Harvard University astronomers and Smithsonian Institution astronomers explore the cosmos together. The combination of the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is known as the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA).

News Releases

September 17, 2020

Following extensive observations of stellar winds around cool evolved stars scientists have figured out how planetary nebulae get their mesmerizing shapes. The findings, published in Science, contradict common consensus, and show that not only are stellar winds aspherical, but they also share similarities with planetary nebulae.

September 16, 2020

The GMTO Corporation has received a $17.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to accelerate the prototyping and testing of some of the most powerful optical and infrared technologies ever engineered.

Latest Science Update

September 18, 2020

About seven and one-half billion years from now our sun will have converted most of its hydrogen fuel into helium through fusion, and then burned most of that helium into carbon and oxygen. It will have swollen to a size large enough to fill the solar system nearly to the current orbit of Mars, and lost almost half of its mass in winds.

SI Specific Information

SI-specific information regarding the government shutdown may be found at alerts.si.edu. SAO staff are encouraged to review the website for updated information