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  • richardmitnick 1:36 pm on January 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Core-collapse Supernova Rate Problem, , ,   

    From Gemini: “Game Over for Supernovae Hide & Seek” 

    NOAO

    Gemini Observatory
    Gemini Observatory

    January 12, 2018

    The Core-collapse Supernova Rate Problem, or the fact that we don’t see as many core-collapse supernovae as we would expect, has a solution, thanks to research using the Gemini South telescope. The research team concludes that the majority of core collapse supernovae, exploding in luminous infrared galaxies, have previously not been found due to dust obscuration and poor spatial resolution.

    1
    SN 2013if with GeMS/GSAOI, from left to right with linear scaling: Reference image (June 2015), discovery image (April 2013) and the image subtraction. SN 2013if had a projected distance from the nucleus as small as 600 light years (200 pc), which makes it the second most nuclear CCSN discovery in a LIRG to date in the optical and near-IR after SN 2010cu.

    Core-collapse supernovae are spectacular explosions that mark the violent deaths of massive stars. An international team of astronomers, led by PhD student Erik Kool of Macquarie University in Australia, used laser guide star imaging on the Gemini South telescope to study why we don’t see as many of these core-collapse supernovae as expected.

    Gemini South Laser Guide Stars

    The study began in 2015 with the Supernova UNmasked By InfraRed detection (SUNBIRD) project which has shown that dust obscuration and limited spatial resolution can explain the small number of detections to date.

    In this, the first results of the SUNBIRD project, the team discovered three core-collapse supernovae, and one possible supernova that could not be confirmed with subsequent imaging. Remarkably, these supernovae were spotted as close as 600 light years from the bright nuclear regions of these galaxies – despite being at least 150 million light years from the Earth. “Because we observed in the near-infrared, the supernovae are less affected by dust extinction compared to optical light,” said Kool.

    According to Kool the results coming from SUNBIRD reveal that their new approach provides a powerful tool for uncovering core-collapse supernova in nuclear regions of galaxies. They also conclude that this methodology is crucial in characterizing these supernova that are invisible through other means. Kool adds, “The supernova rate problem can be resolved using the unique multi-conjugate adaptive optics capability provided by Gemini, which allows us to achieve the highest spatial resolution in order to probe very close to the nuclear regions of galaxies.” This work is published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    See the full article here .

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    Gemini/North telescope at Maunakea, Hawaii, USA,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    Gemini South telescope, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) campus near La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 7200 feet

    AURA Icon

    Gemini’s mission is to advance our knowledge of the Universe by providing the international Gemini Community with forefront access to the entire sky.

    The Gemini Observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes. The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope is located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i (Gemini North) and the other telescope on Cerro Pachón in central Chile (Gemini South); together the twin telescopes provide full coverage over both hemispheres of the sky. The telescopes incorporate technologies that allow large, relatively thin mirrors, under active control, to collect and focus both visible and infrared radiation from space.

    The Gemini Observatory provides the astronomical communities in six partner countries with state-of-the-art astronomical facilities that allocate observing time in proportion to each country’s contribution. In addition to financial support, each country also contributes significant scientific and technical resources. The national research agencies that form the Gemini partnership include: the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the Canadian National Research Council (NRC), the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Cientifica y Tecnológica (CONICYT), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Argentinean Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva, and the Brazilian Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação. The observatory is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. The NSF also serves as the executive agency for the international partnership.

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  • richardmitnick 1:12 pm on January 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Galaxies Show Order in Chaotic Young Universe, , ,   

    From Sky & Telescope: “Galaxies Show Order in Chaotic Young Universe” 

    SKY&Telescope bloc

    Sky & Telescope

    January 15, 2018
    Monica Young

    New observations of galaxies in a universe just 800 million years old show that they’ve already settled into rotating disks. They must have evolved quickly to display such surprising maturity.

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    Data visualization of the the velocity gradient across the two surprisingly evolved young galaxies.
    Hubble (NASA/ESA), ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), P. Oesch (University of Geneva) and R. Smit (University of Cambridge).

