Science Results

Science Results

The latest results from the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) are being presented at an International meeting in Paris, 20-23 October. Nearly 400 hundred infrared astronomers will attend the conference.
Published: 15 October 1998
Recent reports have created a stir among scientists studying the effects of gravity. A team leadby John Anderson, a planetary researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, hasbeen conducting an experiment in celestial mechanics using the radio signals from spaceprobesfar from the Earth, including Pioneers 10 and 11, and Ulysses. In all cases, Anderson and hiscolleagues found that an unexplained Sun-directed force appears to be acting on the spacecraft.
Published: 15 October 1998
The European Southern Observatory's new giant telescope, has provided excellent new images of Rosetta's target comet, Comet Wirtanen.
Published: 21 September 1998
For recent reviews on the age of the Universe, distances to Globular Clusters & the LargeMagellanic Cloud and the RR Lyrae distance scale see the Scientific Results page.
Published: 15 September 1998
The European Infrared Space Telescope (ISO) finds a new population of galaxies, the first objects known to contribute to the background glow of the universe. The discovery will help to solve the mystery of galaxy formation.
Published: 24 July 1998
The Sun has tall gyrating storms far larger and faster than tornadoes on the Earth. This unexpected finding is among the latest results from the solar spacecraft SOHO, to be announced at a European Space Agency press briefing on 28 April. British scientists discovered the solar tornadoes in images and data from SOHO's scanning spectrometer CDS. So far they have detected a dozen such events. They occur most frequently near the north and south poles of the Sun and are almost as wide as the Earth.
Published: 24 April 1998
On 17 April, after travelling for more than seven years and covering 3.8 billion kilometres, the space probe Ulysses will complete its first orbit of the Sun. Built in Europe for the European Space Agency, this intrepid explorer has ventured into regions never before visited by any spacecraft. It has journeyed far away from the realm of the planets and gone over the poles of the Sun.
Published: 15 April 1998
Although ISO observations finished on 8 April, new results continue to pour as astronomers process their ISO data. A team of American astronomers has discovered a large concentration of water vapour in a cloud of interstellar gas close to the Orion Nebula.
Published: 10 April 1998
Water vapour detected on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, and infrared galaxies identified atimmense distances are among the latest results from ESA's Infrared Space Observatory (ISO). At a press briefing in London on 7 April, ESA's director of science, Roger Bonnet, said "ISO is one of the most successful space observatories, and in the infrared it has had no rival." Its discoveries will change our views on the Universe.
Published: 7 April 1998
Data of exceptional accuracy, from ESA's star-mapping satellite Hipparcos, show that distant stars aremoving in unexpected directions. Their strange behaviour could mean that the shape of the Milky Way Galaxy is changing. Ateam of astronomers from Turin Observatory and Oxford University announced the discovery in the 2 April issue of theLondon science journal Nature.
Published: 1 April 1998
Astronomers at the universities of Amsterdam, Louvain, Groningen and Utrecht have found proof that planets can form around old, dying stars. In the vicinity of the Red Rectangle, an old binary star in the Monoceros constellation, they have detected a ring of matter constituting the first stage of planet formation. Their results will be published in Nature on 26 February. It had previously been assumed that planets can form only round new-born stars.
Published: 26 February 1998
The position in the sky of the "silent" neutron star Geminga is now known to within about 10 millionths of a degree (0.04 arc-second) thanks to results from ESA's Hipparcos star-fixing satellite combined with observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope. Geminga emits pulses of gamma rays like a ticking clock, but its apparent rate changes because of the Earth's motion in orbit around the Sun. Using the Hipparcos position to correct this effect, astronomers have made a continuous reckoning of some 3 200 000 000 pulses in the gamma-rays emitted by Geminga, going back to observations by NASA's SAS-2 and ESA's COS-B gamma-ray satellites in the 1970s.
Published: 5 January 1998
A likely solution to one of the major mysteries of the Sun has emerged from recent observations with the European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) mission. The new findings seem to account for a substantial part of the energy needed to cause the very high temperature of the corona, the outermost layer of the Sun's atmosphere, which becomes visible to the naked eye only during a total solar eclipse.
Published: 14 November 1997
ESA's Infrared Space Observatory ISO has detected dust for the first time in apparently empty space between the galaxies. German and Finnish astronomers made the discovery in the northern constellation of Coma Berenices, where more than 500 galaxies swarm together in the Coma Cluster. The intergalactic dust is concentrated towards the centre of the cluster.
Published: 6 November 1997
Scientists using the joint European Space Agency (ESA)/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft have discovered "jet streams" or "rivers" of hot, electrically charged gas called plasma flowing beneath the surface of the Sun. They also found features similar to trade winds that transport gas beneath the Sun's fiery surface.
Published: 29 August 1997
On 25 August, results from ESA's Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) are being presented to the world's astronomers, who have gathered in Kyoto, Japan for the XXIIIrd General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union. A full day is being used for a special session containing 18 separate presentations which illustrate the breadth of ISO's influence in astronomy, ranging from deep surveys and cosmology through extragalactic and galactic studies to our own solar system.
Published: 14 August 1997
A team of astronomers from the United States and Germany has discovered trace amounts of hydrogen fluoride gas in the near vacuum of interstellar space, using the European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory satellite, ISO, which was launched in November 1995.
Published: 12 August 1997
The Infrared Space Observatory ISO ought to be running out of fuel by now, 20 months after its launch on 17 November 1995, yet the astronomers and controllers at Villafranca in Spain are busier than ever. Thanks to meticulous engineering and some good fortune, the satellite's working life has stretched from a specified minimum of 18 months to more than 28 months. ESA's unique space telescope for exploring the cool and cloudy Universe by infrared rays should, according to present calculations, remain operational until April 1998.
Published: 22 July 1997
To find anything to rival the new results on star positions and motions from the Hipparcos satellite, the European Space Agency's director of science has to look back 400 years. Commenting on the Hipparcos Symposium which commences in Venice on 13 May, Roger Bonnet compares it to astronomy in Denmark at the end of the 16th Century.
Published: 12 May 1997
The smart place for globe-trotting astronomers to be in May is on the island of San Giorgio in Venice, Italy. There they will gather, 13-16 May, to celebrate and discuss astonishing information about the stars that has come from ESA's Hipparcos satellite.
Published: 6 May 1997
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