Astronomy / Astrophysics

Blogs about Astronomy and Astrophysics

Artist's impression of a dust-generating Kuiper Belt collision (Image courtesy Dan Durda, FIAAA)

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” reports a study of the presence of dust in the Kuiper Belt which suggests that it may be much more extended than previously thought or that there’s a second Belt outside the known one. A team of researchers used detections conducted with NASA’s New Horizons space probe’s Venetia Burney Student Dust Counter (VBSDC, or simply SDC) instrument to support these possibilities. That’s because current models indicate that dust density should decrease in the area where New Horizons is traveling, where detections are higher than expected.

The region of sky where quasar J0529-4351 is located. It was created from images forming part of the Digitized Sky Survey 2 while the inset shows the position of this quasar in the center in an image from the Dark Energy Survey.

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” reports the identification of the brightest and most voracious quasar discovered so far, cataloged as J0529-4351. A team of researchers used various instruments to understand that it wasn’t a nearby star but a primordial quasar we see as it looked over 12 billion years ago.

The researchers estimated that the mass of the supermassive black hole that powers it is about 17 billion times the Sun’s, and it’s devouring materials around it at a very high rate, about the mass of the Sun every day. The study of this record-breaking primordial quasar can help reconstruct the history of the early universe and the processes that led to it becoming what it is today.

A part of the IRAS 16562–3959 area (Image ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Fedriani, J. Tan)

An image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope shows a part of the star-forming area cataloged as IRAS 16562–3959. The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) instrument offers many details of that area at infrareds, in particular of the emissions coming from a massive star still in its formation phase whose consequences are visible in the part of the image that goes from the center towards the upper left and lower right. These and many other details can help reconstruct star formation processes.

Artist's concept of the exoplanet TOI-715b with its star in the background (Image NASA / JPL-Caltech)

An article published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” reports the identification of the exoplanet TOI-715 b in an orbit around its star in a position that meets the most conservative definition of a habitable zone. A team of researchers used observations conducted with NASA’s TESS space telescope confirmed by other instruments to identify what appears to be a super-Earth with a radius about 1.5 times the Earth’s. A second exoplanet candidate was discovered that would have a size very similar to the Earth’s a little further away from its star but follow-up observations are needed to verify that it’s not a false positive.

Four X-ray observations of the supernova remnants SN 1006

An article published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” reports a study of the supernova remnant cataloged as SN 1006 which led to the identification of an ejecta fragment of the progenitor star. A team of researchers led by Roberta Giuffrida of the University of Palermo and the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics used observations conducted with various telescopes exploiting X-ray emissions and compared them with theoretical models. The conclusion is that this iron-rich fragment is moving at a very high speed within the debris cloud generated by the supernova. This discovery is useful in the study of supernovae like this one, generated by explosions of white dwarfs.