Using the prolific planet hunting Kepler spacecraft, astronomers have discovered 1,235 candidate planets orbiting other suns since the Kepler mission’s search for Earth-like worlds began in 2009.
To find them, Kepler monitors a rich star field to identify planetary transits by the slight dimming of starlight caused by a planet crossing the face of its parent star. In this remarkable illustration, all of Kepler’s planet candidates are shown in transit with their parent stars ordered by size from top left to bottom right. Read more
Astronomers said they had snared an image of what may be the oldest galaxy ever seen, a starry cluster that came into being when the universe was still a baby.
The tiny smudge of light captured by the orbiting Hubble telescope took 13.2 thousand million years to reach Earth, which means the galaxy was born some 480 million years after the Big Bang that created the cosmos.
It would take 500,000 high-definition TVs to view it in its full glory. Astronomers have released the largest digital image of the night sky ever made, to be mined for future discoveries.
It is actually a collection of millions of images taken since 1998 with a 2.5-metre telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. The project, called the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, is now in its third phase, called SDSS-III.
Altogether, the images in the newly released collection contain more than a trillion pixels of data, covering a third of the sky in great detail.
“This is one of the biggest bounties in the history of science,” says SDSS team member Mike Blanton of New York University in New York City. “This data will be a legacy for the ages.”