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.

  • Simulation of the OSIRIS-REx "touch-and-go" mission in Nightingale crater.

    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 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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  • Image and amplification (in colour) of the ultra-diffuse galaxy Dragonfly 44 taken with the Hubble space telescope. Many of the dots on the galaxy are the globular clusters studied in this article to explore the distribution of dark matter. The galaxy is so diffuse that other galaxies can be seen behind it. Credit: Teymoor Saifollahi and NASA/HST.

    At present, the formation of galaxies is difficult to understand without the presence of a ubiquitous, but mysterious component, termed dark matter. Astronomers have measure how much dark matter there is around galaxies, and have found that it varies between 10 and 300 times the quantity of visible matter. However, a few years ago, the discovery of a very diffuse object, named Dragonfly 44, changed this view. It was found that this galaxy has 10,000 times more dark matter than the stars. Taken back by this finding, astronomers have made efforts to see whether this object is really anomalous

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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.

    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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  • DRAGO instrument with thermocouples for temperature measurement during tests in the thermo-vacuum chamber. Image taken at the INTA (National Institute for Aerospace Technology) Testing Area facilities. Credit: Alba Peláez (IAC).

    The flight model for the SWIR DRAGO camera, developed by the IACTEC-Space team at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), has successfully passed all the tests needed to be integrable into the ION satellite for launch into space next December, on SPACE-X’s FALCON 9 rocket. This project is a part of IACTEC, the area of technical and industrial collaboration of the IAC, which is supported financially (Capacitation programme) and in infrastructure (IACTEC building) by the Cabildo Insular (island government) of Tenerife.

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  • dark sky

    After a week of intense work, with the participation of almost a thousand researchers from all over the world, the online workshop “Dark and quiet skies for science and society” has finished. For five days work has proceded on the preparation of a document which can offer governments, city councils, and companies the legal and technical basis for avoiding the possible negative impact of the newest technology on the observation of the night sky, and on biodiversity.

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