During an ESA’s XMM-Newton observation on 2018 Christmas Eve, an international team led by Giovanni Miniutti, of the Centro de Astrobiología (CAB, CSIC-INTA) in Madrid, discovered some mysterious flashes from the active black hole at the core of the galaxy GSN 069, about 250 million light years away. X-ray emission from the center of that galaxy was seen to suddenly increase its brightness by up to a factor 100, then dimmed back to its normal levels within one hour and lit up again nine hours later. Giant black holes regularly flicker like a candle but the rapid, repeating changes seen in GSN 069 had never been observed before from supermassive black hole at the core of galaxies.Continue reading
The X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) is the cryogenic micro-calorimeter of the Athena space X-ray observatory, the second large mission of the Cosmic Vision Program of the European Space Agency, selected to explore the scientific theme “The Hot and Energetic Universe”. It is designed to 1) study the dynamical, physical and chemical properties of hot plasmas, as those found in clusters of galaxies, and 2) study black hole accretion disks, jets, outflows and winds from galactic stellar mass black holes to the super-massive ones found in active galactic nuclei. With its unprecedented capabilities, it is also the prime instrument for many Athena observatory science targets, such as planets, stars, supernovae, compact objects, interstellar medium among many other scientific topics.
X-IFU is a cryogenic imaging spectrometer, offering spatially-resolved high-spectral resolution X-ray spectroscopy over a 5 arc minute equivalent diameter field of view with spectral resolution of 2.5 eV up to 7 keV. The breadth of the science affordable with the X-IFU encompasses key scientific issues of the Hot and Energetic Universe science theme and beyond.
This ESO Picture of the Week shows the centre of a galaxy named NGC 5643. This galaxy is located 55 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Lupus (The Wolf), and is known as a Seyfert galaxy. Seyfert galaxies have very luminous centres — thought to be powered by material being accreted onto a supermassive black hole lurking within — that can also be shrouded and obscured by clouds of dust and intergalactic material. Continue reading
The optics and scientific instrumentation (OTIS) of JWST arrived yesterday in the facilities
of Northrop Grumman in California, where the rest of the spacecraft (solar shields, communication elements, etc) is already. The OTIS passed the final performance tests
last year at NASAS’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The spacecraft bus
and solar shields still need to perform a series of tests before the integration, however. Continue reading
Water is a key molecule to probe dense and warm regions in the interstellar medium, because of its chemistry as well as its coupling to the far-infrared. This work presents the first detection of the ortho-H2O 4_23 – 3_30 transition at 448 GHz in space. Continue reading
Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) are thought to have a profound effect on large scales through feedback mechanisms. AGN gas outflows release vast amounts of energy into the interstellar medium and can clear out the surrounding gas, possibly regulating star formation in the host galaxy as well as preventing further gas accretion onto the black hole. Such feedback may well contribute to the intimate observed relationship between the central black hole and the host galaxy properties.
The largest galaxies in the universe reside in galaxy clusters. Using sensitive observations of carbon monoxide, we show that the Spiderweb galaxy—a massive galaxy in a distant protocluster—is forming from a large reservoir of molecular gas. Most of this molecular gas lies between the protocluster galaxies and has low velocity dispersion, indicating that it is part of an enriched intergalactic medium. This may constitute the reservoir of gas that fuels the widespread star formation seen in earlier ultraviolet observations of the Spiderweb galaxy. Our results support the notion that giant galaxies in clusters formed from extended regions of recycled gas at high redshift.
An international team of astronomers lead by the spanish astronomer Santiago García-Burillo (OAN, Madrid), and with the participation of CAB scientists (Almudena Alonso Herrero and Luis Colina), have been able to resolve for the first time the dusty torus around the massive black hole in the nucleus of the nearby active galaxy NGC 1068.