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  • richardmitnick 12:30 pm on June 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NOAO-Cerro Tololo   

    From ESA: “Pulsar encased in supernova bubble” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    02/06/2014
    No Writer Credit

    Massive stars end their lives with a bang: exploding as spectacular supernovas, they release huge amounts of mass and energy into space. These explosions sweep up any surrounding material, creating bubble remnants that expand into interstellar space. At the heart of bubbles like these are small, dense neutron stars or black holes, the remains of what once shone brightly as a star.

    star field

    Since supernova-carved bubbles shine for only a few tens of thousands of years before dissolving, it is rare to come across neutron stars or black holes that are still enclosed within their expanding shell. This image captures such an unusual scene, featuring both a strongly magnetised, rotating neutron star – known as a pulsar – and its cosmic cloak, the remains of the explosion that generated it.

    This pulsar, named SXP 1062, lies in the outskirts of the Small Magellanic Cloud, one of the satellite galaxies of our Milky Way galaxy. It is an object known as an X-ray pulsar: it hungrily gobbles up material from a nearby companion star and burps off X-rays as it does so. In the future, this scene may become even more dramatic, as SXP 1062 has a massive companion star that has not yet exploded as a supernova.

    smc
    The two-color image shows an overview of the full Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) and was composed from two images from the Digitized Sky Survey 2. The field of view is slightly larger than 3.5 × 3.6 degrees. N66 with the open star cluster NGC 346 is the largest of the star-forming regions seen below the center of the SMC.
    http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/html/heic0514c.html

    Most pulsars whirl around incredibly quickly, spinning many times per second. However, by exploring the expanding bubble around this pulsar and estimating its age, astronomers have noticed something intriguing: SXP 1062 seems to be rotating far too slowly for its age. It is actually one of the slowest pulsars known.

    While the cause of this weird sluggishness is still a mystery, one explanation may be that the pulsar has an unusually strong magnetic field, which would slow the rotation.

    The diffuse blue glow at the centre of the bubble in this image represents X-ray emission from both the pulsar and the hot gas that fills the expanding bubble. The other fuzzy blue objects visible in the background are extragalactic X-ray sources.

    This image combines X-ray data from ESA’s XMM-Newton (shown in blue) with optical observations from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The optical data were obtained using two special filters that reveal the glow of oxygen (shown in green) and hydrogen (shown in red). The size of the image is equivalent to a distance of 457 light-years on a side.

    ESA XMM Newton
    ESA/XMM-Newton

    NOAO Cerro Tolo
    NOAO/CTIO

    This image was first published on ESA’s Science and Technology website in 2011. It is based on data from the paper Discovery of a Be/X-ray pulsar binary and associated supernova remnant in the Wing of the Small Magellanic Cloud by V. Hénault-Brunet, et al. 2012.

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large


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  • richardmitnick 1:30 pm on May 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From Fermilab- “Frontier Science Result: DES The Dark Energy Survey looks at massive galaxy clusters – and finds filaments” 


    Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.

    Friday, May 30, 2014
    Peter Melchior, Ohio State University

    Galaxy clusters — accumulations of hundreds of galaxies — are said to be the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. While this statement is correct as such, it easily conveys an incorrect picture: that of clusters as static, isolated spheres that have swallowed every galaxy within reach at some time in the cosmic past. Nothing could be further from reality.

    Galaxy clusters are not isolated but dynamic environments that actively accrete material from their surroundings. The preferred mode of accretion proceeds along so-called filaments, the connecting links between the central hubs of the cosmic web. The existence of filaments is a prediction of the cold dark matter model we use to describe the formation of structures in the universe, revealed in large cosmological simulations and spectroscopic surveys.

    The new Dark Energy Camera was built by the 300-member Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaboration to carry out a five-year survey to probe the origin of cosmic acceleration. The camera is mounted on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile and saw first light in September 2012.

    Dark Energy Camera
    DECam

    NOAO 4m Blanco telescope
    NOAO 4m Blanco Telescope at Cerro Tololo

    Shortly after the camera was commissioned, we proposed a program to target several massive galaxy clusters as part of a process called science verification, a rigorous test of the new instrument. The prospects for this project were mixed. After the overhaul of the telescope control system and with the new camera, nobody could guarantee that the images we were going to obtain would have the necessary quality for accurate studies of these clusters. But if it worked, we could exploit DECam’s massive field of view of more than 3 square degrees (roughly 15 times the area of the full moon) to study not only the clusters themselves, but also the environments from which they accrete.

