Time-domain astronomy

Time-domain astronomy is the study of how astronomical objects change with time. Changes may be due to movement or physical changes in the object itself. Examples include pulsar variability, and the variability of accreting black holes, variable stars, and the Sun. This term includes both theoretical and observational studies of the time-dependent behaviour of astronomical objects.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Reviews |

    This article reviews radio emission mechanisms in radio-quiet active galactic nuclei (AGNs), from star formation and AGN winds, to free-free emission from photoionized gas and AGN disk coronal activity. These mechanisms can be probed by sensitive radio observatories.

    • Francesca Panessa
    • , Ranieri Diego Baldi
    • , Ari Laor
    • , Paolo Padovani
    • , Ehud Behar
    •  & Ian McHardy
    Nature Astronomy 3, 387-396
  • Research |

    The relativistic jets associated with the black-hole X-ray binary system V404 Cygni change their orientation on time scales of minutes to hours, implying that the direction of the jets is being affected by the dynamics of the surrounding accretion flow that powers them.

    • James C. A. Miller-Jones
    • , Alexandra J. Tetarenko
    • , Gregory R. Sivakoff
    • , Matthew J. Middleton
    • , Diego Altamirano
    • , Gemma E. Anderson
    • , Tomaso M. Belloni
    • , Rob P. Fender
    • , Peter G. Jonker
    • , Elmar G. Körding
    • , Hans A. Krimm
    • , Dipankar Maitra
    • , Sera Markoff
    • , Simone Migliari
    • , Kunal P. Mooley
    • , Michael P. Rupen
    • , David M. Russell
    • , Thomas D. Russell
    • , Craig L. Sarazin
    • , Roberto Soria
    •  & Valeriu Tudose
    Nature 569, 374-377
  • Research |

    Using large-aperture Cherenkov telescopes, Benbow et al. have measured the angular sizes of two stars through timely occultations by asteroids, achieving an order of magnitude improvement in resolution over the lunar occultation method.

    • W. Benbow
    • , R. Bird
    • , A. Brill
    • , R. Brose
    • , A. J. Chromey
    • , M. K. Daniel
    • , Q. Feng
    • , J. P. Finley
    • , L. Fortson
    • , A. Furniss
    • , G. H. Gillanders
    • , C. Giuri
    • , O. Gueta
    • , D. Hanna
    • , J. P. Halpern
    • , T. Hassan
    • , J. Holder
    • , G. Hughes
    • , T. B. Humensky
    • , A. M. Joyce
    • , P. Kaaret
    • , P. Kar
    • , N. Kelley-Hoskins
    • , M. Kertzman
    • , D. Kieda
    • , M. Krause
    • , M. J. Lang
    • , T. T. Y. Lin
    • , G. Maier
    • , N. Matthews
    • , P. Moriarty
    • , R. Mukherjee
    • , D. Nieto
    • , M. Nievas-Rosillo
    • , S. O’Brien
    • , R. A. Ong
    • , N. Park
    • , A. Petrashyk
    • , M. Pohl
    • , E. Pueschel
    • , J. Quinn
    • , K. Ragan
    • , P. T. Reynolds
    • , G. T. Richards
    • , E. Roache
    • , C. Rulten
    • , I. Sadeh
    • , M. Santander
    • , G. H. Sembroski
    • , K. Shahinyan
    • , I. Sushch
    • , S. P. Wakely
    • , R. M. Wells
    • , P. Wilcox
    • , A. Wilhelm
    • , D. A. Williams
    •  & T. J. Williamson
  • Research |

    Using a pair of modest telescopes, Arimatsu et al. have observed an occultation event that purports to have been caused by a kilometre-sized Kuiper belt object (KBO). KBOs of this order of magnitude in size have not been detected before, but are likely to represent the most populous size of object in the Kuiper belt.

    • K. Arimatsu
    • , K. Tsumura
    • , F. Usui
    • , Y. Shinnaka
    • , K. Ichikawa
    • , T. Ootsubo
    • , T. Kotani
    • , T. Wada
    • , K. Nagase
    •  & J. Watanabe
    Nature Astronomy 3, 301-306
  • Research |

    Increased UV–optical nuclear emission in a nearby galaxy together with a spectrum showing emission lines typical of unobscured AGNs and Bowen fluorescence features suggests a longer-term event of intensified accretion onto the central supermassive black hole.

