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  • richardmitnick 7:01 pm on April 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , , , ,   

    From ESO: “Stellar family in crowded, violent neighbourhood proves to be surprisingly normal” 2009 


    European Southern Observatory

    4 June 2009
    Contacts

    Fernando Selman
    ESO
    Garching, Germany
    Tel: +56 55 43 5311,+56 2 463 3168
    Email: fselman@eso.org

    Jorge Melnick
    ESO
    Garching, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6297
    Email: jmelnick@eso.org

    Pablo Espinoza
    Steward Observatory
    Arizona, USA
    Tel: +56 9 84192504
    Email: pespinoza@as.arizona.edu

    Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers have obtained one of the sharpest views ever of the Arches Cluster — an extraordinary dense cluster of young stars near the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way. Despite the extreme conditions astronomers were surprised to find the same proportions of low- and high-mass young stars in the cluster as are found in more tranquil locations in our Milky Way.

    arches

    ESO VLT
    ESO VLT

    The massive Arches Cluster is a rather peculiar star cluster. It is located 25 000 light-years away towards the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer), and contains about a thousand young, massive stars, less than 2.5 million years old [1]. It is an ideal laboratory to study how massive stars are born in extreme conditions as it is close to the centre of our Milky Way, where it experiences huge opposing forces from the stars, gas and the supermassive black hole that reside there. The Arches Cluster is ten times heavier than typical young star clusters scattered throughout our Milky Way and is enriched with chemical elements heavier than helium.

    Using the NACO adaptive optics instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, located in Chile, astronomers scrutinised the cluster in detail. Thanks to adaptive optics, astronomers can remove most of the blurring effect of the atmosphere, and so the new NACO images of the Arches Cluster are even crisper than those obtained with telescopes in space. Observing the Arches Cluster is very challenging because of the huge quantities of absorbing dust between Earth and the Galactic Centre, which visible light cannot penetrate. This is why NACO was used to observe the region in near-infrared light.

    ESO NACO
    NACO instrument

    Adaptive Optics
    Display of Adaptive Optics, where a laser is aimed at a sodium layer and a “guide” star is created.

    The new study confirms the Arches Cluster to be the densest cluster of massive young stars known. It is about three light-years across with more than a thousand stars packed into each cubic light-year — an extreme density a million times greater than in the Sun’s neighbourhood.

    Astronomers studying clusters of stars have found that higher mass stars are rarer than their less massive brethren, and their relative numbers are the same everywhere, following a universal law. For many years, the Arches Cluster seemed to be a striking exception.

    “With the extreme conditions in the Arches Cluster, one might indeed imagine that stars won’t form in the same way as in our quiet solar neighbourhood,” says Pablo Espinoza, the lead author of the paper reporting the new results. “However, our new observations showed that the masses of stars in this cluster actually do follow the same universal law”.

    In this image the astronomers could also study the brightest stars in the cluster. “The most massive star we found has a mass of about 120 times that of the Sun,” says co-author Fernando Selman. “We conclude from this that if stars more massive than 130 solar masses exist, they must live for less than 2.5 million years and end their lives without exploding as supernovae, as massive stars usually do.”

    The total mass of the cluster seems to be about 30 000 times that of the Sun, much more than was previously thought. “That we can see so much more is due to the exquisite NACO images,” says co-author Jorge Melnick.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 7:18 pm on March 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , , , ,   

    From ESO: “Powerful New Laser Passes Key Test” 


    European Southern Observatory

    ESO accepts the first 22-watt sodium laser for the Adaptive Optics Facility

    24 March 2014
    Contacts

    Steffan Lewis
    ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6931
    Email: slewis@eso.org

    Domenico Bonaccini Calia
    ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6567
    Email: dbonacci@eso.org

    Wolfgang Hackenberg
    ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6782
    Email: whackenb@eso.org

    Richard Hook
    ESO, Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    A new 22-watt laser has now been accepted from the system supplier TOPTICA and its partner MPB following nearly five years of sustained collaboration and effort . This laser system will form part of the Adaptive Optics Facility at ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT).This laser, and four further similar units (including one spare) that will be delivered later, constitute key elements of the new facility and this acceptance marks a major step forward for the project.

    ad
    The first 22-watt sodium laser of the Adaptive Optics Facility

    ESO VLT
    VLT

    Five years ago the options for obtaining high power, reliable lasers in a compact format suitable for the requirements of the Adaptive Optics Facility were very limited. But now new technology and dedicated research and development have changed the landscape.

