Astronomy / Astrophysics

Artistic representation of the comet C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) (Image ESO/M. Kornmesser)

An article published in the journal “Science Advances” describes a research about comet C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS), which was preserved in the Oort cloud for billions of years while maintaining almost the same features it had at the time of its formation. Its peculiarity is that it seems to be composed of the same materials of the inner areas of the solar system so it’s a kind of fossil of the times of the Earth’s formation.

The Japanese space agency JAXA announced the impossibility to restore at least part of its Hitomi space telescope’s functions. After the interruption of the contacts, in the course of April JAXA started an investigation in order to restore Hitomi’s functions although the damages assessed didn’t leave much hope. The attempts were expected to go on for months, instead the situation turned out to be so bad that they were forced to declare the loss of the satellite.

The dwarf planet Makemake seen by the Hubble Space Telescope with its moon indicated by the arrow (Image NASA, ESA, and A. Parker and M. Buie (SwRI))

The Hubble Space Telescope has identified a moon of the dwarf planet Makemake. For the moment it was simply designated S/2015 (136472) and nicknamed MK2 and it’s a small moon with an estimated diameter of about 160 kilometers (about 100 miles). The discovery came from observations made in April 2015 using the Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 instrument.

The center of the Milky Way seen by the Herschel Space Telescope (ESA/Herschel/PACS, SPIRE/Hi-GAL Project. Acknowledgement: G. Li Causi, IAPS/INAF, Italy)

An article published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” presents maps and a catalog of compact sources obtained thanks to a project called Herschel infrared Galactic Plane Survey (Hi-GAL). The observations made during the ESA Herschel Space Telescope’s mission were used to create maps of the complete Plan Galactic in the far infrared with a level of completeness never seen before.

Artistic concept of the Venus Express space probe during an aerobraking maneuver (Image ESA–C. Carreau)

An article published in the journal “Nature Physics” describes an analysis of the data collected by ESA’s Venus Express space probe during the final phase of its mission. After about eight years orbiting the planet Venus, in 2014 it was sent down lower and lower into the atmosphere, where it collected many new data before ending up getting destroyed. This allowed for example to discover the extraordinarily low temperatures of some atmospheric waves that have an average of about -157° Celsius (about -250° Fahrenheit).