news 2020



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Astronomy / Space - 21.12.2020
TESS dates an ancient collision with our galaxy
TESS dates an ancient collision with our galaxy
A single bright star in the constellation of Indus, visible from the southern hemisphere, has revealed new insights on an ancient collision that our galaxy the Milky Way underwent with another smaller galaxy called Gaia-Enceladus early in its history. An international team of scientists led by the University of Birmingham adopted the novel approach of applying the forensic characterisation of a single ancient, bright star called ν Indi as a probe of the history of the Milky Way.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 15.12.2020
How heavy is Dark Matter? Scientists radically narrow the potential mass range for the first time
How heavy is Dark Matter? Scientists radically narrow the potential mass range for the first time
Scientists have calculated the mass range for Dark Matter - and it's tighter than the science world thought. Their findings - due to be published in Physical Letters B in March - radically narrow the range of potential masses for Dark Matter particles, and help to focus the search for future Dark Matter-hunters.

Astronomy / Space - 15.12.2020
Sussex students among scientists to spot 700 million new stars and space objects
Sussex students among scientists to spot 700 million new stars and space objects
Two Sussex students are among scientists from across the world to have catalogued almost 700 million new astronomical objects in the Dark Energy Survey, which is the most detailed survey ever taken of the dark sky. Astronomical objects include stars, planets, moons, asteroids and comets. Post-graduate researchers Reese Wilkinson and David Turner joined Professor Kathy Romer at the Cerro Tololo observatory on a mountain in Chile to take part in the survey.

Astronomy / Space - 03.12.2020
Gaia: scientists take a step closer to revealing origins of our galaxy
An international team of astronomers, led by the University of Cambridge, announced the most detailed ever catalogue of the stars in a huge swathe of our Milky Way galaxy.

Astronomy / Space - 03.12.2020
Scientists peer into the 3D structure of the Milky Way
Scientists from Cardiff University have helped produce a brand-new, three-dimensional survey of our galaxy, allowing them to peer into the inner structure and observe its star-forming processes in unprecedented detail. The large-scale survey, called SEDIGISM (Structure, Excitation and Dynamics of the Inner Galactic Interstellar Medium), has revealed a wide range of structures within the Milky Way, from individual star-forming clumps to giant molecular clouds and complexes, that will allow astronomers to start pushing the boundaries of what we know about the structure of our galaxy.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 29.10.2020
Einstein’s zoo: LIGO and Virgo confirm gravitational waves from 50 cosmic collisions
The LIGO and Virgo Collaborations, which includes researchers from the University of Birmingham, have announced a further 39 gravitational-wave events, bringing the total number of confident detections to 50. These 50 events include the mergers of binary black hole, binary neutron stars and, possibly, neutron star-black holes.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 29.10.2020
LIGO and Virgo announce new detections in updated gravitational-wave catalogue
The publication of a new catalogue of gravitational wave detections from the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration is providing valuable new insight into the workings of the universe. The catalog contains 39 new signals from black-hole or neutron-star collisions detected between April 1 and October 1, 2019, which more than triples the number of confirmed detections since the first detection of gravitational waves in September 2015.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 12.10.2020
Death by Spaghettification: Scientists Record Last Moments of Star Devoured by a Black Hole
A rare blast of light, emitted by a star as it is sucked in by a supermassive black hole, has been spotted by scientists using telescopes from around the world. The phenomenon, known as a tidal disruption event, is the closest flare of its kind yet recorded, occurring just 215 million light-years from Earth.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 01.10.2020
Detection of gravitational wave ’lensing’ could be some way off
Gravitational wave scientists looking for evidence of 'lensing', in which the faintest gravitational wave signals become amplified, are unlikely to make these detections in the near future according to new analysis by scientists at the University of Birmingham. A team in the University's School of Physics and Astronomy and the Institute for Gravitational Wave Astronomy has analysed currently available gravitational wave data to predict that these elusive signals are likely to remain undetected by the instruments currently operated by the LIGO and Virgo Collaboration.

Astronomy / Space - 30.09.2020
Investigating the impact of planet collisions
Our astronomers ran hundreds of simulations to see the effect of different impacts on rocky planets with thin atmospheres. Credit: Jacob Kegerreis. Did you know that Earth could have lost anywhere between 10 and 60 per cent of its atmosphere in the collision that is thought to have formed the Moon? New research led by our astronomers shows how the extent of atmospheric loss depends upon the type of giant impact with Earth.