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

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

    Our cosmos was a messy youngster. Hotter and denser than the universe we live in now, it was home to turbulent gas flinging about under the influence of gravity. Theorists think the earliest galaxies built up gradually, first clump by clump, then by mergers with other galaxies.

    Astronomers expected that most galaxies living among this early chaos would be turbulent masses themselves. But new observations have revealed two surprisingly mature galaxies when the universe was only 800 million years old. Renske Smit (University of Cambridge, UK) and colleagues report in the January 11th Nature that these two galaxies have already settled into rotating disks, suggesting they evolved rapidly right after they were born.

    Smit and colleagues first found the two galaxies in deep Spitzer Space Telescope images,

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    then followed up using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a network of radio dishes high in the Atacama Desert in Chile. ALMA’s incredible resolution enabled the astronomers to measure radiation from ionized carbon — an element associated with forming stars — across the face of these diminutive galaxies.

    Consider for a moment: These galaxies are a fifth the size of the Milky Way, and they’re incredibly far away — their light has traveled 13 billion years to Earth. Even in images taken by the eagle-eyed Hubble Space Telescope, such galaxies appear as small red dots.

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    Distant Galaxies in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field
    This Hubble Space Telescope image shows 28 of the more than 500 young galaxies that existed when the universe was less than 1 billion years old. The galaxies were uncovered in a study of two of the most distant surveys of the cosmos, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF), completed in 2004, and the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS), made in 2003.

    Just a few years ago, astronomers had not spotted any galaxies that existed significantly less than 1 billion years after the Big Bang. The galaxies spied in the HUDF and GOODS surveys are blue galaxies brimming with star birth.

    The large image at left shows the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, taken by the Hubble telescope. The numbers next to the small boxes correspond to close-up views of 28 of the newly found galaxies at right. The galaxies in the postage-stamp size images appear red because of their tremendous distance from Earth. The blue light from their young stars took nearly 13 billion years to arrive at Earth. During the journey, the blue light was shifted to red light due to the expansion of space.

    Yet astronomers are now able to point an array of radio dishes to not only spot the galaxies themselves but also capture features within them down to a couple thousand light-years across.

    They Grow Up So Fast

    The ALMA observations revealed that these two galaxies aren’t the turbulent free-for-all that astronomers expect for most galaxies in this early time period. Their rotating disks aren’t quite like the Milky Way’s, as spiral arms take time to form. Instead, they look more like the fluffy disk galaxies typically seen at so-called cosmic noon, the universe’s adolescent period of star formation and galaxy growth. That implies rapid evolution, as cosmic noon occurred more than 2 billion years after these two galaxies existed.

    Simulations had predicted that it’s possible for some galaxies to evolve more quickly than their peers, notes Nicolas LaPorte (University College London), but it had never been observed before. “This paper represents a great leap forward in the study of the first galaxies,” he says.

    Smit says that these two galaxies seem to stand out from their cohort, which makes sense given their quick growth: Among other things, they’re forming tens of Suns’ worth of stars every year, more than is typical for their time period. Smit is already planning additional observations to see just how different these galaxies are from their peers.

    See the full article here .

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    Sky & Telescope magazine, founded in 1941 by Charles A. Federer Jr. and Helen Spence Federer, has the largest, most experienced staff of any astronomy magazine in the world. Its editors are virtually all amateur or professional astronomers, and every one has built a telescope, written a book, done original research, developed a new product, or otherwise distinguished him or herself.

    Sky & Telescope magazine, now in its eighth decade, came about because of some happy accidents. Its earliest known ancestor was a four-page bulletin called The Amateur Astronomer, which was begun in 1929 by the Amateur Astronomers Association in New York City. Then, in 1935, the American Museum of Natural History opened its Hayden Planetarium and began to issue a monthly bulletin that became a full-size magazine called The Sky within a year. Under the editorship of Hans Christian Adamson, The Sky featured large illustrations and articles from astronomers all over the globe. It immediately absorbed The Amateur Astronomer.

    Despite initial success, by 1939 the planetarium found itself unable to continue financial support of The Sky. Charles A. Federer, who would become the dominant force behind Sky & Telescope, was then working as a lecturer at the planetarium. He was asked to take over publishing The Sky. Federer agreed and started an independent publishing corporation in New York.

