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  • richardmitnick 2:25 pm on January 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Sagittarius A*   

    From Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics: “Lifting the Veil on the Black Hole at the Heart of Our Galaxy” 

    Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

    From Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

    January 22, 2019

    Tyler Jump
    Public Affairs
    Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
    +1 617-495-7462


    A black hole four million times as massive as our Sun lurks at the center of the Milky Way. This black hole, called Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), swallows nearby material that glows brightly as it approaches the event horizon.

    SGR A and SGR A* from Penn State and NASA/Chandra

    This galactic furnace is key to understanding black holes, but our view of it is obscured by lumpy clouds of electrons throughout the Galaxy. These clouds stretch, blur, and crinkle the image of Sgr A*, making it appear as though the black hole is blocked by an enormous sheet of frosted glass.

    Now, a team of astronomers, led by Radboud University PhD student Sara Issaoun, have finally been able to see through these clouds and to study what makes the black hole glow. Issaoun completed this work while participating in the Predoctoral Program at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, MA.

    “The source of the radiation from Sgr A* has been debated for decades,” says Michael Johnson of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA). “Some models predict that the radiation comes from the disk of material being swallowed by the black hole, while others attribute it to a jet of material shooting away from the black hole. Without a sharper view of the black hole, we can’t exclude either possibility.”

    The team used the technique of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), which combines many telescopes to form a virtual telescope the size of the Earth. The decisive advance was equipping the powerful ALMA array of telescopes in northern Chile with a new phasing system. This allowed it to join the GMVA, a global network of twelve other telescopes in North America and Europe.

    GMVA The Global VLBI Array

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    “ALMA itself is a collection of more than 50 radio dishes. The magic of the new ALMA Phasing System is to allow all these dishes to function as a single telescope, which has the sensitivity of a single dish more than 75 meters across. That sensitivity, and its location high in the Andes mountains, makes it perfect for this Sgr A* study,” says Shep Doeleman of the CfA, who was Principal Investigator of the ALMA Phasing Project.

    “The breakthrough in image quality came from two factors,” explains Lindy Blackburn, a radio astronomer at the CfA. “By observing at high frequencies, the image corruption from interstellar material was less significant, and by adding ALMA, we doubled the resolving power of our instrument.”

    The new images show that the radiation from Sgr A* has a symmetrical morphology and is smaller than expected – it spans a mere 300 millionth of a degree. “This may indicate that the radio emission is produced in a disk of infalling gas rather than by a radio jet,” explains Issaoun, who tested computer simulations against the images. “However, that would make Sgr A* an exception compared to other radio-emitting black holes. The alternative could be that the radio jet is pointing almost directly at us.”

    Issaoun’s supervisor Heino Falcke, Professor of Radio Astronomy at Radboud University, was surprised by this result. Last year, Falcke would have considered this new jet model implausible, but recently another set of researchers came to a similar conclusion using ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer of optical telescopes and an independent technique. “Maybe this is true after all,” concludes Falcke, “and we are looking at this beast from a very special vantage point.”

    To learn more will require pushing these telescopes to even higher frequencies. “The first observations of Sgr A* at 86 GHz date from 26 years ago, with only a handful of telescopes. Over the years, the quality of the data has improved steadily as more telescopes join,” says J. Anton Zensus, director of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy.

    Michael Johnson is optimistic. “If ALMA has the same success in joining the Event Horizon Telescope at even higher frequencies, then these new results show that interstellar scattering will not stop us from peering all the way down to the event horizon of the black hole.”

    The results were published in The Astrophysical Journal.

    See the full article here .

    See also here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Center for Astrophysics combines the resources and research facilities of the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory under a single director to pursue studies of those basic physical processes that determine the nature and evolution of the universe. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution, founded in 1890. The Harvard College Observatory (HCO), founded in 1839, is a research institution of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, and provides facilities and substantial other support for teaching activities of the Department of Astronomy.

  • richardmitnick 2:08 pm on January 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , RIT astrophysicist develops technique to locate undiscovered planets and celestial bodies, RIT-Rochester Institute of Technology   

    From Rochester Institute of Technology: ” RIT astrophysicist develops technique to locate undiscovered planets, celestial bodies” 

    From Rochester Institute of Technology

    Theory about relationship between dying stars and companion objects confirmed.

    Jan. 21, 2019
    Vienna McGrain

    A dying star that was once about five times the mass of the sun is at the center of the Butterfly Nebula, pictured here, which is about 3,800 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius. The central star itself cannot be seen because it is hidden within a doughnut-shaped ring of dust. NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team.

    A revolutionary technique developed by an NTID astrophysicist at Rochester Institute of Technology could allow for a better understanding of the fates of solar systems when their stars cease to shine.

    Jason Nordhaus, an NTID assistant professor of physics and a program faculty member in RIT’s astrophysical sciences and technology Ph.D. program, has developed a system of complex 3D super-computer algorithms able to pinpoint the existence of previously undiscovered planets and celestial bodies associated with dying stars. His research is partially funded by a three-year grant from the NASA/Space Telescope Science Institute.

    “The deaths of ordinary stars are marked by extraordinary transitions,” explains Nordhaus. “Iconic high-resolution images of dying stars have transformed our understanding of these events. In the past decade, we have discovered that this process of death that produces these spectacular images is linked to the presence of another star or planet in the system. However, large amounts of dust that mask these companions make them difficult to directly detect. We will continue to uncover the nature of these hidden companions and pin down where they orbit in these systems.”

    Nordhaus explains that when a star dies, its physical size drastically increases and changes its shape. In fact, Nordhaus predicts that when our sun dies—billions of years from now—it will expand, reaching Earth, and will interact with other nearby planets, such as Jupiter.

    Nordhaus’ technique was previously used to infer the presence of a hidden planet in the dying star L2 Puppis, which was later detected by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, a collection of radio telescopes in northern Chile that observe electromagnetic radiation.

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    This summer, Nordhaus will work with several deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing students at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf to study four systems for which Nordhaus has comprehensive data obtained over the past two decades. They are hoping that their 3D computer simulations will help determine which planets survive the death of their parent stars and which are ultimately destroyed.

    “This helps us understand the fate of our own solar system, the fates of other star systems in the galaxy, and improve our understanding of how stars and planets interact,” said Nordhaus.

    In addition to performing this groundbreaking research, Nordhaus is a member of RIT’s Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation, whose simulations of merging black hole binaries were used by the LIGO Project to confirm the breakthrough detection of gravitational waves from binary black holes in space.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is a private doctoral university within the town of Henrietta in the Rochester, New York metropolitan area.

    RIT is composed of nine academic colleges, including National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The Institute is one of only a small number of engineering institutes in the State of New York, including New York Institute of Technology, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It is most widely known for its fine arts, computing, engineering, and imaging science programs; several fine arts programs routinely rank in the national “Top 10” according to US News & World Report.

