An international team of astronomers might have discovered the missing link in the evolution of the so-called magnetic cataclysmic variable stars. They determined the spin and orbital periods of the binary star Paloma. They found that the Paloma system has a weird way of rotating that fills the gap between two classes of magnetic cataclysmic stars. Their results will soon be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Cataclysmic variables (CVs) are a class of binary stars made up of a white dwarf  and a normal star much like our Sun. Both stars orbit so close to each other that the white dwarf accretes matter from the companion star. In most of the several hundred CVs known, the matter spirals around the white dwarf, forming a disk, before being accreted and incorporated into the star.
Astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope have discovered in a single pass about a dozen otherwise invisible galaxies halfway across the Universe. The discovery, based on a technique that exploits a first-class instrument, represents a major breakthrough in the field of galaxy 'hunting'.
The team of astronomers led by Nicolas Bouché have used quasars to find these galaxies. Quasars are very distant objects of extreme brilliance, which are used as cosmic beacons that reveal galaxies lying between the quasar and us. The galaxy's presence is revealed by a 'dip' in the spectrum of the quasar - caused by the absorption of light at a specific wavelength.
The team used huge catalogues of quasars, the so-called SDSS and 2QZ catalogues, to select quasars with dips.
Astronomers have discovered one of the most bizarre planet-mass objects ever found.
The object’s minimum mass is only about 7 times the mass of Jupiter. But instead of orbiting a normal star, this low-mass body orbits a rapidly spinning pulsar. It orbits the pulsar every 54.7 minutes at an average distance of only about 230,000 miles (slightly less than the Earth-Moon distance).
"This object is merely the skeleton of a star," says co-discoverer Craig Markwardt of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
An international team of astronomers has announced the first discovery of a planet orbiting a star near the end of its life.
The announcement, culminating seven years of research, will be published in the Sept. 13 issue of the journal Nature.
The news provides a preliminary picture of what could be the Earth's destiny in four to five billion years. That's when the sun will exhaust its hydrogen fuel, expand enormously as a red giant and expel its outer layers in an explosive helium flash.
The planet discovered by the researchers, "V 391 Pegasi b," has survived all those changes to its sun.
This image represents planet "V 391 Pegasi b" as it survives the red giant expansion of its dying sun.
These NASA Hubble Space Telescope images reveal how the glowing gas ejected by dying Sun-like stars evolves dramatically over time.
These gaseous clouds, called planetary nebulae, are created when stars in the last stages of life cast off their outer layers of material into space. Ultraviolet light from the remnant star makes the material glow. Planetary nebulae last for only 10,000 years, a fleeting episode in the 10-billion-year lifespan of Sun-like stars.
The name planetary nebula has nothing to do with planets.
Here are nine of the smallest, faintest, most compact galaxies ever observed in the distant universe. Blazing with the brilliance of millions of stars, each of the newly discovered galaxies is a hundred to a thousand times smaller than our Milky Way Galaxy.
"These are among the lowest mass galaxies ever directly observed in the early universe," says Nor Pirzkal of the Space Telescope Science Institute and the European Space Agency in Baltimore, Md.
The conventional model for galaxy evolution predicts that small galaxies in the early universe evolved into the massive galaxies of today by coalescing.
The Aurigid meteor shower peaked on September 1, originating from C/1911 N1 Kiess, or comet Kiess, a long-period comet that takes about 2000 years to orbit the Sun. It was discovered in 1935 by Carl Kiess.
As Earth passes through the dust comet Kiess left behind 2000 years ago, meteoroids, or shooting stars, rain upon Earth. They burn up in the atmosphere at very high velocities, about 67 km/s, creating the meteor shower.
The Aurigids get their name from the constellation Auriga, because if you look up in the sky, this is where the shooting stars seem to come from. The dust trail of comet Kiess will not be crossed again in this manner for 70 years.
The constellation of Auriga rising above the horizon.
British astronomers from the University of Cambridge and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a new camera that gives much more detailed pictures of stars and nebula than even the Hubble Space Telescope, and it does all this from the ground. Images from ground-based telescopes are usually blurred out by the atmosphere.
Astronomers have tried to develop techniques to correct the blurring called adaptive optics but so far they only work successfully in the infrared where the smearing is greatly reduced. However a new noise-free, high-speed camera has been developed at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge which makes very high resolution imaging in the visible possible.
Stars do not like to be alone. Indeed, most stars are members of a binary system, in which two stars circle around each other in an apparently never-ending cosmic ballet. But sometimes, things can go wrong. When the dancing stars are too close to each other, one of them can start devouring its partner. If the vampire star is a white dwarf – a burned-out star that was once like our Sun – this greed can lead to a cosmic catastrophe: the white dwarf explodes as a Type Ia supernova.
In July 2006, ESO’s Very Large Telescope took images of such a stellar firework in the galaxy NGC 1288.
Scientists for the first time have observed elusive oscillations in the sun's corona, known as Alfvén waves, that transport energy outward from the surface of the sun. The discovery may give researchers more insight into solar magnetic fields, eventually leading to a better understanding of how the sun affects Earth's atmosphere and the entire solar system.
By tracking the speed and direction of the waves, researchers will be able to infer basic properties of the solar atmosphere, such as the density and direction of magnetic fields.