    After three months of acceptance testing at ESO, the project team was very happy with the performance of the new hardware, which holds great promise for simple and stable operation on the VLT in the future. This is crucial because these lasers will be used every time an observation is taken with the Adaptive Optics Facility.

    The new laser design also benefits from a special technique aimed at enhancing the brightness of the artificial guide star generated in the sodium layer 90 kilometres up in the atmosphere; this is a unique feature never routinely used so far in a major observing facility.

    The Adaptive Optics Facility uses sensors to analyse the atmospheric turbulence and a deformable mirror integrated [Active Optics]in the telescope to correct for the image distortions caused by the atmosphere. But a bright point-like star needs to be at hand in order to measure the turbulence, and this needs to be very close to the science target in the sky.

    Finding a natural star for this role is unlikely. So, to make the correction of the atmospheric turbulence possible everywhere in the sky, for all possible science targets, engineers came up with the idea of projecting a powerful laser beam into the sky onto the sodium layer to create an artificial star. By measuring the atmospherically induced motions and distortions of this artificial star, and making minute adjustments to the deformable secondary mirror, the telescope can produce images with much greater sharpness than is possible without adaptive optics.

    The new laser delivers 22 watts, which sounds modest compared to standard lightbulbs, but when emitted in a coherent way the beam is very intense (and powerful enough to require special safety measures during operation). The challenge of such lasers is to efficiently produce light at the particular wavelength needed to create the artificial star.

    The performance of these new lasers, once they are in operation on the telescope, will be of interest for future projects such as the European Extremely Large Telescope, which also has requirements for multiple laser guide star units.

    ESO E-ELT
    E-ELT

    See the full article, with notes, here. Read the notes.

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  • richardmitnick 11:15 pm on February 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , , , ,   

    From ESO: “SINFONI Opens with Upbeat Chords” 2004 and Update 2014 


    European Southern Observatory

    24 August 2004
    Contacts

    Frank Eisenhauer
    Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik (MPE)
    Garching, Germany
    Tel: +49-89-30000-3563
    Email: eisenhau@mpe.mpg.de

    Paul van der Werf
    Leiden Observatory
    Leiden, Netherlands
    Tel: +31-71-5275883
    Email: pvdwerf@strw.leidenuniv.nl

    Henri Bonnet
    ESO
    Garching, Germany
    Email: hbonnet@eso.org

    Reinhard Genzel
    Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik (MPE)
    Garching, Germany
    Tel: +49-89-30000-3280

    Norbert Hubin
    ESO
    Garching, Germany
    Email: nhubin@eso.org

    The European Southern Observatory, the Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (Garching, Germany) and the Nederlandse Onderzoekschool Voor Astronomie (Leiden, The Netherlands), and with them all European astronomers, are celebrating the successful accomplishment of “First Light” for the Adaptive Optics (AO) assisted SINFONI (“Spectrograph for INtegral Field Observation in the Near-Infrared”) instrument, just installed on ESO’s Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory (Chile).

    sonfoni2
    SINFONI Adaptive Optics Module at VLT Yepun June 2004

    ESO VLT
    VLT

    sinfoni
    SINFONI

    This is the first facility of its type ever installed on an 8-m class telescope, now providing exceptional observing capabilities for the imaging and spectroscopic studies of very complex sky regions, e.g. stellar nurseries and black-hole environments, also in distant galaxies. Following smooth assembly at the 8.2-m VLT Yepun telescope of SINFONI’s two parts, the Adaptive Optics Module that feeds the SPIFFI spectrograph, the “First Light” spectrum of a bright star was recorded with SINFONI in the early evening of July 9, 2004.