    • Benny Trakhtenbrot
    • , Iair Arcavi
    • , Claudio Ricci
    • , Sandro Tacchella
    • , Daniel Stern
    • , Hagai Netzer
    • , Peter G. Jonker
    • , Assaf Horesh
    • , Julián Esteban Mejía-Restrepo
    • , Griffin Hosseinzadeh
    • , Valentina Hallefors
    • , D. Andrew Howell
    • , Curtis McCully
    • , Mislav Baloković
    • , Marianne Heida
    • , Nikita Kamraj
    • , George Benjamin Lansbury
    • , Łukasz Wyrzykowski
    • , Mariusz Gromadzki
    • , Aleksandra Hamanowicz
    • , S. Bradley Cenko
    • , David J. Sand
    • , Eric Y. Hsiao
    • , Mark M. Phillips
    • , Tiara R. Diamond
    • , Erin Kara
    • , Keith C. Gendreau
    • , Zaven Arzoumanian
    •  & Ron Remillard
    Nature Astronomy 3, 242-250
  • Research |

    A second repeating fast radio burst is detected, showing behaviour similar to that of the first, and demonstrating that repeaters are unlikely to be rare.

    • M. Amiri
    • , K. Bandura
    • , M. Bhardwaj
    • , P. Boubel
    • , M. M. Boyce
    • , P. J. Boyle
    • , C. Brar
    • , M. Burhanpurkar
    • , T. Cassanelli
    • , P. Chawla
    • , J. F. Cliche
    • , D. Cubranic
    • , M. Deng
    • , N. Denman
    • , M. Dobbs
    • , M. Fandino
    • , E. Fonseca
    • , B. M. Gaensler
    • , A. J. Gilbert
    • , A. Gill
    • , U. Giri
    • , D. C. Good
    • , M. Halpern
    • , D. S. Hanna
    • , A. S. Hill
    • , G. Hinshaw
    • , C. Höfer
    • , A. Josephy
    • , V. M. Kaspi
    • , T. L. Landecker
    • , D. A. Lang
    • , H.-H. Lin
    • , K. W. Masui
    • , R. Mckinven
    • , J. Mena-Parra
    • , M. Merryfield
    • , D. Michilli
    • , N. Milutinovic
    • , C. Moatti
    • , A. Naidu
    • , L. B. Newburgh
    • , C. Ng
    • , C. Patel
    • , U. Pen
    • , T. Pinsonneault-Marotte
    • , Z. Pleunis
    • , M. Rafiei-Ravandi
    • , M. Rahman
    • , S. M. Ransom
    • , A. Renard
    • , P. Scholz
    • , J. R. Shaw
    • , S. R. Siegel
    • , K. M. Smith
    • , I. H. Stairs
    • , S. P. Tendulkar
    • , I. Tretyakov
    • , K. Vanderlinde
    •  & P. Yadav
    Nature 566, 235-238

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    The winds from growing supermassive black holes appear to be located tens of parsecs from the centres of their host galaxies. This location fits with the idea that these outflows influence the progression of star formation.

    • Sarah C. Gallagher
    Nature Astronomy 3, 202-203
  • Editorial |

    Since the field’s inception, the study of active galactic nuclei has been central to extragalactic astronomy. The plurality of ways in which these objects can be observed and their numerous links to other fields of astronomy maintain their continued relevance.

  • Comments and Opinion |

    Until now, radio astronomers had to choose between sensitivity or field of view. The new Apertif system provides both, enabling studies of low-mass galaxies, galaxy interactions and fast radio bursts, write Betsey Adams and Joeri van Leeuwen.

    • Elizabeth A. K. Adams
    •  & Joeri van Leeuwen
  • Comments and Opinion |

    The detection of a gravitational-wave background at nanohertz frequencies can tell us if and how supermassive black holes merge, and inform our knowledge of galaxy merger rates and supermassive black hole masses. All we have to do is time pulsars.

    • Chiara M. F. Mingarelli
  • Comments and Opinion |

    The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder will be a key tool in future searches for fast radio bursts and other transient phenomena, and is already reaping rewards, explains Principal Engineer Keith Bannister.

    • Keith W. Bannister