    The Institute as it is known today began as a result of an 1891 merger between Rochester Athenæum, a literary society founded in 1829 by Colonel Nathaniel Rochester and associates, and Mechanics Institute, a Rochester institute of practical technical training for local residents founded in 1885 by a consortium of local businessmen including Captain Henry Lomb, co-founder of Bausch & Lomb. The name of the merged institution at the time was called Rochester Athenæum and Mechanics Institute (RAMI). In 1944, the school changed its name to Rochester Institute of Technology and it became a full-fledged research university.

  • richardmitnick 1:47 pm on January 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , How hot are atoms in the shock wave of an exploding star?, ,   

    From Pennsylvania State University: “How hot are atoms in the shock wave of an exploding star?” 

    Penn State Bloc

    From Pennsylvania State University

    21 January 2019

    David Burrows
    (814) 863-2466

    Gail McCormick (PIO)
    (814) 863-0901

    An international team of researchers combined observations of nearby supernova SN1987A, made with NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, with simulations to measure the temperature atoms in the shock wave that occurs from the explosive death of a star. This image superimposes synthetic X-ray emission data onto a density map with from the simulation of SN1987A. Credit: Marco Miceli, Dipartimento di Fisica e Chimica, Università di Palermo, and INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo, Palermo, Italy.

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope

    A new method to measure the temperature of atoms during the explosive death of a star will help scientists understand the shock wave that occurs as a result of this supernova explosion. An international team of researchers, including a Penn State scientist, combined observations of a nearby supernova remnant—the structure remaining after a star’s explosion—with simulations in order to measure the temperature of slow-moving gas atoms surrounding the star as they are heated by the material propelled outward by the blast.

    The research team analyzed long-term observations of the nearby supernova remnant SN1987A using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and created a model describing the supernova. The team confirmed that the temperature of even the heaviest atoms—which had not yet been investigated—is related to their atomic weight, answering a long-standing question about shock waves and providing important information about their physical processes. A paper describing the results appears January 21, 2019, in the journal Nature Astronomy.

    “Supernova explosions and their remnants provide cosmic laboratories that enable us to explore physics in extreme conditions that cannot be duplicated on Earth,” said David Burrows, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State and an author of the paper. “Modern astronomical telescopes and instrumentation, both ground-based and space-based, have allowed us to perform detailed studies of supernova remnants in our galaxy and nearby galaxies. We have performed regular observations of supernova remnant SN1987A using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the best X-ray telescope in the world, since shortly after Chandra was launched in 1999, and used simulations to answer longstanding questions about shock waves.”

    The explosive death of a massive star like SN1987A propels material outwards at speeds of up to one tenth the speed of light, pushing shock waves into the surrounding interstellar gas. Researchers are particularly interested in the shock front, the abrupt transition between the supersonic explosion and the relatively slow-moving gas surrounding the star. The shock front heats this cool slow-moving gas to millions of degrees—temperatures high enough for the gas to emit X-rays detectable from Earth.

    “The transition is similar to one observed in a kitchen sink when a high-speed stream of water hits the sink basin, flowing smoothly outward until it abruptly jumps in height and becomes turbulent,” said Burrows. “Shock fronts have been studied extensively in the Earth’s atmosphere, where they occur over an extremely narrow region. But in space, shock transitions are gradual and may not affect atoms of all elements the same way.”

    The supernova shock front, the abrupt transition between the supersonic explosion and the gas surrounding the exploding star, is similar to transition in a “hydraulic jump,” where a high-speed stream of water hitting a surface flows smoothly outwards and then abruptly jumps in height and becomes turbulent. Credit: James Kilfiger, Wikimedia Commons.

    The research team, led by Marco Miceli and Salvatore Orlando of the University of Palermo, Italy, measured the temperatures of different elements behind the shock front, which will improve understanding of the physics of the shock process. These temperatures are expected to be proportional to the elements’ atomic weight, but the temperatures are difficult to measure accurately. Previous studies have led to conflicting results regarding this relationship, and have failed to include heavy elements with high atomic weights. The research team turned to supernova SN1987A to help address this dilemma.

    Supernova SN1987A, which is located in a nearby galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud, was the first supernova visible to the naked eye since Kepler’s Supernova in 1604. It is also the first to be studied in detail with modern astronomical instruments. The light from its explosion first reached earth on February 23, 1987, and since then it has been observed at all wavelengths of light, from radio waves to X-rays and gamma waves. The research team used these observations to build a model describing the supernova.

    SN1987a fromNASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope in Jan. 2017 using its Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).

    Models of SN1987A have typically focused on single observations, but in this study, the researchers used three-dimensional numerical simulations to incorporate the evolution of the supernova, from its onset to the current age. A comparison of the X-ray observations and the model allowed the researchers to accurately measure atomic temperatures of different elements with a wide range of atomic weights, and to confirm the relationship that predicts the temperature reached by each type of atom in the interstellar gas.

    “We can now accurately measure the temperatures of elements as heavy as silicon and iron, and have shown that they indeed do follow the relationship that the temperature of each element is proportional to the atomic weight of that element,” said Burrows. “This result settles an important issue in the understanding of astrophysical shock waves and improves our understanding of the shock process.”

    It is also the first to be studied in detail with modern astronomical instruments. The light from its explosion first reached earth on February 23, 1987, and since then it has been observed at all wavelengths of light, from radio waves to X-rays and gamma waves. The research team used these observations to build a model describing the supernova.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Penn State Campus


    We teach students that the real measure of success is what you do to improve the lives of others, and they learn to be hard-working leaders with a global perspective. We conduct research to improve lives. We add millions to the economy through projects in our state and beyond. We help communities by sharing our faculty expertise and research.

    Penn State lives close by no matter where you are. Our campuses are located from one side of Pennsylvania to the other. Through Penn State World Campus, students can take courses and work toward degrees online from anywhere on the globe that has Internet service.

    We support students in many ways, including advising and counseling services for school and life; diversity and inclusion services; social media sites; safety services; and emergency assistance.

    Our network of more than a half-million alumni is accessible to students when they want advice and to learn about job networking and mentor opportunities as well as what to expect in the future. Through our alumni, Penn State lives all over the world.

    The best part of Penn State is our people. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends in communities near our campuses and across the globe are dedicated to education and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.

  • richardmitnick 12:48 pm on January 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    From Sanford Underground Research Facility: “LZ gets an eye exam” 

    SURF logo
    Sanford Underground levels

    From Sanford Underground Research Facility

    January 18, 2019
    Erin Broberg

    Brown University graduate student Will Taylor attaches data collection cables to a section of the PMT array. Matthew Kapust

    Lights out, windows darkened, doors closed. It’s not after hours at the Surface Assembly Lab (SAL), it’s just time for the first of LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) dark matter detector’s on-site eye exam.

