Telescopes

Astrosat blasting off atop a PSLV-XL rocket (Photo courtesy ISRO. All rights reserved)

A few hours ago the Astrosat space observatory was launched on a PSLV-XL rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in the flight listed as PSLV-C30 by ISRO, the Indian space agency. After about 22 minutes Astrosat regularly separated from the rocket’s upper stage to enter an orbit close to the equator at an altitude of about 650 kilometers (about 400 miles). Along with it six satellites were launched for customers of different nations: the Indonesian Lapan-A2 microsatellite, the Canadian NLS-14 (EV9) microsatellite and four USA LEMUR nanosatellites.

A still frame from a movie showing an active galactic nucleus (Image NASA / Dana Berry / SkyWorks Digital)

An article in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” describes a study of the galaxy SAGE0536AGN and in particular the supermassive black hole at its center, which is 30 times larger than expected. This is the result of measurements conducted by a team of astronomers at Keele University and the University of Central Lancashire, an anomaly all to explain.

Artists rendition of the SKA-mid dishes that shows how these 15m wide dish telescopes may eventually look when completed (Image courtesy SKA Organisation)

The Chinese government announced its intent to enter into a new phase of its involvement in the development project of the SKA radio telescope by signing a letter of intent with the SKA Organisation that runs it. Vice Minister Jianlin Cao from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) signed the letter of intent on behalf of his government. With this act, China the joins nations that are turning the SKA into an intergovernmental organization with a treaty to formalize the relationship between the project and its members.

At left is the galaxy J0702+5002, which the researchers concluded is not an X-shaped galaxy whose form is caused by a merger. At right is the galaxy J1043+3131, which is a "true" candidate for a merged system (Image Roberts, et al., NRAO/AUI/NSF)

While in the field of astrophysics are still talking about a pair of supermassive black holes that will clash in the future, a new study suggests that these situations are rarer than expected. A team of astronomers led by David Roberts of Brandeis University analyzed data collected with the VLA (Very Large Array) to examine cases in which possible galaxy mergers the brought supermassive black holes at their centers to form a pair. The conclusion is that in many cases the galaxy merger is only apparent.

An earlier iteration of Team Mopra in front of the Mopra radio telescope (Photo courtesy team Mopra. All rights reserved)

The Mopra telescope, with its 22 meters in diameter and the suite of specialized instruments, is the only one able to quickly map large areas of the sky. The name comes from a geological formation in the vicinity, in the area near Coonabarabran, New South Wales, Australia. Its closure was decided after severe budget cuts by the Australian federal government but a fundraiser on Kickstarter could save it.