Blogs about telescopes and astronomical observations instruments

The Lupus 3 molecular cloud

An image captured by the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) at the Cerro Tololo Observatory in Chile shows the star-forming interstellar cloud cataloged as Lupus 3. Full of activity, it contains protostars that are literally breaking out of their cocoon of gas and dust such as HR 5999 and HR 6000, in the center of the image. The light of those very young stars illuminates the reflection nebula cataloged as Bernes 149. This area is in the cosmic neighborhood, so it’s observed all the time, sometimes obtaining breathtaking images of newborn stars and protostars.

Artist impression of a black hole accretion (Image courtesy John A. Paice)

Two articles, one published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” and one in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters”, report as many studies on what was defined as the largest cosmic explosion ever detected. Two teams of researchers studied the data collected with various instruments regarding the event cataloged as AT2021lwx offering two different hypotheses for its cause. Both teams believe that a supermassive black hole about 8 billion light-years from Earth caused that explosion but disagree on what triggered it: one team points to a cloud of gas and dust being violently swallowed while the other team points to a tidal disruption event where a star being devoured.

The region Lupus 2 (Image ESO/Meingast et al.)

An article published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” reports an overview of the results of the VISTA Star Formation Atlas (VISIONS) survey, which aimed to observe star formation regions visible from the southern hemisphere. A team of researchers assembled more than one million infrared images captured over five years by ESO’s VISTA telescope in Chile to create an atlas of five stellar nurseries in the cosmic neighborhood. This is one of the surveys focused on star formation processes with the aim of better understanding its various phases.

Fomalhaut and the disks of gas and dust that surround it as seen by the James Webb Space Telescope's Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI)

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” reports the discovery of new structures in the Fomalhaut star system. A team of researchers led by András Gáspár of the University of Arizona used the James Webb Space Telescope and found a new ring of dust and gas that adds to the two already known. The new ring is separated from the outer one by an already-known gap and from the inner one by a newly-found gap. The new gap was probably generated by gravitational perturbations that could indicate the presence of a planet or could have been produced by the formation of a dust cloud that occurred recently.

On the right side, the disk in 2021 is shown with the already known shadow, here marked as (B), and the new shadow (C) generated by an inner disk.

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal” reports the results of observations of the protoplanetary disk surrounding the very young star TW Hydrae. A team of researchers used observations conducted with the Hubble Space Telescope to examine the ongoing processes and evolution of planetary formation in the system. A protoplanet was identified in 2016 and that had increased the interest in that protoplanetary disk. In 2017, a shadow was identified that indicated the presence of an internal disk inclined relative to the external disk. Now a second shadow appears to come from another disk on the system’s inner side. This means that there may also be another planet in the making.