Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates


Over thirty years ago, the Infrared Astronomy Satellite discovered that the universe contained many extremely luminous galaxies, some more than a thousand times brighter than our own Milky Way, but which are practically invisible at optical wavelengths.


Stars greater than eight solar-masses end their lives spectacularly -- as supernovae. These single-star supernovae are called core collapse supernovae because when their dense cores (at this stage composed primarily of iron) are no longer able to withstand the inward pressure of gravity they collapse inward before exploding.

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.