The 51 Eridani system photographed by the Gemini Planet Imager (Image Gemini Observatory and J. Rameau (UdeM) and C. Marois NRC Herzberg)

Planet 51 Eridani b is the first discovered using the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), an instrument that started operating at the beginning of 2014 with the express purpose of directly detecting planets outside the solar system. This is the smallest exoplanet observed directly so far and its characteristics suggest that resembles Jupiter when it was very young. The results of this research were published in the journal “Science”.

The appearance of a typical galaxy at different wavelenghts in the GAMA survey (Image ICRAR/GAMA and ESO)

An international team of astronomers examined the data of more than 200,000 galaxies at different electromagnetic wavelengths. The conclusion is that in a section of the universe the energy output today is about half compared to two billion years ago. In essence, the universe is dying but you need not worry because it’s an extremely slow process. This research was presented at the International Astronomical Union XXIX General Assembly and will be published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society”.

The Southern Owl Nebula planetary nebula (Photo ESO)

It’s nicknamed the Southern Owl Nebula and its an extraordinarily symmetrical and round planetary nebula. Using ESO’s VLT (Very Large Telescope) in Chile now it’s been possible to capture an extraordinary image of this dying star and what’s left around it. The result gives the impression of a sphere lit up like a ghost in the darkness of space.

Artistic concept of an aurora at the north pole of a brown dwarf (Image Chuck Carter and Gregg Hallinan/Caltech)

Its aurora is 10,000 times more powerful than any other ever seen, somuch as to be detectable, although with very sophisticated instruments, from a distance of 18 light years. It was found on a brown dwarf called LSR J1835+3259 using the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), the Hale Telescope in California and the Keck Telescope in Hawaii. The results of this research have just been published in the journal “Nature”.

A comparison of the Kepler-452 system with the solar system and the Kepler-186 system (Image NASA/JPL-CalTech/R. Hurt)

NASA announced the discovery of the planet Kepler-452b made using the Kepler space telescope. It has an orbit similar to that of the Earth around a star similar to the Sun. This puts it well within the habitable zone of its star system because the star Kepler-452 is just a little bigger and brighter than the Sun so if on the planet Kepler-452b there was an atmosphere similar to the Earth’s, water could exist in liquid form.