Massimo Luciani

The region on the planet Mercury where the Messenger space probe crashed (Image NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington)

NASA has confirmed that a few hours ago the Messenger (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging) space probe ended its mission by crashing on the surface of the planet Mercury. Messenger ran out of fuel and some maneuvers were recently programmed to prolong its life of a few more days. Eventually, even the helium normally used to pressurize the propellant was released in a jet that gave the probe one last push. It was a very successful mission that allowed us to discover many things about Mercury.

The Progress M-27M cargo spacecraft blasting off atop a Soyuz 2-1A rocket (Photo courtesy TsENKI. All rights reserved)

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, has officially given up hope of taking control of the Progress M-27M spacecraft. The attempts to contact it made on Tuesday and Wednesday had no success. Yesterday the docking to the ISS was called off and then the cargo spacecraft has been declared lost. The consequence is that it will fall into the atmosphere with no control disintegrating with all supplies it’s carrying.

On the left, a common Supernova with no engine, on the right a Supernova with a strong engine that emits a gamma-ray burst, in the middle an intermediate case such as SN 2012ap (Image Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF)

An article published in “Astrophysical Journal” describes the diskovery made by a group of astronomers led by Sayan Chakraborti of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). They studied a supernova called 2012ap (SN 2012ap) which is a missing link between ordinary ones and the ones that cause the emission of a gamma-ray burst.

Scheme of a three-body interaction in which a galaxy is turned into a compat elliptical then is ejected from a cluster (Image NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team)

There are several known cases of runaway stars such as Zeta Ophiuchi but now the Russian astronomers Igor Chilingarian and Ivan Zolotukhin of the Moscow State University’s Sternberg Astronomical Institute have found runaway galaxies. In an article published in the journal “Science”, the list 11 galaxies ejected from the clusters they used to be part of because of the gravitational interaction with their neighbors.