News & Press releases

Number of entries: 107

April 2015

I Astronomy Festival of Montseny

On 23 and 24 May there is an opportunity for all astronomy fans to gather together at the Environmental Park of Gualba.
Poster I Astronomy Festival of Montseny
Josep Maria Trigo, ICE
On 23 and 24 May there is an opportunity for all astronomy fans to gather together at the Environmental Park of Gualba with the celebration of the First Astronomy Festival of Montseny, dedicated this year to honor the 25 years of the Hubble Space Telescope , author from its advantageous point in space of some of the most impressive images we have seen of our Universe.   Organized by the Institute of Space Sciences (CSIC-IEEC) under the direction of Dr. Josep Maria Trigo, with the support of several astronomy societies, organizations and fans will share experiences and activities such as workshops, lectures and observations.   It is also a good opportunity for those who want to learn more about this wonderful world of astronomy from other fans and professionals, while enjoying a weekend in one of the most beautiful spots in our homeland.  The Montseny Natural Park is recognized by UNESCO and often hosts astronomy enthusiasts from all over the country.   The complete festival program (in Catalan): Festival program   More information here (in Catalan):
April 2015

Observed the formation of a stellar jet in real time

The observation over eighteen years shows the gestation of the ejection of matter through a bipolar jet in the early life of a massive star.
Gestation of a massive protostar jet
Wolfgang Steffen, Institut d'Astronomia, UNAM.
Stars are formed inside relatively dense concentrations of interstellar gas and dust, known as molecular clouds. When denser parts of the cloud collapse under their own weight (gravity), stars are formed. Accretion of material onto the embryo star continues partially from the newly formed circumstellar disc, while developing a bipolar jet that ejects matter and energy.   The phenomenon of collimated outflows happens in diverse astronomical objects, for example, young stars, black holes in galactic nuclei, and stars at the end of their life cycles. However, how collimated outflows begin and what factors regulate their degree of collimation remain quite unknown. An international group of astronomers has observed the time when the massive protostar W75N (B) -VLA2 begins to develop a jet, which is crucial for the formation of the star itself.   The research, published in the journal Science, has the participation of researchers from the Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC-CSIC) and the Institute of Cosmos Sciences (ICCUB-IEEC) in Barcelona, from the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC), and signed as first author by Carlos Carrasco-González (UNAM, Mexico).   The study shows that W75N(B)-VLA2 has dramatically changed the way in which it ejects matter. It has been observed the transition from the first regime in which the star ejects matter in all directions, and a second regime in which the ejection is along a preferred single direction, forming a jet. Although star formation processes lasts hundreds of thousands of years, researchers have been able to observe how the wind from the protostar has evolved from a compact to an elongated source in only 18 years, from 1996 to 2014.   "The current theories predict that young stars are ejecting matter in collimated outflows. However, previous studies showed that some very young massive stars go through episodic, short-lived events in which the material is ejected in all directions. We suspected that the transition from an uncollimated outflow to a collimated outflow takes place at a certain moment. This transition is exactly what we are observing in W75N(B)-VLA2,” says Guillem Anglada, a researcher from IAA-CSIC, who participates in the study.   The data are also consistent with the existence of a disk around the protostar, which completes the scenario described in models of star formation. “Our work opens a new exciting window of opportunity to study how the basic ingredients of star formation evolve over the next few years. We are lucky to be on the brink of describing and modelling in “real time” all of these rapid changes”, concludes José María Torrelles, researcher from the institutes in Barcelona.       REFERENCE   C. Carrasco-González, J.M. Torrelles, J. Cantó, S. Curiel, G. Surcis, W.H.T. Vlemmings, H.J. van Langevelde, C. Goddi, G. Anglada, S.-W. Kim, J.S. Kim, J.F. Gómez. "Observing the onset of outflow collimation in a massive protostar". Science, April 2015. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa7216
April 2015

