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.
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.
Almería (Spain), February 18th, 2022
A team of Spanish researchers, coordinated by the University of Seville, with participation of Calar Alto Observatory and the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC), was able to detect the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 using a new optical methodology. This tool could be potentially usable for massive, fast and easy-to implement screening.
A multidisciplinary collaboration, whose first results are published in the journal Scientific Reports, from the Nature Group, has obtained a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 87.5% in the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in nasopharyngeal exudate (the same samples used in a PCR test) from symptomatic people. It has also been possible to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in fresh saliva of asymptomatic people, as well as to detect, differentiate and quantify two types of synthetic viruses (lentiviruses and synthetic coronaviruses) in two biofluids (saline solution and artificial saliva).
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.
January 13th 2022
The Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) leads a study based on data from Calar Alto Observatory (CAHA), showing the variability of the planetary nebula IC4997. The changes can be seen comparing observations taken nearly 30 years apart with the CAHA 2.2-meter telescope. This suggests that the central star of this planetary nebula probably hides a companion star.
Planetary nebulae represent one of the final stages in the life of low- and intermediate-mass stars, similar to the Sun. After exhausting their fuel, the outer layers of such stars are taken off, forming a fluorescent envelope around a white dwarf star (the "naked" core of the star after the expulsion of its outer layers). In some tens of thousands of years, the nebula will disperse in the interstellar medium and the central star will become extinct, so that all planetary nebulae are expected to be (very slowly) variable. However, some of them present a variability unrelated to their natural evolution, which reveals processes that deviate from the norm. This is the case of IC4997, a nebula with which a Spanish team led by the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) has found itself again, thirty years later.
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.
December 22nd 2021
Reanalyzing CARMENES observations of the Kelt-9b exoplanet, taken at Calar Alto, an international team with participation of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) has revealed the presence of oxygen in this exoplanet atmosphere, the hottest known to date. It is the very first time that atoms of oxygen are detected in a planet outside the Solar System.
Since the discovery, in 1995, of the first planet outside of our Solar System, more than four thousand exoplanets have been detected. During these decades, science teams from all over the world have tried to characterize their atmospheres and to explain why these new worlds are so different from the planets of the Solar System. Now, an international team, with participation of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, publishes in the Nature Astronomy journal the finding of atoms of oxygen in the exoplanet named Kelt-9b. It is the very first detection of the compound, that human beings commonly associate to life, in the atmosphere of an exoplanet.