    It worked. Over the course of 18 months, I led a team that ultimately involved more than 90 DES scientists from 37 institutions worldwide. In our recently submitted paper, the first based upon DES data, we demonstrated that the new camera and revamped telescope worked together as expected. This data and our careful analysis allowed us to determine the distributions of so-called red-sequence galaxies, whose red color is a reliable tracer of the dynamical processes in clusters. Furthermore, we exploited an effect called gravitational lensing to infer the mass distributions of these clusters, an analysis with exceptionally stringent requirements on image quality.

    Everything lines up. The visible orientation of the brightest cluster galaxies sitting at the cluster centers; the mass distribution tracing hundreds of cluster galaxies (shown in the image below); the large-scale distribution of red-sequence galaxies far beyond the gravitational reach of the actual clusters: All these probes show that clusters are indeed interwoven with the cosmic web, the structure of which DES will reveal in unprecedented detail.

    See the full article here.

    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics.


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  • richardmitnick 1:14 pm on February 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From Fermilab: “To catch a falling asteroid: Dark Energy Camera scientists locate object passing Earth” 


    Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.

    Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014
    Leah Hesla

    For seven minutes earlier this month, two Fermilab physicists moonlighted as astronomers who, like the Men in Black, were positioned to protect the Earth from the scum of the universe.

    On Feb. 3, Alex Drlica-Wagner and Steve Kent were in Chile taking data for the Dark Energy Survey when they received an email stating that a satellite telescope had picked up signs of a potentially hazardous asteroid, one whose orbit might soon meet with Earth’s.

    three
    This Dark Energy Survey observing team was on shift at the Dark Energy Camera in Chile when they got the call to check out a potentially hazardous asteroid. From left: Steve Kent (Fermilab and University of Chicago), Alex Drlica-Wagner (Fermilab) and Hernan Tirado, telescope operator at the Cerro-Tololo Inter-American Observatory, where DECam is housed. Photo: Sara Barber, University of Oklahoma

    The message had come from a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Bad weather in the northern hemisphere had foiled attempts by JPL’s two go-to cameras to photograph the asteroid, hindering the lab’s ability to predict its orbit. Could the Dark Energy Camera take a bit of time off from its usual task of imaging distant galaxies to take pictures of this near-Earth object?

    DECam
    DECam

    “We know about thousands of these asteroids,” said Kent, SCD. “Of course, one we didn’t know about hit Russia last year, so there’s a lot of interest.”

    Since the asteroid was new on the orbital block, astronomers had only a rough idea of where it was headed. They did know it would soon pass in line with the sun and thus be difficult to spot in photographs.

    “If we didn’t follow up on it within two days, they weren’t going to be able to follow it up anytime soon,” said Drlica-Wagner of Fermilab’s Center for Particle Astrophysics. “Because of the weather and the uncertainty of the predictions, DECam was the only thing that could pull it off.”

    Given Chile’s clear skies and DECam’s large field of view, Drlica-Wagner and Kent were fairly confident they could catch the asteroid on camera in five takes, even if its predicted location was only an estimate. They punched in the coordinates JPL gave them and took their shots. Seven minutes later, they had photos.

    The asteroid turned up in all five, though it wasn’t immediately apparent. The images had to be processed by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Ariz., and coordinates submitted to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., to figure out the orbit. The results were then sent to JPL.

    The asteroid looked just like the faint stars that it shared the photos with, except for one characteristic — it appeared in different positions in the five images, just the way a cartoon dot would move in a flipbook.

    After combining the pictures with the satellite data, the asteroid-tracking crew brought good news.

    “People shouldn’t be particularly worried,” Drlica-Wagner said. At its closest approach to Earth on March 1, newly discovered Apollo-class asteroid 2014 BE63 will be 18 million miles away.

    The Dark Energy Camera scientists were glad to come to the aid of fellow astronomers.

