Telescopes

This artist’s impression shows a supernova and associated gamma-ray burst driven by a magnetar (Image ESO)

An article published in “Nature” describes the research conducted by an international team led by Jochen Greiner of the Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Garching, Germany who studied a gamma-ray burst (GRB) detected on December 9, 2011 by NASA’s Swift satellite and called GRB 111209A. It was an exceptional phenomenon because it lasted more than three hours when gamma-ray bursts typically last from a few seconds to a few minutes. It was the first case of GRB associated with a supernova, called SN 2011kl, which produced a magnetar, a neutron star with an incredibly strong magnetic field.

Top, artistic representation of the NuSTAR space telescope (NASA/JPL-Caltech). Bottom left, one of the galaxies observed with the NuSTAR space telescope (Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA). Bottom right, artistic concept of a supermassive black hole hidden by dust and gas in its host galaxy (NASA/ESA)

Yesterday at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting (NAM2015), at the Venue Cymru centre in Llandudno, Wales, evidence were presented of the discovery of supermassive black holes found thanks to the NASA’s NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) space telescope. An international team led by astronomers at the British Durham University detected the high energy X-ray emission from five black holes that were previously hidden by dust and gas.

Artistic illustration of the planet GJ 436b surrounded by its huge tail and its parent star GJ 436 (Image NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI))

An article in the journal “Nature” describes a research about the planet GJ 436b, whose mass is similar to that of Neptune. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, a team of astronomers led by David Ehrenreich of the Observatory of the University of Geneva in Switzerland discovered that it leaves behind a huge tail of the estimated size of about 50 times that of the star it orbits. Those are hydrogen emissions ripped from the planet which make it looke like a huge comet.

Artistic impression of the galaxy CR7 (Image ESO/M. Kornmesser)

An article accepted for publication in “The Astrophysical Journal” describes the discovery of a galaxy called CR7 seen as it was at the time of the early universe in which first-generation stars were found. This research was carried out mainly using ESO’s Very Large Telescope but data collected by the W. M. Keck Observatory, the Subaru Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope were also used.

Galaxies containing quasars observed using the Hubble Space Telescope: in the top row the quasars are visible, in the bottom row the quasars' light is subtracted (Image NASA/ESA)

An article in the journal “Astrophysical Journal” describes a research conducted on quasars using the Hubble Space Telescope. These objects that are incredibly bright were observed in their formation phase, when they were in a sense teen-agers. The observations confirm the hypothesis that quasars are generated by galactic collisions that feed the supermassive black hole at their center.