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ServiAstro is the website for public outreach on astronomy of the Astronomy and Meteorology Department (DAM) of the University of Barcelona.

It offers information about the past and future astronomical events visible from Catalonia. Also about the most important ones, no matter the geographical visibility. In some especially outstanding cases, such as planetary transits or Solar and Lunar eclipses, ServiAstro offers live webcasts which can be enjoyed anytime, thanks to our permanent galleries.

Furthermore, ServiAstro publish the public outreach activities carried out by the (DAM). Visitors will find a compilation of astronomical ephemerides, tools for astronomical calculations, news, answers to frequently asked questions and links to lots of other websites about astronomy, organized in sections.

Gaia discovers its first supernova

mąxim Gaia discovers its first supernova, 12 September,
While scanning the sky to measure the positions and movements of stars in our Galaxy, Gaia has discovered a supernova, called Gaia 14aaa, in a galaxy located about 500 million light years away.

The sudden rise in the galaxy brightness detected between one observation on August 30th and another one made one month before, indicated the possibility of a supernova. This galaxy showed a a 6 factor change of its brightness.
Position measurements were made to corroborate the hypothesis that it was a supernova and to reject the option of outbursts caused by the mass-devouring supermassive black hole at the galaxy centre. The position of the bright spot of light was slightly offset from the galaxy’s core, suggesting that it was unlikely to be related to a central black hole. The astronomers analysed the light spectrum to seek signatures of various chemical elements typical of those kind of phenomenon. Complementary observations were made with terrestrial Telescopes such as the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) and the Liverpool Telescope, both placed at the La Palma Island. All information confirmed that the phenomenon was a supernova and also indicated its nature: a Type Ia supernova, correspondent to the explosion of a white dwarf locked in a binary system with a companion star.

It was just the firts discovery of the many that will occur during the 5 years of the mission.

More information about the supernova
GaiaUB Group
Follow the mision with the GaiaApp

Gaia is an ESA mission to survey one billion stars in our Galaxy and local galactic neighbourhood in order to build the most precise 3D map of the Milky Way and answer questions about its origin and evolution. It was launched on 19 December 2013. The Gaia Group of the University of Barcelona-Institute of Cosmos Sciences- Institute of Spatial Studies of Catalonia, has a important contribution in this mission.

Physics Photo Contest «International Year of light»

On 20 December 2013 the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed 2015 the International Year of Light and light-based technologies.

The "Catalan Society of Physics", a subsidiary of the "Institute of Catalan Studies", wants to join in the celebration with this call, with the aim of encouraging interest in optics and physics in our society, and to support the emergence of careers in these fields.
Contest rules

NameExoWorlds: An IAU World wide Contest to name Exoplanets and their Host Stars

mąxim For the first time, in response to the public’s increased interest in being part of discoveries in astronomy, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is organizing a worldwide contest to give popular names to selected exoplanets along with their host stars. The proposed names will be submitted by astronomy clubs and non-profit organisations interested in astronomy, and votes will be cast by the public from across the world through the web platform NameExoWorlds.
Spanish Blog

Picture of the day



September 2014

mąxim Violent Origins of Disc Galaxies Probed by ALMA 17 Septembre 2014,
For decades scientists have believed that galaxy mergers usually result in the formation of elliptical galaxies. Now, for the the first time, researchers using ALMA and a host of other radio telescopes have found direct evidence that merging galaxies can instead form disc galaxies, and that this outcome is in fact quite common. This surprising result could explain why there are so many spiral galaxies like the Milky Way in the Universe.

mąxim Hubble helps find smallest known galaxy containing a supermassive black hole 17 September 2014,
Astronomers using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground observation have found an unlikely object in an improbable place -- a monster black hole lurking inside one of the tiniest galaxies ever known.

mąxim Astronomers release most detailed catalogue ever made of the visible Milky Way 17 September 2014,
A new catalogue of the visible part of the northern part of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, includes no fewer than 219 million stars. Geert Barentsen of the University of Hertfordshire led a team who assembled the catalogue in a ten year programme using the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) on La Palma in the Canary Islands.

mąxim NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory Finds Planet That Makes Star Act Deceptively Old 16 September 2014,
A planet may be causing the star it orbits to act much older than it actually is, according to new data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. This discovery shows how a massive planet can affect the behavior of its parent star.

mąxim Esa's bug-eyed telescope to spot risky asteroids 10 September 2014,
Spotting Earth-threatening asteroids is tough partly because the sky is so big. But insects offer an answer, since they figured out long ago how to look in many directions at once.

mąxim Hubble Finds Supernova Companion Star after Two Decades of Searching 9 September 2014,
Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered a companion star to a rare type of supernova. The discovery confirms a long-held theory that the supernova, dubbed SN 1993J, occurred inside what is called a binary system, where two interacting stars caused a cosmic explosion.

mąxim Rosetta comet observed with Very Large Telescope 8 September 2014,
Since early August 2014, Rosetta has been enjoying a close-up view of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Meanwhile, astronomers on Earth have been busy following the comet with ground-based telescopes. As Rosetta is deep inside the ‘atmosphere’ coma – it was 100 km from the nucleus on 6 August, and has been getting much closer since then – the only way to view the whole comet is to ‘stand back’ and observe it from Earth.

mąxim Cosmic Forecast: Dark Clouds Will Give Way to Sunshine 3 September 2014,
Lupus 4, a spider-shaped blob of gas and dust, blots out background stars like a dark cloud on a moonless night in this intriguing new image. Although gloomy for now, dense pockets of material within clouds such as Lupus 4 are where new stars form and where they will later burst into radiant life. The Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile captured this new picture.

mąxim Gaia in your pocket - Mapping the Galaxy with the new Gaia App 1 September 2014,
You can follow the mission’s progress with a new app created by the University of Barcelona. Being able to track the progress of this groundbreaking mission via your iPhone, iPad or iPod means the stars have never been closer!

mąxim XI Scientific Meeting of the Spanish Society of Astronomy 1 September 2014,
The Spanish Society of Astronomy (SEA) cellebrate its XI Scientific Meeting at Teruel from 8 to 12 September 2014.
As on previous occasions, the main idea of this meeting is to create a science discussion forum where Spanish Astronomy and its guests can present and discuss their latests works, create new collaborations and organize themselves to face new challenges.
This meeting is thought as a meeting point for every astronomer and as a place where the youngest members of our society can improve in their research.

mąxim Magnetar discoveed close to Supernova remnant KESTEVEN 79 1 September 2014,
Massive stars end their life with a bang, exploding as supernovas and releasing massive amounts of energy and matter. What remains of the star is a small and extremely dense remnant: a neutron star or a black hole.
This image depicts two very different neutron stars that were observed in the same patch of the sky with XMM-Newton. The green and pink bubble dominating the image is Kesteven 79, the remnant of a supernova explosion located about 23,000 light-years away from us.

August 2014

mąxim How Rosetta arrives at a comet 2 August 2014,
After travelling nearly 6.4 billion kilometres through the Solar System, ESA’s Rosetta is closing in on its target. But how does a spacecraft actually arrive at a comet?

July 2014

mąxim Gaia: Go for science 30 July 2014,
Following extensive in-orbit commissioning and several unexpected challenges, ESA’s billion-star surveyor, Gaia, is now ready to begin its science mission.
The satellite was launched on 19 December 2013, and is orbiting a virtual location in space 1.5 million kilometres from Earth.

mąxim Nearby M33 galaxy blossoming with star birth 28 July 2014,
The spiral galaxy M33, also known as the Triangulum Galaxy, is one of our closest cosmic neighbours, just three million light-years away. Home to some forty billion stars, it is the third largest in the Local Group of galaxies after the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and our own Milky Way.
This image, from ESA's Herschel space observatory, shows M33 in far-infrared light, revealing the glow of cosmic dust in the interstellar medium that permeates the galaxy. The patchy, disorganised structure of M33's spiral arms resembles a tuft of wool, leading astronomers to classify it as a flocculent spiral galaxy.

mąxim Hubble Finds Three Surprisingly Dry Exoplanets 24 July 2014,
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have gone looking for water vapor in the atmospheres of three planets orbiting stars similar to the sun -- and have come up nearly dry.
The three planets, known as HD 189733b, HD 209458b, and WASP-12b, are between 60 and 900 light-years away from Earth and were thought to be ideal candidates for detecting water vapor in their atmospheres because of their high temperatures where water turns into a measurable vapor.

mąxim Lives and Deaths of Sibling Stars 23 July 2014,
In this striking new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile young stars huddle together against a backdrop of clouds of glowing gas and lanes of dust. The star cluster, known as NGC 3293, would have been just a cloud of gas and dust itself about ten million years ago, but as stars began to form it became the bright group of stars we see here. Clusters like this are celestial laboratories that allow astronomers to learn more about how stars evolve.

mąxim Bizarre nearby blast mimics Universe'smost ancient stars 11 July 2014,
ESA’s XMM-Newton observatory has helped to uncover how the Universe’s first stars ended their lives in giant explosions.
Astronomers studied the gamma-ray burst GRB130925A – a flash of very energetic radiation streaming from a star in a distant galaxy 5.6 billion light years from Earth – using space- and ground-based observatories.

mąxim NASA Spacecraft Observes Further Evidence of Dry Ice Gullies on Mars 10 July 2014,
Repeated high-resolution observations made by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) indicate the gullies on Mars’ surface are primarily formed by the seasonal freezing of carbon dioxide, not liquid water.

mąxim VLT Clears Up Dusty Mystery 9 July 2014,
A group of astronomers has been able to follow stardust being made in real time — during the aftermath of a supernova explosion. For the first time they show that these cosmic dust factories make their grains in a two-stage process, starting soon after the explosion, but continuing for years afterwards.

mąxim Farewell Lutetia! 7 July 2014,
This ethereal image shows a stunning sliver of large main-belt asteroid Lutetia from the viewpoint of ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft, taken as Rosetta passed by on its 10-year voyage towards comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

mąxim Ocean on Saturn Moon Could be as Salty as the Dead Sea 2 July 2014,
scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Cassini mission have firm evidence the ocean inside Saturn's largest moon, Titan, might be as salty as the Earth's Dead Sea.

mąxim Young sun'sviolent history solves meteorite mystery 1 July 2014
, Astronomers using ESA’s Herschel space observatory to probe the turbulent beginnings of a Sun-like star have found evidence of mighty stellar winds that could solve a puzzling meteorite mystery in our own back yard.

mąxim Nanda Rea receives the Zeldovich Medal 1 July 2014
, Dr. Nanda Rea, research scientist of the Institute of Space Sciences (CSIC) / Institute of Space Studies of Catalunya (IEEC), receives the Zeldovich Medal, awarded by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

mąxim Discovery of Near Earth Asteroid 2014 LU14 with the Isaac Newton Telescope 1 July 2014,
LU14 is the first Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) discovered using the Isaac Newton Telescope and the first ever from La Palma. Having an absolute magnitude of H=18.6, the discovered NEA has an estimated size of about half a kilometer (assuming a mean albedo of 0.2), and will become better visible in July 2014 (estimated magnitude V=20).

June 2014

mąxim Puzzling X rays point to dark matter 17 June
Astronomers using ESA and NASA high-energy observatories have discovered a tantalising clue that hints at an elusive ingredient of our Universe: dark matter.

mąxim New moleculas around old starss 17 June
Using ESA’s Herschel space observatory, astronomers have discovered that a molecule vital for creating water exists in the burning embers of dying Sun-like stars.

mąxim Gigantic Explosions Buried in Dust 14 June
Observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have for the first time directly mapped out the molecular gas and dust in the host galaxies of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) — the biggest explosions in the Universe.

mąxim Black Hole ‘Batteries’ Keep Blazars Going and Going 3 June
Astronomers studying two classes of black-hole-powered galaxies monitored by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have found evidence that they represent different sides of the same cosmic coin. By unraveling how these objects, called blazars, are distributed throughout the universe, the scientists suggest that apparently distinctive properties defining each class more likely reflect a change in the way the galaxies extract energy from their central black holes.

mąxim Astronomers Confounded By Massive Rocky World 2 June
Astronomers have discovered a rocky planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. This discovery has planet formation theorists challenged to explain how such a world could have formed.

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