Massimo Luciani

The galaxy cluster MACS J1149.5+2223 and in the inset the galaxy MACS1149-JD1

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes the discovery of the most distant traces of oxygen ever detected. A team of astronomers used the ALMA radio telescope and ESO’s VLT telescope to observe the galaxy MACS1149-JD1, where there are traces of star formation about 250 million years after the Big Bang, a very remote era in which so far there were just some clues of possible star formation.

Example of quasar (Image ESA/Hubble & NASA)

An article published in the journal “Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia” describes the discovery of the fastest growing supermassive black hole. A team of astronomers from the Australian National University (ANU) used data collected by ESA’s Gaia space probe, NASA’s WISE space telescope and the SkyMapper telescope at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory to find it. It’s a quasar, one of the brightest objects in the universe but is more than 12 billion light years away from Earth. It swallows the equivalent of the Sun’s mass every two days.

Illustration of Jupiter, Europa, magnetic field lines and the Galileo space probe (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Michigan)

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” describes a new examination of data about Europa, one of the great moons of Jupiter, collected in 1997 by NASA’s Galileo space probe. A team of researchers used new computer models to interpret an anomaly in the magnetic field around Europa that had remained unexplained. The result of the new examination is that the anomaly was generated by plumes of water vapor containing various compounds, a new proof of their existence.

Electron magnetic reconnection's scheme

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes the discovery of a new type of magnetic reconnection. A team of researchers used data collected by NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) space probes to discover this phenomenon occurring in a boundary layer between the supersonic solar wind and the Earth’s magnetic field called magnetosheath. What was called electron magnetic reconnection is very different from the standard phenomenon and converts magnetic energy into high speed electron jets.

The Falcon 9 rocket with a Block 5 first stage blasting off (Image courtesy SpaceX. All rights reserved)

A few hours ago the Bangabandhu-1 was launched from Cape Canaveral on a Falcon 9 rocket with a first stage in its new version, called Block 5, at its debut. After about 33 minutes it separated from the rocket’s last stage and starte the series of maneuvers that will bring it into a geostationary orbit.

The Block 5 version of the first stage, also called a booster, includes a lot of improvements for the Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX didn’t reveal all the details but a lot of information were provided by the company’s executives or leaked anyway. Various advancements concern performance, meeting NASA’s demands for manned launches, but above all with concern re-use possibilities, a crucial factor in Elon Musk’s company plans.