Science Results

Science Results

ESA's infrared space telescope has once again detected a new molecule in the 'chemistry labs' of the Universe, the clouds of gas and dust in the space amid the stars. The newly-detected molecule is the methyl radicalCH3, a so-called 'free-radical' whose existence in the gas in space had been predicted by Nobel winner Gerhard Herzberg, who died last year. ISO has already made the first detections in space of at least ten newmolecules in the gas and solid-state phases. According to the authors --from Germany, the Netherlands and Australia--, CH3 is one of the most important tracers for the formation of complex carbon-based molecules.
Published: 10 July 2000
A group of American and French astronomers, including several who are playing a leading role in the Rosetta mission, has announced the discovery of the noble gas argon in Comet Hale-Bopp. This is the first time that one of the so-called noble gases (argon, xenon, neon etc.) has been found in a comet.
Published: 14 June 2000
The Milky Way's centre is the busy core of a metropolis, crowded with huge populations of stars frantically dancing to the rhythm of gravitation. These stars are precious for astronomers: they hold many clues to unveil the past and future history of our galaxy. But the galactic centre has remained a fairly unexplored place so far, due to the thick dust covering it.
Published: 7 June 2000
A team from the Observatoire de Paris using ESA's infrared space telescope ISO has measured variations in the thermal flux of the Pluto-Charon system, which prove that the temperature of Pluto's surface is not uniform. The coldestregions have a temperature of about -235 degrees Centigrade, while the warmest may reach -210 degrees. The measurements provide indications about its physical nature.
Published: 29 May 2000
The earliest stages of formation of planetary systems remain very poorly known because of thethick layers of opaque dust that hid them. The European Space Agency's infrared spacetelescope, ISO, has measured the size of a proto-planetary system, surrounding a newly-born star, a Spanish team ofastronomers report in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science. ISO sees a very young'baby-star' surrounded by a disk of the same diameter as Jupiter's orbit, in which planetsare likely to form in the future.
Published: 27 April 2000
Ulysses, the joint ESA/NASA spacecraft, has added comet spotter to its list of talents. Two papers published in Nature today report that on 1 May 1996, the spacecraft flew through the tail of comet Hyakutake whose nucleus was more than 3.5AU (one AU equals the Sun-Earth distance) away at the time "This makes it the longest comet tail ever recorded", says Geraint Jones from Imperial College, London who is a member of one of the two instrument teams that made the discovery.
Published: 6 April 2000
Supersonic shock waves detected at the edge of the Solar System - a new study by Europeanscientists clarifies conditions at our Earth's outermost shield against interstellar charged particles.
Published: 12 March 2000
Silicate crystals, the most abundant minerals on Earth, are also found in great quantities around old stars and in protoplanetary discs -the discs where planets form. This finding, presented today at a press conference at ESA's Villafranca station in Madrid, is considered by experts in space chemistry as one of the main results of ESA's infrared space telescope, ISO.
Published: 3 February 2000
Press conference 4 FebruaryThe stars are the chemical factories of the Universe: they synthesise intheir cores new chemical elements that combine in the stellar outskirtsto produce new molecules, and these will become part of the raw materialout of which more stars, planets, and maybe even living organisms willform. ESA's infrared space telescope, ISO, has identified many of thesecompounds in space. About 150 astronomers, including many experts in space-chemistry, will present and discuss results in the field at ESA's Villafranca station, in Madrid, Spain, from 2 to 4 February.
Published: 30 January 2000
The clouds of gas and dust grains in interstellar space contain complex organic molecules made of hundreds of chained carbon atoms. The European Space Agency's infrared space telescope, ISO, has detected these molecules in many different environments and is now unveiling the chemical paths leading to their formation in space. A group of Spanish astronomers have detected for the first time outside the Solar System two molecules that could be the precursors for the formation of the more complex organic compounds. The newly found molecules, detected in two very old stars, are diacetylene and triacetylene (C4H2 and C6H2).
Published: 19 January 2000
