News

This section includes scientific and technological news from the IAC and its Observatories, as well as press releases on scientific and technological results, astronomical events, educational projects, outreach activities and institutional events.

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  • Simulation of the OSIRIS-REx "touch-and-go" mission in Nightingale crater.
    Touching an asteroid and coming back: OSIRIS-REx and Bennu

    This Tuesday October 20th at around 23.12 hr (Canary time) the NASA space probe OSIRIS-REx will make its first attempt to collect samples from the asteroid (101955) Bennu. The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) has played an active role in the mission since 2011. Researchers Julia de León, Javier Licandro, Eri Tatsumi and Juan Luis Rizos, who are members of the science team of OSIRIS-REx will be present telematically at the meeting organized by this NASA mission so that the science team can follow in real time this dangerous maneuvre¸ using the SamCam camera on board the probe. This

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  • Left: Artistic representation of the current interaction between the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy and the Milky Way. Credit: Gabriel Pérez Díaz, SMM (IAC). Right: Detailed evolutionary history of the Milky Way unveiled using Gaia data. Three clear star formation enhancements can be spoted.
    The role of the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy in the evolution of our Galaxy

    The European Space Agency's Gaia mission is revolutionising our understanding on how the Milky Way, the spiral galaxy we inhabit, has formed and evolved. Gaia is measuring the apparent luminosities, colours, positions, motions, and the chemical composition of an unprecedentedly large number of individual stars in our Galaxy. In particular, combining apparent luminosities with distances to these stars, here we have computed the intrinsic luminosity of 24 million stars within a sphere of 6500 light years around our Sun. Comparing such luminosities and colours with accurate models of stars we

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  • Optical image of the Perseus molecular cloud, a widely-known region of intense stellar formation. The interstellar dust, which generates the AME, is clearly visible, as it reflects light from nearby stars. Image credit: APOD 2017 January 14, Lóránd Fényes.
    Cosmic amorphous dust in the interstellar medium as a possible explanation for the Anomalous Microwave Emission

    The main emission mechanisms of the interstellar medium (ISM) in the spectral range between the radio and the far infrared are very well characterised and understood, both observationally and theoretically, for decades. However, in the late 90s a new mechanism was discovered in the microwaves, that has been coined “anomalous microwave emission” (AME). A basic feature of this emission is its tight spatial correlation with the thermal emission from ISM dust grains. This means that the AME observed intensity is stronger in regions with a higher abundance of ISM grains. This led to the proposal

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  • false-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image of Bennu
    Nailing Bennu's colors to the mast: new findings on the origin of this primitive body

    Science magazine, in a special collection on asteroid Bennu, has published the results of the analysis of photometric-spectrum color variations on the surface of this extremely interesting asteroid, captured by the NASA OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Thanks to these results, researchers proposed a model to explain the effects of “space weather” on materials similar to carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. They concluded that some of the heterogeneity observed on the surface of Bennu is due to space weathering and some is inherited from Bennu’s parent asteroid. Juan Luis Rizos, Eri Tatsumi, Javier

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  • GTC (panel a) and Spitzer (panel b) transit observation of the planet candidate WD 1856b.  The lack of difference in the transit depth in the optical and infrared helps to put constraints in the mass of the transiting object.
    A giant planet candidate transiting a white dwarf

    Astronomers have discovered thousands of planets outside the Solar System, most of which orbit stars that will eventually evolve into red giants and then into white dwarfs. During the red giant phase, any close-orbiting planets will be engulfed by the star, but more distant planets can survive this phase and remain in orbit around the white dwarf. Some white dwarfs show evidence for rocky material floating in their atmospheres, in warm debris disks or orbiting very closely, which has been interpreted as the debris of rocky planets that were scattered inwards and tidally disrupted. Recently

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  • Image illustrating the comparison between an active spiral galaxy (orange box) and its non-active twin (blue box). Credit: Gabriel Pérez Díaz, SMM (IAC).
    Large scale dynamical differences between active and non-active galaxies in the local Universe

    Observational evidences suggest a co-evolution of the central supermassive black holes and their host galaxies. In some of them, the black hole is ingesting the material surrounding it at a very high rate, emitting a large quantity of energy. In those cases we say that the galaxy has an active nucleus (AGN). Studying the mechanisms which control the relation between the active nucleus and the rest of the galaxy is essential to understand how these objects form and evolve, and to be able to throw light on this question we need to compare active and non-active galaxies. Here, we first identify

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