ESO has announced the successful first observation made using the new GRAVITY instrument on the VLT (Very Large Telescope). It’s operational on all four VLT UT 8.2-meter telescopes and the observation tests of a region near the center of the Milky Way show that it’s working extremely well to provide high quality observations.
An article published in the journal “Nature” describes the discovery of a solar system with three rocky planets that orbit the star TRAPPIST-1, a really small ultra-cool dwarf. A team led by Michaël Gillon of the Institut d’Astrophysique et Géophysique at the University of Liège in Belgium, found these planets with sizes and surface temperatures similar to those of the Earth using the TRAPPIST telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.
An article published in the journal “Science Advances” describes a research about comet C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS), which was preserved in the Oort cloud for billions of years while maintaining almost the same features it had at the time of its formation. Its peculiarity is that it seems to be composed of the same materials of the inner areas of the solar system so it’s a kind of fossil of the times of the Earth’s formation.
An article published in “Astrophysical Journal Letters” describes a research on a forming protoplanet in the TW Hydrae star system. By using the ALMA radio telescope, a team led by Sean Andrews of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, obtained the best image of a protoplanetary disk produced so far.
An article published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” describes the detection of variations in the brightness of the famous white spots on the dwarf planet Ceres. Using the HARPS spectrograph at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile they were observed showing for example a higher brightness during the day. One explanation is that they contain volatile materials that evaporate due to the sunlight.