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ESPRESSO: A scientific Pandora’s box

Are you on the lookout to see if there are habitable planets are out there? Or do you want to see how or if physical ‘constants’ have varied with time? Why not design a versatile instrument capable at tackling a wealth of outstanding questions in astronomy: a sort of a “scientific pandora’s box” for extremely high precision astronomical research? This is where ESPRESSO comes in…

Chondrule formation by shocks?

Title: A critical analysis of shock models for chondrule formation Authors: Stammler & Dullemond First Author’s Institution: Heidelberg University and International Max Planck Research School for Astronomy and Cosmic Physics , Heidelberg Paper Status: Accepted for publication in Icarus Extraterrestrial rocks are important What’s a chondrule? Never heard of that before. That’s probably your first […]

Gas to Black Holes: Direct formation of a supermassive black hole in galaxy mergers

Supermassive black holes (SMBH) likely exist at the center of every massive galaxy in our universe. How these million to billion solar mass beasts form is not well understood. The authors in today’s astrobite examine the possibility of the direct collapse of massive gas clouds to form SMBH seeds in a computer simulation of a galaxy merger.

Over My Dead Body: Keeping Dead Galaxies from Forming New Stars

The authors of this paper pursued a mechanism which could possibly keep dead galaxies from forming new stars: mass ejected from AGB stars moving through the galaxy could heat the ambient gas.

A New Way with Old Stars: Fluctuation Spectroscopy

Astronomers use models to derive properties of individual stars that we cannot directly observe, such as mass, age, and radius. This is also the case for a group of stars (a galaxy or a star cluster). One problem with current stellar population models is that they remain untested for old populations of stars. The authors of this paper devise a new way to test models of old stellar populations.

Real-Time Stellar Evolution

Sometimes, stellar evolution happens on more human timescales—tens to hundreds of years rather than millions or billions.

Could we detect signs of life on a massive super-Earth?

We have one canonical idea of what life looks like on Earth: nitrogen, water, carbon dioxide. But would this be true on another world? When looking for life in the atmospheres of exoplanets, we might want to consider searching for something completely different.

ASASSN-13co: A Type-Defying Supernova

There are arguably a lot of things defy categorization, but it’s not everyday that we find something that suggests we do away with our categories altogether. The authors of today’s paper believe that the recently-discovered Type II supernova ASASSN-13co — read that as “assassin”, please — might just be one of the latter.

Exploring the Planetary Graveyard

Over the past decade the study of planetary debris at white dwarfs has become an increasingly exciting area. Observations of this debris have allowed us to make unique discoveries about the chemical composition of extrasolar rocky planets, as well as revealing the endpoints of the evolution of planetary systems very similar to our own…

Away From it All: Dwarf Galaxies in Voids

Nature vs. nurture in the evolution of galaxies is not completely understood. Where a galaxy is found, its environment, can play an important role in determining the properties of that galaxy. This may not always be true, however.

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