    SPIFFI
    SPIFFI

    The following thirteen nights served to evaluate the performance of the new instrument and to explore its capabilities by test observations on a selection of exciting astronomical targets. They included the Galactic Centre region, already imaged with the NACO AO-instrument on the same telescope. Unprecedented high-angular resolution spectra and images were obtained of stars in the immediate vicinity of the massive central black hole. During the night of July 15 – 16, SINFONI recorded a flare from this black hole in great detail. Other interesting objects observed during this period include galaxies with active nuclei (e.g., the Circinus Galaxy and NGC 7469), a merging galaxy system (NGC 6240) and a young starforming galaxy pair at redshift 2 (BX 404/405). These first results were greeted with enthusiasm by the team of astronomers and engineers from the consortium of German and Dutch Institutes and ESO who have worked on the development of SINFONI for nearly 7 years. The work on SINFONI at Paranal included successful commissioning in June 2004 of the Adaptive Optics Module built by ESO, during which exceptional test images were obtained of the main-belt asteroid (22) Kalliope and its moon. Moreover, the ability was demonstrated to correct the atmospheric turbulence by means of even very faint “guide” objects (magnitude 17.5), crucial for the observation of astronomical objects in many parts of the sky. SPIFFI – SPectrometer for Infrared Faint Field Imaging – was developed at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrische Physik (MPE) in Garching (Germany), in a collaboration with the Nederlandse Onderzoekschool Voor Astronomie (NOVA) in Leiden and the Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy (ASTRON), and ESO.

    Circinus
    Circinus Galaxy

    Update Feb 17, 2014

    SINFONI undergoing Balancing and Flexure Tests at VLT Yepun

    sinfoni

    See the full article, with appendices and notes, here. Update is here.

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  • richardmitnick 12:37 pm on February 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , , , , ,   

    From ESO: “New Laser Improves VLT’s Capabilities” 

    21 February 2013

    A new and more powerful laser has successfully completed testing at ESO’s Paranal Observatory and has been formally accepted today. This new laser source is called PARLA and forms a vital part of the Laser Guide Star Facility (LGSF) at ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT).

    parla

    The laser is used to generate an artificial star about 90 kilometres up in the atmosphere [1]. By creating and observing such a bright point of light astronomers can probe the turbulence in the layers of the atmosphere above the telescope. This information is then used to adjust deformable mirrors in real time in order to correct most of the disturbances caused by the constant movement of atmosphere and create much sharper images.

    The new laser will greatly improve the reliability and flexibility in operating the LGSF [laser guided star facility]. It uses similar technology to that which will also be employed in the four lasers of the future Adaptive Optics Facility currently under development at ESO. The new laser delivers up to 7 Watts of output and is very stable.

    Notes

    [1] An artificial star is created where the laser interacts with the 10-kilometre thick layer of neutral sodium atoms in the mesosphere causing them to fluoresce. Atomic sodium has an optical transition at a wavelength of 589 nanometres. The laser parameters are tuned to efficiently excite this atom.”

    Contacts

    Steffan Lewis

    ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6931
    Email: slewis@eso.org

    Frederic Gonte
    ESO, Paranal Observatory
    Chile
    Tel: +56 55 43 5248
    Email: fgonte@eso.org

    Richard Hook
    ESO, Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    See the full article here.

    Visit ESO in Social Media-

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    Twitter

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    THE BASIC TOOLS OF E.S.O.
    i1
    Paranal Platform The VLT

    ESO NTT

    NTT – New Technology Telescope


    La Silla


    ALMA Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

    i2
    The European Extremely Large Telescope
    VISTAVISTA (the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy)


    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope (APEX)

    ESO, European Southern Observatory, builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.


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  • richardmitnick 8:50 pm on January 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , , , ,   

    From Gemini Observatory: “NEXT-GENERATION ADAPTIVE OPTICS BRINGS REMARKABLE DETAILS TO LIGHT IN STELLAR NURSERY” 

