Astronomy Object of the Month: Archive
|September: X-ray magnifying glass enhances view of distant black holes||
By taking advantage of a natural lens in space, astronomers have captured an unprecedented look at X-rays
from a black hole system in the early Universe. This magnifying glass was used to sharpen X-ray images, for
the first time using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. It captured details about black holes that would
normally be too distant to study using existing X-ray telescopes.
|August: J0028+0035 - a fidget spinner like radio galaxy||
The radio galaxy J0028+0035 has three components in the centre, thus its morphology resembles a fidget spinner.
The central component on the left is a distant blazar, not connected physically with the other objects visible on
the map. The other two components on the right, which can be seen better in the right-hand side image, constitute
a small radio galaxy consisting of a core and two lobes. J0028+0035 belongs to a rare class of restarting radio
galaxies with two pairs of lobes, involving components that emerged from two different cycles of activity of the
|July: Kinematics of coronal mass ejections in the LASCO field of view||
An accurate understanding of the propagation of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) is crucial in the prediction of space weather. CMEs generate geomagnetic storms causing catastrophic damages to power grids on Earth and are serious radiation threat to satellites on low-Earth orbit and their crew during spacewalks. Basic parameters such as their velocity and acceleration varying with time and heliospheric distance away from the Sun gives researchers the opportunity to predict their arrival time in the vicinity of the Earth. In this paper, we analyze the trend of this parameter in regards to the solar cycles 23 and 24.
|June: Nickel atoms detected in the cold gas around interstellar comet 2I/Borisov||
Unbound nickel atoms and other heavy elements have been observed in very hot
cosmic environments, including the atmospheres of ultra-hot exoplanets and
evaporating comets that ventured too close to our Sun or other stars. A new
study conducted by JU researchers reveals the presence of nickel atoms in
the cold gasses surrounding the interstellar comet 2I/Borisov. The team’s
finding is being published in Nature on 19 May 2021.
|May: LOFAR and the galaxies of the young Universe||
International team of astronomers, including scientists from the Astronomical Observatory of the Jagiellonian University, has published the most accurate map of the Universe at low radio frequencies, created with the use of the European LOFAR radio telescope. As a result, it was possible to detect the faint radio glow from the stars that exploded as supernovae in tens of thousands of ancient galaxies spread out to the farthest regions of the Universe.
|April: A Multi-wavelength look at a sample of Compact Radio Galaxies||
Compact radio galaxies are a particularly interesting class of active galactic nuclei (AGN), with newly born
radio structures (jets and lobes) fully confined within their host galaxies. They can provide information
on the processes that lead to the production of relativistic jets, as well as insight into the complex
dynamics of feedback between evolving supermassive black holes and interstellar medium. Recently work was
published by an international group, led by researchers at the JU Astronomical Observatory, on the infrared
X-ray properties of a sample of 29 of this type of galaxy.
|March: Can we observe that the magnetic field heats the surrounding gas?||
Magnetic fields can do a lot of things. They are even believed to govern star formation, by supporting the contraction of gas. Not to mention, that
the galactic evolution often depends on them. They are practically everywhere. And the gas is also everywhere. Would it be possible, then, that the
magnetic fields can heat the gas that surrounds them? To find out, a study is being performed that combines analyses of both X-ray and radio
observations of a sample of quite extraordinary spiral galaxies. One of them is NGC 5236, better known to sky enthusiasts as M83.
|February: Freely falling bodies in standing-wave spacetime||
The phenomena of standing waves is well known in mechanical and electromagnetic setting where the wave has the
maximum and minimum amplitude at the antinodes and nodes, respectively. In context of exact solution to Einstein
field equations, we analyze a spacetime which represents standing gravitational waves in an expanding Universe.
