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Tag: Astronomers

Astronomers observe most-distant supermassive black hole yet discovered

Astronomers observe most-distant supermassive black hole yet discovered

Science
Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Astronomers have spied the most-distant supermassive black hole yet discovered using the Magellan Telescopes at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.The black hole is positioned at the center of a quasar, the massive, highly luminous accretion disks found at the center of many galaxies. The quasar's light traveled some 13 billion light-years before reaching the Magellan Telescopes.The new observations -- detailed in the journal Nature -- reveal the black hole as it was just 690 million years after the birth of the universe.Scientists were surprised by the black hole's tremendous mass, 800 million times the mass of the sun."Gathering all this mass in fewer than 690 million years is an enormous challenge for theories of supermassive black hole growth," Eduardo Bañados, an as
Astronomers observe one of the oldest galaxies in the universe

Astronomers observe one of the oldest galaxies in the universe

Science
Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Astronomers have observed the second most distant dust-filled, star-forming galaxy in the cosmos. The galaxy was spotted using the Large Millimeter Telescope, the most powerful telescope of its kind.The LMT is positioned at the top of Sierra Negra, the fifth tallest peak in Mexico, and jointly operated by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Mexico's National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics.The newly imaged galaxy was likely one of the earliest star-forming galaxies in the universe."The Big Bang happened 13.7 billion years ago, and now we are seeing this galaxy from 12.8 billion years ago, so it was forming within the first billion years after the Big Bang," Amherst astrophysicist Min Yun said in a news release. "Seeing an object within the first b...
Astronomers may have found solar system's first observed interstellar object

Astronomers may have found solar system's first observed interstellar object

Science
Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Astronomers are tracking what they believe may be the first observed interstellar asteroid or comet to travel through Earth's solar system, NASA said.The space agency said the object is less than a quarter mile in diameter and is traveling "remarkably fast." They're not sure what exactly it is.Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, said the agency has been "waiting for this day for decades.""It's long been theorized that such objects exist -- asteroids or comets moving around between the stars and occasionally passing through our solar system -- but this is the first such detection. So far, everything indicates this is likely an interstellar object, but more data would help to confirm it," he added.The University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS 1 teles...
Astronomers detect comets outside the Milky Way

Astronomers detect comets outside the Milky Way

Science
Oct. 27 (UPI) -- An international team of researchers has identified six extra-galactic comets, or exocomets, outside the Milky Way. The discovery was assisted by amateur astronomers.The distant ice balls, roughly the size of Halley's Comet, were spotted orbiting a small star 800 light-years from Earth. They were documented using transit photometry -- the first time the technique has been used to identify comets.Transit photometry describes the measurement of light dimming as objects pass across the face of a luminous object, like a star. The dimming can reveal the presence of planets and other orbital objects.In recent years, the improved precision of astronomical instruments has allowed scientists to measure even the slightest dimming of distant stars. The six comets -- detailed this wee...
Astronomers detect Freon-40 around infant stars, comet

Astronomers detect Freon-40 around infant stars, comet

Science
Oct. 2 (UPI) -- With the help of a powerful telescope and space probe, astronomers have detected traces of methyl chloride, or Freon-40, surrounding infant stars and the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.Freon-40, also known as chloromethane, belongs to a class of molecules called organohalogens. The radio telescopes at the ALMA observatory in Chile are the first to detect an organohalogen in interstellar space. The compound was found within several young star clusters located 400 light-years away.Analysis of new data collected by the ROSINA instrument on ESA's Rosetta probe also revealed the presence of methyl chloride on comet 67P, the comet upon which ESA's Philae lander crashed."ROSINA was able to capture some of the molecules around the comet, separate them by mass, and count them with ...