News / Press Releases

Nova V906 Carinae

SALT contributes to a new understanding of novae

An international team of researchers, led by Dr Elias Aydi, a former SAAO and University of Cape Town PhD Student, now at Michigan State University (MSU), have discovered a new cause for the incredible brightness observed when a star explodes. The discovery used high-resolution optical spectroscopy from different telescopes including SALT to better understand the […]

Planetary nebula WR 72 has hydrogen-poor knots, study finds

Using the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), astronomers have conducted spectroscopic and imaging observations of the planetary nebula WR 72. They discovered hydrogen-poor knots in the central part of the nebula, which could be helpful in improving knowledge about the nature of this object. The finding is detailed in a paper published December 23 on […]

SALT observes super fast spirals!

Astronomers using the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), have measured the rotation of some of the largest spiral galaxies, spinning at up to 570 kilometres per second! Their rapid spin is a result of sitting within an extraordinarily massive cloud, or halo, of dark matter – invisible matter detectable only through its gravity. The largest […]

SALT plays key role in the global hunt for Dark Energy

The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), the largest optical telescopes in the Southern Hemisphere, has played an important role as part of the international Dark Energy Survey’s (DES, quest to pin down dark energy, the mysterious force accelerating the expansion of the universe. As part of the hunt, SALT conducted follow-up spectroscopy of supernovae – stars […]

An artist’s impression of the supersoft X-ray binary system, ASASSN-16oh

SALT contributes to the discovery of a bingeing white dwarf

A new binary star system has been discovered where a small white dwarf star is cannibalising its larger Sun-like companion. Such objects are actually quite common, but for this new object the white dwarf binged on its neighbour at a prodigious rate, heating part of it to nearly a million degrees. The object, named ASASSN-16oh, […]

SALT chases hypervelocity stars

Video animation produced using Gaia Sky showing the path of the hypervelocity star candidate by Shen et al (2018), with its movement exaggerated by a factor of 300 billion times. The path of the candidate is first shown moving forward in time and subsequently going into the past, back to the supernova remnant. The circle […]

SALT sees double in The Hourglass Nebula

SALT has discovered a binary star system in The Hourglass Nebula, one of the most famous nebulae captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. The Hourglass Nebula consists of two hourglass-shaped lobes of gas and what appears to be an eye staring right back at us. Shells of gas form the eye surrounding the hot central star […]

Observing the fast & the furious

“Observing the fast and the furious: SAAO observes the first optical counterpart of a Gravitational Wave source” Above: An artist’s impression of a kilonova, the result of two colliding and merging neutron stars, which was the source of the first gravitational wave event (GW170817) for which an electromagmetic counterpart was detected at different wavelengths (picture credit: […]

Breaking news: SALT & Gravitational Waves

SALT and SAAO telescopes partake in an unprecedented international collaboration to investigate the origin of the first detection of gravitational waves produced by two colliding neutron stars. The discovery marks the birth of a new era in astrophysics, the first cosmic event observed in both gravitational waves and light.  SALT and other SAAO telescopes have provided […]

Discovery of a Bright Nova

Discovery of one of the most luminous eruptions from a dying star: SALT contributes to a major international multi-wavelength effort led by South Africa. A multinational group of astronomers have discovered what it might be the brightest nova (a luminous stellar eruption) ever observed. This mighty eruption was first detected on the 14th of October […]