|January: Optical Luminosity-Time correlation for more than 100 GRBs||New correlation has been discovered in optical observations of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and
may be the key to using GRBs as cosmological distance indicators. Maria Giovanna
Dainotti (Jagiellonian University, RIKEN iTHEMs, Space Science Institute) and Samantha Livermore
(physics major at Tufts University) worked with the large international team to gather
a sizable sample and conduct their rigorous statistical analysis. This research features the
largest sample of optical plateaus in the literature to date.
|December: The rotation of Comet NEOWISE||
Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) embellished the 2020 summer sky. It left many memories and beautiful photos, but, most of all, valuable scientific data. The international Gemini Observatory in Hawaii was used to observe the comet by the team led by Michał Drahus from the JU Astronomical Observatory in Krakow. The obtained observational data allowed for a detailed study of the material evaporated from the comet as it traveled through the inner regions of the Solar System.
|November: Gamma-Ray Burst associated with Kilonovae: ambushing the Standard Candle in its own nest||
Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) are the most luminous and explosive transient phenomena in the Universe after the Big Bang, but they are still puzzling phenomena regarding their emission mechanism even after more than 50 years from their discovery. A powerful tool for characterizing and classifying GRBs to allow them to be used as tracers of the expansion history of the Universe and to understand their mysterious and debated physical mechanisms has been recently presented by an international team of researchers led by Dr. hab. Maria Dainotti, Assistant Professor at Jagiellonian University, Poland and concurrently serving as Affiliate Research Scientist at Space Science Institute, in Boulder, Colorado.
|October: GRBs as Standard Candles: observations vs. theory||
A study presenting the most comprehensive analysis of Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) detected by the Neils Gehrels Swift Observatory to this day has been presented in a new article accepted in the Astrophysical Journal Supplements Series. The analysis was performed by an international team led by Dr. Maria Giovanna Dainotti, assistant Professor at Jagiellonian University concurrently serving as affiliated Scientist at Space Science Institute in Colorado, and as a mentor of the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) program at Stanford University.
|September: The most widespread, regular magnetic field in the Universe||
A team of scientists from the Jagiellonian University and CSIRO has published an article that describes a vast, magnetised structure found in a small, compact galaxy group – the Stephan’s Quintet. It seems that we are facing some kind of a magnetic „screen”, with an extent of at least 200 000 on 130 000 on 65 000 light years. It is the largest known, regularly magnetised structure in the Universe.
|August: Non-interacting coronal mass ejections and solar energetic particles near the quadrature configuration of Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory||
Space weather is mainly controlled by the
strong magnetic storms and particle storms which are caused by the enhanced
fluxes of protons and ions. These accelerated plasmas are known as solar energetic particles (SEPs). The generation of SEP is mainly due to two
phenomenon, impulsive SEP events caused by magnetic reconnection manifested as solar flares, and gradual SEP events accelerated by strong shocks
associated with coronal mass ejections (CMEs). In this paper we
have shown that our method of employing so-called instantaneous speed (maximum speed and the CME speed and Mach number at SEP peak flux) offers
better correlation than the average speed. In addition, we observe poor correlation between fluxes of SEPs and Flares, which
support the hypothesis that energetic particles observed in the considered energy range are predominantly accelerated by CME shock.
|July: The discovery of high-energy gamma rays from the jet of the active galaxy Centaurus A||
On June 17, journal Nature published the paper of researchers from the international
presenting the discovery of high-energy gamma emission from the relativistic beam, or "jet", of the
nearby active galaxy Centaurus A (Cen A). This important astronomical discovery was made with
participation of Polish scientists, including the team from the Astronomical Observatory of the
|June: Pulsating blue subdwarfs and planets which are not there||
In 2011 and 2014, reports appeared that two pulsating sdBV stars observed by the Kepler Space Telescope,
KIC 5807616 and KIC 10001893, could be circled by extrasolar planets on tight orbits. However, a new
analysis of the putative planetary signatures found in the light curves of these stars shows that there
are no planets around them. The research involved professor Jerzy Krzesiński from the Astronomical
Observatory of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and his PhD student Adam Blokesz from the Pedagogical
University of Kraków.
