Telescopes

The supernova remnants RCW103 with the magnetar 1E 1613 at its center (Image X-ray: NASA/CXC/University of Amsterdam/N.Rea et al; Optical: DSS)

Two articles, one published in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” and one published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society”, describe as many research on the supernova remnants known as RCW103. At its center a neutron star formed called 1E 161348-5055 – or simply 1E 1613 – that has been puzzling astronomers for decades for its abnormal behavior. Now two teams independently offered the same explanation: the neutron star has the characteristics of a magnetar.

Pluto seen at visible light and at X-rays (not in scale) (Image X-ray: NASA/CXC/JHUAPL/R.McNutt et al; Optical: NASA/JHUAPL)

Two new research are connected in different ways to emissions coming from the dwarf planet Pluto. An article published in the journal “Icarus” describes a research which, through the use of the NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, detected X-rays emissions from Pluto. Another article published in the journal “Nature” offers an explanation for the reddish color to Charon’s poles, caused by methane ripped from Pluto’s atmosphere and turned into ice by the low temperatures.

The globular cluster Terzan 5 seen by the MAD on the VLT (Image ESO/F. Ferraro)

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal” describes a research on the globular cluster Terzan 5. An international team of astronomers led by Francesco Ferraro from the University of Bologna discovered that the stars of Terzan 5 are divided into two groups, one with an age of 12 billion years and one with an age of around 4.5 billion years, more or less like the Sun. This unique feature can help to better understand the evolution of the Milky Way.

Artistic concept of the Milky Way as a Quasar (Image courtesy Mark A. Garlick/CfA)

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal” describes a research about the Milky Way that offers a solution to the problem of the missing mass. A team of scientists led by Fabrizio Nicastro, a research associate at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and astrophysicist at the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF), used ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope to discover a kind of gaseous fog that absorbs emissions from distant sources. The existence of such a bubble indicates that some millions of years ago the Milky Way was a quasar.

Artistic concept of Proxima b's surface. In the upper-right of Proxima Centauri there are Alpha Centauri A and B (Image ESO/M. Kornmesser)

Yesterday ESO held a press conference to announce that probably they discovered an exoplanet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the solar system. A team of astronomers led by Guillem Anglada-Escudé from Queen Mary University of London found what was called Proxima b, a planet a little more massive than the Earth orbiting in the habitable zone of its star.