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Back from the Deep Freeze: A Piece of the Early Solar System Returns

Astronomers have found a unique object that appears to be made of inner Solar System material from the time of Earth's formation, which has been preserved in the Oort Cloud for billions of years. Originally identified by the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS1 telescope, C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) is a weakly active comet a little over twice as far from the Sun as the Earth. Its current long orbital period (around 860 years) suggests that its source is in the Oort Cloud, and it was nudged comparatively recently into an orbit that brings it closer to the Sun.

Press Release


IfA Manoa Open House April 17th

Join us at our Manoa Headquarters on April 17th, 11am-4p, from for a day of family-friendly activities and talks!

Starlab planetarium - Talks - LEGO activities - Comet making - Cratering - Wind tunnel - Bottle rockets - Model solar system - Sundials - Ask an Astronomer - Infrared camera - Solar telescopes - Rubens tube - Daytime Venus viewing - 3D gallery - Astrophotography - and more!
Free admission and free parking

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In memoriam: Gerry Luppino

We grieve the untimely death of former IfA astronomer Gerard Anthony "Gerry" Luppino. A memorial service will be held on April 2. Read Dr. Hasinger's tribute to Gerry.



Mystery of Disappearing Asteroids Solved

Ever since it was realized that asteroid and comet impacts are a real and present danger to the survival of life on Earth, it was thought that most of those objects end their existence in a dramatic final plunge into the Sun. A new study published on Thursday in the journal Nature finds instead that most of those objects are destroyed in a drawn out, long hot fizzle, much farther from the Sun than previously thought. This surprising new discovery explains several puzzling observations that have been reported in recent years.

Press Release


Pan-STARRS Chases Source of LIGO Gravity Wave Event

The email came in the night on Sept 15.  A significant event had happened at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, during their engineering run. A ripple in spacetime had occurred somewhere in the universe. But where? LIGO had not yet started their formal observing run, and with only two Gravity Wave detectors, they could not pinpoint where in the sky, amongst billions and billions of galaxies, the source of this disturbance had occurred.

If "sparks" fly when black holes merge then a new point of light will be seen in the sky. Pan-STARRS, with its powerful surveying capability, can rapidly map the region of the sky identified by LIGO, compare it to the previous map, and find anything that has changed.

Press Release


UH Researchers Shed New Light on the Origins of Earth’s Water

Water covers more than two-thirds of Earth’s surface, but its exact origins are still something of a mystery. Scientists have long been uncertain whether water was present at the formation of the planet, or if it arrived later, perhaps carried by comets and meteorites. Now researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, using advanced ion-microprobe instrumentation, have found evidence that Earth’s water was a part of our planet from the beginning.

Press Release


Main-Belt Asteroid Shows Evidence of March Collision

The main-belt asteroid (493) Griseldis was probably hit by another object last March. The results were reported on November 12 at the annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society near Washington, DC.

Press Release


Update on "the Lonely Planet without a Star"

In 2013, a team led by IfA astronomer Michael Liu published an article about a planet that did not orbit a star. Now a follow-up study led by Beth Biller, formerly a Hubble Fellow in Liu's group, shows that this planet's weather includes hot dust and molten rain. Liu also participated in the follow-up study.



Asteroid Discovered by UH Telescope to Make Close Halloween Flyby

A large near-Earth asteroid named 2015 TB145, discovered by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 Telescope atop Haleakala, Maui on October 10, will pass close to Earth on October 31. The asteroid has a diameter of approximately 400 meters (1,300 feet), and will pass within approximately 480,000 km (300,000 miles) of Earth.  There is no possibility of this object impacting Earth.

Press Release


Maunakea Observatories and ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center to give free observatory tours to Hawai‘i residents

The Kama‘āina Observatory Experience, presented by Maunakea Observatories and ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, is a free monthly community event that seeks to inspire a passion for astronomy and an appreciation for the cultural and environmental future of Maunakea among Hawai‘i residents. It will launch in early 2016. Participation is free and open to all Hawai‘i residents. Tours will be open once a month to individuals 16 and older with a valid Hawai‘i ID. Registration is required and will be available via this website on a first come, first served basis.




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