Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates


Paradoxically black holes, which emit no light because of their strong gravitational fields, are regularly discovered via the bright X-ray emission that arises when material accretes onto a torus around a black hole, heating the torus to high temperatures.


Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are small solar system bodies whose orbits sometimes bring them close to the Earth, making them potential collision threats. NEOs also offer clues to the composition, dynamics and environmental conditions of the early solar system and its evolution, and because they are relatively close to the Earth they lend themselves to astronomical measurements.

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.