the Sun using the Hipparcos catalogue and find three large-scale stream-like structures that allow a new view on the solar neighbourhood. The spatial coherence of these blue streams and the monotonic age sequence over hundreds of parsecs suggest that they are made of young stars, similar to the young streams that are conspicuous in nearby spiral galaxies._ Astronomy & Astrophysics
[…] By observing the sky as it is today, and peering back in time using the Hubble and Herschel telescopes, the team have shown that a large proportion of galaxies have undergone a major ‘metamorphosis’ since they were initially formed after the Big Bang […] _ Cardiff University
Solar physicists have captured the first direct observational signatures of resonant absorption, thought to play an important role in solving the “coronal heating problem” which has defied explanation for over 70 years._NAOJ
Skygazers at northern latitudes are familiar with the W-shaped star pattern of Cassiopeia the Queen. This circumpolar constellation is visible year-round near the North Star. Tucked next to one leg of the W lies a modest 5th-magnitude star named HD 219134 that has been hiding a secret.