Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates


Water, the key ingredient for life, is not only abundant on Earth, it is also ubiquitous across the solar system. Either as ice or sometimes as liquid, water has been spotted in comets, the icy moons of the giant planets, and even in the shadowed basins of Mercury.


Supermassive black holes containing millions or even billions of solar-masses of material are found at the nuclei of galaxies. Our Milky Way, for example, has a nucleus with a black hole with about four million solar masses of material.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a "research institute" of the Smithsonian Institution. It is joined with the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) to form the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). Because these research activities share Harvard and Smithsonian staff and resources, the links at this website will take you to information posted on the "CfA" pages.