Black holes behave like Matryoshka dolls

  An international team of astrophysicists has established that supermassive black holes behave like small stellar black holes. They made their discovery by observing a supermassive black hole that has torn apart a star, causing a surge of gas towards it. Normally such a change in the gas flow takes too long to detect. But this time the transition from a steady flow to a surge of gas happened abruptly, enabling the researchers to detect a jet blasting from the supermassive black hole. This neatly fits the pattern found near small black holes. The results appear  in Science today.         More

Dark matter or the smell of sulphur?

An international team of astronomers has found a new explanation for enigmatic X-rays in clusters of galaxies, the largest bound objects in the Universe. These X-rays, at very specific energies, may come from an electric charge exchange between cold hydrogen gas and bare sulphur ions. Previously these X-rays were attributed to sterile neutrinos, a possible form of dark matter. The new charge exchange model offers a more natural and less exotic explanation for these X-rays. The research results appear in Astronomy and Astrophysics Letters.         More

Gelderland invests in space cluster

The Province of Gelderland will invest € 195.000 in the formation of a Smart Space Cluster, which will develop innovative products for space. The cluster - in which SRON partakes - consists of aerospace companies and research institutes which will work together. The state of the art technology will have to be applied in healthcare, food production and the construction and manufacturing sector as well.        Read more (in dutch)

Count down has started for balloon mission on Antarctica

Today two SRON-researchers have arrived at Antarctica, to assist with the preperations for the NASA balloon mission STO-2. In the second half december this ballon will take the infrared detectors from SRON/TU Delft to the stratosphere, to study the birth of stars and planets from the edge of space. Systems engineer Wouter Laauwen will blog on his time at Antarctica on a regular basis.        Read more (in dutch)

European research grant for exoplanet researchers

Exoplanet researchers dr. Jean-Michel Desert (University of Amsterdam/SRON) en dr. Ir. Frans Snik (NOVA/Leiden University) will receive a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). With this prestigious grant (1,5 million euros) talented young researchers can form their first research group.          More


Envisat was an ESA satellite (2002-2012), devoted to environmental studies, notably in the areas of atmospheric chemistry and ocean, ice and landsurface studies. Up to now, it is the largest Earth Observation spacecraft ever built. It carried ten sophisticated optical and radar instruments to provide continuous observation and monitoring of the Earth's land, atmosphere, oceans and ice caps. Envisat data collectively provided a wealth of information on the workings of the Earth system, including insights into factors contributing to climate change.

One of the more than ten instruments onboard was the German-Dutch-Belgian SCIAMACHY instrument which was built to perform measurements of the Earth's atmosphere. Dutch industry and institutes were responsible for the development of the optical unit of SCIAMACHY including the detectors for ultraviolet up to short wave infrared (SWIR) radiation. SRON designed, constructed and tested the detector modules of the SCIAMACHY instrument. Based on the measurements with the SWIR modules SRON also delivered the scientific data products - carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4) and heavy water (HDO/H2O).

TROPOMI, SCIAMACHY'S successor, will be launched in 2015. After its launch onboard the ESA satellite Sentinel-5 Precursor TROPOMI will observe the Earth for more than seven years, at an altitude of 800 kilometers. By combining the high spatial resolution and wide coverage of predecessor OMI (still operational) with SCIAMACHY's big spectral range TROPOMI can collect an unprecedented amount of crucial information.