    “Our first issue came out in January 1940,” he noted. “We dropped from 32 to 24 pages, used cheaper quality paper…but editorially we further defined the departments and tried to squeeze as much information as possible between the covers.” Federer was The Sky’s editor, and his wife, Helen, served as managing editor. In that January 1940 issue, they stated their goal: “We shall try to make the magazine meet the needs of amateur astronomy, so that amateur astronomers will come to regard it as essential to their pursuit, and professionals to consider it a worthwhile medium in which to bring their work before the public.”

     
  • richardmitnick 12:56 pm on January 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Geology Makes the Mayon Volcano Visually Spectacular—And Dangerously Explosive, , Strombolian eruptions,   

    From smithsonian.com: “Geology Makes the Mayon Volcano Visually Spectacular—And Dangerously Explosive” 

    smithsonian
    smithsonian.com

    January 19, 2018
    Maya Wei-Haas

    What’s going on inside one of the Philippines’ most active volcanoes?

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    Lava cascades down the slopes of the erupting Mayon volcano in January 2018. Seen from Busay Village in Albay province, 210 miles southeast of Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Dan Amaranto)

    Last weekend, the Philippines’ most active—and attractive—volcano, Mount Mayon, roared back to life. The 8,070-foot volcano began releasing spurts of incandescent molten rock and spewing clouds of smoke and ash into the sky, causing over 30,000 local residents to evacuate the region. By the morning of January 18, the gooey streams of lava had traveled almost two miles from the summit.

    Though the images of Mount Mayon are startling, the volcano isn’t truly explosive—yet. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVolcs), which monitors the numerous volcanoes of the island chain, has set the current warning level at a 3 out of 5, which means that there is ”relatively high unrest.” At this point, explosive eruption is not imminent, says Janine Krippner, a volcanologist and postdoctoral researcher researcher at Concord University. If the trend continues, however, an eruption is possible in the next few weeks.

    Located on the large island of Luzon, Mount Mayon is known for its dramatically sloped edges and picturesque symmetry, which makes it a popular tourist attraction; some climbers even attempt to the venture to its smouldering rim. “It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?” marvels Krippner. But that beauty isn’t entirely innocuous. In fact, Krippner explains, the structure’s symmetrical form is partly due to the frequency of the volcano’s eruptions.

    “Mayon is one of the most active volcanoes—if not the most active volcano—in the Philippines, so it has the chance to keep building its profile up without eroding away,” she says. Since its first recorded eruption in 1616, there have been roughly 58 known events—four in just the last decade—which have ranged from small sputters to full-on disasters. Its most explosive eruption took place in 1814, when columns of ash rose miles high, devastated nearby towns and killed 1200 people.

    Many of these eruptions are strombolian, which means the cone emits a stuttering spray of molten rock that collects around its upper rim. (Strombolian eruptions are among the less-explosive types of blasts, but Mayon is capable of much more violent eruptions as well.) Over time, these volcanic rocks “stack up, and up, and up,” says Krippner, creating extremely steep slope. That’s why, near the top of the volcano, its sides veer at angles up to 40 degrees—roughly twice the angle of the famous Baldwin street in New Zealand, one of the steepest roads in the world.

    So why, exactly, does Mayon have so many fiery fits? It’s all about location.

    The islands of the Philippines are situated along the Ring of Fire, a curving chain of volcanism that hugs the boundary of the Pacific Ocean and contains three-fourths of all the world’s volcanoes. What drives this region of fiery activity are slow-motion collisions between the shifting blocks of Earth’s crust, or tectonic plates, which have been taking place over millions of years. The situation in the Philippines is in particularly complex, explains Ben Andrews, director of Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program. “It’s a place where we have a whole bunch of different subduction zones of different ages that are sort of piling together and crashing together,” he says. “It gets pretty hairy.”

    As one plate thrusts beneath another, the rocks begin to melt, fueling the volcanic eruption above. Depending on the composition of the melting rock, the lava can be thin and runny, or thick and viscous. This viscosity paired with the speed at which the magma rises determines the volcano’s explosivity, says Andrews: The thicker and quicker the lava, the more explosive the blast. Mayon produces magma of intermediate composition and viscosity, but it differs from eruption to eruption.

