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.

The Russian cargo spacecraft Progress M-28M during its approach to the International Space Station (Image NASA TV)

A little while ago the Progress M-28M spacecraft docked to the International Space Station. The Russian space cargo ship, launched last Friday, is carrying food and water that ensure a reserve of about another month to the crew as well as scientific experiments, propellant and various hardware. For the nations cooperating in running the Station it’s certainly a relief after three mishaps in less than a year, so much as to be defined Christmas in July.

The Russian spacecraft Progress M-28M blasting off atop a Soyuz U rocket (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago the Progress M-28M spacecraft blasted off on a Soyuz U rocket from the Baikonur base in Kazakhstan in a resupply mission to the International Space Station also referred to as Progress 60. Less than ten minutes after the launch, the cargo spaceship regularly separated from the rocket’s upper stage, entered a preliminary orbit and deployed its solar panels and navigation antennas. After recent failures in the launches of cargo spaceships, one hopes that this mission may once again be the routine we had become used to.

One of the pits in the area called Seth on the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Image ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes a research on a series of 18 pits on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. They are nearly circular and some of them are a source of activity, emitting jets of gas and dust. They were discovered a long time ago but an analysis of the images collected by ESA’s space probe Rosetta’s OSIRIS camera allowed to establish that probably they were formed following a collapse of the surface.