The Abell S1063 galaxy cluster (Image NASA, ESA, and M. Montes (University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia))

An article published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” describes a new method to detect and map the dark matter existing in galaxy clusters with a higher precision than those used so far. Mireia Montes of the University of New South Wales, Australia, and Ignacio Trujillo of the Canary Islands Institute of Astronomy, Spain, exploited the so-called intracluster light, the faint light within galaxy clusters produced by their interaction, detected in the Hubble Frontier Fields program, to map the distribution of dark matter within them.

The quasar 3C 273 (Image ESA/Hubble & NASA)

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes the first detailed observation of the environment surrounding a supermassive black hole outside the Milky Way. A team of astronomers led by Professor Hagai Netzer of the Tel Aviv University used the GRAVITY instrument installed on ESO’s VLTI to examine the first quasar discovered, known as 3C 273, uncovering gas clouds that move quickly around the black hole that powers that quasar and forms its heart.

The brightest known galaxy is devouring its neighbors

An article published in the journal “Science” describes a study of the galaxy W2246-0526, the brightest known. A team of researchers used the ALMA radio telescope to examine it by uncovering streams of materials as they are stripped from three smaller galaxies orbiting it. In one case a “tidal tail” is generated, a large stram of materials that connects W2246-0526 with one of its satellites. According to an article published in “The Astrophysical Journal” the supermassive black hole at its center has a mass that’s about 4 billion times the Sun’s.

Hydrogen in the Small Magellanic Cloud (Image courtesy Naomi McClure-Griffiths et al, CSIRO's ASKAP telescope. All rights reserved)

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” describes the study of a gas outflow from the Small Magellanic Cloud that extends for at least 6,500 light years from its star formation area. A team of researchers used the ASKAP radio telescope to observe that dwarf galaxy in its entirety in a single shot with details never seen before. The conclusion is that there’s a gas loss resulting in a drop in star formation. That gas could be a source for what is known as Magellanic Stream and over time the Small Magellanic Cloud could be devoured by the Milky Way.

Galaxy mergers reveal pairs of supermassive black holes

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes the discovery of five pairs of supermassive black holes in galaxies in the final stages of mergers. A team of researchers coordinated by the University of Maryland used data gathered at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii and in over twenty years by the Hubbble space telescope to find out these cases among hundreds of galaxies selected from those with strong X-ray emissions detected by the Swift space telescope.