News & Press releases

Número de entradas: 109

Marzo 2017

The Mysterious Magnetism of White Dwarfs

The Editors of the APS Physics choose to comment on a paper by our researchers (Isern et al., ApJL 836, L28, 2017)
The Editors of the APS Physics choice this paper of our researchers
The compact corpses of certain stars, called white dwarfs, are known to be the evolutionary endpoint for many luminous celestial bodies. But astronomers have yet to uncover the reason for their magnetic fields. One research team decided to investigate—and related it to our Jovian neighbor. Isern et al., writing in Astrophysical Journal Letters, analyzed and compared the convective motion in white dwarfs to the same process that generates intense magnetic fields on the surface of Jupiter, known as a dynamo. As white dwarfs evolve and cool to lower temperatures, they end up with two main constituent elements, carbon and oxygen, which crystallize to form a carbon-rich mantle on top of a solid core of denser oxygen. The team calculated the properties of white dwarfs within 65 light years from the sun, and they found that the stars with high magnetic fields would have more convective activity within the carbon mantle, leading to higher dynamo energy. While their calculations only sample single white dwarfs, the team has made progress in ruling out other long-standing hypotheses such as binary mergers or amplification of progenitor magnetic fields.

Link to the paper: The Mysterious Magnetism of White Dwarfs  
Marzo 2017

Un experiment de l'Institut de Ciències de l'Espai per fer mesures de pluja intensa es posarà en òrbita a finals del 2017

L'ICE realitzarà un experiment a bord del satèl·lit espanyol PAZ per intentar, per primer cop, mesurar pluges intenses utilitzant GPS.
Barcelona, 10 de març del 2017. L'Institut de Ciències de l'Espai del Consell Superior d'Investigacions Científiques i de l’Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (ICE-CSIC/IEEC), que està situat al Campus de la UAB, realitzarà un experiment a bord del satèl·lit espanyol PAZ per intentar, per primer cop, mesurar els perfils verticals de les pluges intenses utilitzant els senyals transmesos pels satèl·lits de navegació global (GPS). Aquest experiment, anomenat Radio Ocultacions i Precipitació Intensa a bord de PAZ (ROHP-PAZ, acrònim en anglès) permetrà demostrar un nou mètode de mesura ideat per el grup d'observació de la Terra de l'ICE-CSIC/IEEC.   Actualment no és possible d'adquirir aquest tipus de mesures conjuntes des d'un sol instrument, i en conseqüència els fenòmens de pluja intensa no estan ben entesos ni ben representats en els models actuals de meteorologia i clima. Si es confirma la validesa del mètode, aquesta tècnica permetrà caracteritzar les estructures de pluja intensa conjuntament amb les seves propietats termodinàmiques (pressió i temperatura), i així millorar-ne el seu coneixement, el seu modelatge, i la predicció de l'evolució d'aquests tipus de fenòmens en la perspectiva del canvi climàtic. L'experiment ROHP-PAZ ha estat concebut i liderat per l'ICE-CSIC/IEEC, i finançat pel Ministeri d'Economia i Competitivitat. Compta amb acords amb l'Administració Oceànica i Atmosfèrica Nordamericana (NOAA) i la Corporació d'Universitats Nordamericanes per a la Recerca Atmosfèrica (UCAR), qui proveiran els serveis de meteorologia mundials amb dades de ROHP-PAZ per a la seva assimilació en els models de predicció del temps. L'experiment compta també amb el suport del centre de la NASA i de Caltech 'Jet Propulsion Laboratory' (NASA/JPL), on es realitzaran part dels estudis científics relacionats amb el nou concepte de mesura. El 7 de març del 2017 HISDESAT, l'empresa responsable del satèl.lit PAZ, va anunciar ( que havia arribat a un acord amb l'empresa SpaceX per al llançament del satèl·lit, el qual està previst per al darrer trimestre de 2017. Les dades de l'experiment estaran disponibles pocs mesos després. La pàgina web conté més informació sobre ROHP-PAZ i servirà de punt d'accés a les seves dades. Vídeos divulgatius en versions catalana, castellana i anglesa es poden trobar als següents enllaços. Aquests vídeos poden ser utilitzats pels mitjans per a il·lustrar les seves informacions: Versió catalana: Versió castellana: Versió anglesa: Podeu contactar amb els científics responsables de l’ICE-CSIC/IEEC a través de l’adreça
Febrero 2017

