Stars

Simulation of the Sun's magnetic field in January 2011 (on the left) and July 2014 (on th right) (Image NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Bridgman)

Using data obtained by its SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) space probe, NASA scientists have created a simulation of the solar magnetic field. This represents an aid in the understanding of its influence on what happens in the Sun, a series of phenomena that have important effects in the solar system. Solar explosions causing auroras are the most visible consequence but there are also other ones such as the interplanetary magnetic field and the radiation that spacecraft must go through to travel through the solar system.

Image of the Trumpler 14 cluster obtained combining photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (Image NASA, ESA, and J. Maíz Apellániz (Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, Spain), Acknowledgment: N. Smith (University of Arizona))

The Hubble Space Telescope was used to capture the details of of the Trumpler 14 open cluster. This is one of the largest groups of stars that are massive and as a consequence very bright in the Milky Way. It’s a young cluster in astronomical terms as its aged is about half a million years. It has a diameter of about six light years and within it about 2,000 stars of very diverse masses were identified.

The galaxy that hosts ASASSN-15lh before its explosion taken by the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) [Left], and the supernova by the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT) 1-meter telescope network [Right] (Image courtesy The Dark Energy Survey, B. Shappee and the ASAS-SN team))

An article published in the journal “Science” describes the discovery of the supernova ASASSN-15lh, the brightest discovered so far. A team of astronomers led by Subo Dong, of the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University, China, studied this explosion that is extraordinary even by the standards of these events: it’s more than twice as bright as the one that held the record, about 200 times brighter than the average supernova, 570 billion times brighter than the Sun, and 20 times brighter than all the stars in the Milky Way put together.

Image of the Crab nebula and pulsar obtained combining photos taken by the Hubble and Chandra space telescopes (Optical: NASA/HST/ASU/J. Hester et al. X-Ray: NASA/CXC/ASU/J. Hester et al.)

An article published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” describes the discovery of the the most energetic pulses ever detected in a pulsar. An international team of scientists used the two MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov) telescopes at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma, Canary Islands, to observe the Crab pulsar.

Eta Carinae's Homunculus Nebula photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope (Image NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team)

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” describes a research that led to the discovery of stars really out of the ordinary. Those are binary systems consisting of two very massive stars where immense eruptions can take place. These systems are twins of Eta Carinae, which became famous for the eruption sighted in the 19th century. Examining observations made using the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes a group of researchers found 5 candidates in other galaxies.