Nick Hand

Nick Hand has written 18 posts for astrobites

The Most Distant Confirmed Galaxy

The authors of this work report the discovery of the most distant, spectroscopically-confirmed galaxy found to date, which presently lies about 30 billion light years from Earth. The galaxy is being observed as it was at a time just 700 million years after the Big Bang, which is a mere 5% of the universe’s current age of 13.8 billion years.

Detecting the Quantization of Gravity

The authors raise a key point about the detection of gravitational waves from the early universe. Not only would such a detection verify the theory of inflation, but it would also prove the quantization of gravity.

In Search of the First Habitable Exomoon

The Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler project has conducted the first ever search for a moon around a planet in the habitable zone. While they find no evidence for such a moon, they demonstrate that Earth-sized and possibly habitable moons should be easily detectable with the current Kepler data.

Closing in on Dark Matter?

The Cryogenic Dark Matter Search experiment has found signatures in its data consistent with a dark matter Weakly Interacting Massive Particle. While not confident enough to declare a dark matter discovery, they estimate that there is only a 0.2% chance that these signatures are caused by random chance.

The Curious Case of Andromeda’s Satellites

The authors have identified several satellite galaxies confined to a plane in their orbits around our nearest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. Such a planar structure is perhaps at odds with our current understanding of galaxy formation.

Active Galactic Nuclei: How to Stop Star Formation

The authors investigate the fraction of massive galaxies at z ~ 2 that contains an Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN), in hopes of understanding the importance of AGN in quenching star formation.

Finding the source of the Universe’s infrared glow

New observations at infrared background find a mysterious background glow on the sky, which is inconsistent with the previously proposed models for its origin. The authors suggest that the infrared glow could be coming from rogue stars that have been expelled from host galaxies out into the dark matter halos that surround galaxies.

Looking for planets around Barnard’s Star

For the first time ever, radial velocity measurements of Barnard’s Star are used to search for planets. The existence of previously claimed system, involving two Jupiter-sized planets, is ruled out. The upper limits on the non-detection also rule out planets with masses above a few Earth masses.

A Cosmic Vanishing Act

The authors report on a young, Sun-like star with a debris disk of dust and larger rocks that has had the dust particles mysteriously vanish from the disk in a span of less than two years.

The Lensing Galaxy Cluster That Shouldn’t Exist

The authors discover a strong lensing arc behind an unusually massive galaxy cluster at high redshift. The existence of such a lensing system at high redshift is found to be inconsistent with the standard cosmological model.

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