|May: Spitzer Telescope test Einstein Gravity: repeated explosions near a black hole give a clue||
A very recent observation of a predicted flaring from a distant galaxy by Spitzer Space Telescope has firmly established the
existence of a massive black hole pair emitting nano-Hertz gravitational waves which should assist the on-going international
efforts to directly detect such waves. Spitzer observation is also constraining a unique property of black holes, explored by
Stephen Hawking and collaborators.
|April: Examination of microvariability of the flux and the polarization of blazars in the optical band||
Active Galactic Nuclei (AGNs) consists of galaxies with extremely bright nucleus, so much so, that they usually
outshine the light from other galaxy parts such as arms or bulges. The reason behind intense power of AGN is believed
to be that at the centre of galaxy a super massive black hole (SMBH) is accreting matter from its vicinity. Sometimes,
such systems are known to erupt powerful, narrow beam of high velocity charged particles. If one happens to view such
a systems along the line of sight of these eruptions (jets) are called blazars. The emission from blazar jets is Doppler
boosted, leading to extreme luminosities and flux variability and apparent superluminal motion shown by the ejecta.
|March: The Nature of γ-ray Variability in Blazars||
Blazars shine predominatly in high energy emission, e. g. X-ray and gamma-ray wave bands. It is widely believed
that the high energy emission is produced via synchrotron and inverse-Compton processes at the relativistic shock
waves which propagate along the blazar jets or magnetic reconnection processes in case of highly magnetized jets.
However, in spite of the collaborative efforts of several modern space and earth bound telescopes, the details of
the mechanisms and the exact location of the production of the high energy emission, in reference to the
central engine, remain elusive.
|February: CSO radio sources and efficiency of their jets||
The international team headed by astronomers from the Jagiellonian University has published detailed
research on the jet production efficiency in a sample of 17 selected young radio galaxies, for which the
observed luminosities of their jets, radio lobes and accretion disks seem to correspond to the same
episode of the central activity of their parent galaxies.
|January: The catalogue of giant radio sources||
Giant radio sources are a peculiar class of objects due to the extremely large (> 0.7 Mpc) sizes of their observed radio
structures. It is believed that this is relatively rare feature, because only ~5% of all known radio sources exceed this
size. The reasons why some radio sources have grown to such large sizes are not fully explained, however detailed multiwavelength
studies have progressed significantly our knowledge about the nature of giants.
|December: First detection of gamma-ray burst afterglow in very-high-energy gamma light$||
After a decade-long search, scientists have for the first time detected a gamma-ray burst in very-
high-energy gamma light. This discovery was made in July 2018 by the H.E.S.S. collaboration
using the huge 28-m telescope of the
H.E.S.S. array in Namibia. Surprisingly, this Gamma-ray
burst, an extremely energetic flash following a cosmological cataclysm, was found to emit very-
high-energy gamma-rays long after the initial explosion.
|November: Interstellar Comet with a Familiar Look$||
A new comet discovered by amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov is an outcast from another star system, yet its
properties determined so far are surprisingly familiar – a new study led by JU researchers shows. The team’s
findings are being published in Nature Astronomy on 14 October 2019.
|October: Estimation of Arrival Time of Coronal Mass Ejections in the vicinity of the Earth$||
The arrival time of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in the vicinity of the Earth is one of the most important parameters in determining space weather. An accurate model for prediction of travel time (TT) of CMEs directed towards Earth is important as they cause intense geomagnetic disturbances. Our study provides prediction model with lesser errors compared to previous methods. In addition this gives us a better understanding of the kinematics of CMEs.
|September: Needle-like structures on positively charged lightnings||
Thunderbolts occuring in Earth’s atmosphere are dangerous yet still poorly understood natural phenomenon. Typical lightning forms a network of plasma channels propagating away from the initiation point with both positively and negatively charged ends—so-called positive and negative lightning leaders.
|August: Rhythmic oscillations of the blazar Markarian 501||
Dr. Gopal Bhatta from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków has detected transient rhythmic oscillations
in the gamma-ray emission from the
blazar Markarian 501. The discovery could be helpful in improving our understanding of the most energetic processes
taking place in the universe.
|July: Signatures of UV radiation around low-mass protostars in Serpens||
A new-born protostar forms in dense core deep inside molecular cloud.
