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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  • Heavy-element abundance pattern for a P-rich star (blue stars), together with the abundances of stars representative of the s- (CH; red),  i- (CEMP-i; magenta), and r- (EMP-r; green) neutron capture processes. The P-rich stars heavy-element pattern is more similar to the CH stars or the s-process.
    A new stellar site for the formation of very heavy elements

    The recently discovered phosphorus-rich stars pose a challenge to stellar evolution and nucleosynthesis (that is, the formation of chemical elements in stellar interiors) theory, as none of the existing models can explain their extremely peculiar chemical abundances pattern. Apart from the large phosphorus (P) enhancement, such stars also show enhancement in other light (O, Mg, Si, Al) and heavy (e.g., Ce) elements. Thanks to the Spanish Service Time at the Nordic Optical Telescope, we have recently obtained high-resolution optical spectra of two optically bright phosphorus-rich stars

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  • Artist's impression of a hot star plagued by a giant magnetic spot (Credit: ESO/L. Calçada, INAF-Padua/S. Zaggia).
    A Plague of Magnetic Spots Among the Hot Stars of Globular Clusters

    For more than six decades, the quest to understand the formation of hot (about 20,000−30,000 K) extreme horizontal branch (EHB) stars in Galactic globular clusters has remained one of the most elusive in stellar evolutionary theory. Here we report on two discoveries that challenge the idea of the stable luminosity of EHB stars. The first mode of EHB variability is periodic and cannot be ascribed to either binary evolution or pulsation. Instead, we attribute it here to the presence of magnetic spots: superficial chemical inhomogeneities whose projected rotation induces the variability. The

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  • Proposed model to explain the color diversity observed on the surface of Bennu.
    Colouring asteroid Bennu

    The main objective of the NASA OSIRIS-REx mission is the collection of material from the surface of primitive asteroid (101955) Bennu, and to bring it back to the Earth. To provide general context to the results obtained from the analysis of this sample it is fundamental to carry out an extensive study of the surface of the asteroid. To do that, the spacecraft is provided, among other instruments, with an optical camera (MapCam) equipped with 4 color filters b’, v, w, and x, centered at 473, 550, 698, and 847 nm, respectively. This set-up allowed to do color studies, i.e., to analyze how the

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  • Optical instrumentation. Credit: Inés Bonet (IAC).
    The Spanish Goverment increases the budget of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias by 9 million euros

    In the document presenting the General National Budget for 2021 approved by the Council of Ministers for 2021, the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) will receive, next year, a sum of 9 million euros from the State Plan of Investments and Reforms. This extraordinary grant, which will be spent on investments and technological infrastructure, is in addition to the annual grant from the Ministry of Science and Innovation. The IAC is thereby recognized as a powerful motor attracting external funding to the Canaries to drive technological development and create employment.

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  • AU mic b light curves from TESS and Spitzer IRAC at 4.5 μm  (purple filled circles). The transit model (orange curve) includes a photometric model that accounts for the stellar activity modelled with a Gaussian Process (GP), which is subtracted from the data before plotting. The frequent flares from the stellar surface are removed with an iterative sigma-clipping.
    Discovery of a young forming planet around the nearby star AU Mic

    AU Microscopii (AU Mic) is the second closest pre-main-sequence star, at a distance of 9.79 parsecs and with an age of 22 million years. AU Mic possesses a relatively rare and spatially resolved edge-on debris disk extending from about 35 to 210 astronomical units from the star, and with clumps exhibiting non-Keplerian motion. Detection of newly formed planets around such a star is challenged by the presence of spots, plage, flares and other manifestations of magnetic ‘activity’ on the star. Here we report observations of a planet transiting AU Mic. The transiting planet, AU Mic b, has an

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  • Artist's impression of a blazar
    The Gran Telescopio Canarias finds the farthest black hole that belongs to a rare family of galaxies

    An international team of astronomers has identified one of the rarest known classes of gamma-ray emitting galaxies, called BL Lacertae, within the first 2 billion years of the age of the Universe. The team, that has used one of the largest optical telescope in the world, Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), located at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (Garafía, La Palma), consists of researchers from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM, Spain), DESY (Germany), University of California Riverside and Clemson University (USA). The finding is published in The Astrophysical Journal

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