March 2023

The star WR 124 as seen by the James Webb Space Telescope (Image NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team)

An image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope shows the star WR 124 and the surrounding nebula in never-before-seen detail. This is a case where a star is nearing the end of its life, which could culminate in a supernova. For this reason, astronomers have been keeping an eye on WR 124 for years with various instruments and it was among Webb’s first observation targets in June 2022. The very powerful stellar wind typical of so-called Wolf-Rayet stars caused the loss of this star’s outer layers, which formed the nebula that surrounds it. Its details have now been captured in the breathtaking image thanks to Webb’s NIRCam and MIRI instruments to better understand the processes taking place before the possible supernova or another type of death.

The Dragon cargo spacecraft about to dock with the International Space Station in its CRS-27 mission (Image NASA TV)

A little while ago, SpaceX’s Dragon 2 spacecraft docked with the International Space Station’s Harmony module completing the first part of its CRS-27 mission. Astronaut Woody Hoburg monitored the operation, but the cargo spacecraft, which blasted off when it was Tuesday in the USA, completed the maneuvers automatically without any problem. Actually, it arrived about 20 minutes earlier than scheduled.

The Dragon 2 spacecraft' blasts off atop a Falcon 9 rocket to start its CRS-27 mission (Photo courtesy SpaceX)

A few hours ago, the SpaceX Dragon 2 spacecraft blasted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in its CRS-27 (Cargo Resupply Service 27) mission, also referred to as SPX-27. After almost exactly 12 minutes it separated successfully from the rocket’s last stage and went en route. This is the 27th mission for the Dragon/Dragon 2 spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station with various cargoes and then return to Earth, again with various cargoes.

A scheme of the passage from the universe full of neutral hydrogen and dark to the bright one following the epoch of reionization

An article published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” reports the identification of a group of primordial galaxies that could be among the ones that contributed to the reionization of the universe, making it go from dark to bright. A team of researchers coordinated by the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics used observations conducted with the James Webb space telescope within the GLASS-JWST program to study 29 very distant and therefore ancient galaxies. The examination of those galaxies’ physical characteristics led the researchers to conclude that 80% of them contributed significantly to reionization.

The Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft concludes its Crew-5 mission with its splashdown (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft concluded its Crew-5, or SpaceX Crew-5, mission for NASA by landing without problems. On board were astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Koichi Wakata and cosmonaut Anna Kikina, who had reached the International Space Station on October 6, 2022, and were part of Expedition 68. The four of them finished the fifth regular crewed mission of SpaceX in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Tampa, Florida. The Crew Dragon departed the Station about nineteen hours earlier.