Powerful winds in mysterious objects


High-speed winds from an X-ray binary
(Credit: ESA – C. Carreau)

ESA press release: Powerful winds spotted from mysterious X-ray binaries

ESA’s XMM-Newton has discovered gas streaming away at a quarter of the speed of light from very bright X-ray binaries in two nearby galaxies.

“Imagine to do a complete round of the Earth in one second. Almost there…do two rounds of the Earth in 1 second. You got it? Yes? Excellent! Your speed was the same as the speed that I have spotted in these crazy objects known as Ultraluminous X-ray sources.”

What does this mean?

It means that a dark, compact object, namely a black hole or a neutron star, is sucking matter from a “poor” companion at a rate which goes beyond classical predictions…

Due to the rotation of the binary system, the accreted gas forms a disk around the dark object…a disk in which the gas makes a lot of friction…high enough to heat itself at temperature of million degrees…and it emits a huge amount of X-ray photons (from which the name “Ultraluminous X-ray source”). Think, in the X-ray energy band, this source, this little binary system is BRIGHTER THAN THE WHOLE GALAXY hosting it. How cool is that?

But this is only the beginning…

In the disk being formed around the hungry black hole, the gas start to lift up making it thicker and brighter. The more gas is accreted, the higher the luminosity of the gas…. 
All this X-ray light starts pushing the gas through a process known as radiation pressure.
Such a energy power is able to literally kick the gas which then escape with a tremendous velocity of seventy thousand kilometres per second, alias about one forth of the speed of the light. Can you imagine what effects will this wind have on the surrounding space? Mmh….hoovering like crazy….a massive vacuum cleaner!!!! But this story will be told afterwards….

The original press release from the European Space Agency (ESA) is highlighted in the link above. More technical detail is to be found in the paper that I published with my research team on the Nature magazine: 

Resolved atomic lines reveal outflows in two ultraluminous X-ray sources

20th of January 2016: extraordinary planets alignment !!!


Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus and Mercury, all in a row. The five brightest planets visible to the naked eye in the sky, ‘hung’ in a imaginary line that runs from the south-east to the west. Such a configuration has not happened since 2005 and will be an opportunity to admire them all in this fascinating choreography. To observe this it won’t take long but it will stay alive for quite some time: the show will indeed take place from January 20th for about a month. It will be easy to identify the players, beginning with Venus and Jupiter, by far the brightest bodies of the night sky after the Moon. Among them, along the virtual line, Saturn and Mars. Completing the quintet will be Mercury, which will be built near dawn, or a little after six in the morning. Towards the end of February it will take part to the unusual alignment even the Moon. Not only planets, not even just the Moon, but also beautiful stars like Scorpion whose red heart Antares will lie by Saturn, Virgo with bright white Spica not far away from Mars and the bright red Arcturus northwards. Enjoy!

Love train, does it pass or we are born aboard?


What a recurrent question is this. It must have crossed my mind hundred times throughout my life. No dilemma harder to answer. It may appear easier to imagine an end for the this world and the life of the new world to come than understanding the flow of this one. Things happen, they come and go…well actually, we let things happen, we make things come and slip away from our hands when we feel tired of them or not pretty much tantalized.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to start from scratch because we may miss the required courage or impetus. More difficult it’s to finish something which is dying by itself when we were clutching to that. But sometimes it seems out of this world to simply stop with the feet on the ground, lift up the eyes to orientate and realize what are doing, where are we going … but even more, what is good to us, what is healthy to us.

Eyes. Is there anything more charming than the capability of seeing the world around us? Vision, beautiful. View, sight, prospect .. a show of feelings. Nonetheless, we somehow often fail to recognize what’s really good and healthy to us. Luckily, God provided us with more senses: ears to listen the right voices, nose to smell beneficial perfumes, touch to feel the friend near us and taste to appreciate what’s good. Still, how hard can it be to distinguish the truth from the lie, the health from the poison, the good from the bad.

On the other hand, we are given all the senses not to fire them all at once. Not just una tantum, in one shot. All that we have is safe and alive for a while. Until the sun shines on our skin and the blood flows in our veins. All in this world has a sense and our senses as well. Therefore, what we do not recognize on a day, must be at hand and crossed another day.

If we think we did not fit in the right train we might have simply mistaken the coach number. I honestly do not think that the train comes and goes. The train is here, we are always on board. It’s just being in a certain coach by time to time…unfortunately, each coach has its own characteristics and is good for either this or that purpose. The brightness in our brain must be used to understand what is this coach for.

So, maybe, the answer to the former question couldn’t be found because it was wrongly placed. Love train is our life train … and we gotta move to the right coach for each purpose. We are born in the love coach thanks to our parents, then we aim for the success one … but then we pant again for the first coach, which then becomes hard to find. However, it is there waiting for us. And all we have to do is open up our senses hear, look, smell, taste and touch. Open the door and burst into that.

It is possible that we do it many times throughout our lives. Falling in love more times. I believe so. A bananna dancing at the rhythm of the raindrops that are falling on my hair is still standing in front of me. Years after that end of spring, when such a flower opened up in front of my eyes. Bright like the sun, tasty like honey, with a perfume of heaven and singing lullabies to my ears while the wind’s traversing its petals. The touch of this flower is gentle and kind to me. It was with we for just a couple of months, it will always be my dream of the midsummer night. The flame that didn’t burst into my life still burns in my heart. The dreams stays and with it the hopes. For one day might my feet lead me to that coach again and rejoin the love. Till that day, you’re safe and protected into my heart.

Thank you so much Mom

per mamma

Il mio primo pensiero oggi volge il suo sguardo verso te, che mi hai dato la forza, il coraggio, la caparbieta, la testardaggine, la perseveranza, la fiducia nei miei propri mezzi…e piu di ogni altra cosa la vita! Se oggi sono quello che sono, ma soprattutto, se oggi sono un uomo vivo, sano e forte, con i piedi per terra, tanta voglia di realizzare i miei sogni e con lo sguardo proteso al futuro lo devo tutto a te. Grazie mamma. ❤

My first thought of the day turns its gaze towards you, you who gave me strength, courage, obstinacy, stubbornness, perseverance, trust in my own power … and more than anything else life! If today I am what I am, above all, if today I am a man alive, healthy and strong, down-to-earth, a great desire to realize my dreams and looking straight to the future, I owe it all to you. Thank you so much Mom. ❤


Loving the alien – David Bowie

Watching them come and go
The Templars and the Saracens
They’re travelling the holy land
Opening telegrams

Torture comes and torture goes
Knights who’d give you anything
They bear the cross of Coeur de Leon
Salvation for the mirror blind

But if you pray 
all your sins are hooked upon the sky
Pray and the heathen lie will disappear
Prayers they hide
the saddest view
(Believing the strangest things,
loving the alien)

And your prayers they break the sky in two
(Believing the strangest things, loving the alien)

You pray til the break of dawn
(Believing the strangest things, loving the alien)

And you’ll believe you’re loving the alien
(Believing the strangest things, loving the alien)

Thinking of a different time
Palestine a modern problem
Bounty and your wealth in land
Terror in a best laid plan

Watching them come and go
Tomorrows and the yesterdays
Christians and the unbelievers
Hanging by the cross and nail