Molecular cloud is characterised by high extinction in the optical
range so observations at long wavelengths are necessary. In particular, submillimetre spectra include
rotational lines of key molecules which are useful tracers
of physics and chemistry around low-mass protostars. The column densities of HCN and CN molecules can be determined with the RADEX radiative
transfer code. This information can be compared with an astrochemical model in order to characterise the strength of the UV radiation. Thus,
we gain new understandings of chemical and physical processes around low-mass protostars.
|June: Dusty galaxies from the AKARI All Sky Survey||
Recent studies show that optically selected AGNs often follow the far infrared-to-radio correlation as tightly as star forming
galaxies. Most galaxies containing AGNs have their far infrared-to-radio flux ratios indistinguishable from those of the star
forming ones, with the exception of Seyfert galaxies. To study this dependence more accurately, international team led by
astronomers from National Centre for Nuclear Research and Jagiellonian University used the newest measurements from the AKARI
Far-Infrared All Sky Survey to cross-correlate the AKARI data with the NVSS radio catalogue at 1.4 GHz.
|May: New method of constructing inhomogeneous cosmological models||
Studies of inhomogeneous cosmological models are an actively developed branch of
general relativity and cosmology. By developing new techniques for solving the physically motivated issues of Einstein's theory of gravity, we
expand our knowledge of the Universe with unknown phenomena and set future directions for research.
|April: Gamma-Ray Bursts zoo sorted in 3D||
A powerful tool for characterizing and classifying gamma-ray
bursts (GRBs) to allow their use as tracers of the expansion history of the universe has recently been presented by an
international team of researchers led by Dr. Maria Dainotti, assistant Professor at Jagiellonian University, Poland and concurrently
serve as Chretienne Fellow appointed by the American Astronomical Society at Stanford University. The work, which has been published
in the Astrophysical Journal, is a statistical analysis of the properties of the yet mysterious GRBs, aimed at determining a sub-group
of GRBs and investigating the physical origin of these systems.
|March: Compact galaxy groups observed with LOFAR radio interferometer|
LOFAR Two-metre Sky Survey (LoTSS) has detected
thousands of new galaxies. International team — including scientists from the Astronomical Observatory of the
Jagiellonian University — used this survey to identify the groups of galaxies from the
Hickson Compact Groups and Magnitude
Limited Compact Groups samples that emit at the low radio frequency of 150 MHz. Their radio emission was then
characterised and the newly obtained results were compared to earlier observations and theoretical predictions for the groups.
|February: Stars, galaxies and quasars from the Infrared WISE Survey|
The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (
WISE) satellite has detected hundreds of millions of new infrared sources. Classifying them reliably is, however,
a very challenging task. Simple colour cuts are often not sufficient; for satisfactory levels of completeness and purity,
more sophisticated classification methods are needed. A team of astronomers from Jagiellonian University and other Polish
research centers is developing new, automated methods of source classification in full-sky WISE data.
|January: Possible link between relativistic jets and accretion disk found in the giant quasar 4C+74.26|
4C+74.26 is a quasar located about 1.4 billion light years away from us - one of the few quasars with giant radio lobes
spreading across millions light years. An team of researchers led by Dr. Gopal Bhatta from the Jagiellonian University in
Kraków studied the source using multifrequency observations from the ground and space based telescopes. The team discovered
that the optical emission delayed behind radio emission by ~250 days. The authors proposed that the delay may indicate a
scenario in which flux modulations arose due to magnetic disruptions at the innermost regions of the accretion disk. Such
a lag between two emission bands is relatively rarely observed and it could help in understating the most challenging
issues in modern astrophysics.
