The galaxy cluster MACS J1149.5+2223 and in the inset the galaxy MACS1149-JD1

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes the discovery of the most distant traces of oxygen ever detected. A team of astronomers used the ALMA radio telescope and ESO’s VLT telescope to observe the galaxy MACS1149-JD1, where there are traces of star formation about 250 million years after the Big Bang, a very remote era in which so far there were just some clues of possible star formation.

The SPT2349-56 proto-cluster (Image ESO/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/Miller et al.)

Two articles, one published in the journal “Nature” and one in the journal “Astrophysical Journal”, describe the observations of the merger among various starburst galaxies, characterized by a remarkable production of stars. Two teams, led by Tim Miller of Dalhousie University in Canada and Yale University in the USA, and Iv├ín Oteo of the Scottish University of Edinburgh used the ALMA and APEX radio telescopes to study these events which are very ancient as they happened about 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang.

Gaia's sky DR2 map (Image ESA/Gaia/DPAC)

ESA has published the second 3D map of the Milky Way and neighbouring galaxies obtained from the Gaia space probe, the most detailed of this type ever produced. This catalog, built thanks to what was called Data Release 2 (DR2), greatly expands the first map released by ESA in September 2016.

The Gaia space probe was launched on December 19, 2013 with the aim of creating a highly accurate 3D map of the Milky Way’s stars but also to catalog billions of other celestial objects, not only stars but also galaxies. Gaia began its scientific activity in July 2014, the first map included data collected until September 2015, the DR2 includes the following 8 months of observations.

The galaxy NGC 6240 (Image NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and A. Evans (University of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University))

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes a research on the formations similar to the wings of a butterfly in the galaxy NGC 6240. A team of researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder combined observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope, the VLT in Chile and the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico to study that galaxy by concluding that those particular formations are generated by different forces, in one case by a pair of supermassive black holes.

The cosmic web in two moments

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” describes the creation of a map of the network of filaments that connects matter all around the universe. A team of researchers analyzed the data collected during previous surveys to find the gravitational effects that reveal the shapes of those filaments. Those small gravitational distortions suggest that they’re hundreds of millions of light years long and that they’re made of dark matter.