11 de febrero: Día internacional de la mujer y la niña en la ciencia en el ICE (IEEC - CSIC)

Fotografía de las científicas del ICE en el día internacional de la mujer y la niña en la ciencia
Aunque no están todas, el grupo de científicas, administrativas y auxiliares del ICE (IEEC-CSIC) celebra el día internacional de la mujer y la niña en la ciencia. Un día que se amplía a los 365 días del año.
Enero 2017

Record-breaking Rapid-Fire Nova erupts for the 9th time in as many years

Researchers at the Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC-CSIC) are leading its study
Just before Christmas, on December 12, astronomers announced a new eruption of the most extreme Nova system known to date. The star with the catalogue name "M31N 2008-12a" resides in the Andromeda galaxy - the 2.5 million lightyears distant neighbour of our own Galaxy. Since its discovery in December 2008, this Rapid-Fire Nova has surprised researchers with eruptions more frequent than ever seen before; swiftly becoming one of the most popular observing targets. Astronomers at ICE are playing a leading role in an international team that is at the forefront of this exciting new research.
  Recurrent Novae - Regular Fireworks  
Nova outbursts are among the most powerful eruptions in the universe. They occur in binary star system consisting of a star like our sun (or sometimes an aging giant star) and a compact White Dwarf star orbiting one another at a relatively close distance. The dense and heavy dwarf star gradually steals material from its companion until it has accumulated enough matter to ignite a spectacular explosion. Within hours, a shell of previously collected material is ejected again at high speeds and temperatures, creating a huge, temporary “new star” - the eponymous Nova that lets the star shine hundreds of thousands times brighter than before. As the shell expands further it cools and fades away, making the star disappear back into obscurity. Unlike the more powerful Supernovae, a Nova does not explode its host White Dwarf but only throws off the accumulated shell. Soon after, the White Dwarf begins to collect new material towards the next eruption. The time between eruptions can be years or millenia. Novae that have shown more than a single eruption are called “Recurrent Novae”.
  The most reliable Eruptions in the Universe  
One recently discovered Recurrent Nova is breaking all the records: “Our new Rapid-Fire Nova erupts at a much faster rate than any other Nova”, says Martin Henze, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC-CISC), who is one of the leaders of the global collaboration which studies this fascinating object. In astronomical terms, the eruptions are also exceptionally predictable. “We observe a new event every 350 days”, Henze explains, “and rarely it happens more than a few weeks away from the predicted date.” The opportunity to study a large number of eruptions within only a few decades opens up completely new avenues for Nova research. Professor Margarita Hernanz, working with Henze at the Institute of Space Sciences, emphasises the large impact of this discovery: “The evolution of the binary star system through many, many Nova cycles is something that we could always study only in computer simulations. Now, for the first time, we can actually observe it in real time.”  
Towards a spectacular culmination?
Its clock-work like reliability over the last nine years has firmly established the Rapid-Fire Nova as a promising research target for decades to come. But what lies ahead for the binary system? Ultimately, the White Dwarf could gather enough material from its companion star to be pushed beyond a critical mass and explode as a bright Supernova - tens of thousands of times more powerful than the already luminous Nova eruption. Supernovae are critically important for many frontier research fields in astronomy today, from Cosmology to Dark Energy. How a star reaches its critical mass to become a Supernova, however, is still one of the big enigmas. Inspired by the new discovery of the Rapid-Fire Nova, recent theoretical models predict that this system might reach its critical mass within the next million years - a short time in astronomical terms. This makes it the best pre-explosion candidate known today.