    LZ’s “eyes” are two massive arrays of photomultiplier tubes (PMTs), powerful light sensors that will detect any faint signals produced by dark matter particles when the experiment begins in 2020. The first of these arrays, which holds 241 PMTs, arrived at Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) in December. Now, researchers are testing the PMTs for the bottom array to make sure they are still in working condition after being transported from Brown University, where they were assembled.

    “These PMTs have already undergone rigorous testing, down to their individual components and this is the final test after transport to the site,” said Will Taylor, a graduate student at Brown University who has been working with the LZ collaboration since 2014.

    Once testing is completed, the bottom PMT array will be placed in the inner cryostat. The same process will be followed for the top array. The inner cryostat will be filled with xenon, both gaseous and liquid, and placed in the outer cryostat. Then, the entire detector will be submerged in the 72,000-gallon water tank in the Davis Campus on the 4850 Level of Sanford Lab.

    “As you can imagine,” Taylor said. “It will be impossible to change out a faulty PMT after the experiment is completely assembled. This is our last chance to ensure each PMT is working perfectly.”

    While researchers do expect a few PMTs to “blink out” over LZ’s five to six year lifetime, only the best of the best will make it into the detector. So, just how do researchers transform the SAL into an optometrist’s office?

    Royal treatment

    First, the array is placed in a special enclosure called the PALACE (PMT Array Lifting And Cleanliness Enclosure). There, the PMTs are shielded from light and dust. This enclosure also allows researchers access to the PMTs through a rotating window and to connect data collection systems to different sections of PMTs at a time.

    “We test by section, collecting data from 30 PMTs per day,” said Taylor. “Each individual PMT has a serial number and is tagged to its own data, so we know exactly what each PMT is ‘seeing.’”

    Going dark

    For the first test, researchers look at what is called the “dark rate” of each PMT. To perform this test, researchers seal up the PALACE, turn off the lights in the cleanroom and black out the windows. In this utter darkness, PMTs are monitored for “thermal noise.”

    “At a normal temperature, particles vibrate around inside the PMTs. When this happens, it is possible for electrons to ‘jump off’ and produce a signal that PMTs will detect,” Taylor explained. While most of this “thermal noise” will vanish once the experiment is cooled to liquid xenon temperature (-148 °F), researchers want to ensure the PMT’s dark rate is at the lowest threshold possible before being installed in LZ.

    “Typically, these false signals come from a single photoelectron,” Taylor said. “With the dark test, we can measure how many photoelectrons signals occur every second.”

    How much is too much noise? While a bit of noise (100-1000 events per second) is tolerable; rates closer to 10,000 events per second would be far too high, resulting in too many random signals that could overshadow WIMP signals during the experiment.

    “That’s why it is incredibly important to make sure each PMT has a low dark rate,” said Taylor.

    Lighting it up

    For the second test, called an “after-pulsing” test, researchers will flash a light, imperceptible to the human eye, at the PMTs. This test determines the health of each PMT’s internal vacuum. Why is this important?

    When light from a reaction inside the detector hits a photocathode of a PMT, an electron will be emitted. This single electron will be pulled through the PMT, hitting dynodes. Each time the electron hits an electrode, more electrons are emitted. This process continues, amplifying the original signal, turning the original electron into many, many, many electrons.

    “That’s how we get an electron signal strong enough to read out,” Taylor said. “For that to work, however, those electrons have to be able to bounce between those dynodes without interruption.”

    To decrease particle “traffic,” each PMT has a vacuum. The vacuum ensures there are no gas particles present to interfere with the amplification process. If a vacuum is faulty, gas particles may get in the way and hit an electron. This would cause the gas particle to bounce away and set off a second pulse of electrons, amplifying a signal of its own.

    “This is called an ‘after-pulse,’” Taylor said. “The after-pulse is indicative of how good the vacuum, and thus the PMT, really is.”

    Rather than depriving the PMTs of light as they did during the dark test, researchers now createa signal of their own to measure the after-pulse. To do this, an LED is affixed to the inside of the PALACE.

    “We flash the LED at a rate of 1 kilohertz for 30 seconds. That’s a total of 30,000 flashes of the LED,” Taylor said. While that might sound like a lot of light, it’s actually not even perceptible to the human eye. “Each flash lasts 10 nanoseconds and produces only 50-100 photons—so the human eye can’t detect it.”

    It is enough, however, for the PMT to detect it with a sizable initial pulse. Because researchers know exactly when the initial pulse was created, they can align their data to see when after-pulses occur and measure their strength.

    “This helps us see how healthy the vacuum is and determine if the PMT is fit for LZ,” Taylor said.

    20/20 vision

    After a week of testing, researchers have announced the bottom array has 20/20 vision.

    “Accepting the first of the two PMT arrays onsite, is one of many milestones toward the assembly and installation of the LZ experiment,” said Markus Horn, research support scientist at Sanford Lab and a member of the LZ collaboration. “While the detector assembly progresses at the Surface Lab, underground the installation of the xenon gas and Liquid Nitrogen cooling system begins. That would be the heart and the lung of LZ. But that’s another story!”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    About us.
    The Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota, advances our understanding of the universe by providing laboratory space deep underground, where sensitive physics experiments can be shielded from cosmic radiation. Researchers at the Sanford Lab explore some of the most challenging questions facing 21st century physics, such as the origin of matter, the nature of dark matter and the properties of neutrinos. The facility also hosts experiments in other disciplines—including geology, biology and engineering.

    The Sanford Lab is located at the former Homestake gold mine, which was a physics landmark long before being converted into a dedicated science facility. Nuclear chemist Ray Davis earned a share of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2002 for a solar neutrino experiment he installed 4,850 feet underground in the mine.

    Homestake closed in 2003, but the company donated the property to South Dakota in 2006 for use as an underground laboratory. That same year, philanthropist T. Denny Sanford donated $70 million to the project. The South Dakota Legislature also created the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority to operate the lab. The state Legislature has committed more than $40 million in state funds to the project, and South Dakota also obtained a $10 million Community Development Block Grant to help rehabilitate the facility.

    In 2007, after the National Science Foundation named Homestake as the preferred site for a proposed national Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL), the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) began reopening the former gold mine.

    In December 2010, the National Science Board decided not to fund further design of DUSEL. However, in 2011 the Department of Energy, through the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, agreed to support ongoing science operations at Sanford Lab, while investigating how to use the underground research facility for other longer-term experiments. The SDSTA, which owns Sanford Lab, continues to operate the facility under that agreement with Berkeley Lab.

