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The first “dormant” black hole outside our Galaxy

2022-07-18 17:00

An international group of astronomers with the participation of scientists from the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Warsaw discovered a “dormant” stellar-mass black hole in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighbor galaxy to our own. It is the first object of this type found outside the Milky Way. The discovery was made thanks to six years of spectroscopic observations obtained with the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO’s) Very Large Telescope (VLT) and nearly 20 years of photometric observations carried out as part of the Polish OGLE project with the Warsaw Telescope in Chile.

An isolated black hole roaming our Milky Way galaxy

2022-06-10 16:00

The Milky Way galaxy is expected to host over 100 million isolated black holes. Two independent teams of scientists, including astronomers from the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Warsaw, have for the first time discovered what may be a free-floating black hole.

Illustration of a close-up look at a black hole drifting through our Milky Way galaxy. The black hole is the crushed remnant of a massive star that exploded as a supernova. The surviving core is several times the mass of our Sun. The black hole traps light due to its intense gravitational field. The black hole distorts the space around it, which warps images of background stars lined up almost directly behind it. This gravitational “lensing” effect offers the only telltale evidence for the existence of lone black holes wandering our galaxy, which may be a population of 100 million.
(Credit: NASA, STScI, image: FECYT, IAC).

Colossal Black Holes Locked in Dance at Heart of Galaxy

2022-02-22 11:44

An international team of astronomers found evidence for a unique pair of supermassive black holes orbiting each other in the center of a quasar. Dr Przemysław Mróz from the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Warsaw is one of the co-authors of the study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Caught in an epic cosmic waltz 9 billion light-years away, two supermassive black holes appear to be orbiting around each other every two years. The two massive bodies are each hundreds of millions of times the mass of our sun and span a distance roughly fifty times the size of our own solar system. When the pair merge in roughly 10,000 years, the titanic collision is expected to shake space and time itself, sending gravitational waves across the universe.

Astronomers Analyze Impact of Starlink Satellites

2022-01-27 15:36

The U.S. company SpaceX plans to build a constellation of 42,000 low-Earth-orbit communication satellites called Starlink. A new study, led by Przemek Mróz of the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Warsaw, looks at the impact of satellites on ground-based astronomical research. Since 2019, SpaceX has been launching an increasing number of internet satellites into orbit around Earth. The satellite network, also called a constellation, now includes nearly 1,800 members orbiting at altitudes of about 550 kilometers. Astronomers have expressed concerns that these objects, which can appear as streaks in telescope images, could hamper their scientific observations.

To quantify these effects, a team of researchers studied archival images captured by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), an instrument that operates from the Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California, US. ZTF scans the entire night sky every two days, cataloguing cosmic objects that explode, blink, or otherwise change over time. This includes everything from supernovae to near-Earth asteroids. The team says that they decided to specifically study the effects of Starlink satellites because these satellites currently represent the largest low-earth orbit constellation and they have well-characterized orbits.

ERC Starting Grant awarded to Dr Dorota Skowron

2022-01-10 12:00
Logo LSP-MIST

Dr Dorota Skowron from the UW Astronomical Observatory was awarded the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant for her project “A MISTery of Long Secondary Periods in Pulsating Red Giants – Traces of Exoplanets?” (LSP-MIST). Dr Skowron will work on a new method to discover exoplanets in the farthest regions of our Galaxy and in […]

About the observatory

Astronomical Observatory of the University of Warsaw was founded in 1825 and during its almost two century long history has continued scientific research and educational work. The Institute is located in the historical building in the beautiful old Lazienki Garden. Observatory is a relatively small Institute. Its research staff counts 20 astronomers including  nine astronomers […]

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