The origin of Annama meteorit is determined

An international team led by the Institute of Space Sciences (CSIC-IEEC) has determined the orbit of Annama, a new characterized meteorite.
A picture taken from the Kola Peninsula (Russia) of the fireball at the time of entry to Earth
Asko Aikkila
A section of the Annama meteorite (Credit: Jakub Haloda)   An international team led by the Institute of Space Sciences (CSIC-IEEC) has determined the orbit of Annama, a new characterized meteorite from a fireball occurred on April 19th 2014 at the Kola Peninsula (Russia). Researchers highlight the importance of this finding because only the orbit of another 22 meteorites is known so far.   The characterization of Annama indicates that this is an ordinary H5 chondrite, a group of meteorites with high strength that constitutes 31% of meteorite falls. Researchers have also searched for the existence of some asteroid, among all known, that may have been fragmented and resulted in the meteorite. According to the paper published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal, the orbital evolution of Annama shows some similarity to the 2014 UR116, a potentially dangerous asteroid (i.e. an object that might collide the Earth) of about 400 meters in diameter that was discovered last year.   The reconstruction of the orbit   CSIC-IEEC researchers compared the orbit of Annama with the evolution of a dozen orbits of near-Earth asteroids, reconstructing how their orbits evolved in the solar system over the past 10,000 years. Through this method, they explain, the degree of orbital similarity is determined and, in the most favourable cases, it can be established if both objects have a common origin.   Members of several research centres from Finland and Russia reconstructed the trajectory of the fireball and calculated the location of the fall using the data from three stations of the Finnish Fireball Network and the filming of a security camera from the Kola Peninsula. One month later, meteor rocks were recovered in this peninsula. Meanwhile, Josep Maria Trigo (CSIC-IEEC) and his team determined its orbit and reconstructed the orbital evolution of Annama in the Solar System in order to compare it with a dozen asteroids with which, a priori, showed orbital similarity at the present time. Most of them are similar by chance, so an orbital integration in the past of the objects is required to decipher if the dynamic link is possible.   The analysis of the orbital evolution of the meteorite has showed, according to researchers, a "disturbing similarity" with the evolution of 2014 UR116 which, given its size and minimum distance of intersection with the orbit of the Earth, has been classified as a potentially dangerous asteroid. Currently, 1,573 asteroids of this type are known so researchers are investigating to what extent they can pose a danger.   Origin of meteorites   Trigo states: “While it is true that many of these dangerous projectiles come from the main belt of asteroids after being gravitationally scattered towards the Earth by the so-called planetary resonances, in 2007 we proposed other physical mechanisms that enable these rocks to be detached from asteroids or comets as they undergo close approaches to our planet". He also adds: "The tidal effect on an asteroid, which rapidly rotates under the gravitational field of a planet, can fragment these objects or release large rocks from its surface, which could then become such dangerous projectiles at a local scale as the one fell in Cheliábinsk (Russia) on February 15th 2013”.   Manuel Moreno-Ibáñez, CSIC-IEEC researcher that participated in the study, explains: "The data we have obtained provided new clues about the origin of the rocks with a few meters in diameter that produce meteorite falls. So far, we only know the orbits of other 22 meteorites, and not always with the sought accuracy". Trigo adds: "In addition, Annama is a fascinating meteorite because it reveals the processes taken place during the formation of the Solar System, as well as more details about the thermal processing suffered by the asteroid it comes from".  
  • J. M. Trigo-Rodríguez, et al. Orbit and dynamic origin of the recently recovered Annama’s H5 chondrite. MNRAS, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stv37
Film of the entrance of the fireball:    
March 2015

Solar eclipse Live

Amb motiu de l’eclipsi solar del dia 20 de març, l’Intitut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (IEEC) participarà en diverses iniciatives per apropar el fenomen astronòmic a la societat.
Solar eclipse
Amb motiu de l’eclipsi solar del dia 20 de març, l’Intitut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (IEEC) participarà en diverses iniciatives per apropar el fenomen astronòmic a la societat.
A Bellaterra, al campus de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, els científics de l’Institut de Ciències de l’Espai (IEEC-CSIC) han organitzat una jornada de portes obertes on es facilitaran ulleres especials als visitants que vulguin seguir l’eclipsi des del terrat de l’edifici, a més d'un telescopi per observar el Sol amb detall.
També hi haurà el suport d’investigadors experts en l'astre solar per explicar el fenomen. L'esdeveniment es podrà seguir en directe des de la web
Esteu tots convidats a gaudir de l'eclipsi!   Hora: 9:10 - 11:30
Lloc: edifici de l'Institut de Ciències de l'Espai (IEEC-CSIC),   _______
Investigadors de referència
Ricard Casas
93 737 9788 (Extensió: 933055) Francesc Vilardell
93 737 9788 (Extensió: 933008)
Comunicacio científica IEEC
Cristina Jiménez
cristina at
93 280  2088 (Extensió 26)  
March 2015

