In 2006, the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto from its rank as a planet. But after an hourlong debate between planetary science experts on what constitutes a planet, an audience packed into Harvard’s Phillips Auditorium voted to restore it to its place.
New research by theorists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) shows that we could spot the fingerprints of certain pollutants under ideal conditions. This would offer a new approach in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).
At a Meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on April 1, 2014, the Minute honoring the life and service of the late John Peter Huchra, Robert O. and Holly Thomis Doyle Professor of Cosmology, was placed upon the records. Professor Huchra pioneered the exploration of the universe through redshift surveys at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and played an instrumental role in the establishment of the current rate of cosmic expansion, the key ingredient in establishing the age of the Universe.
Astronomers announced Monday that they have discovered a new type of planet — a rocky world weighing 17 times as much as Earth. This planet is all solids and much bigger than previously discovered “super-Earths,” making it a “mega-Earth.”
Astronomers have created the first realistic virtual universe using a computer simulation called Illustris. Illustris can re-create 13 billion years of cosmic evolution in a cube 350 million light-years on a side with unprecedented resolution.
Four experts, including Nobel Prize winner Robert Wilson, came together for a CfA program titled “50 Years After the Discovery of the Big Bang.”
A new study by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics shows that students grasp the unimaginable emptiness of space more effectively when they use iPads to explore 3-D simulations of the universe, compared with traditional classroom instruction.
Kepler-78b is a planet that shouldn’t exist. “This planet is a complete mystery,” said astronomer David Latham of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). “We don’t know how it formed or how it got to where it is today. What we do know is that it’s not going to last forever.”
Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are drafting the target list for NASA’s next planet-finding telescope, the orbiting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, which will search the Earth’s galactic neighborhood for planets that might support life.
Harvard’s Matt Holman, a lecturer on astrophysics, and his collaborators at the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado are piggybacking their research onto a NASA spaceship that is racing to the farthest edges of the solar system to study objects in the far-flung Kuiper Belt.
New observations confirm that colliding neutron stars create short gamma-ray bursts, and such collisions produce rare heavy elements, including gold. Researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics believe the Earth’s gold likely came from colliding neutron stars.
Gerhard Sonnert, a research associate at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has created a new website that allows listeners to literally hear the music of the stars.
A team at Tel Aviv University in Israel and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has just discovered an exoplanet using a new method that relies on Einstein’s special theory of relativity.
As part of an unusual study that surveyed 181 middle school physical science teachers and nearly 10,000 students, researchers found that the most successful teachers were those who knew what students would get wrong on standardized tests.
Astronomers have found a planetary system orbiting the star Kepler-62. This five-planet system has two worlds in the habitable zone — the distance from their star at which they receive enough light and warmth for liquid water to theoretically exist on their surfaces.
Two communications specialists at the Chandra X-Ray Observatory have authored a guide to the universe, aiming to show people around a universe they say belongs to us all.
Harvard astronomers past and present gathered in Cambridge Friday (April 5) for the first-ever reunion of the Harvard Astronomy Department.
A lecturer from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics says that “dark clouds of gas and dust have the potential to alter Earth’s climate.
Harvard’s Avi Loeb is helping prepare the next generation of astronomers with a new textbook, “The First Galaxies in the Universe.”
Researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have found that even dying stars could host planets with life — and if such life exists, they believe we might be able to detect it within the next decade.
Harvard President Drew Faust called for the scientific community to unite in its efforts to press Congress for continued federal research support during a speech to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Earth-like planets potentially capable of supporting life may be right in our galactic neighborhood, according to researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the California Institute of Technology.
Harvard celebrates the 100th anniversary of a computational principle that was little noticed in its time, but that underlies all of modern science.
Astronomers have identified a new structure in the Milky Way: a long tendril of dust and gas that they are calling a “bone.”
The quest for a twin Earth is heating up. Francois Fressin, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), presented the new analysis of Kepler data that shows that about 17 percent of stars have an Earth-sized planet in an orbit closer than Mercury.
CfA fellow David Kipping is heading a hunt for astronomical bodies at the edge of our ability to detect them: moons circling planets in other solar systems.
