November 2017

Pluto and its atmosphere (Image NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes a research on the haze present in the atmosphere of the dwarf planet Pluto’s and its effects on its temperatures. According to a team led by Xi Zhang of the University of California at Santa Cruz, the haze absorb the already low heat from sunlight and emits infrared radiation cooling the atmosphere. That’s the explanation for the fact that NASA’s New Horizons space probe measured a temperature even lower than expected.

Artist's impressione of the exoplanet Ross 128 b and its star (Image ESO/M. Kornmesser)

An article published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” describes the discovery of the exoplanet Ross 128 b, which might be similar to Earth with a mass of at least 35% higher than the Earth’s. A team of researchers used the HARPS instrument at the Silla Observatory in Chile to discover this planet about 11 light years from Earth. Its orbit might be in ‚Äčits system’s habitable zone making it the second exoplanet closest to the solar system with those characteristics after Proxima b.

The HD 135344B system

An article published in the magazine “The Astrophysical Journal” describes a research on the protoplanetary disk surrounding the star HD 135344B. A team led by Tomas Stolker of the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, used the SPHERE instrument mounted on ESO’s VLT (Very Large Telescope) to monitor the evolution of that dust and gas disk and of the dark bands that appear as shadows projected on it. Probably there are processes in the disk’s inner area that cause shadows on its outer area.

The Cygnus spece cargo ship blasting off atop an Antares rocket (Photo NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A little while ago Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft blasted off atop an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), part of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) on Wallops Island. After about nine minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage went en route to its destination. This is its eighth official mission, called Orbital-8 or simply Orb-8 but also CRS OA-8, to transport supplies to the International Space Station for NASA.