December 2015

The quasar Q2237+0305 nicknamed Einstein Cross photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope (Image NASA, ESA, and STScI)

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” describes a research on the quasar Q2237+0305 nicknamed Einstein Cross or Einstein’s Cross. Through the technique of gravitational microlensing a team of Spanish astrophysicists carried out the most accurate measures of the innermost region belonging to the disc of materials spinning around the supermassive black hole that feeds this quasar.

Picture of the area called Gerber Catena with its craters, depression and fractures (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

Nearly three weeks ago NASA’s Dawn space probe reached its final orbit, at an altitude of about 380 kilometers (240 miles) over the dwarf planet Ceres. It will remain there indefinitely, meaning that it will keep that orbit until the end of its mission but at that point it won’t be moved. It’s its lowest orbit and from there Dawn immediately started taking the most detailed pictures and make new detections with its instruments.

The Yutu, which means Jade Rabbit, lunar rover (Photo courtesy All rights reserved)

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes the discovery of a new type of rock on the Moon, precisely in Mare Imbrium. It was possible thanks to the data collected by the Chinese Yutu rover during its Chang’e 3 mission. In a crater called Zi Wei, Yutu found a type of basalt with a composition different from those collected in past decades during the American and Soviet Moon missions.

Photo of Enceladus' northern region showing the contrast between its areas (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Some days ago, the Cassini space probe completed its last Enceladus flyby. It’s a Saturn’s moon very interesting for the presence of an underground ocean of liquid water. This time, Cassini passed about 5,000 kilometers (about 3,100 miles) from Enceladus measuring the heat flow from inside it and taking more pictures of its icy surface.