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.

Mountains and the layers of the atmosphere on Pluto (Photo NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

The latest images of Pluto just published by NASA show new details of this dwarf planet. So far, the photographs were usually taken from the New Horizons space probe’s LORRI camera, instead these ones were taken by MVIC (Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera), one of the components of the Ralph small telescope that’s part of probe’s payload. These pictures show in an extraordinary way mountains, glaciers and the hazy layers of Pluto’s atmosphere.

Artistic representation of the interior of Enceladus with a global underground ocean (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An article just published in the journal “Icarus” describes a research that used data collected by the Cassini space probe to determine that Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, has a global underground ocean. That there was an ocean beneath the icy surface of Enceladus was a well-established fact from previous research but it remained to be seen whether the water was liquid all over beneath the surface or only in some warm enough areas.