Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates


The center of our Milky Way galaxy is about twenty-five thousand light years from Earth, in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. At the core of the galaxy is a supermassive black hole with about four million solar-masses of material and around it, within a volume just a few light-years in radius, orbit hundreds of massive stars and probably hundreds of thousands of smaller, harder to detect stars.


The K2 Mission, an extension of the immensely successful NASA Kepler mission to search for exoplanets, has itself discovered nearly one hundred new exoplanets so far. K2 monitors stars for variability, the sign of a transiting exoplanet, but in the course of searching it makes many other variable star discoveries.

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.