    The first two major physics experiments at the Sanford Lab are 4,850 feet underground in an area called the Davis Campus, named for the late Ray Davis. The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment is housed in the same cavern excavated for Ray Davis’s experiment in the 1960s.
    LUX/Dark matter experiment at SURFLUX/Dark matter experiment at SURF

    In October 2013, after an initial run of 80 days, LUX was determined to be the most sensitive detector yet to search for dark matter—a mysterious, yet-to-be-detected substance thought to be the most prevalent matter in the universe. The Majorana Demonstrator experiment, also on the 4850 Level, is searching for a rare phenomenon called “neutrinoless double-beta decay” that could reveal whether subatomic particles called neutrinos can be their own antiparticle. Detection of neutrinoless double-beta decay could help determine why matter prevailed over antimatter. The Majorana Demonstrator experiment is adjacent to the original Davis cavern.

    LUX’s mission was to scour the universe for WIMPs, vetoing all other signatures. It would continue to do just that for another three years before it was decommissioned in 2016.

    In the midst of the excitement over first results, the LUX collaboration was already casting its gaze forward. Planning for a next-generation dark matter experiment at Sanford Lab was already under way. Named LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ), the next-generation experiment would increase the sensitivity of LUX 100 times.

    SLAC physicist Tom Shutt, a previous co-spokesperson for LUX, said one goal of the experiment was to figure out how to build an even larger detector.
    “LZ will be a thousand times more sensitive than the LUX detector,” Shutt said. “It will just begin to see an irreducible background of neutrinos that may ultimately set the limit to our ability to measure dark matter.”
    We celebrate five years of LUX, and look into the steps being taken toward the much larger and far more sensitive experiment.

    Another major experiment, the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE)—a collaboration with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) and Sanford Lab, is in the preliminary design stages. The project got a major boost last year when Congress approved and the president signed an Omnibus Appropriations bill that will fund LBNE operations through FY 2014. Called the “next frontier of particle physics,” LBNE will follow neutrinos as they travel 800 miles through the earth, from FermiLab in Batavia, Ill., to Sanford Lab.

    Fermilab LBNE

    U Washington Majorana Demonstrator Experiment at SURF

    The MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR will contain 40 kg of germanium; up to 30 kg will be enriched to 86% in 76Ge. The DEMONSTRATOR will be deployed deep underground in an ultra-low-background shielded environment in the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, SD. The goal of the DEMONSTRATOR is to determine whether a future 1-tonne experiment can achieve a background goal of one count per tonne-year in a 4-keV region of interest around the 76Ge 0νββ Q-value at 2039 keV. MAJORANA plans to collaborate with GERDA for a future tonne-scale 76Ge 0νββ search.

    LBNL LZ project at SURF, Lead, SD, USA


    CASPAR is a low-energy particle accelerator that allows researchers to study processes that take place inside collapsing stars.

    The scientists are using space in the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, South Dakota, to work on a project called the Compact Accelerator System for Performing Astrophysical Research (CASPAR). CASPAR uses a low-energy particle accelerator that will allow researchers to mimic nuclear fusion reactions in stars. If successful, their findings could help complete our picture of how the elements in our universe are built. “Nuclear astrophysics is about what goes on inside the star, not outside of it,” said Dan Robertson, a Notre Dame assistant research professor of astrophysics working on CASPAR. “It is not observational, but experimental. The idea is to reproduce the stellar environment, to reproduce the reactions within a star.”

  • richardmitnick 12:31 pm on January 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Our Galaxy's Supermassive Black Hole Could Be Pointing a Relativistic Jet Right at Us, , SGR A and SGR A*   

    From Science Alert: “Our Galaxy’s Supermassive Black Hole Could Be Pointing a Relativistic Jet Right at Us” 


    From Science Alert

    22 JAN 2019

    A black hole simulation (Bronzwaer/Davelaar/Moscibrodzka/Falcke/Radboud University)

    Things are officially getting exciting. New science has just come in from the collaboration to photograph Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, and it’s ponying up the secrets at our galaxy’s dusty heart.

    SGR A and SGR A* from Penn State and NASA/Chandra

    The image below is the best picture yet of Sgr A* (don’t worry, there’s more to come from the Event Horizon Telescope), and while it may look like just a weird blob of light to you, astrophysicists studying the radio data can learn a lot from what they’re looking at – and they think they’ve identified a relativistic jet angled towards Earth.

    EHT map

    Because the image taken of the region is the highest resolution yet – twice as high as the previous best – the researchers were able to precisely map the properties of the light around the black hole as scattered by the cloud.

    “The galactic centre is full of matter around the black hole, which acts like frosted glass that we have to look through,” astrophysicist Eduardo Ros of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany told New Scientist.

    Using very long baseline interferometry to take observations at a wavelength of 3.5 millimetres (86 GHz frequency), a team of astronomers has used computer modelling to simulate what’s inside the thick cloud of plasma, dust and gas surrounding the black hole.

    Above: The bottom right image shows Sgr A* as seen in the data. The top images are simulations, while the bottom left is Sgr A* with the scattering removed.
    (S. Issaoun, M. Mościbrodzka, Radboud University/ M. D. Johnson, CfA)

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    GMVA The Global VLBI Array

    It revealed that Sgr A*’s radio emission comes from a smaller region than previously thought.

    Most of it is coming from an area just 300 milllionth of a degree of the night sky, with a symmetrical shape. And, since black holes don’t emit detectable radiation on their own, the source is most likely one of two things.

    “This may indicate that the radio emission is produced in a disk of infalling gas rather than by a radio jet,” said astrophysicist Sara Issaoun of Radboud University in The Netherlands.

    “However, that would make Sgr A* an exception compared to other radio emitting black holes. The alternative could be that the radio jet is pointing almost at us.”

    Active black holes are surrounded by a swirling cloud of material that’s falling into it like water down a drain. As this material is swallowed by the black hole, it emits jets of particles from its rotational poles at velocities approaching light speed.

    We’re not quite sure how this happens, but astronomers believe that material from the inner part of the accretion disc is channelled towards and launched from the poles via magnetic field lines.

    Since Earth is in the galactic plane, having a jet pointed in our direction would mean that the black hole is oriented quite strangely, as if it’s lying on its side. (Nearby galaxy Centaurus A, for instance, has jets shooting perpendicular to the galactic plane.)

    But this orientation has been hinted at before. Last year the GRAVITY Collaboration described flares around Sgr A* consistent with something orbiting it face-on from our perspective – like looking at the Solar System from above.

    This means the long-awaited picture of the shadow of a black hole will – hopefully – be breathtakingly detailed.

    Meanwhile, studying data such as these help build a comprehensive picture of how these mysterious cosmic objects work.

    “Understanding how black holes work … takes more than the picture of its shadow (although incredible in its own right),” Issaoun wrote on Facebook. “It takes observations at many different wavelengths (radio, X-ray, infrared etc) to piece together the entire story, so every piece counts!”

    The team’s paper has been published in The Astrophysical Journal..

    So “Maybe this is true after all,” said Radboud University astronomer Heino Falcke, “and we are looking at this beast from a very special vantage point.”

