Massimo Luciani

The early massive galaxies just discovered marked in red circles (Image ESO/UltraVISTA team. Acknowledgement: TERAPIX/CNRS/INSU/CASU)

An article published in the journal “Astrophysical Journal” describes the discovery of the oldest giant galaxies carried out thanks to ESO’s VISTA (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) telescope. A team of astronomers led by Karina Caputi of the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, identified galaxies that existed when the universe was between 750 million and 2.1 billion years old. This result is surprising because the birth of galaxies so massive wasn’t expected so soon.

Scheme of ALMA combined with the IRAM and VLBA radio telescopes (Image A. Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF))

The ALMA radio telescope is currently the world’s most powerful yet in recent months some experiments were carried out that made it even more powerful by working together with other radio telescopes to create a virtual instrument that may have a size similar to that of Earth. This was made possible by combining observations from ALMA with those from other radio telescopes located in other continents.

The galaxy MCG+01-02-015, also known as LEDA 1852 (Photo ESA/Hubble & NASA and N. Grogin (STScI), Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt)

The galaxy MCG+01-02-015, also known as LEDA 1852, got photographed using the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) instrument. The special characteristic of this galaxy is that it’s extremely isolated. Generally, galaxies are part of clusters which are in turn part of larger formations, bonded together in structures called galactic filaments, formations at a really huge scale. Among these filaments, however, there are cosmic voids in which sometimes there may be a lonely galaxy.

Garden City seen by the Mars Rover Curiosity (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

At the 47th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences in National Harbor, Maryland, scientists of NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity mission presented the results of new analyzes of the Martian site called Garden City. It’s an area visited in March 2015 that turned out to be very interesting from the geological point of view because of its chemical diversity and for its mineral veins, which protrude from the rocks they formed on.

The biggest update made so far to the software that runs Curiosity’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument considerably enhanceed it. In fact, it allowed an improvement in the interpretation of the collected data making it more sensitive to a wider range of possible compositions of the Martian rocks.

The Tarantula Nebula with the PSR J0540-6919 and PSR J0537-6910 pulsars circled (Image NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center; background: ESO/R. Fosbury (ST-ECF))

An article published in the journal “Science” describes the study of the first gamma-ray emitting pulsar discovered outside the Milky Way. Cataloged as PSR J0540-6919, it’s part of an area full of stars known as the Tarantula Nebula or 30 Doradus within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. The gamma rays emission from this pulsar was identified by the LAT (Large Area Telescope), one of the instruments of the Fermi gamma-ray space telescope.