In recent days, NASA’s space probe Dawn approached the dwarf planet Ceres and took a number close-up pictures of its surface. The latest images published by NASA were taken navigation purposes but start showing details of the geological elements, in particular the many craters of varying sizes. They make Ceres look like the Moon and show a story full of impacts.
An article published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” describes a study of the exoplanet 55 Cancri e. It claims that on its surface there’s and extremely violent volcanic activity. The consequence is that the temperature is not only very high but has swings ranging from 1,000° to 2,700° Celsius (from 1800° to 4900° Fahrenheit). Among the authors of the article there’s Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan of British Institute of Astronomy of the British University of Cambridge, who has been studying 55 Cancri e for some time and has already published a study in which he argues that this exoplanet may contain a diamond large three times the Earth.
Last October a picture of the system HL Tauri captured by ESO’s ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array) telescope was published. It showed a disk of dust that is slowly coalescing and was one of the sharpest images ever made at sumbillimetric wavelengths. According to many scientists there are planets that are forming in the system but others were skeptical and that created a debate. Now a team of astrophysicists from the University of Toronto led by Daniel Tamayo brought new evidence that there really are planets forming, published in the journal “Astrophysical Journal”.
NASA has confirmed that a few hours ago the Messenger (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging) space probe ended its mission by crashing on the surface of the planet Mercury. Messenger ran out of fuel and some maneuvers were recently programmed to prolong its life of a few more days. Eventually, even the helium normally used to pressurize the propellant was released in a jet that gave the probe one last push. It was a very successful mission that allowed us to discover many things about Mercury.
A team of astronomers used the HARPS (High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher) instrument at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile to obtain for the first time a direct detection of the spectrum of visible light from an exoplanet. It’s 51 Pegasi b, already well known by astronomers because it was the first exoplanet discovered among those orbiting a star on the main sequence.