    “In astronomy there are always things that are time-critical in nature. People will say, ‘You’re at the telescope. Can you do something for me?'” Kent said. “It’s a bit of a tradition to help when you can.”

    He added jokingly, “In this case, saving the Earth was an extra factor, so we thought it was generous.”

    See the full article here.

    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics.


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  • richardmitnick 12:28 pm on August 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From NOAO: “The F8 secondary mirror has been installed on the Blanco telescope “ 

    NOAO Banner

    NOAO News

    b8
    Photo courtesy Tim Abbott.

    The F8 secondary mirror has been installed on the Blanco telescope (note the sparkly mirror in top left corner of photo). The secondary mirror was removed the same day, as at least one re-alignment cycle is required. Here is a photo of the F8 installation crew and their charge installed. The ongoing F8 engineering on the Blanco telescope is scheduled until August 30, 2013.

    For the complete article, please visit Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) Fan Page on Facebook

    NOAO is the US national research & development center for ground-based night time astronomy. In particular, NOAO is enabling the development of the US optical-infrared (O/IR) System, an alliance of public and private observatories allied for excellence in scientific research, education and public outreach.

    Our core mission is to provide public access to qualified professional researchers via peer-review to forefront scientific capabilities on telescopes operated by NOAO as well as other telescopes throughout the O/IR System. Today, these telescopes range in aperture size from 2-m to 10-m. NOAO is participating in the development of telescopes with aperture sizes of 20-m and larger as well as a unique 8-m telescope that will make a 10-year movie of the Southern sky.

    In support of this mission, NOAO is engaged in programs to develop the next generation of telescopes, instruments, and software tools necessary to enable exploration and investigation through the observable Universe, from planets orbiting other stars to the most distant galaxies in the Universe.

    To communicate the excitement of such world-class scientific research and technology development, NOAO has developed a nationally recognized Education and Public Outreach program. The main goals of the NOAO EPO program are to inspire young people to become explorers in science and research-based technology, and to reach out to groups and individuals who have been historically under-represented in the physics and astronomy science enterprise.

    The National Optical Astronomy Observatory is proud to be a US National Node in the International Year of Astronomy, 2009.

    About Our Observatories:
    Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO)

    Kitt Peak

    Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) has its headquarters in Tucson and operates the Mayall 4-meter, the 3.5-meter WIYN , the 2.1-meter and Coudé Feed, and the 0.9-meter telescopes on Kitt Peak Mountain, about 55 miles southwest of the city.

    Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO)

    NOAO Cerro Tolo

    The Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) is located in northern Chile. CTIO operates the 4-meter, 1.5-meter, 0.9-meter, and Curtis Schmidt telescopes at this site.

    The NOAO System Science Center (NSSC)

    Gemini North
    Gemini North

    The NOAO System Science Center (NSSC) at NOAO is the gateway for the U.S. astronomical community to the International Gemini Project: twin 8.1 meter telescopes in Hawaii and Chile that provide unprecendented coverage (northern and southern skies) and details of our universe.

    NOAO is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy under a Cooperative Agreement with the National Science Foundation.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:04 pm on June 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NOAO-Cerro Tololo   

    From NOAO: “NGC 6334 – A Mini Starburst Region?” 

    NOAO News

    Stars are known to form in dense clouds of gas and dust, but why do some regions show prodigious rates of star formation, while others barely produce any young stars at all? Many of the richest sites are found in distant galaxies: the name “starburst” is applied to them. Now, a team has identified a region in our own galaxy that may deserve this title, and help explain what leads to the furious production of new stars in a starburst region.

    burst
    Fig. 1: In this false-color image of NGC 6334, red represents the Herschel 70 micron IR image, green represents the IRAC 8 micron image and blue represents the NEWFIRM 1 micron J band. The region is about 70 light years wide. Image credit: S. Willis (CfA+ISU); ESA/Herschel; NASA/JPL-Caltech/ Spitzer; CTIO/NOAO/AURA/NSF.

    This region, NGC 6334 or informally named the Cat’s Paw Nebula, is rich in gas and dust. Long known to contain very massive young stars, NGC 6334 lies in the constellation Scorpius, toward the galactic center at a distance of about 5,500 light years, and practically in the plane of the Milky Way. It is the massive, hottest stars, classified by astronomers as type O, that cause the gas surrounding them to glow in the optical spectrum.