    Think of a volcanic eruption like opening a shaken bottle of soda, says Andrews. If you pop off the cap immediately, you’re in for a spray of sugary carbonated liquid to the face, just like the sudden release of gas and molten rock that builds under a plug of viscous magma. But if you slow down and let a little air out first—like the gases that can escape from liquid-y magma—a violent explosion is less likely.

    News outlets have been reporting on an “imminent explosion,” warning that Mayon will erupt within days. But given its activity so far, it’s not yet clear if, or when, Mayon will erupt. Volcanoes are extremely hard to predict as the magma is constantly changing, says Krippner.

    Since the volcano began belching, small pyroclastic flows—avalanches of hot rocks, ash and gas—have also tumbled down its flanks. Though dangerous, these pyroclastic flows have the potential to be much more devastating. Previously at Mayon, says Krippner, these flows have been clocked in at over 60 meters per second. “They’re extremely fast and they’re extremely hot,” she says. “They destroy pretty much everything in their path.”

    If the eruption continues, one of the biggest dangers is an explosive blast, which could produce a column of volcanic ash miles high. The collapse of this column can send massive, deadly pyroclastic flows racing down the volcano’s flanks. The last time Mayon burst in an explosive eruption was in 2001. With a roar like a jet plane, the volcano shot clouds of ash and molten rock just over six miles into the sky.

    Also of concern is the potential for what are known as lahars, or flows of debris. The volcanic rumblings have been actively producing volcanic ash, a material that’s more like sand than the kind of ash you see when you burn wood or paper, notes Krippner. A strong rain—as is frequent on these tropical islands—is all that’s needed to turn these layers of debris into a slurry and send it careening down the volcano’s slopes, sweeping with it anything that gets in its way. Mayon’s steep sides make it particularly susceptible to these mudflows.

    Residents suffered the full potential for destruction of Mayon’s lahars in November of 2006 when a typhoon swept the region, bringing with it heavy rain that saturated built up material. A massive lahar formed, destroying nearby towns and killing 1,266 people.

    Both Krippner and Andrews stress that local residents are in good hands under PHIVolcs’ careful watch. The researchers have installed a complex network of sensors that monitor Mayon’s every tremble and burp and are using their vast amounts of knowledge garnered from past events to interpret the volcano’s every shiver.

    And as Krippner notes, “it’s still got two more levels to go.” If PHIVoics raises the alert level to a 4 or 5, she says, “that could mean something bigger is coming.”

    See the full article here .

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    Smithsonian magazine and Smithsonian.com place a Smithsonian lens on the world, looking at the topics and subject matters researched, studied and exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution — science, history, art, popular culture and innovation — and chronicling them every day for our diverse readership.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:41 pm on January 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation, Type II supernovae   

    From Carnegie Institution for Science: “Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation” 

    Carnegie Institution for Science
    Carnegie Institution for Science

    January 18, 2018
    Conel Alexander
    Larry Nittler

    Dust is everywhere—not just in your attic or under your bed, but also in outer space. To astronomers, dust can be a nuisance by blocking the light of distant stars, or it can be a tool to study the history of our universe, galaxy, and Solar System.

    For example, astronomers have been trying to explain why some recently discovered distant, but young, galaxies contain massive amounts of dust. These observations indicate that type II supernovae—explosions of stars more than ten times as massive as the Sun—produce copious amounts of dust, but how and when they do so is not well understood.

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    An electron microscope image of a micron-sized supernova silicon carbide, SiC, stardust grain (lower right) extracted from a primitive meteorite. Such grains originated more than 4.6 billion years ago in the ashes of Type II supernovae, typified here by a Hubble Space Telescope image of the Crab Nebula, the remnant of a supernova explosion in 1054. Laboratory analysis of such tiny dust grains provides unique information on these massive stellar explosions. (1 μm is one millionth of a meter.) Image credits: NASA and Larry Nittler.

    New work from a team of Carnegie cosmochemists published by Science Advances reports analyses of carbon-rich dust grains extracted from meteorites that show that these grains formed in the outflows from one or more type II supernovae more than two years after the progenitor stars exploded. This dust was then blown into space to be eventually incorporated into new stellar systems, including in this case, our own.

