February 10, 2021

The Earliest Supermassive Black Hole and Quasar in the Universe

Three Maunakea Observatories, the Gemini, W.M. Keck, and UKIRT observatories have announced the discovery of the most distant known quasar. The quasar, observed just 670 million years after the Big Bang, is 1,000 times brighter than the Milky Way Galaxy. It is powered by the earliest known supermassive black hole, which weighs in at more than 1.6 billion times the […]
January 12, 2021
Animation of the asteroid 1998 KY26

Subaru Telescope Charts a Course to a Close-passing Asteroid

The Subaru Telescope on Maunakea recently captured images of the asteroid 1998 KY26, which travels close to Earth only once every 3.5 years. This asteroid is small, just 30 meters (less than 100 ft) across, so it is faint enough that most ground based telescopes can’t even detect it. Importantly, 1998 KY26 is the next target for the Japan Aerospace […]
December 18, 2020

New Instrument on Maunakea Telescope Nets its First Discovery

Subaru Telescope has a new state-of-the-art instrument, SCExAO/CHARIS, and it has made its first discovery. SCExAO/CHARIS is devoted to imaging and study of planets orbiting stars beyond our solar system (known as “exoplanets”). A team of astronomers have recently used this new instrument to identify an exoplanet, named HD 33632 Ab, orbiting a 1.5 billion year-old star similar to our […]
December 8, 2020

Blast from the Past!

The enigmatic star CK Vulpeculae, first seen as a bright new star in 1670, was lost for over three centuries. The star was then re-discovered 40 years ago via its surrounding nebular debris, and found to be far more distant than previously thought. This means that the explosive event 350 years ago that caused it to brighten and eject the […]
November 18, 2020

Two Maunakea Telescopes Confirm First Brown Dwarf Discovered by Radio Observations

For the first time, astronomers have combined observations from a large radio telescope (known as LOFAR) in Europe and two telescopes on Maunakea – the IRTF and Gemini – to discover and investigate a cold brown dwarf, or failed star. This is the first such object to be discovered through radio observations — until now, brown dwarfs have always been […]
November 17, 2020

Observing Clusters of Galaxies Collide

Using a trio of world-leading observatories, including the Subaru Telescope on Maunakea, astronomers have observed clusters of galaxies colliding in the distant Universe. The Subaru telescope can observe the visible light from stars, but these galaxies also have other important components, including dark matter and hot gas, which can’t be seen with visible light. So the astronomers combined visible, radio, […]
November 2, 2020

Galaxies in the Infant Universe were Surprisingly Mature

An international team of astronomers have performed the largest survey of distant galaxies in the early universe ever conducted. This survey (nicknamed ALPINE) aimed at measuring the gas and dust in over 100 distant galaxies located over 12 billion light years away from Earth, and involved the use of two Maunakea Observatories — W. M. Keck Observatory and Subaru Telescope. […]
October 21, 2020

Anemic Star Cluster Breaks Metal-Poor Record

Two Maunakea telescopes (Keck and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope) have found a globular star cluster in the nearby Andromeda Galaxy that contains a record-breaking small amount of heavier elements like iron. This finding poses questions about how star-dense globular clusters could have formed in the early Universe. A globular star cluster is a large, dense collection of thousands to millions of […]
October 12, 2020

Andrea Ghez Wins Nobel Prize In Physics

Dr. Andrea Ghez, an astrophysicist at UCLA who has been observing the Galactic Center from Maunakea for over two decades, has won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics. She is honored for her pioneering work using W. M. Keck Observatory to provide conclusive experimental evidence of a supermassive black hole with the mass of four million suns residing at the […]
September 29, 2020

The First Distance Measurement to a Magnetar in Our Galaxy

Astronomers using the Very Long Baseline Array (which includes an antenna on the slopes of Maunakea) have made the first measurement of the distance to a magnetar within our Milky Way Galaxy. Magnetars are a special type of neutron star, the superdense remains of massive stars that exploded as supernovae, with magnetic fields a trillion times stronger than those of […]
September 25, 2020

Event Horizon Telescope Captures Black Hole Changing over Time

In April 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope produced the first-ever image of a black hole. The object, located in the center of the galaxy M87, was given the Hawai`ian name of Pōwehi. Its image appeared as a ring with a bright crescent edge, produced by photons orbiting around the black hole. To make these images, this unique telescope uses a […]
September 17, 2020

A White Dwarf’s Surprise Planetary Companion

Foretelling one possible (distant!) future for our own Solar System, a giant exoplanet has been discovered orbiting close to a white dwarf star. This discovery shows that it is possible for Jupiter-sized planets to survive their star’s demise and settle into close orbits around the remaining stellar ember, near the habitable zone. Read more, in the Gemini Observatory press release.