A bubble in the interstellar medium

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August 9th 2022

Observations with Calar Alto instruments are helping to unveil the content and history of W40, a ‘hidden’ region in our galactic neighbourhood where massive stars have been forming in the past few million years.  

Only 1,600 light-years away, but hidden by dark patches of dust in the Milky Way in the constellation of Aquila (the Eagle), lies the W40 nebula. Although poorly known, W40 is a splendid example of a bipolar HII region, a type of nebula formed when newly born massive stars begin to heat up and ionize the clouds out of which they formed. The high pressures generated around those stars produce an expansion of the gas which eventually breaks out of the parental cloud, producing spectacular expanding bubbles, as shown by the picture of W40 obtained by the Spitzer Space Observatory at wavelengths between 3.6 and 24 microns. 

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The best studied super-Earth to date

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June 22nd 2022

An international team of researchers with participation of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) has measured with unprecedented accuracy the mass and the radius of Gliese 486 b, an exoplanet of the “super-Earth” category, discovered in 2021 by the CARMENES instrument at the Calar Alto Observatory. This study allows, for the first time, to make robust predictions on the internal structure and composition of a super-Earth.

An international team of astronomers led by José A. Caballero, from Centre of Astrobiology (CAB) CSIC-INTA in Madrid, with participation of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) in Granada, has been able to model the interior of the exoplanet Gliese 486 b, and to estimate the relative sizes of the (metallic) core and (rocky) mantle.

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Two exoplanets in the top-10 for follow-up characterization of their atmospheres

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15 June 2022

An international team led by a researcher from the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) has found two telluric planets orbiting, while partially eclipsing, the nearby dwarf star HD 260655.

The discovery was made combining space- and multiple ground-based facilities, in particular the CARMENES spectrograph at the Calar Alto 3.5 m telescope. These two newly found hot super-Earths are among the top 10 candidates for follow-up studies of their atmospheres. 

In the last 30 years, over 5000 planets have been discovered outside our Solar System. Still, only a small fraction of these exoplanets were found to be telluric, that is, rocky, like Mercury, Venus, the Earth, and Mars.

Combining data from the CARMENES spectrograph at Calar Alto and from the NASA TESS satellite, among others, a team of astronomers led by Rafael Luque (Institute of Astrophysics

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TARSIS, the next generation instrument for the Calar Alto 3.5-meter telescope

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Almería (Spain), May 24th, 2022

UCM and IAA-CSIC co-lead TARSIS, the future instrument for the 3.5 m telescope at Calar Alto. TARSIS has unique characteristics, in particular its capacity to detect near ultraviolet light and its unprecedented field of view, along with an ambitious observational survey of galaxy clusters (CATARSIS) tailored to it. TARSIS and CATARSIS will maintain the largest optical telescope in the European mainland at the forefront of astronomy.

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