Sergei Odintsov receives the Outstanding Referee award for 2015

The American Physical Society (APS) has selected Sergei Odintsov among the 142 Outstanding Referees for 2015.
Sergei Odintsov
The American Physical Society (APS) has selected Sergei Odintsov among the 142 Outstanding Referees for 2015 that have been exceptionally helpful in assessing manuscripts for publication in the Physical Review journals. A full list of the Outstanding Referees for 2015 is available online at The selection this year was made from 30 years of records on over 65,000 referees who have been called upon to review manuscripts, including more then 37,800 that were submitted in 2014. The basis for selection includes the quality, number and timeliness of their reports, without regard for membership in the APS, country of origin, or field of research. The Outstanding Referee program annually recognizes approximately 150 of the currently active referees.  Like Fellowship in the APS and other organizations, this is a lifetime award.  In initiating the program, APS expresses appreciation to all referees, whose efforts in peer review not only keep the standards of the journals at a high level, but in many cases also help authors to improve the quality and readability of their articles—even those that are not published by APS.
March 2015

Dark matter could be a Sun ingredient

Scientists have shown for the first time the existence of a type of dark matter that could explain most of the unkowns associated with the "problem of solar composition"
Solar corona
• Scientists propose a theoretical solution to the 'problem of solar composition' • It is a possibility that this work shows the first evidence of the properties of the particle forming dark matter. • The Large Hadron Collider in Geneva could confirm the theory.   The Sun still involves mysteries. In a new study, an international team of scientists has shown for the first time the existence of a type of dark matter that could explain most of the unknowns associated with the "problem of solar composition." This problem and its solution have defied all attempts since its inception a decade ago. The team of scientists from the University of Durham (UK), Imperial College (UK) and the Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC-CSIC) have published their findings in the latest issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.   The internal structure of the Sun is known with a high degree of accuracy due to the study of oscillations observed on the surface, helioseismology, analogous to seismology on Earth, studying the Earth's structure from seismic waves. But what is the chemical composition of the Sun? "No one knows for sure," says Aldo Serenelli (IEEC-CSIC), "its determination is done by studying the solar spectrum, each present on the surface of the Sun chemical element manifested through a series of spectral lines ( areas of greater or lesser intensity) only "adds Serenelli. A decade ago, thanks to improvements in the techniques of spectroscopic analysis, surface chemical composition of the Sun was completely revised, resulting in a concentration of metals 40% lower than previously thought.   The review of solar chemical composition led to the emergence of the "problem of solar composition": a series of disagreements about the internal structure of the sun between the predictions of theoretical models of the solar structure using spectroscopic measurements as a basis for predicting its structure, and properties of the Sun that can be deduced based on heliosismología techniques. The scientists saw a missing piece to complete the theoretical models of the structure of the Sun, but which one?   Dark matter as an explanation of the discrepancies   Dark matter makes up over 80% of matter in the Universe is invisible to the usual detectors, although its existence is widely agreed by scientists, has not yet been detected in terrestrial laboratories. Inside the Sun, the dark matter carries energy, absorbing energy in the central areas and traveling to more remote and cold regions, where they deposit their energy. Unlike ordinary matter, dark matter does not waste energy on the trip, because it interacts very weakly with ordinary matter.   Thus, theoretical models of the Sun that include dark matter inside predict changing its structure compared to standard solar models do not take into account the effect of such material.   In the case of asymmetric dark matter, scientists think it has inside the sun, a greater accumulation of dark matter occurs because not self-annihilating dark matter as ordinary. "Auto-kills in the sense that a particle interacts with itself and completely converted into energy (gamma rays, in this case), which maximizes their impact on solar structure," explains Serenelli. Unlike previous works, scientists consider that a type of dark matter whose interactions with ordiary matter critically depends of the momentum change during collisions. Results show a "very good agreement" with the observations of the solar structure, offering the best solution to the problem today of solar composition.   A further interesting aspect of the work is connecting two apparently different problems: deficits in solar models and dark matter, the main component of matter in the universe. It's a possibility that this work shows the first evidence of the properties of the particle forming dark matter. The properties of asymmetric dark matter proposed in the work are in agreement with measurements established in experiments with direct detection of dark matter and allow further explain certain anomalies observed in these experiments.   The launch of New Particle Collider in Geneva opens the way to confirm the feasibility of the theory proposed by researchers, "the search for dark matter asymmetric particle colliders has not been ruled out, so its existence can be confirmed or rejected soon, "concludes Serenelli.
February 2015