    Hopefully, when the Event Horizon Telescope releases the first images of Sgr A*’s event horizon – something we are expecting very soon – they will reveal more. And, in case you were starting to get worried, the 1.4-millimetre wavelength (230 GHz) will reduce the light scattering by a factor of 8.

    See the full article here .

    See also here .


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  • richardmitnick 10:45 am on January 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CERN Compact Linear Collider, , China-Circular Electron Positron Collider, Future colliders, , , International Linear Collider in northern Japan, , ,   

    From Science News: “Physicists aim to outdo the LHC with this wish list of particle colliders” 

    From Science News


    January 22, 2019
    Emily Conover

    CERN Future Circular Collider artist’s rendering

    If built, the accelerators could pump out oodles of Higgs bosons.

    If particle physicists get their way, new accelerators could one day scrutinize the most tantalizing subatomic particle in physics — the Higgs boson.

    CERN CMS Higgs Event

    CERN ATLAS Higgs Event

    Six years after the particle’s discovery at the Large Hadron Collider, scientists are planning enormous new machines that would stretch for tens of kilometers across Europe, Japan or China.

    The 2012 discovery of the subatomic particle, which reveals the origins of mass, put the finishing touch on the standard model, the overarching theory of particle physics (SN: 7/28/12, p. 5).

    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.

    And it was a landmark achievement for the LHC, currently the world’s biggest accelerator.


    CERN map

    CERN LHC Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

    Now, physicists want to delve further into the mysteries of the Higgs boson in the hope that it could be key to solving lingering puzzles of particle physics. “The Higgs is a very special particle,” says physicist Yifang Wang, director of the Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing. “We believe the Higgs is the window to the future.”

    But the LHC — which consists of a ring 27 kilometers in circumference, inside which protons are accelerated to nearly the speed of light and smashed together a billion times a second — can take scientists only so far. That accelerator was great for discovering the Higgs, but not ideal for studying it in detail.

    So particle physicists are clamoring for a new particle collider, specifically designed to crank out oodles of Higgs bosons. Several blueprints for powerful new machines have been put forth, and researchers are hopeful these “Higgs factories” could help reveal solutions to glaring weak spots in the standard model.

    “The standard model is not a complete theory of the universe,” says experimental particle physicist Halina Abramowicz of Tel Aviv University. For example, the theory can’t explain dark matter, an unidentified substance whose mass is necessary to account for cosmic observations such as the motions of stars in galaxies. Nor can it explain why the universe is made up of matter, while antimatter is exceedingly rare.

    Carefully scrutinizing the Higgs boson might point scientists in the direction of solutions to those puzzles, proponents of the new colliders claim. But, among scientists, the desire for new, costly accelerators is not universal, especially since it’s unclear what exactly the machines might find.

    Next in line

    Closest to inception is the International Linear Collider in northern Japan. Unlike the LHC, in which particles zip around a ring, the ILC would accelerate two beams of particles along a straight line, directly at one another over its 20-kilometer length. And instead of crashing protons together, it would collide electrons and their antimatter partners, positrons.

    But, in an ominous sign, a multidisciplinary committee of the Science Council of Japan came down against the project in a December 2018 report, urging the government to be cautious with its support and questioning whether the expected scientific achievements justified the accelerator’s cost, currently estimated at around $5 billion.

    Supporters argue that the ILC’s plan to smash together electrons and positrons, rather than protons, has some big advantages. Electrons and positrons are elementary particles, meaning they have no smaller constituents, while protons are made up of smaller particles called quarks. That means that proton collisions are messier, with more useless particle debris to sift through.


    THIN LINE An accelerator planned for Japan, the International Linear Collider (design illustrated), would slam together electrons and positrons to better understand the Higgs boson.

    Additionally, in proton smashups, only a fraction of each proton’s energy actually goes into the collision, whereas in electron-positron colliders, particles bring the full brunt of the accelerator’s energy to bear. That means scientists can tune the energy of collisions to maximize the number of Higgs bosons produced. At the same time, the ILC would require only 250 billion electron volts to produce Higgs bosons, compared with the LHC’s 13 trillion electron volts.

    For the ILC, “the quality of the data coming out will be much higher, and there will be much more of it on the Higgs,” says particle physicist Lyn Evans of CERN in Geneva. One in every 100 ILC collisions would pump out a Higgs, whereas that happens only once in 10 billion collisions at the LHC.

    The Japanese government is expected to decide about the collider in March. If the ILC is approved, it should take about 12 years to build, Evans says. The accelerator could also be upgraded later to increase the energy it can reach.

    CERN has plans for a similar machine known as the Compact Linear Collider.

    Cern Compact Linear Collider

    It would also collide electrons and positrons, but at higher energies than the ILC. Its energy would start at 380 billion electron volts and increase to 3 trillion electron volts in a series of upgrades. But to reach those higher energies, new particle acceleration technology needs to be developed, meaning that CLIC is even further in the future than the ILC, says Evans, who leads a collaboration of researchers from both projects.

    Running in circles

    Two other planned colliders, in China and Europe, would be circular like the LHC, but would dwarf that already giant machine; both would be 100 kilometers around. That’s a circle big enough that the country of Liechtenstein could easily fit inside — twice.

    At a location yet to be determined in China, the Circular Electron Positron Collider, or CEPC, would collide electrons and positrons at 240 billion electron volts, according to a conceptual plan officially released in November and championed by Wang and the Institute of High Energy Physics.

    China Circular Electron-Positron collider depiction

    China Circular Electron Positron Collider (CEPC) map

    The accelerator could later be upgraded to collide protons at higher energies. Scientists say they could begin constructing the $5 billion to 6 billion machine by 2022 and have it ready to go by 2030.

    And at CERN, the proposed Future Circular Collider, or FCC, would likewise operate in stages, colliding electrons and positrons before moving on to protons. The ultimate goal would be to reach proton collisions with 100 trillion electron volts, more than seven times the LHC’s energy, according to a Jan. 15 report from an international group of researchers.

    FCC Future Circular Collider at CERN

    Meanwhile, scientists have shut down the LHC for two years, while they upgrade the machine to function at a slightly higher energy (SN Online: 12/3/18). Further down the line, a souped-up version known as the High-Luminosity LHC could come online in 2026 and would increase the proton collision rate by at least a factor of five (SN Online: 6/15/18).

    Portrait of the Higgs

    When the LHC was built, scientists were fairly confident they’d find the Higgs boson with it. But with the new facilities, there’s no promise of new particles. Instead, the machines will aim to catalog how strongly the Higgs interacts with other known particles; in physicist lingo, these are known as its “couplings.”

    Measurements of the Higgs’ couplings may simply confirm expectations of the standard model. But if the observations differ from expectations, the discrepancy could indirectly hint at the presence of something new, such as the particles that make up dark matter.

    Some scientists are hopeful that something unexpected might arise. That’s because the Higgs is an enigma: The particles condense into a kind of molasses-like fluid. “Why does this fluid do that? We have no clue,” says theoretical particle physicist Michael Peskin of Stanford University. That fluid pervades the universe, slowing particles down and giving them heft.