    Gemini Observatory
    Gemini Observatory

    For release on Wednesday, January 9, 2013

    “Figure 1. This image, obtained during the late commissioning phase of the GeMS adaptive optics system, with the Gemini South AO Imager (GSAOI) on the night of December 28, 2012, reveals exquisite details in the outskirts of the Orion Nebula. The large adaptive optics field-of-view (85 arcseconds across) demonstrates the system’s extreme resolution and uniform correction across the entire field. The three filters used for this composite color image include [Fe II], H2, and, K(short)-continuum (2.093 microns) for blue, orange, and white layers respectively. The natural seeing while these data were taken ranged from about 0.8 to 1.1 arcseconds, with AO corrected images ranging from 0.084 to 0.103 arcsecond. Each filter had a total integration (exposure) of 600 seconds. In this image, the blue spots are clouds of gaseous iron “bullets” being propelled at supersonic speeds from a region of massive star formation outside, and below, this image’s field-of-view. As these “bullets” pass through neutral hydrogen gas it heats up the hydrogen and produces the pillars that trace the passage of the iron clouds.

    image 1

    This animation [below]compares the images obtained with Altair in 2007 with the new GeMS version obtained in December 2012. As the bullets (the blue dots at the end of the orange pillar) are moving at supersonic speeds, the comparison with the 2007 image illustrates this motion. In the new image, each single bullet has moved away from the star forming region located below the image’s field-of-view and thanks to the high-resolution of AO correction these motions are easily detectable. Moreover, as the new GeMS/GSAOI instrument combination covers a larger field, more of these bullets can be monitored at once.

    image2
    Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA

    Principal Investigator(s): John Bally and Adam Ginsberg, University of Colorado and the GeMS/GSAOI commissioning team; Data processing/reduction: Rodrigo Carrasco, Gemini Observatory; Color image composite: Travis Rector, University of Alaska Anchorage.

    Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA

    A new image released today reveals how Gemini Observatory’s most advanced adaptive optics (AO) system will help astronomers study the universe with an unprecedented level of clarity and detail by removing distortions due to the Earth’s atmosphere. The photo, featuring an area on the outskirts of the famous Orion Nebula, illustrates the instrument’s significant advancements over previous-generation AO systems.

    ‘The combination of a constellation of five laser guide stars with multiple deformable mirrors allows us to expand significantly on what has previously been possible using adaptive optics in astronomy,’ said Benoit Neichel, who currently leads this adaptive optics program for Gemini. ‘For years our team has focused on developing this system, and to see this magnificent image, just hinting at its scientific potential, made our nights on the mountain – while most folks were celebrating the New Year’s holiday – the best celebration ever!'”

    guide
    Figure 3. Propagation of the Gemini South Laser. Gemini Images by Manuel Paredes.
    Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA

    AURA Icon

    Gemini North
    Gemini North, Hawai’i

    Gemini South
    Gemini South, Chile

    The Gemini Observatory consists of twin 8.1-meter diameter optical/infrared telescopes located on two of the best observing sites on the planet. From their locations on mountains in Hawai‘i and Chile, Gemini Observatory’s telescopes can collectively access the entire sky.
    Gemini was built and is operated by a partnership of six countries including the United States, Canada, Chile, Australia, Brazil and Argentina. Any astronomer in these countries can apply for time on Gemini, which is allocated in proportion to each partner’s financial stake.


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  • richardmitnick 8:23 am on November 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adaptive Optics, , , , , ,   

    From ESO: “Ten Years of VLT Adaptive Optics” 

    25 November 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of NACO, the first adaptive optics system to be installed on the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT). NACO’s ultra-sharp vision has greatly contributed to the major discoveries made with the VLT.

    i1

    “NACO, short for NAOS-CONICA, was the first adaptive optics instrument to be installed on the VLT, in 2001 (eso0137). By compensating for turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere, NACO greatly improved the telescope’s image sharpness and scientific potential. The instrument, developed by French and German consortia with the collaboration of ESO, was the first of a series of adaptive optics instruments that would be installed on the VLT Unit Telescopes.

    Adaptive optics technology has continued to evolve, and a new generation of instruments is under construction or being planned to ensure that even better facilities will be available on the VLT in future. Looking into the next decade yet more advanced adaptive optics systems are under development for ESO’s European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT.

    See the full post here.

    THE BASIC TOOLS OF THE E.S.O.

    i1
    Paranal Platform The VLT


    La Silla

    i1
    ALMA Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

    i2
    The European Extremely Large Telescope

    ESO, the European Southern Observatory, builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.

     
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