    Imaging done at the NOAO Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, Chile, combined with data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, have enabled the team, led by Sarah Willis (Iowa State University), to catalog much fainter young stars in NGC 6334 than has been done before. Figure 1 shows combined images from space and ground-based telescopes. In this false color composite, blue is assigned to a ground-based image, green to a longer-wavelength image from †he Spitzer Space Telescope, and red to an even longer-wavelength image from the Herschel Space Telescope. The ground-based data were taken with the NOAO Extremely Wide-Field Infrared Imager, or NEWFIRM. (Figure 2).

    See the full article here.

    About NOAO

    NOAO is the US national research & development center for ground-based night time astronomy. In particular, NOAO is enabling the development of the US optical-infrared (O/IR) System, an alliance of public and private observatories allied for excellence in scientific research, education and public outreach.

    Our core mission is to provide public access to qualified professional researchers via peer-review to forefront scientific capabilities on telescopes operated by NOAO as well as other telescopes throughout the O/IR System. Today, these telescopes range in aperture size from 2-m to 10-m. NOAO is participating in the development of telescopes with aperture sizes of 20-m and larger as well as a unique 8-m telescope that will make a 10-year movie of the Southern sky.

    In support of this mission, NOAO is engaged in programs to develop the next generation of telescopes, instruments, and software tools necessary to enable exploration and investigation through the observable Universe, from planets orbiting other stars to the most distant galaxies in the Universe.

    To communicate the excitement of such world-class scientific research and technology development, NOAO has developed a nationally recognized Education and Public Outreach program. The main goals of the NOAO EPO program are to inspire young people to become explorers in science and research-based technology, and to reach out to groups and individuals who have been historically under-represented in the physics and astronomy science enterprise.

    The National Optical Astronomy Observatory is proud to be a US National Node in the International Year of Astronomy, 2009.

    NOAO is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy under a Cooperative Agreement with the National Science Foundation.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:29 pm on January 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , NOAO-Cerro Tololo   

    From NASA Chandra: “SXP 1062: Celestial Bauble Intrigues Astronomers” 

    NASA Chandra

    Astronomers have found evidence for a pulsar within a supernova remnant in the Small Magellanic Cloud. X-rays from Chandra and XMM-Newton show that the pulsar is rotating remarkably slowly – only once every 18 minutes.This object, known as SXP 1062, lies near a spectacular star-forming region of dust and gas..

    smc
    Small Magellanic Cloud. Source: Digitized Sky Survey 2. Observation data (J2000 epoch)

    comp
    Composite

    X-ray
    X-ray

    opt
    Optical

    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ.Potsdam/L.Oskinova et al & ESA/XMM-Newton; Optical: AURA/NOAO/CTIO/Univ.Potsdam/L.Oskinova et al
    Observation Date 11 pointings between 03/31/2010 and 04/29/2010
    Release Date December 20, 2011

    “…a new image from an assembly of telescopes has revealed an unusual cosmic ornament. Data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton have been combined to discover a young pulsar in the remains of a supernova located in the Small Magellanic Cloud, or SMC. This would be the first definite time a pulsar, a spinning, ultra-dense star, has been found in a supernova remnant in the SMC, a small satellite galaxy to the Milky Way.

    Astronomers are interested in SXP 1062 because the Chandra and XMM-Newton data show that it is rotating unusually slowly – about once every 18 minutes. (In contrast, some pulsars are found to revolve multiple times per second, including most newly born pulsars.) This relatively leisurely pace of SXP 1062 makes it one of the slowest rotating X-ray pulsars in the SMC.

    Two different teams of scientists have estimated that the supernova remnant around SXP 1062 is between 10,000 and 40,000 years old, as it appears in the image. This means that the pulsar is very young, from an astronomical perspective, since it was presumably formed in the same explosion that produced the supernova remnant. Therefore, assuming that it was born with rapid spin, it is a mystery why SXP 1062 has been able to slow down by so much, so quickly. Work has already begun on theoretical models to understand the evolution of this unusual object.”

    See the full article here.

    Chandra X-ray Center, Operated for NASA by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
    Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory


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