    Another puzzle is that the Higgs’ mass is a million billion times smaller than expected (SN Online: 10/22/13). Certain numbers in the standard model must be fine-tuned to extreme precision make the Higgs less hefty, a situation physicists find unnatural.

    The weirdness of the Higgs suggests other particles might be out there. Scientists previously thought they had an answer to the Higgs quandaries, via a theory called supersymmetry, which posits that each known particle has a heavier partner (SN: 10/1/16, p. 12). “Before the LHC started, there were huge expectations,” says Abramowicz: Some scientists claimed the LHC would quickly find supersymmetric particles. “Well, it didn’t happen,” she says.

    The upcoming colliders may yet find evidence of supersymmetry, or otherwise hint at new particles, but this time around, scientists aren’t making promises.

    BIG SMASH In the new accelerators, collisions would produce showers of exotic particles (illustrated), including the Higgs boson, which explains how particles get mass.

    “In the past, some people have clearly oversold what the LHC was expected to deliver,” says theoretical particle physicist Juan Rojo of Vrije University Amsterdam. When it comes to any new colliders, “we should avoid making the same mistake if we want to keep our field alive for decades to come,” he says.

    Researchers around the world are now hashing out priorities, making arguments for the new colliders and other particle physics experiments. European physicists, for example, will meet in May to discuss options, working toward a document called the European Particle Physics Strategy Update, to guide research there in 2020 and beyond.

    One thing is certain: The proposed accelerators would explore unknown territory, with unpredictable results. The unanswered questions surrounding the Higgs boson make it the most obvious place to look for hints of new physics, Peskin says. “It’s the place that we haven’t looked yet, so it’s really compelling.”


    CERN. Future Circular Collider Conceptual Design Report. Published online January 15, 2018.

    European Particle Physics. Strategy Update 2018–2020.

    Linear Collider Collaboration. Executive Summary of the Science Council of Japan’s Report. LC Newsline. Published online December 21, 2018.

    The Institute of High Energy Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. CEPC Conceptual Design Report Volume I – Accelerator. November 14, 2018.

    The Institute of High Energy Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. CEPC Conceptual Design Report Volume II – Physics & Detector. November 14, 2018.

    See the full article here .


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    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 9:31 am on January 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Planetary nebula ESO 577-24   

    From European Southern Observatory: “A Fleeting Moment in Time” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    22 January 2019

    Calum Turner
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655


    The faint, ephemeral glow emanating from the planetary nebula ESO 577-24 persists for only a short time — around 10,000 years, a blink of an eye in astronomical terms. ESO’s Very Large Telescope captured this shell of glowing ionised gas — the last breath of the dying star whose simmering remains are visible at the heart of this image. As the gaseous shell of this planetary nebula expands and grows dimmer, it will slowly disappear from sight.

    This video zooms in from a view of the Milky Way to the planetary nebula ESO 577-24. ESO’s Very Large Telescope captured this shell of glowing ionised gas — the last breath of the dying star whose simmering remains are visible at the heart of this image. As the gaseous shell of this planetary nebula expands and grows dimmer, it will slowly disappear from the sight of even ESO’s powerful telescopes.


    ESO, Digitized Sky Survey 2, N. Risinger ( Music: Astral Electronic.

    An evanescent shell of glowing gas spreading into space — the planetary nebula ESO 577-24 — dominates this image [1]. This planetary nebula is the remains of a dead giant star that has thrown off its outer layers, leaving behind a small, intensely hot dwarf star. This diminished remnant will gradually cool and fade, living out its days as the mere ghost of a once-vast red giant star.

    Red giants are stars at the end of their lives that have exhausted the hydrogen fuel in their cores and begun to contract under the crushing grip of gravity. As a red giant shrinks, the immense pressure reignites the core of the star, causing it to throw its outer layers into the void as a powerful stellar wind. The dying star’s incandescent core emits ultraviolet radiation intense enough to ionise these ejected layers and cause them to shine. The result is what we see as a planetary nebula — a final, fleeting testament to an ancient star at the end of its life [2].

    This dazzling planetary nebula was discovered as part of the National Geographic Society  — Palomar Observatory Sky Survey in the 1950s, and was recorded in the Abell Catalogue of Planetary Nebulae in 1966 [3]. At around 1400 light years from Earth, the ghostly glow of ESO 577-24 is only visible through a powerful telescope. As the dwarf star cools, the nebula will continue to expand into space, slowly fading from view.

    This image of ESO 577-24 was created as part of the ESO Cosmic Gems Programme, an initiative that produces images of interesting, intriguing, or visually attractive objects using ESO telescopes for the purposes of education and public outreach. The programme makes use of telescope time that cannot be used for scientific observations; nevertheless, the data collected are made available to astronomers through the ESO Science Archive.


    [1] Planetary nebulae were first observed by astronomers in the 18th century — to them, their dim glow and crisp outlines resembled planets of the Solar System.

    [2] By the time our Sun evolves into a red giant, it will have reached the venerable age of 10 billion years. There is no immediate need to panic, however — the Sun is currently only 5 billion years old.

    [3] Astronomical objects often have a variety of official names, with different catalogues providing different designations. The formal name of this object in the Abell Catalogue of Planetary Nebulae is PN A66 36.


    Cosmic Gems Programme
    More information on the VLT
    More information on FORS

    ESO FORS2 VLT mounted on Unit Telescope 1 (Antu) on the VLT

    Images of the VLT

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Visit ESO in Social Media-




    ESO Bloc Icon

    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre EEuropean Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO La Silla HELIOS (HARPS Experiment for Light Integrated Over the Sun)

    ESO/HARPS at La Silla

    ESO 3.6m telescope & HARPS at Cerro LaSilla, Chile, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO 2.2 meter telescope at La Silla, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO/Cerro LaSilla, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO VLT Platform at Cerro Paranal elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft)

    ESO VLT 4 lasers on Yepun

    Glistening against the awesome backdrop of the night sky above ESO_s Paranal Observatory, four laser beams project out into the darkness from Unit Telescope 4 UT4 of the VLT.

    ESO/NTT at Cerro La Silla, Chile, at an altitude of 2400 metres

    ESO/Vista Telescope at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 ft).

    ESO/APEX high on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile’s Atacama region, at an altitude of over 4,800 m (15,700 ft)

    Leiden MASCARA instrument, La Silla, located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    Leiden MASCARA cabinet at ESO Cerro la Silla located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    ESO Next Generation Transit Survey at Cerro Paranel, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    SPECULOOS four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes 2016 in the ESO Paranal Observatory, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO TAROT telescope at Paranal, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO ExTrA telescopes at Cerro LaSilla at an altitude of 2400 metres

  • richardmitnick 3:17 pm on January 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 'New' ALICE coming to life during LS2, , , , High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC), Novel Muon Forward Tracker (MFT), , ,   

    From ALICE at CERN: “‘New’ ALICE coming to life during LS2” 

    CERN New Masthead

    From From ALICE at CERN

    21 January 2019
    Virginia Greco

    With the conclusion of Run 2, ALICE has entered a new phase, during which a major upgrade of its detector, data-taking and data-processing systems will be implemented.