Astronomy / Space - Environment - 21.09.2020
First ’ultrahot Neptune’: one of nature’s improbable planets
An international team of astronomers, including researchers from the University of Cambridge, has discovered a new class of planet, an 'ultrahot Neptune', orbiting the nearby star LTT 9779. This planet is particularly exciting because of its peculiarity: how did this planet come to arrive on such a short period orbit and why does it still possess an atmosphere? Ed Gillen The planet orbits so close to its star that its year lasts only 19 hours, and stellar radiation heats the planet to over 1700 degrees Celsius.

Astronomy / Space - Chemistry - 14.09.2020
Hints of life discovered on Venus
A UK-led team of astronomers has discovered a rare molecule - phosphine - in the clouds of Venus, pointing to the possibility of extra-terrestrial 'aerial' life. The presence of life is the only known explanation for the amount of phosphine inferred by observations Paul Rimmer Astronomers have speculated for decades that high clouds on Venus could offer a home for microbes - floating free of the scorching surface, but tolerating very high acidity.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 14.09.2020
Hints of life on Venus
Synthesized false colour image of Venus, using 283-nm and 365-nm band images taken by the Venus Ultraviolet Imager (UVI). JAXA / ISAS / Akatsuki Project Team An international team of astronomers, led by Professor Jane Greaves of Cardiff University, today announced the discovery of a rare molecule - phosphine - in the clouds of Venus.

Physics - Astronomy / Space - 09.09.2020
AI shows how hydrogen becomes a metal inside giant planets
Researchers have used a combination of AI and quantum mechanics to reveal how hydrogen gradually turns into a metal in giant planets. The existence of metallic hydrogen was theorised a century ago, but what we haven't known is how this process occurs Bingqing Cheng Dense metallic hydrogen - a phase of hydrogen which behaves like an electrical conductor - makes up the interior of giant planets, but it is difficult to study and poorly understood.

Astronomy / Space - 03.09.2020
Ripples from deep in the cosmos reveals most massive black hole detected yet
The most massive gravitational-wave source yet has been detected - a binary black hole merger which produced a blast equal to the energy of eight suns, sending shockwaves through the universe. Gravitational waves are produced when an extreme cosmic event occurs somewhere in the universe and, like dropping a rock in a pond, these events ripple across the cosmos, bending and stretching the fabric of space-time itself.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 03.09.2020
Where do black-hole parents meet? LIGO/Virgo may provide answers
Astrophysicists investigating gravitational-wave data from the far reaches of the Universe believe they may have found an explanation for a curious signal detected from the collision of two black holes. The signal, named GW190412, was picked up by the LIGO / Virgo detectors, which are set up to observe gravitational waves - the ripples in space and time caused by huge astronomical objects - and use them to make new discoveries about our Universe.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 02.09.2020
A gravitational "bang": LIGO and Virgo discover the most massive gravitational-wave source yet
The LIGO and Virgo Collaboration, which includes scientists from the Institute for Gravitational Wave Astronomy at the University of Birmingham, have reported the discovery of a signal from what may be the most massive black hole merger yet observed in gravitational waves. The signal, labelled GW190521, was detected on May 21, 2019, with the LIGO and Virgo detectors.

Astronomy / Space - 02.09.2020
Zooming in on dark matter
Our cosmologists have zoomed in on the smallest clumps of dark matter in a virtual universe - which could help us find the real thing in space. Using a supercomputer simulation of the universe they achieved a zoom equivalent to being able to see a flea on the surface of the Moon. This meant they could make detailed pictures and analyses of hundreds of virtual dark matter haloes from the very largest (galaxy clusters) to the tiniest (about the same as Earth's mass).

Astronomy / Space - Innovation - 02.09.2020
Most massive gravitational wave signal yet poses new mysteries
The most massive gravitational-wave source yet has been detected - a binary black hole merger, which produced a blast equal to the energy of eight Suns, sending shockwaves through the universe. The detection provides answers to some fundamental questions about how black holes are formed - and poses some intriguing new ones.

Environment - Astronomy / Space - 27.08.2020
Majority of groundwater stores resilient to climate change
Fewer of the world's large aquifers are depleting than previously estimated, according to a new study by the University of Sussex and UCL. Groundwater, the world's largest distributed store of freshwater, plays a critical role in supplying water for irrigation, drinking and industry, and sustaining vital ecosystems.
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