    The researchers—led by former-postdoctoral fellow Nan Liu, along with Larry Nittler, Conel Alexander, and Jianhua Wang of Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism—came to their conclusion not by studying supernovae with telescopes. Rather, they analyzed microscopic silicon carbide, SiC, dust grains that formed in supernovae more than 4.6 billion years ago and were trapped in meteorites as our Solar System formed from the ashes of the galaxy’s previous generations of stars.

    Some meteorites have been known for decades to contain a record of the original building blocks of the Solar System, including stardust grains that formed in prior generations of stars.

    “Because these presolar grains are literally stardust that can be studied in detail in the laboratory,” explained Nittler, “they are excellent probes of a range of astrophysical processes.”

    For this study, the team set out to investigate the timing of supernova dust formation by measuring isotopes—versions of elements with the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons—in rare presolar silicon carbide grains with compositions indicating that they formed in type II supernovae.

    Certain isotopes enable scientists to establish a time frame for cosmic events because they are radioactive. In these instances, the number of neutrons present in the isotope make it unstable. To gain stability, it releases energetic particles in a way that alters the number of protons and neutrons, transmuting it into a different element.

    The Carnegie team focused on a rare isotope of titanium, titanium-49, because this isotope is the product of radioactive decay of vanadium-49 which is produced during supernova explosions and transmutes into titanium-49 with a half-life of 330 days. How much titanium-49 gets incorporated into a supernova dust grain thus depends on when the grain forms after the explosion.

    Using a state-of-the-art mass spectrometer to measure the titanium isotopes in supernova SiC grains with much better precision than could be accomplished by previous studies, the team found that the grains must have formed at least two years after their massive parent stars exploded.

    Because presolar supernova graphite grains are isotopically similar in many ways to the SiC grains, the team also argues that the delayed formation timing applies generally to carbon-rich supernova dust, in line with some recent theoretical calculations.

    “This dust-formation process can occur continuously for years, with the dust slowly building up over time, which aligns with astronomer’s observations of varying amounts of dust surrounding the sites of stellar explosions,” added lead author Liu. “As we learn more about the sources for dust, we can gain additional knowledge about the history of the universe and how various stellar objects within it evolve.”

    See the full article here .

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    Carnegie Institution of Washington Bldg

    Andrew Carnegie established a unique organization dedicated to scientific discovery “to encourage, in the broadest and most liberal manner, investigation, research, and discovery and the application of knowledge to the improvement of mankind…” The philosophy was and is to devote the institution’s resources to “exceptional” individuals so that they can explore the most intriguing scientific questions in an atmosphere of complete freedom. Carnegie and his trustees realized that flexibility and freedom were essential to the institution’s success and that tradition is the foundation of the institution today as it supports research in the Earth, space, and life sciences.

    6.5 meter Magellan Telescopes located at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory, Chile.
    6.5 meter Magellan Telescopes located at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory, Chile

     
  • richardmitnick 8:57 am on January 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A Black Hole is Pushing the Stars Around in this Globular Cluster, , , , ,   

    From Universe Today: “A Black Hole is Pushing the Stars Around in this Globular Cluster” 

    universe-today

    Universe Today

    19 Jan , 2018
    Matt Williams

    1
    Artist’s impression of the star cluster NGC 3201 orbiting an black hole with about four times the mass of the Sun. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

    Astronomers have been fascinated with globular clusters ever since they were first observed in 17th century. These spherical collections of stars are among the oldest known stellar systems in the Universe, dating back to the early Universe when galaxies were just beginning to grow and evolve. Such clusters orbit the centers of most galaxies, with over 150 known to belong to the Milky Way alone.

    One of these clusters is known as NGC 3201, a cluster located about 16,300 light years away in the southern constellation of Vela. Using the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, a team of astronomers recently studied this cluster and noticed something very interesting. According to the study they released, this cluster appears to have a black hole embedded in it.