    At 6 a.m. on December 3, 2018, the LHC expert team switched off the engine of the biggest particle accelerator in the world, which will rest for the next two years before entering a new phase of operation. Starting in March 2021, in fact, the LHC will deliver collisions at increased luminosity, allowing the experiments to collect much more data in less time and, thus, to study rare phenomena.

    The higher luminosity will certainly benefit ALICE, the LHC experiment dedicated to the study of the strong interaction and of the Quark-Gluon-Plasma (QGP), a state of matter which prevailed in the first instants of the universe and is recreated in droplets at the LHC by colliding lead ions. During Run 3, indeed, the interaction rate of lead ions will be increased to reach about 50 kHz, i.e. an instantaneous luminosity of L= 6×1027 cm-2s-1. This will allow ALICE to accumulate more than 10nb-1 of Pb-Pb collisions. Data samples of pp and p-Pb collisions will also be collected to measure the same observables in different interaction systems.

    To exploit the extraordinary scientific potential of Run 3 and subsequent High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC) operations and to be able to study rare processes, the ALICE collaboration is currently implementing a major upgrade of its detector, data-taking and data-processing systems.

    The current Inner Tracking System (ITS), which is located at the heart of the detector, will be replaced by a brand-new one composed of seven layers of silicon pixel detectors. A compact pixel sensor chip (ALPIDE), based on the Monolithic Active Pixel Sensors (MAPS) technology, has been developed for this upgrade. The new ITS will improve dramatically the resolution of the detector and its ability to reconstruct the particle trajectories and identify secondary vertices.

    Inner half-layers of the upgraded ITS. [Credit: Antoine Junique]

    A novel Muon Forward Tracker (MFT), implementing the same custom ALPIDE chip, will also be installed in the forward region of the detector. Thanks to its excellent spatial resolution, not only will ALICE be more sensitive to several measurements, but also it will be able to access new ones that are currently beyond reach. A new Fast Interaction Trigger (FIT) detector will also replace three current forward detectors, with the aim of providing the minimum-bias trigger and excellent time resolution for identifying decay vertices.

    The increased collision rate also requires a major upgrade of the ALICE TPC. The current detector is limited by its read-out chambers, which are based on multi-wire proportional chamber (MWPC) technology. Thus, they will be replaced with multi-stage gas electron multiplier (GEM) chambers, the development of which has required intense R&D activities. The TPC upgrade will increase the read-out rate of the detector by about two orders of magnitude, while preserving its excellent tracking and particle identification capabilities.

    The readout of the TPC and muon-chambers will be performed by the newly designed SAMPA chip, which is a 32-channel front-end analogue-to-digital converter with integrated digital signal processor.

    The new common online-offline (O2) system will transfer data from the detector directly to computers either continuously or with minimal trigger requirements. A new computing facility for the O2system is being installed at the experimental site.

    Whereas the machine will sleep, this long shut down period will be nothing but quiet for all the engineers and physicists who will work on a tight schedule to make the ALICE experiment ready for the next challenges.

    Assembly of one of the gas electron multiplier chambers of the upgraded TPC detector in cleanroom. [Credit: CERN]

    See the full article here .


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    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

    Cern Courier

    CERN/ATLAS detector


    CERN/ALICE Detector

    CERN/CMS Detector




    CERN map

    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

    Quantum Diaries

  • richardmitnick 2:21 pm on January 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , DESY’s next major project PETRA IV “Next Generation” will be a high-resolution X-ray microscope, , Leading X-ray and nano researchers meet in Hamburg, PETRA III   

    From DESY: “Leading X-ray and nano researchers meet in Hamburg” 

    From DESY


    Industry fair accompanies user meetings of Hamburg research light sources

    From Wednesday on, around 1100 leading X-ray researchers and nanoscientists from 30 nations will meet in Hamburg. The participants belong to the large circle of users of the DESY X-ray light sources PETRA III and FLASH as well as the European XFEL X-ray laser opened in 2017, and they will discuss new results, investigation possibilities, and the further development of the research light sources. In recent years, the Hamburg metropolitan region has developed into a worldwide unique centre for research into the nanocosmos: With a unique combination of large-scale research facilities, new materials can be explored at the atomic level, the structure and dynamics of medically relevant biomolecules can be understood, chemical reactions can be filmed, and the interior of stars and planets can be simulated in the laboratory.

    The user meetings are very popular forums for exchange and discussion on nanocosmos research. Credit: European XFEL, Axel Heimke

    “It is the largest gathering of its kind in the world. The high and still increasing number of participants from Germany and from abroad shows the extraordinary importance of photon sources in Hamburg for a broad interdisciplinary use. I am particularly pleased that many high-tech companies are taking part in these meetings,” says Prof. Helmut Dosch, Chairman of the DESY Board of Directors. “The users’ meetings are unique opportunities to celebrate the achievements, challenges, and highlights that have taken place at European XFEL over the last year, and to start new collaborations with our users and industrial partners,” adds European XFEL Managing Director Prof. Robert Feidenhans’l.

    The scientific light sources at DESY and European XFEL are used every year by more than 2500 guest researchers from all over the world, and once every year, the users gather in Hamburg.

    European XFEL campus

    In the past few years, these users’ meetings have been registering record numbers of participants. “The nanocosmos holds the keys to solving numerous current challenges, such as climate-friendly energy supply, tailor-made medicines, or new types of data storage,” emphasizes DESY Research Director for Photon Science, Prof. Edgar Weckert. “Our user community is continually growing and diversifying, and we are pleased so many will join us to discuss the world-class research going on here,” says Prof. Serguei Molodtsov, Scientific Director of European XFEL.

    The focus this year will include the first year of operation of the European XFEL and the plans to upgrade DESY’s X-ray ring PETRA III to the ultimate 3D X-ray microscope, PETRA IV.

    DESY Petra III

    Since the start of the European XFEL’s user operation in September 2017, more than 500 researchers have performed experiments at the facility’s first two experiment stations. Two more experiment stations became available for researchers at the end of 2018, and the final two stations of the facility’s initial configuration, comprising six stations, are scheduled to start operation in the first half of 2019. With them, operational capacity at the new facility will have tripled in less than two years’ time, with the range of possible experiments likewise growing. The first published results show the potential of the unique, ultrafast pulse rate of the European XFEL for investigations of atomic structure and biomolecular dynamics.

