News Media

Scientists discover seven primitive galaxies with Hubble, see “ultrasound” image of early universe

December 13, 2012

THE DEEP END: Images of a small patch of sky called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field have revealed several of the most distant galaxies ever seen. The newfound galaxies and their associated redshifts are labeled on the Hubble image. 

Read articles from around the world about the discovery of the earliest galaxies, the deepest archeological dig of the Universe so far. It identified a record redshift of 11.9 for a previously known galaxy and provides the first comprehensive census of baby galaxies when the universe was only 400-400 million years old.  Brant Robertson, a PhD alumni of Harvard Astronomy department is a member of the discovery team. He was quoted in the following report.

Galactic Thief: "I Would Have Gotten Away With It, If It Weren't for Those Meddling Astronomers"

October 30, 2012

Gurtina Besla, PhD alumni of Harvard Astronomy Department, is lead author on this article featured in this CFA Press release.

One of the closest galaxies to the Milky Way almost got away with theft. However, new simulations convicted the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) of stealing stars from its neighbor, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). And the crucial evidence came from surveys looking for something entirely different - dark objects on the outskirts of the Milky Way.

CFA Press Release

Capturing the stars with video and sound, CFA fellow turns astronomical data into art

September 11, 2012

Image Credit: Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Alex Parker, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics’ Institute for Theory and Computation, has created several astronomical videos on his own time and posted them on the Internet. His latest video depicts the 2,299 planet candidates Kepler has found since it began searching for planets around stars in 2009.

Harvard Gazette Article

Supernova Sonata” video

Worlds: The Kepler Planet Candidates” video

Planets Can Form in the Galactic Center

September 11, 2012

In this artist's conception, a protoplanetary disk of gas and dust (red) is being shredded by the powerful gravitational tides of our galaxy's central black hole.
Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

At first glance, the center of the Milky Way seems like a very inhospitable place to try to form a planet. Stars crowd each other as they whiz through space like cars on a rush-hour freeway. Supernova explosions blast out shock waves and bathe the region in intense radiation. Powerful gravitational forces from a super-massive black hole twist and warp the fabric of space itself. 

Record-Breaking Stellar Explosion Helps Understand Far-Off Galaxy

September 4, 2012

An international research team, led by Edo Berger of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, made the most of a dying star’s fury to probe a distant galaxy some 9.5 billion light-years distant. The dying star, which lit the galactic scene, is the most distant stellar explosion of its kind ever studied. According to Berger, “It’s like someone turned on a flashlight in a dark room and suddenly allowed us to see, for a short time, what this far-off galaxy looks like, what it is composed of.”

CfA Press Release

Recreating a Slice of the Universe

August 21, 2012

Cambridge, MA - Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and their colleagues at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) have invented a new computational approach that can accurately follow the birth and evolution of thousands of galaxies over billions of years. For the first time it is now possible to build a universe from scratch that brims with galaxies like we observe around us.

View Video on Youtube

Read CFA Press Release

Phoenix Cluster Sets Record Pace at Forming Stars

August 21, 2012

Cambridge, MA - Astronomers have found an extraordinary galaxy cluster, one of the largest objects in the universe, that is breaking several important cosmic records. Observations of the Phoenix cluster with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, the National Science Foundation's South Pole Telescope, and eight other world-class observatories may force astronomers to rethink how these colossal structures and the galaxies that inhabit them evolve.

Read CFA Press Release

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A Trip to the Deep Future

August 21, 2012

Where will you be in 10100? Read an article by Kate Becker of PBS Nova that explores the deep future.

Read: A Trip to the Deep Future

Image Left: A computer simulation of the cosmic web of dark matter and ordinary matter. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and E. Hallman (University of Colorado, Boulder)

Astronomers Seek Biggest Stars

June 14, 2012

Listen to this Podcast from Scientific American. How big can a star get? Based on observations, astronomers think there's a limit of about 150 times the mass of the sun for the vast majority of stars.

Listen to a discussion about stars that may have with masses of up to 600 suns according to a study submitted to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. [Tony Pan and Abraham Loeb,"Identifying Stars of Mass 150 Msun from Their Eclipse by a Binary Companion"

Runaway black hole provides evidence to support Einstein’s theory of gravity, Harvard astronomers say

June 5, 2012

CREDIT: NASA/Chandra X-ray observatory/Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory/Francesca Civano

Harvard-Smithsonian astronomers have found a galaxy (within the outlined box) that contains a massive black hole that is being ejected at several million miles per hour. Researchers used a combination of images from telescopes to narrow their ideas about what is happening in this galaxy, supporting the ejected black hole theory. The top image shows a single source of X-rays, indicating that there is a single black hole in this galaxy moving away from the star cluster at the center of the galaxy.

Boston Globe Article (observational data) (theoretical interpretation)

Chandra Press Release

Scientists: In 4 billion years, our galaxy will smash into Andromeda but Earth will survive

June 1, 2012

NASA/Associated Press -

This illustration released by NASA depicts a view of the night sky just before the predicted merger between our Milky Way galaxy, left, and the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. About 3.75 billion years from now, Andromeda’s disk fills the field of view and its gravity begins to create tidal distortions in the Milky Way. The view is inspired by dynamical computer modeling of the future collision between the two galaxies.

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