The PDS 70 system with the zoom on the protoplanet PDS 70 c

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” reports a study on the circumplanetary disk around the exoplanet PDS 70 c. A team of researchers led by Myriam Benisty used the ALMA radio telescope to study what is still a protoplanet and the disk of materials around it that could form moons. According to estimates, there’s enough mass to form up to three moons the size of the Earth’s Moon. This type of study offers new information both on the formation of planets, especially gas giants, and on moons, one of the frontiers astronomers are trying to open.

Centaurus A at high resolution in the inset superimposed on an image of the galaxy hosting the supermassive black hole

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” reports observations of the jets emitted by the supermassive black hole at the center of the radio galaxy Centaurus A with details never seen before thanks to the combination of different radio telescopes. A team of researchers including the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration used the same technique that made it possible to obtain the historical image of the area around the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy M87. The Centaurus A observations took place in 2017 and now the results arrived, especially the details of the jets.

Nauka/MLM blasting off atop a Proton-M rocket (Image NASA TV)

Yesterday, the Russian Nauka module, formally called the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), was launched atop a Proton-M rocket from the Kazakh cosmodrome of Baikonur. After about nine minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and set off on its course. Its journey will take about 8 days to reach the International Space Station on July 29, where it will become part of the Russian section many years behind schedule. The launch included the European Robotic Arm (ERA) developed under the auspices of ESA, a robotic arm that will be used for operations in the area of ​​the Station’s Russian section.

The New Shepard rocket blasting off (Image courtesy Blue Origin)

A little while ago, Blue Origin conducted the first crewed flight, which included owner Jeff Bezos, of its New Shepard rocket. It blasted off from the company’s spaceport in Van Horn, Texas, and after about 3 minutes the spacecraft named “RSS First Step” separated from the rocket and reached an altitude of a little more than 106 kilometers, more than the 100 kilometers of the Kármán Line that officially marks the boundary with space. Both the single-stage rocket and the spacecraft are reusable, so both landed at the end of the flight.

The giant comet C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein)

The Las Cumbres Observatory has captured a new image of the giant comet C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) that shows its activity despite its considerable distance given that it’s far beyond Saturn’s orbit. The information collected also by looking into archive images such as the ones that allowed to identify it in an image from 2014 is useful to better understand its characteristics. In particular, initial estimates suggested that its diameter was at least 100 kilometers, three times the largest known comet, but these are estimates based on the absence of a coma. C/2014 UN271 will remain far from the Sun, arriving close to Saturn’s orbit at the beginning of 2031, so it can only be admired with telescopes but it could still be very interesting because it probably comes from the Oort cloud.