Massimo Luciani

Simulated perspective view of Occator Crater on Ceres (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

At the annual American Geophysical Union meeting, NASA scientists presented the results of the latest research on bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres. In particular, the activity detected over time, especially by NASA’s Dawn space probe with variations in their brightness confirm the possibility that on Ceres there’s still a geological activity that is modifying this dwarf planet’s surface.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot' layers (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI)

Yesterday at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting the new discoveries concerning Jupiter’s Great Red Spot of Jupiter and a new ​​radiation area were announced. The data collected by NASA’s space probe Juno during a flyby on July 11, 2017 allowed to discover something new about that storm bigger than Earth, for example finding an answer to one of the crucial questions about it establishing that it’s about 300 kilometers (200 miles) deep.

Cygni V404 during its outburst (Image Andrew Beardmore (Univ. of Leicester) and NASA/Swift)

An article published in the journal “Science” describes a precise measurement of the magnetic field of the corona of the black hole V404 Cygni. A team of researchers used the data collected in 2015 during a violent outburst of energy connected to the emission of jets from the black hole detected at many wavelengths using various space and ground-based telescopes. The result of this measurement was very surprising, being about 400 times lower than previous estimates.

The Quasar J1342+0928 (Image courtesy Mpia / Venemans et al.)

Two articles, one published in the journal “Nature” and one published in the “Astrophysical Journal Letters”, describe different aspects of a research that led to the discovery of the oldest known supermassive black hole. According to an estimate it formed about 690 million years after the Big Bang and it’s difficult to explain how it reached 800 million times the Sun’s mass. Labeled as Ulas J134208.10+092838.61 or more simply as J1342+0928, it may have formed during the so-called reionization period.

Artist's concept of part of the planet K2-18b with a thick atmosphere, its star and the planet K2-18c in the background (Image courtesy Alex Boersma)

An article published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” describes a research on the star K2-18’s system. A team of researchers used the HARPS instrument at ESO’s La Silla observatory in Chile to study the exoplanet K2-18b, discovered in 2015, which could be a larger version of the Earth. The analysis of the data led to the discovery of a second exoplanet, which was called K2-18c, a little less massive and closer to its star therefore probably too hot to be in ​​its system’s habitable zone.