Discovery of lithium in a stellar explosion

Recent observations solve a long-standing problem of lithium origin. Nova explosions are one of the predicted stellar factories of lithium, but this element had never been detected in these stars until now.
Image nova V339 Del (Nova Delphini 2013) which was detected lithium.
Ernesto Guido y Nick Howes
  • Nature publishes new observational findings today that confirm a theory by scientists from Institut de Ciències de l’Espai (CSIC-IEEC).
  • Now for the first time radioactive beryllium - which transforms into lithium – has been detected in a nova explosion.
  • The contribution of stellar explosions is crucial to understand the evolution of the lithium content of the Milky Way.
Barcelona, 19 February 2015. Recent observations solve a long-standing problem of lithium origin. Nova explosions are one of the predicted stellar factories of lithium, but this element had never been detected in these stars until now. Now for the first time, radioactive beryllium (7Be), the parent nucleus of lithium (7Li) has been observed for the first time in a nova, V339 Del (Nova Delphini 2013). In the 1990’s, Margarita Hernanz, from ICE (CSIC-IEEC) and colleagues, developed detailed models of lithium synthesis in novae. Today, Hernanz publishes a News & Views paper in Nature on the new findings that validate their theory. Lithium is the lightest chemical element in the periodic table, apart from hydrogen and helium. It is the lightest and least dense solid element - since hydrogen and helium are gases - in standard conditions. Lithium has several industrial applications, like cell phone batteries, and plays an important role in human health. But its origin is still controversial. It is known since the 1950's that almost all the chemical elements originate in stars, where they are produced by nuclear reactions, starting with hydrogen fusion into helium. The elements made in stars are expelled by winds or by stellar explosions of supernovae and novae to the interstellar medium, from which new stars will form. We are all made of "stardust". However, the main origin of a few elements - the so-called light elements lithium, beryllium and boron - is different. The origin of lithium and its evolution since the birth of the Universe is a long-standing and challenging problem. A fraction of lithium was created during the Big Bang, about 13.5 billion years ago. Nuclear reactions induced by energetic cosmic rays in the interstellar medium, in between the stars, also produce lithium. But there's still room for a stellar production of lithium, to explain the evolution of the lithium content in the Milky Way, especially its increase after the formation of the Solar System, 4.5 billion years ago.   An elusive stellar source of lithium Scientists believe that old low-mass stars like red giants and nova explosions could be lithium factories. Until now, lithium has been detected in several giants, but never before in novae. Novae are stellar explosions occurring on top of white dwarfs. White dwarfs are stars ending their life, after having exhausted all their nuclear fuel. They have a mass similar to the Sun with a size like the Earth, meaning that their density is huge. If isolated, their destiny is to dim forever, but when they have a close companion star, they can be "rejuvenated". The white dwarf pulls hydrogen-rich material from its companion star. This matter builds-up a dense shell where hydrogen ignites. A thermonuclear flash follows - like a hydrogen bomb - provoking a fast expansion and the ejection of mass, with a large increase of brightness. “The fusion of 3He and 4He forms 7Be, which is radioactive and transforms into 7Li with a timescale of 53 days. Fresh 7Be produced in the vicinity of the stellar surface should be transported into cooler zones before it decays, preserving its daughter nucleus 7Li from destruction once it is created. This is the Cameron and Fowler 7Be transport mechanism to produce 7Li in stars, predicted in the 1950’s”, explains Hernanz. A detailed calculation of lithium synthesis in novae was published by Hernanz, José (UPC-IEEC), Isern (CSIC-IEEC) and Coc (CSNSM-IN2P3, França) in a letter to Astrophysical Journal in 1996. Observations, key to test the theory Scientists from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan have provided the first observational evidence of lithium synthesis in novae, through the detection of radioactive 7Be - the parent nucleus of 7Li – during the nova explosion V339 Del (Nova Delphini 2013). This challenging measurement has been performed with the Subaru Telescope operating at high spectral resolution, about 0.0052 nm, able to distinguish the doublet of 7Be II from that of 9Be II, both at wavelengths around 312-313 nm. The amount of 7Be-7Li observed is as large or even larger than predicted. "This could mean that novae play a more important role as contributors to the galactic lithium than has been expected" concludes Hernanz.   References - Hernanz, M. A lithium -rich stellar explosion. Nature 518, 307-308 (2015) - Tajitsu, A., Sadakane, K., Naito, H., Arai, A. & Aoki, W. Nature 518, 381-384 (2015) - Hernanz, M., José, J., Coc, A. & Isern, J. Astrophys. J. 465, L27-L30 (1996)   Researcher Contact Margarita Hernanz , ICE (CSIC-IEEC) Tel: 93 737 97 88 (Ext. 933054)   IEEC Communication Department Cristina Jiménez Tel: 93 280 20 88 (Ext. 26)
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