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Astronomy & Observing News

Top 10 Astronomy News Stories of 2023

This year, we heard the low hum of gravitational waves criss-crossing the cosmos, observed a "ring of fire" solar eclipse, and applauded the arrival of asteroid samples. Here are Sky & Telescope's picks for the top news stories in astronomy this year.

An artist’s impression of the collision of two black holes

Black Holes

Black Hole Rain

The planned LISA gravitational-wave detector might discover a shower of hundreds of small black holes falling in galactic centers.

Illustration of a supermassive black hole binary system

Black Holes

Gravitational Waves from Supermassive Black Holes Revealed

Radio observatories across the globe have found compelling evidence for the existence of very-low-frequency gravitational waves.

Gamma-ray burst jets pierce cocoon

Stellar Science

We Could Soon “Hear” the Gravitational Waves of Dying Stars

Massive, dying stars — behemoths tens of times the Sun's mass — should emit gravitational waves that we can hear with LIGO.

Gravitational waves from GW190521

The Black Hole Files with Camille Carlisle

The Challenge of Weird Black Hole Mergers

When spacetime shivers last only a fraction of a second — as in the case of the massive-black-hole merger GW190521 — astronomers struggle to uncover their origins.

a range of lines with blue dots on top and bottom creating a shape similar to a bird with spread wings. red and yellow dots run along the outline of the bottom half, all on a black background.

The Black Hole Files with Camille Carlisle

Third Gravitational-Wave Catalog Released

The latest results from LIGO, Virgo, and KAGRA bring several key revelations, including that black holes tend to come with certain masses.

An artist’s impression of the collision of two black holes

Black Holes

Redefining a Heavy Collision

Could the biggest — literally — gravitational-wave discovery yet be something other than what it initially seemed?

Timing an array of pulsars

Black Holes

Pulsars Show Hint of Gravitational-wave Background

Duos of supermassive black holes tangoing throughout the universe make their own music, and astronomers may have picked up a hint of the tune.

big black hole merger

Black Holes

Big Black Holes Dominate New Gravitational-Wave Catalog

Gravitational-wave scientists have unveiled their latest catalog of events, revealing a surprising number of massive black holes.

Gravitational waves from GW190521

Cosmology

Record-breaking Signal Reveals New Population of Black Holes

Gravitational-wave observatories have detected the most massive black hole merger yet, and it's challenging our ideas of black hole formation.

visualization of GW190814 gravitational-wave event

Black Holes

Gravitational Wave Detectors Find Mystery “Mass Gap” Object

Astronomers have caught a black hole colliding with a mysterious companion that might be either one of the most massive neutron stars or the smallest black hole ever detected.

Black Holes

What Kinds of Black Hole Partners Merge?

New research on black hole mergers reveals that the black hole pairs tend to have similar masses — suggesting that they start out as massive stellar pairs.

Illustration of black hole merger

The Black Hole Files with Camille Carlisle

Mismatched Black Holes Merge

For the first time, the LIGO and Virgo gravitational-wave detectors have "heard" gravitational waves from an unequal pair of black holes.

Two neutron stars prior to merger

Stellar Science

Gravitational Waves Put Ruler to Neutron Stars

Scientists have combined observations of gravitational waves from a neutron star collision with nuclear theory to shed light on the size and nature of neutron stars.

Neutron Star Pair Collides (art)

Stellar Science

Gravitational Waves from Second Neutron-star Collision Observed

Scientists with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and Virgo collaborations have announced the detection of a second pair of neutron stars that went bump in the night.

Illustration of black hole merger

The Black Hole Files with Camille Carlisle

More Black Hole Mergers Found in LIGO Data

Analysis by an independent team has ferreted out seven candidates for gravitational-wave events from merging black holes.

Simulation of neutron star - black hole merger

Black Holes

Gravitational-wave Detectors Come Online, Find Possible Black Hole-Neutron Star Crash

Only a month into a new observing run, gravitational-wave observatories have announced five new signals — one of which could turn out to be a black hole swallowing a neutron star.

Illustration of black holes merging

Astronomy & Observing News

Listen Up: Get Gravitational-wave Alerts

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) will soon begin a new round of observations. Now you can find out about the discoveries as they happen.

Illustration of black holes merging

The Black Hole Files with Camille Carlisle

What LIGO Teaches Us About Black Holes

The rising count of gravitational-wave events is giving us a new look at a once-invisible population of black holes.

Illustration of black holes merging

Black Holes

Gravitational-Wave Observatories Bag Four Black-Hole Collisions

A re-analysis of data from LIGO and Virgo brings the number of gravitational-wave detections to 11, including the most distant and most powerful black-hole merger yet discovered.