Astronomy / Astrophysics

Scheme of the comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring passing near Mars (Image NASA/Goddard)

An article published in the journal “Geophysical Research Letters” describes the effects on the planet Mars’ magnetic field caused by the close passage of the comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring in October 2014. Using data collected in that period by NASA’s MAVEN space probe it was possible to reconstruct the moments that were chaotic for the Martian magnetosphere with profound consequences even if temporary.

The area around Ahuna Mons on Ceres photographed by the Dawn space probe (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

Between March 6 and 7, 2015, depending on your time zone on Earth, NASA’s Dawn space probe entered the orbit of the dwarf planet Ceres. In December 2015 it went down to a lower altitude to conduct a mapping with the best definition and in February 2016 its orbital path led it into a position where it could take excellent pictures of Ahuna Mons, as they called the mountain that used to look like a pyramid and is one of the most curious geological features on Ceres.

Picture taken by the Hubble Space Telescope with the galaxy GN-z11 in the inset (Image NASA, ESA, and P. Oesch (Yale University))

An article about to be published in “The Astrophysical Journal” describes the discovery of the most distant galaxy observed so far. Called GN-z11, it’s about 13.4 billion light years from Earth and that means that we’re seeing the light emitted when the universe was about 400 million years. An international team of astronomers pushed the Hubble Space Telescope to the limit of its possibilities to achieve this result.

A portion of space simulated by the Illustris project showing the distribution of dark matter (Image courtesy Markus Haider / Illustris collaboration)

An article published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” describes a research on the distribution of matter in the universe. According to the results 20% of ordinary matter is contained in the so-called cosmic voids and galaxies are only 1/500th of the volume of the universe. A team led by Dr Markus Haider of the Institute of Astro and Particle Physics at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, has used simulations of the Illustris project to reach these conclusions.

Aerial view of the Arecibo radio telescope (Photo H. Schweiker/WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF)

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes a study following the discovery of repeating fast radio bursts. For the first time, this kind of phenomenon repeated and a team of researchers led by Laura Spitler of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, was able to identify a sequence of signals coming from the same source using the Arecibo radio telescope.