Chemical synthesis of complex organic molecules, the most basic 'buildingblocks' for life, can occur rapidly in stellar environments, according toresults obtained with the European Space Agency's infrared spaceobservatory, ISO, and presented last Saturday at the AmericanAstronomical Society meeting in Atlanta by a team of astronomers.
Published: 16 January 2000
The force of sunlight is keeping part of our solar system dust free - at least free from a particular type of dust. Markus Landgraf, now working at ESA's operations centre ESOC in Germany and his international team of colleagues, made this discovery after poring over data collected by the dust detector on board the Ulysses spacecraft. In a paper published in Science today, they show how their findings lend support to the view that our solar system is moving through a cloud of dust and gas that is made of the same stuff as interstellar clouds observed elsewhere in our galaxy.
Published: 17 December 1999
Astronomers have just realised that news of a planet orbiting a distant star came from ESA's Hipparcos satellite eight years ago, although noone noticed it until now. The first observation, on 17 April 1991, was made long before Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz of the Observatoire de Genève astounded the world in 1995 with their discovery of a planet around the star 51 Pegasi. Since then the search for alien planets has become a highly competitive theme in astronomy, and the present tally of stars known to possess planets is 28.
Published: 13 December 1999
In 1843 the stellar system Eta Carinae suffered a violent explosion which caused it to become, in just a few decades, an amazingly beautiful nebula with two huge round blobs of material symmetrically distributed. For years astronomers have been looking for the cause of the explosion, and to explain the strange hourglass shape. A team of astronomers using ESA's infrared space telescope, ISO, have now succeeded, putting the blame firmly on a previously undetected very massive 'donut' of dust which squeezes the nebula at its centre. They publish their discovery in the current issue of the journal Nature (2 December).
Published: 2 December 1999
New evidence that gravity waves originating in the Suns core may leave their imprint in the solar wind was presented to last months meeting of the Ulysses science working team.
Published: 25 November 1999
Visitors to the test and integration facilities at IABG near Munich, Germany, on 24 November may be excused for thinking they are suffering from multiple vision. On display there, in a giant clean room, will be not one but four identical cylindrical spacecraft. This is the only occasion on which all four of ESA's Cluster II spacecraft will be on display together in Europe.
Published: 14 November 1999
A dozen ancient stars, scattered all over the sky, are survivors from asmall galaxy that invaded the Milky Way like a shipload of Vikings. TheEuropean Space Agency's Hipparcos satellite, which measured the motionsof many thousands of stars, enabled astronomers from Leiden in the Netherlands and Garching in Germany to make this astonishing discovery.It provides clear evidence in favour of the theory that great assembliesof stars, like the Milky Way Galaxy where we live, grew by theamalgamation of smaller galaxies.
Published: 4 November 1999
The Milky Way is a fairly quiet galaxy now, but some thousands of millions years ago it was quite a different story. ESA's infrared space observatory, ISO, has taken pictures of the 'golden age' of galaxy formation, the epoch when galaxies were taking the shape we see now, and has unveiled more than a thousand very active young galaxies in which non-stop star-formation machines are at work. The results, being presented at a workshop at Ringberg Castle in Germany (8-12 November 1999), show that the ancestors of today's galaxies were much more active than hitherto thought, with many more stars being born.
Published: 4 November 1999
Moon Craters Help us to Understand How Extrasolar Planets FormMore than a dozen planets orbiting other 'suns' have been found in the last few years, but... are they the rule or the exception? The European Space Agency's infrared space observatory, ISO has shown that the formation of extrasolar planets must be a very common event.
Published: 30 September 1999
On 13/14 March 1986, the European Space Agency's Giotto spacecraft obtained the first close-up pictures of a comet nucleus during its close flyby of Halley's Comet. An historic second comet encounter followed on 10 July 1992 when Giotto flew within 200 km of Comet Grigg-Skjellerup.
Published: 28 September 1999
20-Jan-2022 10:59 UT

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