Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates

09/18/2020

About seven and one-half billion years from now our sun will have converted most of its hydrogen fuel into helium through fusion, and then burned most of that helium into carbon and oxygen. It will have swollen to a size large enough to fill the solar system nearly to the current orbit of Mars, and lost almost half of its mass in winds.

09/11/2020

Planets form from the gas and dust in disks that surround young stars. Chemicals in the disk that evaporate easily, called volatiles, include important molecules like water, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, as well as other simple organic molecules.

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.