Telescopes

Data from the SOFIA airborne telescope shows dust surviving within a supernova remnants (Image NASA/CXO/Herschel/VLA/Lau et al)

In the journal “Science” an article was just published that discusses a research conducted by an international team of scientists who found evidence that supernovae can generate a sufficient amount of material that can later create new planets like Earth. This team, led by Ryan Lau of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, studied in particular a supernova that exploded about 10,000 years ago using a special instrument, the airborne telescope SOFIA.

Hubble Space Telescope images of Ganymede's aurorae colored blue overlaid on a Galileo space probe image of the moon (Image NASA/ESA)

The Hubble Space Telescope has been used to study Ganymede, the largest Jupiter’s moon, and in particular its aurorae. Analyzing their characteristics, it was possible to get the best clues found so far of the existence of a Ganymede underground ocean of liquid salt water. This ocean may contain more water than it exists on the surface of the Earth.

The sky around the double star V471 Tauri, visible in low luminosity in the middle of the image (Image ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2)

SPHERE (Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch) is an instrument built especially to take direct pictures of exoplanets but the first scientific article based on its observations was about the binary system V471 Tauri. A group of astronomers led by Adam Hardy carried out this research, published in the journal “Astrophysical Journal Letters”, explaining why it led to a surprise.

The astronomers expected that there was a brown dwarf orbiting this double star but SPHERE didn’t find anything. It’s a surprising result because the presence of a brown dwarf was by far the most plausible explanation for the strange behavior of V471 Tauri.