Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates


The closest exoplanet to us, if we include only single stars like the Sun, is the planet around Barnard's Star, Barnard's Star-b ("BSb"). (The planet Promixa Centauri-b is closer, but Proxima Cen is part of a triple-star system with Alpha and Beta Centauri, and understanding the evolutionary development of the planet is more complicated.)


When the supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies accrete material, they can eject powerful jets of charged particles at speeds approaching that of light. These particles in turn emit radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio to gamma-rays.

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.