    DESY’s next major project, PETRA IV “Next Generation”, will be a high-resolution X-ray microscope, with which the inner structure of samples in their natural environment can be observed on all size scales, from millimeters to tenths of a nanometer. It will provide images of processes in the nanocosmos with several hundredfold finer details than is possible today, thus reaching the limits of what is physically possible. “The instruments at European XFEL and DESY complement each other optimally, so that together we can already offer our users a vast range of possibilities for exploring the atomic structure and dynamics of different materials at a range of time scales. PETRA IV will complete the portfolio and add even more opportunities – all together, the research done at our facilities can change the way we see the world around us,” says Feidenhans’l.

    In more than 30 plenary lectures and 18 satellite workshops, as well as on more than 350 scientific posters, the participants of this year’s meetings will exchange information on new developments for three days from Wednesday to Friday. At an accompanying industrial fair, around 80 companies will be presenting their highly specialised products for cutting-edge research.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    DESY is one of the world’s leading accelerator centres. Researchers use the large-scale facilities at DESY to explore the microcosm in all its variety – from the interactions of tiny elementary particles and the behaviour of new types of nanomaterials to biomolecular processes that are essential to life. The accelerators and detectors that DESY develops and builds are unique research tools. The facilities generate the world’s most intense X-ray light, accelerate particles to record energies and open completely new windows onto the universe. 
That makes DESY not only a magnet for more than 3000 guest researchers from over 40 countries every year, but also a coveted partner for national and international cooperations. Committed young researchers find an exciting interdisciplinary setting at DESY. The research centre offers specialized training for a large number of professions. DESY cooperates with industry and business to promote new technologies that will benefit society and encourage innovations. This also benefits the metropolitan regions of the two DESY locations, Hamburg and Zeuthen near Berlin.

    DESY Petra III interior

    DESY Petra III


    H1 detector at DESY HERA ring


  • richardmitnick 2:01 pm on January 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CREATE Lab, EarthTime, Savvy Use of Data, Technology Tells the Planet's Story   

    From Carnegie Mellon University: “Savvy Use of Data, Technology Tells the Planet’s Story” 

    From Carnegie Mellon University

    January 18, 2019
    Byron Spice

    The story of EarthTime begins on Mars.

    EarthTime today is a technological platform that helps people comprehend massive amounts of data about our planet and come to grips with our biggest global challenges. But 15 years ago, people just wanted to see what the Red Planet looked like.

    When NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers landed on Mars in 2004, they began sending back mesmerizing photos of the bleak landscape. Each of the panoramic images actually was composed of many smaller images, which were electronically stitched together to create a sweeping vista.

    NASA/Mars Spirit Rover

    NASA/Mars Opportunity Rover

    Carnegie Mellon University has created EarthTime, a tool that takes massive data sets from around the world, then creates interactive visualizations for users. It has become an annual mainstay at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

    NASA, Google and Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab in 2006 would adapt this technique for a system they called GigaPan, which made it possible for any earthling to combine multiple digital images to create detailed panoramas. And in 2011, the CREATE Lab took it a step further by enabling the visual exploration of both space and time, establishing the skeleton of what would eventually be called EarthTime.

    At the time, they called it GigaPan Time Machine. The initial emphasis was on photographic and video imagery, but within a year they added a data set that would lead to conceptual change in the platform’s evolution.

    “We started with a very simple data set that also turns out to be extremely explanatory,” said Randy Sargent, initially a computer scientist at NASA Ames Research Center who split time with CMU and Google during the system’s development and is now a senior systems scientist with the CREATE Lab. “We started with all of the Landsat images from the beginning of [NASA’s] Landsat program, so we could go back to 1984 and show how the surface of the planet had changed.

    NASA Operational Land Imager on LandSat 8

    NASA LandSat 8

    “It shows the changes in cities, the birth of cities. It shows flooding. It shows things like deforestation. It shows the incredible expansion of agriculture. There’s just so many things you get from that data set. And that was the one that kind of brought all of the other data sets together.”

    Now, project leaders no longer focus just on the technology, but also on the process of gathering geolocated data and finding ways to use the data to tell stories.

    Current international refugee infrastructure cannot accommodate the record high number of people in the modern refugee crisis. Carnegie Mellon University’s EarthTime software visualizes the causes and possible solutions.

    “EarthTime is a narrative technique for changing the way people think about the Earth and the people on the Earth,” said Illah Nourbakhsh, the K&L Gates Professor of Ethics and Computational Technologies and director of the Robotics Institute’s CREATE Lab.

    That has meant reaching out to more than 800 researchers and data keepers around the globe — sources such as the United Nations, U.S. Geological Survey and the London School of Health and Tropical Disease. To maintain EarthTime as an authoritative and neutral source of facts, all of this data must be peer-reviewed and defensible and, of course, must be publicly available.

    “It starts with a shake of a hand with somebody who directs that organization, who agrees that they’re going to give us data to make the world a better place,” Nourbakhsh said.

    Data is not only stored in different places, but in different formats — online data bases, Google tables, Excel worksheets. So the CREATE Lab has created a special file system that can digest the data in a form that can be shared through a regular web browser.

    “Almost everyone who gives us data has a hard time looking at their own data, ironically,” Nourbakhsh said. “Once they give it to us and we digest it, we use Carnegie Mellon servers to make that data available to anybody anywhere through a web browser. And that means even those organizations that have given us the data can benefit.”

    As technology changes, Randy Sargent, Paul Dille, Illah Nourbakhsh and Gabriel O’Donnel created have continued to expand and evolve EarthTime.

    The project scientists also work with topic experts who can provide crucial context for understanding the data and use the data to create meaningful stories. All of the data is geolocated so it can be superimposed on a map, but researchers also must find visual tropes that are appropriate for displaying it. Using existing tropes, such as bubbles, dots or color, some data sets can be processed into EarthTime in a matter of days; if new tropes are required, such as a GPS coordinate for every oil tanker on Earth over time, the process can take weeks or months.

    “I hope that in three or four years, the process of ingesting data is near automatic,” said Gabriel O’Donnell, principal research programmer. “Anybody or any researcher that has a data set that is complementary to the platform could ingest it without our help.”

    In the early years, researchers needed to hand out copies of their work on hard drives. But last Earth Day, working with the World Economic Forum, the CREATE Lab was able to launch EarthTime as a website, making the tool and its massive database broadly available.

    “The EarthTime system we invented necessarily had to deal with hundreds of data layers and trillions of data points at a level that nobody needed to solve before,” Nourbakhsh said. That required technological innovation in machine learning, graphic design, computer vision and human-computer interaction typified by Carnegie Mellon.

    “One of the things we’re working the hardest on now is the ability for more and more people to author their own stories using the data sets we’ve brought together,” Sargent said. That means reaching out to and training journalists, educators, stakeholder organizations, corporations and even community activists.

    “If a housing activist group needs to explain what’s happening in a particular neighborhood,” Sargent said, “we’d love to have them use this tool.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

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