Using a continent-spanning telescope, an international team of astronomers has peered to the edge of a black hole at the center of a distant galaxy. For the first time, they have measured the black hole's "point of no return" — the closest distance that matter can approach before being irretrievably pulled into the black hole.
At first glance, the center of the Milky Way seems like a very inhospitable place to try to form a planet. New research by astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics shows that planets still can form in this cosmic maelstrom.
Alex Parker, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, sees astronomical data as art as well as science.
Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and their colleagues at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies have made it possible to build a universe from scratch.
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics’ astronomers have detected for the first time jets of gamma rays extending thousands of light years from the Milky Way’s core, confirming expectations based on observations of other galaxies.
Before 2004, the most recent Venus transit occurred more than a century ago, in 1882, and was used to compute the distance from the Earth to the sun. On June 5, 2012, another Venus transit will occur. Scientists with NASA's Kepler mission hope to discover Earth-like planets outside our solar system by searching for transits of other stars by planets that might be orbiting them. The next Venus transit: Dec. 11, 2117.
Harvard scientists are participating in the Cambridge Science Festival, 10 days of events where experts in technology, engineering, and math share research with the public.
New research by astronomers at the University of Utah and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics shows that supermassive black holes can grow big by ripping apart double-star systems and swallowing one of the stars.
Seven years ago, astronomers boggled when they found the first runaway star flying out of our galaxy at a speed of 1.5 million miles per hour. The discovery intrigued theorists, who wondered: If a star can get tossed outward at such an extreme velocity, could the same thing happen to planets? New research shows that the answer is yes.
Astronomy Professor Daniel Eisenstein is using a new understanding of spacing between galaxies to build a 3-D map of the cosmos and confirm theories about its structure.
Observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have added a new type of planet to the mix. By analyzing the previously discovered world GJ1214b, astronomer Zachory Berta of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and colleagues proved that it is a water world enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere.
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have found a cluster of young, blue stars encircling the first intermediate-mass black hole ever discovered. The presence of the star cluster suggests that the black hole was once at the core of a now-disintegrated dwarf galaxy.
Harvard astronomers, working as part of NASA’s Kepler mission, have detected the first Earth-sized planets orbiting a distant star, a milestone in the hunt for alien worlds that brings scientists one step closer to their ultimate goal of finding a twin Earth.
In the distant reaches of the universe, almost 13 billion light-years from Earth, a strange species of galaxy lay hidden. Cloaked in dust and dimmed by the intervening distance, even the Hubble Space Telescope couldn't spy it. It took the revealing power of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to uncover not one, but four remarkably red galaxies.
In a new paper, Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Edwin Turner of Princeton University suggest a new technique for finding aliens: Look for their city lights.
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics researcher Justin Kasper has designed an instrument that will peek out from behind a heat shield to touch the sun’s atmosphere on a NASA solar probe designed to get far closer to the sun than any before.
All three winners of the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics have connections to Harvard — including two whose Ph.D.s launched them into their winning notion of an accelerating universe and the puzzle of dark matter.
Researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have embarked on an exploration unusual for space scientists — one involving art. A project probes how the presentation of images of space affects viewers’ appreciation and understanding of what’s happening in the pictures.
Harvard’s new director of the OFA Dance Program, Jill Johnson, brings a love of movement and a boundless curiosity to the post and a desire to connect her disciplines to a range of academic pursuits.
New research from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics shows that some old stars might be held up by their rapid spins, and when they slow down, they explode as supernovae. Thousands of these "time bombs" could be scattered throughout our Galaxy.
Imagine a giant world like Jupiter, but more alien than any planet in our solar system. Instead of displaying gleaming clouds colored white and salmon, this world is darker than the blackest lump of coal. It glows only with a feeble red light like a stove's electric burner — the result of scorching heat from a sun just 3 million miles away.
New research shows that aurorae on distant “hot Jupiters” could be 100 to 1,000 times brighter than Earth’s aurorae. "I'd love to get a reservation on a tour to see these aurorae," said lead author Ofer Cohen, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
A researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has uncovered a new way that stars end their lives, in a bright, fast explosion that appears different from the known characteristics of the stellar cataclysms called supernovas.
Astronomy Professor David Charbonneau is as enthusiastic about explaining his field to students as he is about researching faraway planets.