July 2018

CMB Final Map (Image ESA/Planck Collaboration)

ESA presented the final map of the cosmic microwave background radiation created thanks to the Planck Surveyor space probe. This map shows what the universe was like before galaxies formed when it was about 380,000 years old. These are the results of the last processing of the collected data and now scientists are certain that the temperature and polarization are accurately determined. This final map confirms the standard model but also the inconsistency between the calculation of the Hubble constant based on those data and the one based on observation of the current universe.

Cerealia Facula in Occator Crater (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

At the Committee on SPAce Research (COSPAR) meeting held this week in Pasadena, NASA’s JPL scientists are presenting the latest information gathered by NASA’s Dawn space probe about the dwarf planet Ceres. In particular, there’s an attention on Occator Crater, the most famous crater thanks to its brightness due to the various bright spots made of salts inside it, now called faculae. In the next few months Dawn will finish its mission but will continue to collect data from the lowest orbit at only 34-35 kilometers (about 21 miles) of altitude.

Scheme of Hubble and Gaia at work (Image NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI))

An article published in the journal “The Astrophysical Journal” describes a new measurement of the expansion of the universe. A team of astronomers led by Nobel Prize winner Adam Riess combined observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope and those made with ESA’s Gaia space probe, an observatory that specifically aims to map billions of objects in the sky including the variable stars called Cepheid variable used for those measurements. The new results increase the accuracy but also the discrepancy between the measures of the expansion of the near universe and those of the early universe.

Artist's concept of a blazar emitting neutrinos and gamma rays (Image courtesy IceCube/NASA)

Various articles published in different journals shows various aspects of a research that allowed to associate a neutrino detected by the IceCube instrument at the South Pole to the blazar known as TXS 0506+056. In an article published in February 2018 in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” a team led by Simona Paiano of the INAF of Padua showed that connection. In two articles just published in the journal “Science”, groups of scientists from 18 different observatories describe what was defined multimessenger observations of neutrino and electromagnetic emissions and a second analysis showing that other neutrinos detected by IceCube came from the same source.

Artitst's concept of Enceladus and Saturn (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Two articles published in the journal “Geophysical Research Letters” describe studies concerning the planet Saturn’s system based on information obtained from the Cassini space probe during what was called the Grand Finale, the orbits close to Saturn performed in the weeks preceding the end of that extraordinary mission. In particular, the audio was generated that contains sound obtained by converting the electromagnetic emissions discovered between Saturn and its rings and Enceladus generated by movements of plasma between them.