Over the coming years, further observations are needed to tie down the model parameters and understand the physics of this exceptional Rapid-Fire Nova. Together with their international team of researchers, Henze and Hernanz are building an astronomical legacy. They are excited by the prospects and by a self-imposed challenge that is unusual for a Nova researcher: “Normally, people wait decades for a Recurrent Nova to erupt again. Now, we want to make sure that we publish the new results before the next eruption happens.”, Henze concludes. This year, the team managed to achieve this goal with remarkable precision: An extensive study of the 2015 eruption was published by The Astrophysical Journal on December 13, the day after the 2016 eruption provided an early Christmas present.
  Article references  
M. J. Darnley, M. Henze, M. F. Bode, I. Hachisu, M. Hernanz, K. Hornoch, R. Hounsell, M. Kato, J.-U. Ness, J. P. Osborne, K. L. Page, V. A. R. M. Ribeiro, P. Rodriguez-Gil, A. W. Shafter, M. M. Shara, I. A. Steele, S. C. Williams, A. Arai, I. Arcavi, E. A. Barsukova, P. Boumis, T. Chen, S. Fabrika, J. Figueira, X. Gao, N. Gehrels, P. Godon, V. P. Goranskij, D. J. Harman, D. H. Hartmann, G. Hosseinzadeh, J. Chuck Horst, K. Itagaki, J. Jose, F. Kabashima, A. Kaur, N. Kawai, J. A. Kennea, S. Kiyota, H. Kucakova, K. M. Lau, H. Maehara, H. Naito, K. Nakajima, K. Nishiyama, T. J. O'Brien, R. Quimby, G. Sala, Y. Sano, E. M. Sion, A. F. Valeev, F. Watanabe, M. Watanabe, B. F. Williams, Z. Xu. M31N 2008-12a - the remarkable recurrent nova in M31: Pan-chromatic observations of the 2015 eruption. The Astrophysical Journal. 833, 149 (2016).

M. Henze, J.-U. Ness, M. J. Darnley, M. F. Bode, S. C. Williams, A. W. Shafter, G. Sala, M. Kato, I. Hachisu, M. Hernanz. A remarkable recurrent nova in M 31: The predicted 2014 outburst in X-rays with Swift. Astronomy & Astrophysics. 580, A46. (2015)

M. Henze, J.-U. Ness, M.J. Darnley, M.F. Bode, S.C. Williams, A.W. Shafter, M. Kato, I. Hachisu. A remarkable recurrent nova in M31 - The X-ray observations. Astronomy & Astrophysics. 563, L8. (2014)
Octubre 2016

The Gravitational Astronomy-LISA group participates in the recently approved COST action "Gravitational waves, black holes and fundamental physics"

The Gravitational Astronomy-LISA group participates in the COST action "Gravitational waves, black holes and fundamental physics"
The Gravitational Astronomy-LISA group participates in one of the 25 COST actions approved by the Committee of Senior Officials on 24 October 2016.  The name of the COST action is CA16104 - Gravitational waves, black holes and fundamental physics.   Carlos F. Sopuerta is a member of the Network of proposers.
The Action will target International cooperation in the area of gravitational wave astronomy (with focus on its impact to black hole and fundamental physics) by bringing together at least 13 different countries. The Action will produce a number of multimedia contents and outreach events, including one short-movie, a TV documentary and a book which will be distributed in all of Europe, disseminating knowledge on gravitational physics and raising awareness for this science in Europe.          
Octubre 2016

Laura Tolos appointed as Associate Editor of European Physical Journal A

Laura Tolos appointed as Associate Editor of European Physical Journal, Volume A, starting November 1, 2016
Laura Tolos has been appointed as Associate Editor of European Physical Journal, Volume A (Springer Verlag). The European Physical Journal A (EPJ A) presents new and original research results in Hadron physics and Nuclear physics, in a variety of formats, including Regular Articles, Reviews, Tools for Experiment and Theory/Scientific Notes and Letters. The range of topics is extensive, from quark and hadronic matter in the laboratory to nuclear astrophysics and compact astrophysical objects. The initial appointment would be for 3 years starting on November 1, 2016 with a possible renewal for another 3 years.
Octubre 2016


