Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates


The direct detection of gravitational waves from at least eleven sources during the past five years has offered spectacular confirmation of Einstein's model of gravity and space-time, while the modeling of these events has provided information on star formation, gamma-ray bursts,neutron stars, the age of the universe, and even verification of ideas about how very heavy elements are produced.


The heliosphere is the bubble-like cavity around the Sun, created by the solar wind, that extends well beyond Pluto until the pressure of the interstellar medium ultimately terminates it. For decades astronomers thought that the heliosphere had a roughly cometary shape, spherical with a long tail, shaped by a combination of the solar wind, the interstellar medium, and the Sun’s motion through the galaxy.

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.