Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates

02/20/2015

More than half of all stars are in multiple systems: binary stars, or even triplets or quadruplets, that orbit one another. No one is quite sure how or why they form, but the effects can be significant, for example influencing the character of their planets.

02/13/2015

Stars like the Sun begin their lives as cold, dense cores of dust and gas that gradually collapse under the influence of gravity until nuclear fusion is ignited. Exactly how the critical collapse process occurs in these embryos, however, is poorly understood, with several competing ideas having been advanced.

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.