Black hole hidden within its own exhaust

Almost every galaxy in the Universe has a massive black hole in its core. With its gravity, the black hole sucks in material from its surroundings. It gobbles up clouds of gas and dust, and maybe even complete stars. The black hole’s ‘food’ first piles up in a thin, rotating disk of very hot material, before it plunges into the

Billions of years ago, the Universe experienced a baby boom of new stars. Back then, the number of stars that were born in galaxies was much higher than it is now. New observations by ALMA have revealed new information about those early galaxies. In particular, ALMA has found ‘pregnant’’ galaxies. They contain large amounts of gas from which stars can

Surprise: ALMA finds lots of gas around heftier stars

Morning fog disappears when the sun rises. Can you imagine what happens when the sun would be much hotter and brighter? The fog will disappear much sooner, of course. Astronomers believed that the same would be true for newborn stars. They are often surrounded by disks of dust and gas. So you would expect that the gas – a form

If you want to cook up a nice meal, you need the right ingredients. Without beans, you can’t make a good chili. And to bake an apple pie, you need apples, of course. In the Universe, it’s the same. The available ingredients determine what can be ‘cooked up’. One of the most special things that have formed in the Universe

Adapted from Space Scoop – UNAWE. It takes nine months for a human baby to grow and 22-months for a baby elephant. But how long does it take to grow a planet? It turns out, it takes much less time than we thought. Previously, it was believed to take tens of millions of years for a planet to form. But

Forecast: Cold downpours expected for giant black hole

A giant black hole in a distant galaxy is in for some heavy rain storms. Using ALMA, astronomers have discovered giant clouds of cold gas that shower down on the black hole. An umbrella doesn’t help – it would need to be hundreds of light-years across. Most distant galaxies have giant black holes in their cores. These supermassive black holes

ALMA finds oxygen in the early Universe

Astronomers have detected oxygen in a distant galaxy. The galaxy is so far away that its light has taken 13.1 billion years to reach us. That means that we see the galaxy as it was 13.1 billion years ago, when the Universe was ‘only’ 700 million years old. So it’s also fair to say that astronomers have detected oxygen in

By carefully looking at other people, you can guess how much they weigh. But if someone wears Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, you have no idea – the invisible person could be a skinny boy or a fat lady. Astronomers have a similar problem. By carefully looking at stars or galaxies, they can guess their mass. But how do you ‘weigh’

ALMA Finds Dark Dwarf Galaxy

We all know about stars, nebulae and galaxies. But these luminous objects are just the bright tip of a huge, dark cosmic iceberg. Most of the mass in the Universe consists of mysterious dark matter. Dark matter cannot be seen, and no one knows its composition. Cosmologists believe that clumps of dark matter may swarm around galaxies like our own

How did our Solar System look like when it was still forming? We don’t have a time machine to go back 4.6 billion years and take a look. But there’s another way to find out. We can look at another solar system that is forming right now. That will probably give us a good idea of our Solar System’s birth.