The call for the L3 mission devoted to low-frequency gravitational wave astronomy has been announced
25 October 2016 Today, ESA has invited European scientists to propose concepts for the third large mission in its science programme, to study the gravitational Universe.  Merging black holes. Credit: ESA–C.Carreau A spaceborne observatory of gravitational waves – ripples in the fabric of spacetime created by accelerating massive objects – was identified in 2013 as the goal for the third large mission (L3) in ESA's Cosmic Vision plan. A Gravitational Observatory Advisory Team was appointed in 2014, composed of independent experts. The team completed its final report earlier this year, further recommending ESA to pursue the mission having verified the feasibility of a multisatellite design with free-falling test masses linked over millions of kilometres by lasers. Now, following the first detection of the elusive waves with ground-based experiments and the successful performance of ESA's LISA Pathfinder mission, which demonstrated some of the key technologies needed to detect gravitational waves from space, the agency is inviting the scientific community to submit proposals for the first space mission to observe gravitational waves. "Gravitational waves promise to open a new window for astronomy, revealing powerful phenomena across the Universe that are not accessible via observations of cosmic light," says Alvaro Giménez, ESA's Director of Science. Predicted a century ago by Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, gravitational waves remained elusive until the first direct detection by the ground-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory and Virgo collaborations, made in September 2015 and announced earlier this year. The signal originated from the coalescence of two black holes, each with some 30 times the mass of the Sun and about 1.3 billion light-years away. A second detection was made in December 2015 and announced in June, and revealed gravitational waves from another black hole merger, this time involving smaller objects with masses around 7 and 14 solar masses. Meanwhile, the LISA Pathfinder mission was launched in December 2015 and started its scientific operations in March this year, testing some of the key technologies that can be used to build a space observatory of gravitational waves. Data collected during its first two months showed that it is indeed possible to eliminate external disturbances on test masses placed in freefall at the level of precision required to measure passing gravitational waves disturbing their motion. While ground-based detectors are sensitive to gravitational waves with frequencies of around 100 Hz – or a hundred oscillation cycles per second – an observatory in space will be able to detect lower-frequency waves, from 1 Hz down to 0.1 mHz. Gravitational waves with different frequencies carry information about different events in the cosmos, much like astronomical observations in visible light are sensitive to stars in the main stages of their lives while X-ray observations can reveal the early phases of stellar life or the remnants of their demise. In particular, low-frequency gravitational waves are linked to even more exotic cosmic objects than their higher-frequency counterparts: supermassive black holes, with masses of millions to billions of times that of the Sun, that sit at the centre of massive galaxies. The waves are released when two such black holes are coalescing during a merger of galaxies, or when a smaller compact object, like a neutron star or a stellar-mass black hole, spirals towards a supermassive black hole. Observing the oscillations in the fabric of spacetime produced by these powerful events will provide an opportunity to study how galaxies have formed and evolved over the lifetime of the Universe, and to test Einstein's general relativity in its strong regime. Concepts for ESA's L3 mission will have to address the exploration of the Universe with low-frequency gravitational waves, complementing the observations performed on the ground to fully exploit the new field of gravitational astronomy. The planned launch date for the mission is 2034. Lessons learned from LISA Pathfinder will be crucial to developing this mission, but much new technology will also be needed to extend the single-satellite design to multiple satellites. For example, lasers much more powerful than those used on LISA Pathfinder, as well as highly stable telescopes, will be necessary to link the freely falling masses over millions of kilometres. Large missions in ESA's Science Programme are ESA-led, but also allow for international collaboration. The first large-class mission is Juice, the JUpiter ICy moons Explorer, planned for launch in 2022, and the second is Athena, the Advanced Telescope for High-ENergy Astrophysics, an X-ray observatory to investigate the hot and energetic Universe, with a planned launch date in 2028. Letters of intent for ESA's new gravitational-wave space observatory must be submitted by 15 November, and the deadline for the full proposal is 16 January 2017. The selection is expected to take place in the first half of 2017, with a preliminary internal study phase planned for later in the year. MORE INFORMATION FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Luigi Colangeli
Head of the Coordination Office for the Scientific Programme
European Space Agency
Email: Markus Bauer
ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer
Tel: +31 71 565 6799
Mob: +31 61 594 3 954
Octubre 2016

Nvidia grants Gravitational Astronomy Group

Nvidia grants a project proposal from Gravitational Astronomy Group with a GPU board to do research in the parallel computation field.
Nvidia Corporation, an American Technology company specialised in the design and development of graphics processing units (GPUs), has granted in his "NVIDIA’s Academic Programs" a project proposal made by Lluís Gesa, as Investigator Engineer and Teacher at UAB, and Carlos Sopuerta, as Scientific Investigator, both members of the Gravitational Astronomy Group from Institut de Ciencies del Espai (CSIC-IEEC). A Geforce GTX Titan X GPU board has been donate to support the project. This hardware will be used in the computational research inside the Gravitational Waves field to computate models also to investigate new approachs for data analisys.
Octubre 2016

