The space lettuce growing system (Photo Orbital Technologies/NASA)

Yesterday the crew of the International Space Station ate some salad. It seems a very trivial act but it was based on lettuce grown on the Station as part of the Veg-01 experiment that is specifically intended to study the growth of plants in a microgravity environment. The ultimate goal is to enable self-sufficiency in the food production during outer space trips and in space colonies.

Gamma-ray burst map showing a ring 5 billion light years across (Image courtesy Lajos Balazs)

An article published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” describes the discovery of what appears to the largest structure of the universe. It’s a ring of nine gamma-ray bursts, which means as many galaxies, for a length of 5 billions light years. This ring, though it’s not really a circle, seems to contradict the current models and in particular the cosmological principle, the idea that the distribution of matter in the universe is uniform at a large enough scale.

Artistic concept of the particles forming Saturn's Rings (Image NASA)

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS) describes a research that provides an explanation to a mystery about Saturn’s rings applicable to those of any other celestial body. According to the international team that carried out this research, rings have a universal particle distribution following precise mathematical laws.

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.

Image showing two pair of stars, one in blue and one in read, born together and then one of them moves far away (Image courtesy Dana Berry/SkyWorks Digital, Inc.; SDSS collaboration)

An article published in recent days in “The Astrophysical Journal” describes a research showing that about 30% of the stars in the Milky Way – which means nearly one in three – moved dramatically from the orbit it had at its birth. This surprising result was achieved by a team of scientists who worked on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) observing for a four-year period 100,000 stars with the SDSS Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Explorer (APOGEE) spectrograph.