May 2017

Artist's concept of galaxies merging near a quasar (Image MPIA using material from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope)

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes the discovery of four galaxies that are very ancient, so much that they formed less than a billion years after the Big Bang. A very high stellar formation rate was observed within them. A team of astronomers led by Roberto Decarli of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy discovered by chance these four galaxies, noting that they were close to as many quasars.

A part of the Sh2-308 nebula (Image ESA/Hubble & NASA)

An image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope shows part of a nebula called Sh2-308 surrounding the star EZ Canis Majoris, a Wolf-Rayet star, a rare type of very massive star, over twenty times the mass of the Sun, and very hot that emits very strong solar winds. The star and the nebula are closely linked because the very strong solar winds push large amounts of ionized hydrogen that form a kind of temporary bubble around it.

The Fomalhaut system seen by ALMA and Hubble (Image ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), M. MacGregor; NASA/ESA Hubble, P. Kalas; B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF))

Two articles to be published in “The Astrophysical Journal” describe two studies concerning the ring of debris surrounding the star Fomalhaut. An international team of astronomers used the ALMA radio telescope to get the first complete image of those debris, which are probably the product of a series of collisions among comets near the outer edges of that solar system. Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide have also been found in abundance.

Valleys on Mars eroded by rainfall (Image courtesy Elsevier)

An article published in the journal “Icarus” describes a research on rainfall on the young planet Mars. Geologists Robert Craddock of Smithsonian Institution and Ralph Lorenz of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory showed how the changes in the Martian atmosphere caused an increase in rainfall, which had effects on the surface of the planet similar to those we see on Earth.

2007 OR10 and its moon (Image NASA, ESA, C. Kiss (Konkoly Observatory), and J. Stansberry (STScI))

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” describes the discovery of a moon of the 2007 OR10 transnettunian object. It’s most likely a dwarf planet which is still little known because right now it’s distant from the Sun about 87 times the Earth. A team of astronomers led by Csaba Kiss of the Konkoly Observatory in Budapest analyzed images of the Hubble Space Telescope’s archive finding two images of 2007 OR10’s moon.