|December: Kordylewski Clouds – dust moons of the Earth-Moon System|
At the end of October 2018, an interesting set of publications, by a team of Hungarian scientists, were published
in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Judith Sliz-Balogh, Andras Bart and Gabor Horvath reported their observations
of the Earth’s dust moon. The initiator of the search for these dusty moons of Earth was doc. Kazimierz Kordylewski from the Astronomical
Observatory of the Jagiellonian University.
|November: Blazars observed behind the Magellanic Clouds|
Identification of AGNs in dense stellar fields such as the Large and
Small Magellanic Clouds (MCs) is extremely challenging due to large densities of stars in the interstellar medium. Among the 758 MQS quasars
and 898 unidentified objects, a sample of 44 blazar candidates were identified with respect to their radio, optical, and
mid-infrared properties. The newly selected blazar candidates possess the long-term multi-colour (I nad V filters) photometric
data from the OGLE, multi-colour mid-infrared observations, and archival radio data for at least one frequency. Moreover, nine blazar
candidates have radio polarization data. The results are accepted by Astrophysical Journal.
|October: SBS B1646+499: black hole with a jumbled past|
Blazars constitute a particular class of so-called active galaxies (AGNs). These exotic objects emit huge amount of energy.
Blazars host very masive black holes in their centers, surrounded by accretion discs and toruses. Their high-energy radiation is mostly emitted in
collimated streams called jets. The emission of such objects is dominated by the relativistically boosted, non-thermal emission of the jets observed at
a small angle to the observer on Earth. In the case of blazar SBS B1646+499, the galaxy activity phase associated with the jet production has already
occurred at least twice. The results are accepted by Astrophysical Journal.
|September: Detection of Periodic Radio Signal from the Blazar PKS 0219-164|
PKS 0219-164 (z=0.7) is a BL Lac source that been detected over a broad range of the electromagnetic spectrum including radio, infra-red, optical,
X and gamma rays. The accurate position of the source at radio frequency (2700 MHz) and its optical counterpart was measured in 1977.
The decade-long 15 GHz radio observations of the blazar PKS 0219-164 from the 40-m telescope OVRO
were recently analyzed. Study revealed a strong repeating signal with a periodicity of ∼270 days. The results are published in
|August: TXS 0506+56: discovery of an energetic cosmic neutrino source due to very high energy gamma ray observations|
On September 22nd last year the Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory at the South
Pole detected a high energy neutrino with a likely cosmic origin. A single neutrino does not suffice to identify its source. Very soon after
its detection telescopes working at different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum started to observe the possible location it came from.
The results are published in Science.
|July: First long term all-frequency power spectral analysis of OJ 287|
The international team headed by Dr Arti Goyal from the Astronomical Observatory of the Jagiellonian University conducted
the first long term all-frequency power spectral analysis for OJ 287, using also the data from Kepler satellite and constructing the
optical variability power spectrum without any gaps. The results are published in The Astronomical Journal.
|June: In-depth measurements of the interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua unveil its turbulent past and verify previous reports|
‘Oumuamua is the first astronomical object known to science to have entered the Solar System from the interstellar space, having been ejected from its
original planetary system. Using the giant Gemini North telescope in Hawaii, a team of scientists led
by astronomers from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków conducted an in-depth study of the body. Among other findings, the study revealed that ‘Oumuamua is
“tumbling” through space, consistent with a collision in the distant past, as well as verified and expanded upon a number of previous reports. The results
have just appeared in the latest issue of Nature Astronomy.
Astronomical Observatory of the Jagiellonian University
Elzbieta.Kuligowska [at] oa.uj.edu.pl