Stars

Picture of the Menzel 2 nebula taken by the Hubble space telescope (Image ESA/Hubble & NASA, acknowledgement: Serge Meunier)

The Hubble Space Telescope took a picture of the planetary nebula PK 329-02.2, also known as ESO 178-15 or Hen 2-150 and commonly called Menzel 2 (Mz 2) because it was discovered by the astronomer Donald Menzel in 1922. Distant little more 7,700 light years from Earth, it’s visible in the constellation Norma and is another case in which a planetary nebula offers a breathtaking show, in this case with a blue cloud that aligns with the two stars at its center.

Images of the dust disk around the star AU Microscopii taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and SPHERE (Image NASA, ESA, ESO, A. Boccaletti (Paris Observatory))

An article just published in the journal “Nature” describes the discovery of mysterious ripples across the disk of dust surrounding the star AU Microscopii, or AU Mic. Through SPHERE, an instrument mounted on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, a team led by Anthony Boccaletti, LESIA (Observatoire de Paris/CNRS/UPMC/Paris-Diderot), France, discovered these structures never seen before and yet to be explained.

The Astro-E2, then renamed Suzaku, satellite during its test phase (Photo NASA)

In recent days, the Japanese Suzaku space observatory has been deactivated. On August 26, 2015, JAXA, the Japanese space agency, communicated the decision to terminate the mission of this satellite specialized in X-ray astronomy. Communications between the mission control center and Suzaku had become intermittent since June 1, 2015 and JAXA, after trying to restore them, decided to start the deactivation procedures.

On the left a picture of the Sun taken by the SDO space probe, at the center a close-up of a prominence and on the right a picture of the Earth in the same scale (Image NASA/JAXA/NAOJ)

Two articles published in “The Astrophysical Journal” describe a study of what is known as the coronal heating problem. For decades, scientists have been trying to understand why the temperature on the surface of the Sun is about 6,000 Kelvin while the corona, the region between the surface and the area of ​​the outer atmosphere, can reach temperatures of several million degrees. Now a team of researchers led by Takenori Okamoto of the Solar-Terrestrial Environment Laboratory at Nagoya University and ISAS/JAXA and Patrick Antolin of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Tokyo, offers an explanation, tied to resonant absorption.

X-ray view of the Milky Way center (Image ESA/XMM-Newton/G. Ponti et al. 2015)

An article published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” describes a research about the central region of the Milky Way. Using ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray space observatory, a team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) led by Dr. Gabriele Ponti revealed the most intense processes going on at the center of the galaxy.