Jonatan Martin gets an Extraordinary Award of UAB

Jonatan Martin, PhD student of Nanda Rea & Diego F. Torres gets an Extraordinary PhD Prize of @UAB_info
In September 20th, 2016 the Consell de Govern of the UAB awards the Extraordinary PhD Prizes at PhD Thesis since 2012. Four of them were assigned to Physical Sciences and one of them to our PhD student, now Doctor, Jonatan Martín. Jonatan defensed his PhD Thesis in 2014 titled Theory & observations of the PWN-SNR complex and directed by Dr. Nanda Rea and Dr. Diego F. Torres on the ICE (IEEC-CSIC).
Septiembre 2016

Young Magnetar Likely the Slowest Pulsar Ever Detected

NASA Press Release on the discovery of a new magnetar as being the slowest pulsar ever detected
Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other X-ray observatories, astronomers have found evidence for what is likely one of the most extreme pulsars, or rotating neutron stars, ever detected. The source exhibits properties of a highly magnetized neutron star, or magnetar, yet its deduced spin period is thousands of times longer than any pulsar ever observed. For decades, astronomers have known there is a dense, compact source at the center of RCW 103, the remains of a supernova explosion located about 9,000 light years from Earth.  This composite image shows RCW 103 and its central source, known officially as 1E 161348-5055 (1E 1613, for short), in three bands of X-ray light detected by Chandra. In this image, the lowest energy X-rays from Chandra are red, the medium band is green, and the highest energy X-rays are blue. The bright blue X-ray source in the middle of RCW 103 is 1E 1613. The X-ray data have been combined with an optical image from the Digitized Sky Survey. Observers had previously agreed that 1E 1613 is a neutron star, an extremely dense star created by the supernova that produced RCW 103. However, the regular variation in the X-ray brightness of the source, with a period of about six and a half hours, presented a puzzle.  All proposed models had problems explaining this slow periodicity, but the main ideas were of either a spinning neutron star that is rotating extremely slowly because of an unexplained slow-down mechanism, or a faster-spinning neutron star that is in orbit with a normal star in a binary system. On June 22, 2016, an instrument aboard NASA’s Swift telescope captured the release of a short burst of X-rays from 1E 1613. The Swift detection caught astronomers’ attention because the source exhibited intense, extremely rapid fluctuations on a time scale of milliseconds, similar to other known magnetars. These exotic objects possess the most powerful magnetic fields in the Universe –trillions of times that observed on the Sun – and can erupt with enormous amounts of energy. Seeking to investigate further, a team of astronomers led by Nanda Rea of the Institute of Space Sciences (CSIC-IEEC) quickly asked two other orbiting telescopes – NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR – to follow up with observations. New data from this trio of high-energy telescopes, and archival data from Chandra, Swift and ESA’s XMM-Newton confirmed that 1E 1613 has the properties of a magnetar, making it only the 30th known. These properties include the relative amounts of X-rays produced at different energies and the way the neutron star cooled after the 2016 burst and another burst seen in 1999. The binary explanation is considered unlikely because the new data show that the strength of the periodic variation in X-rays changes dramatically both with the energy of the X-rays and with time. However, this behavior is typical for magnetars. But the mystery of the slow spin remained. The source is rotating once every 24,000 seconds (6.67 hours), much slower than the slowest magnetars known until now, which spin around once every 10 seconds. This would make it the slowest spinning neutron star ever detected. Astronomers expect that a single neutron star will be spinning quickly after its birth in the supernova explosion and will then slow down over time as it loses energy. However, the researchers estimate that the magnetar within RCW 103 is about 2,000 years old, which is not enough time for the pulsar to slow down to a period of 24,000 seconds by conventional means. While it is still unclear why 1E 1613 is spinning so slowly, scientists do have some ideas. One leading scenario is that debris from the exploded star has fallen back onto magnetic field lines around the spinning neutron star, causing it to spin more slowly with time. Searches are currently being made for other very slowly spinning magnetars to study this idea in more detail. See for the original NASA Press Release.
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An institute of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas

An institute of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
Affiliated with the Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya

Affiliated with the Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya