Mysterious cloud on Titan made of hydrogen cyanide

  Since 2012, an enormous cloud is floating high above the South Pole of Titan, a large moon of Saturn. Astronomers have now discovered that this cloud consists of extremely toxic hydrogen cyanide ice. The ice has probably formed after a rapid cooling of the atmosphere. The results have this week been published in Nature.         More

Smell, see and hear the universe

Always wanted to know what space instruments look like and how they are made? Come to the Open Day of space research institute SRON in Utrecht or Groningen on October 5 and immerse yourself in the world of space research. SRON can be visited between 12.00 and 17.00 hr.             More

First Dutch contribution to giant telescope E-ELT passes all tests

The first Dutch contribution to the planned European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) has passed the tests succesfully. It concerns the 'chopper', a very versatile little mirror which has been developed by a consortium of Dutch universities, technological institutes and industry. The high tech mirror is an essential part of METIS, the mid-infrared camera annex spectrometer of the giant telecope.        Read more (in dutch)

Thermonuclear X-ray bursts on neutron stars set speed record

A new study of thermonuclear X-ray bursts on neutron stars reveals that, on very rare occasions, shells can be expelled at relativistic speeds - up to 30% of the speed of light. These velocities are the highest ever measured for a cosmic thermonuclear event, including novae and thermonuclear supernovae. This phenomenon, discovered in only 0.1 second worth of data in 40 years of space-based X-ray astronomy, sheds new light on how nuclear flames spread over surfaces of neutron stars. The research results have been published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.         More

Chandra and LETG celebrate 15th anniversary

Fifteen years ago, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched into space aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. Since its deployment on July 23, 1999, Chandra has helped revolutionize our understanding of the universe through its unrivalled X-ray vision. SRON provided the Low Energy Transmission Grating (LETG) for Chandra in collaboration with the Max Planck Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik (MPE) in Garching (near München). With this grating, astronomers were able to take a closer look at high energetic processes around astronomical objects, such as black holes, for the very first time.         More