UNSW space scientists have outshone NASA by scoring a higher academic paper citation rate, according to the latest international ranking of universities and space science institutions.

The Thomson group recently reported on the output of refereed journal articles and citations in Space Sciences from 2001 to 2005.

UNSW did extremely well with a very high citation rate (15.69) that was better than NASA (15.42) and within 20 percent of Caltech and Harvard – the world’s three top-ranked space science institutions.

UNSW’s citation rate was the second highest amongst Australian universities, just behind ANU’s (16.09).

A new wide-field panorama reveals more than a thousand supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies, some up to several billion times more massive than the sun. This survey, taken in a region of the Bootes constellation, involved 126 separate Chandra exposures of 5,000-seconds each, making it the largest contiguous field ever obtained by the observatory. At 9.3 square degrees, it is over 40 times larger than the full moon seen on the night sky, which is also shown in this graphic for scale.

A decade-long mystery has been solved using data from ESA's X-ray observatory XMM-Newton. The brightest member of the so-called 'magnificent seven' has been found to pulsate with a period of seven seconds.

The discovery casts some doubt on the recent interpretation that this object is a highly exotic celestial object known as a quark star.

This X-ray image, obtained by the EPIC instrument on-board the ESA XMM-Newton observatory in October 2006 over a 19-hour observation session, shows the neutron star RXJ1856.

Several times a week, astronomers detect the violent death cry of a massive star -- an extraordinarily energetic release of gamma rays that takes place in just a matter of seconds to minutes, called a gamma-ray burst (GRB). The GRB's ejecta, which is thought to be beamed in narrow jets, slams into interstellar gas at near light speed. This violent collision shocks the material and produces a bright afterglow that can radiate brightly at X-ray and other wavelengths for several days, or even a few weeks.

For the very first time, astronomers have witnessed the speeding up of an asteroid's rotation, and have shown that it is due to a theoretical effect predicted but never seen before. The international team of scientists used an armada of telescopes to discover that the asteroid's rotation period currently decreases by 1 millisecond every year, as a consequence of the heating of the asteroid's surface by the Sun.

Imagine two stars with winds so powerful that they eject an Earth's worth of material roughly once every month. Next, imagine those two winds colliding head-on. Such titanic collisions produce multimillion-degree gas, which radiates brilliantly in X-rays. Astronomers have conclusively identified the X-rays from about two-dozen of these systems in our Milky Way. But they have never seen one outside our galaxy — until now.

Thanks to the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton X-ray observatory, with help from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, an international team led by Dr Yaël Nazé of the Université de Liège in Belgium has found such a system in a nearby galaxy. This galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud, orbits the Milky Way and is located about 170 000 light-years from Earth.

A team of European astronomers offer new evidence that high-mass stars could form in a similar way to low-mass stars, that is, from accretion of gas and dust through a disk surrounding the forming star. Their article, published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, reports the discovery of a jet of molecular hydrogen arising from a forming high-mass star located in the Omega nebula (M17). This detection confirms the hypothesis based on their earlier discovery that this forming high-mass star is surrounded by a large accretion disk.

Near-infrared image of the M17 silhouette disk, discovered in 2004.

Several hundred images taken with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have been woven together into a rich tapestry of at least 50,000 galaxies. The Hubble view is yielding new clues about the universe's youth, from its "pre-teen" years to young adulthood.

The snowstorm of galaxies in the Hubble panorama does not appear evenly spread out. Some galaxies seem to be grouped together. Others are scattered through space. This uneven distribution of galaxies traces the concentration of dark matter, an invisible web-like structure stretching throughout space.

Lunar Eclipse

Lunar Eclipse

Mar 03 2007 | comment(s)

Tonight there will be a total lunar eclipse. The partial eclipse will begin at 21:30:04 UT and end  3½ hours later at 01:11:46 UT. The total eclipse lasts for about one hour; it begins at 22:43:49 UT and ends at 23:58:01 UT. The moment of greatest eclipse is at 23:20:56 UT on March 3. The eclipse will be visible over Europe, Africa, and the western part of Asia. Unfortunately, we over here in America will see only a part of it and only on the East coast.  For a more detailed schedule, click here.

By analyzing the COSMOS field, the largest field of galaxies ever observed with the Hubble space telescope, an international team of scientists led by researchers from the California Institute of Technology (United States) and researchers from the associated laboratories of the CNRS and the CEA , made the first three-dimensional map of dark matter in the Universe using gravitational lensing effects. This historic first seems to confirm the standard theories on the formation of the large structures of the Universe. This study was presented in the January 7, 2007 issue of the journal "Nature."

Three-dimensional map of black matter in the COSMOS field. © ESA/NASA