Massimo Luciani

SpaceX Dragon space cargo ship blasting off atop a Falcon 9 rocket to start its CRS-12 mission (Image courtesy SpaceX)

A little while ago SpaceX Dragon spacecraft blasted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in its CRS-12 (Cargo Resupply Service 12) mission, also referred to as SPX-12. After just over ten minutes it separated successfully from the rocket’s last stage and went en route. This is the 12th mission for the Dragon spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station with various cargoes and then return to Earth, again with various cargoes.

Artist's concept of the the TRAPPIST-1 system seen from an area near TRAPPIST-1f (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An article to be pulished in “The Astrophysical Journal” describes a research on the age of the TRAPPIST-1 system. This ultra-cool dwarf star has become increasingly popular thanks to the results of research on its planets. One of the problems was to establish its age and astronomer Adam Burgasser of the University of California, San Diego, and Eric Mamajek of NASA’s JPL provided an estimate between 5.4 and 9.8 billion years.

Artist's concept of the orbits of 3 stars near the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way (Image ESO/M. Parsa/L. Calçada)

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal” describes an analysis of the motions of stars that orbit the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, particularly the one known as S2. A team of astronomers applied a new analytical technique to observations conducted in the past with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and other telescopes concluding that those orbits are influenced by the effects of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

An article published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” describes a research involving 16 of the brightest known quasars. A team of researchers led by the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) examined in particular those quasars’ infrared emissions to identify young hot stars in the galaxies hosting them concluding that a lot of them are forming, at a rate up to about 4,000 times higher than in the Milky Way.

Dark Energy Survey's map (Image Chihway Chang/Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago/DES Collaboration)

The Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaboration presented a map of dark matter at the American Physical Society Division of Particles and Fields at Fermilab created using gravitational lensing effects from 26 million galaxies. These results show the composition of the recent universe and are very close to the predictions based on the map created upon measurements the primeval universe of ESA’s Planck Surveyor satellite.