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Kavli Institute

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Nature

Prof. Nergis Mavalvala, dean of the MIT School of Science, and postdoc Victoria Xu speak with Nature reporter Davide Castelvecchi about the upgrades to the LIGO gravitational wave detectors that have significantly increased their sensitivity. “The improvements should allow the facility to pick up signals of colliding black holes every two to three days, compared with once a week or so during its previous run." 

The Conversation

Upgrades made to the LIGO gravitational wave detectors “will significantly boost the sensitivity of LIGO and should allow the facility to observe more-distant objects that produce smaller ripples in spacetime,” writes Pennsylvania State University Prof. Chad Hanna in a piece for The Conversation.

Scientific American

Using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), postdoc Rohan Naidu and his colleagues will be using a giant cluster of galaxies to “gravitationally magnify the light of some smaller objects up to 750 million years after the big bang,” reports Jonathan O’Callaghan for Scientific American. “The goal is to look for clumps of primordial gas, which could contain clusters of Population III stars—the first stellar generation thought to have lit up the universe,” writes O’Callaghan.

Mashable

Astronomers from MIT and elsewhere have become the first to witness a star consume an entire planet, reports Elisha Sauers for Mashable. “The new study confirms that when a sun-like star nears the end of its life, it expands into a red giant, 100 to 1,000 times its original size, eventually overtaking nearby planets,” explains Sauers. “Such events are thought to be rare, occurring only a few times each year throughout the galaxy.”

Smithsonian Magazine

A team of astronomers, including researchers from MIT, witnessed a star swallowing up an entire planet for the first time, reports Margaret Osborne for Smithsonian Magazine. “For decades, scientists have only been able to witness the before and after of such planetary engulfment,” writes Osborne.

CNN

Researchers from MIT and elsewhere have observed, for the first time, a dying star consuming a planet, reports Jack Guy for CNN. “The fact that the solar system planets would get engulfed into the sun in the future was something I had read first in high school, so it was surreal to realize that we may have found the first ever example of catching a similar event in real time,” says postdoc Kishalay De.

Reuters

Reuters reporter Will Dunham writes that scientists from MIT and elsewhere have “observed a star, bloated in its old age, swallowing a Jupiter-like planet, then expelling some material into space in an energetic belch.” Postdoc Kishalay De notes that "this planet doesn't go out without a fight. Even before it is engulfed whole, our data provides evidence that the planet tries to rip out the star's surface layers with its own gravity. But the star happens to be a thousand times more massive so the planet can't do much and eventually makes the plunge.”

The Washington Post

Researchers from MIT, Harvard, Caltech and elsewhere have spotted a hot, Jupiter-sized world being ingested by a sun-like star, reports Kasha Patel for The Washington Post. “The hope is that we would actually be able to use this entire new suite of instruments to try to find every single planet being engulfed in our galaxy in real time,” explains postdoc Kishalay De. “That’s only going to become possible now because of this discovery and together with the availability of instrumentation.”

NPR

Postdoc Kishalay De speaks with NPR’s Nell Greenfieldboyce about how he and his colleagues have observed, for the first time, a sun-like star consuming an orbiting planet. "We weren't quite looking for this. We were looking for similar things, but not quite this," says De. "Like a lot of discoveries in science, this happened to be an accidental discovery that really opened our eyes to a new type of phenomenon."

The New York Times

New York Times reporter Becky Ferreira spotlights how astronomers from MIT, Harvard, Caltech and elsewhere have spotted a dying star swallowing a large planet, “offering the first direct glimpse of a gnarly process called planetary engulfment that most likely awaits Earth in the deep future.” Postdoc Kishalay De explains that: “Finding an event like this really puts all of the theories that have been out there to the most stringent tests possible. It really opens up this entire new field of research.”

New Scientist

A team of astronomers from MIT and other institutions have detected a “sun-like star gobbling up a planet and belching out a blast of light and energy,” reports Leah Crane for New Scientist. “In the past, all of the evidence that we’ve had of stars eating planets is from looking at stars that have done that hundreds of thousands of years ago,” says postdoc Kishalay De. “But we have never caught a star red-handed eating a planet.”

Associated Press

AP reporter Marcia Dunn writes that scientists from MIT, Harvard, Caltech and elsewhere have “caught a star in the act of swallowing a planet — not just a nibble or bite, but one big gulp.” Dunn explains that: “Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Kishalay De spotted the luminous outburst in 2020 while reviewing sky scans taken by the California Institute of Technology’s Palomar Observatory. It took additional observations and data-crunching to unravel the mystery: Instead of a star gobbling up its companion star, this one had devoured its planet.”

The Guardian

Astronomers from MIT, Harvard, Caltech and other institutions have, for the first time, captured the moment when a star swallows a nearby planet, reports Ian Sample for The Guardian. “Like a lot of discoveries in science, this happened to be an accidental discovery that really opened our eyes to a new type of phenomenon,” explains postdoctoral scholar Kishalay De. “This is going to be the final fate of Earth.”

BBC

Postdoctoral Scholar Michelle Kunimoto speaks with BBC CrowdScience presenter Marnie Chesterton about the transit technique used to find distant worlds. “The idea behind the transit method is, as a planet is passing in front of a star as it orbits, it will block a small portion of that star’s light,” explains Kunimoto.  “So if we are measuring the brightness of our star with the telescope, we can look for these temporary decreases in the brightness of stars over time.”

Scientific American

Using data from the James Webb Space Telescope, postdoc Rohan Naidu and his colleagues discovered a candidate galaxy in the early universe that is one of two candidate galaxies older than any others known before, reports Jonathan O'Callaghan for Scientific American.