Telescopes

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.

Scheme of the observation of the supermassive black hole PKS 1830-211 through gravitational lensing (Image ESA/ATG medialab)

An article published in the journal “Nature Physics” describes the study conducted on the supermassive black hole known as PKS 1830-211 using observations made with ESA’s Integral and NASA’s Fermi and Swift space telescopes. The peculiarity is that these observations used a gravitational lensing effect created by a galaxy to explore the inner regions of the area around the black hole and the gamma rays that come from it.

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.