Astronomers announced today that they have spotted a large, rocky object disintegrating in its death spiral around a distant white dwarf star. “We’re watching a solar system get destroyed,” noted a Harvard researcher.
Within the next generation, it should become possible to detect signs of life on planets orbiting distant stars, say researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Scott Kenyon offers an astrophysicist’s view of the New Horizons mission to Pluto.
Nobel laureate and astrophysicist Brian Schmidt returns to Harvard this week to deliver the Morris Loeb and David M. Lee Lectures in Physics. Schmidt will discuss his discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, as well as the SkyMapper survey of the southern skies and the first stars that emerged after the universe’s dark ages.
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has teamed up with a telescope on the ground to find a remote gas planet about 13,000 light-years away, making it one of the most distant planets known, according to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Professor of Astronomy Alyssa A. Goodman was named the Harvard Foundation’s 2015 Scientist of the Year.
A new study of football-shaped collections of stars called elliptical galaxies provides insights into the connection between a galaxy and its black hole. This new research was designed to address a controversy in the field.
In a quest to find mismatched star pairs known as extreme mass-ratio binaries, Harvard astronomers have discovered a new class of binary stars, in which one star is fully formed while the other is still in its infancy. The discovery of these stellar twins could provide invaluable insight into the formation and evolution of massive stars, close binaries, and star nurseries.
For doctoral student Sarah Rugheimer, the study of atmosphere holds deep promise in the search for extrasolar life.
Harvard’s Clowes Professor of Science Robert P. Kirshner ’70 will share the 2015 Wolf Prize in Physics with Professor James Bjorken of Stanford University. They will split the $100,000 award.
Astronomers announced Tuesday that they have found eight new planets in the Goldilocks Zone of their stars, orbiting at a distance where liquid water can exist on the planet's surface. The discoveries double the number of small planets believed to be in the habitable zone of their parent stars.
Harvard researchers have found that stars slow down as they age, and their ages are well-kept secrets. But astronomers are taking advantage of the first fact to tackle the second and tease out stellar ages.
For life as we know it to develop on other planets, those planets would need liquid water, or oceans. Geologic evidence suggests that Earth’s oceans have existed for nearly the entire history of our world.
Despite a malfunction that ended its primary mission in May 2013, the Kepler spacecraft is alive and working. The evidence comes from the discovery of a new super-Earth using data collected during Kepler’s “second life.”
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics scientist Jonathan McDowell answers questions on the Orion test run and prospects for getting to Mars.
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.