Telescopes

Uranus and its rings seen by ALMA (Image ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); Edward M. Molter and Imke de Pater))

An article published in “The Astronomical Journal” reports new observations at infrareds and millimeter wavelengths of the planet Uranus and its rings. Imke de Pater and Edward Molter conducted observations with the ALMA radio telescope while Michael Roman and Leigh Fletcher conducted observations with the VLT. For the first time the temperature of the rings was measured, which turned out to be around 77 Kelvin. These observations also help to better understand the rings’ composition and the differences compared to those of the other planets.

Two Earth-sized planets discovered in the nearby Teegarden's Star system

An article being published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” reports the discovery of two planets with a mass close to that of the Earth around Teegarden’s Star, a tiny star about 12.5 light years from Earth and therefore one of the closest. A team of researchers led by the German University of Göttingen used the CARMENES instrument mounted on the Spanish 3.6-meter telescope of the Calar Alto Observatory, Spain, to conduct one of the recent research focused on small stars.

The dwarf galaxy ESO 495-21 (Image ESA/Hubble, NASA)

An image captured by the Hubble space telescope shows the dwarf galaxy ESO 495-21, really small having an estimated total mass of around 10 billion solar masses, about 3% of the Milky Way. The astronomers’ interest in ESO 495-21 is due to the fact that, despite its small size, it’s of the starburst type, which means that it has a fast rate of star formation, and has at its center a supermassive black hole with a mass estimated at at least one million solar masses. It’s a case that could be similar to the first galaxies of the universe and supports the hypothesis that the dwarf galaxy formed around a black hole that already existed before.

A solution to the mystery of the formation of the exoplanet CI Tauri b

An article to be published in “Astrophysical Journal Letters” offers a solution to the mystery of the formation of the exoplanet CI Tauri b, a very young hot Jupiter that contradicts the models that predict that a gas giant is supposed to take at least 10 million years to form. A team of researchers used the IGRINS spectrograph to observe that exoplanet and the data collected suggest that it formed with the mechanism called hot start in jargon in which a gravitational instability is a key element in the quick formation of gas giant planets. Astronomers Christopher Johns-Krull of Rice University and Lisa Prato of the Lowell Observatory, among the authors of the research, presented these conclusions at the 234th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

The presence of toxic gases could limit the habitability of rocky exoplanets

An article published in the journal “The Astrophysical Journal” offers a new definition of the habitable zone of ​​a star system where a planet that can accommodate life forms similar to the Earth’s can orbit. A team of researchers coordinated by the University of California – Riverside examined the available data on the atmospheres of exoplanets with orbits in what until now has been considered the habitable zone discovering that in most cases there’s an amount of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide toxic for complex life forms as we know them. In essence, the new definition significantly reduces the habitable zone.