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

    The study appeared in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society under the title A detached stellar-mass black hole candidate in the globular cluster NGC 3201. The study was led by Benjamin Giesers of the Georg-August-University of Göttingen and included members from Liverpool John Moores University, Queen Mary University of London, the Leiden Observatory, the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences, ETH Zurich, and the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP).

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 8:43 am on January 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Researchers Develop a New Low Cost/Low Weight Method of Searching for Life on Mars,   

    From Universe Today: “Researchers Develop a New Low Cost/Low Weight Method of Searching for Life on Mars” 

    universe-today

    Universe Today

    19 Jan , 2018
    Evan Gough

    1
    Study co-author I. Altshuler sampling permafrost terrain near the McGill Arctic research station, Canadian high Arctic. Image: Dr. Jacqueline Goordial

    Researchers at Canada’s McGill University have shown for the first time how existing technology could be used to directly detect life on Mars and other planets. The team conducted tests in Canada’s high arctic, which is a close analog to Martian conditions. They showed how low-weight, low-cost, low-energy instruments could detect and sequence alien micro-organisms. They presented their results in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

    Getting samples back to a lab to test is a time consuming process here on Earth. Add in the difficulty of returning samples from Mars, or from Ganymede or other worlds in our Solar System, and the search for life looks like a daunting task. But the search for life elsewhere in our Solar System is a major goal of today’s space science. The team at McGill wanted to show that, conceptually at least, samples could be tested, sequenced, and grown in-situ at Mars or other locations. And it looks like they’ve succeeded.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 3:38 pm on January 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    From SLAC: “Superconducting X-Ray Laser Takes Shape in Silicon Valley” 


    SLAC Lab

    January 19, 2018
    Andrew Gordon,
    agordon@slac.stanford.edu,
    (650) 926-2282

    The first cryomodule has arrived at SLAC. Linked together and chilled to nearly absolute zero, 37 of these segments will accelerate electrons to almost the speed of light and power an upgrade to the nation’s only X-ray free-electron laser facility.

    2
    The first cryomodule for SLAC’s LCLS-II X-ray laser departed Fermilab on Jan. 16. Photo: Reidar Hahn

    An area known for high-tech gadgets and innovation will soon be home to an advanced superconducting X-ray laser that stretches 3 miles in length, built by a collaboration of national laboratories. On January 19, the first section of the machine’s new accelerator arrived by truck at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park after a cross-country journey that began in Batavia, Illinois, at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory [FNAL].

    These 40-foot-long sections, called cryomodules, are building blocks for a major upgrade called LCLS-II that will amplify the performance of the lab’s X-ray free-electron laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS).

    SLAC/LCLS

    “It required years of effort from large teams of engineers and scientists in the United States and around the world to make the arrival of the first cryomodule at SLAC a reality,” says John Galayda, SLAC’s project director for LCLS-II. “And it marks an important step forward as we construct this innovative machine.”

    Inside the cryomodules, strings of super-cold niobium cavities will be filled with electric fields that accelerate electrons to nearly the speed of light. This superconducting technology will allow LCLS-II to fire X-rays that are, on average, 10,000 times brighter than LCLS in pulses that arrive up to a million times per second.

    With these new features, scientists have ambitious research goals: examine the details of complex materials with unparalleled resolution, reveal rare and transient chemical events, study how biological molecules perform life’s functions, and peer into the strange world of quantum mechanics by directly measuring the internal motions of individual atoms and molecules.

    FNAL is building half of the cryomodules for the LCLS-II laser upgrade, and Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility [JLab] in Newport News, Virginia will build the other half. FNAL, JLab and SLAC are Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science laboratories.

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    After constructing the cryomodules, Fermilab and Jefferson Lab are testing each one extensively before the vessels are packed and shipped by truck. Their new home in California will be the tunnel formerly occupied by a section of SLAC’s 2-mile-long accelerator, located 30 feet below ground. In tribute to their Bay Area destination, the cryomodules are painted “international orange” to match the Golden Gate Bridge.

    A Super-Cool Refrigeration System

    SLAC engineers and their partners are building a cryoplant refrigerator—a powerful chilling plant that will contain the compressors, pumps and helium needed to keep the accelerator at 2 degrees Celsius above absolute zero (or minus 456 degrees Fahrenheit), about the same temperature as outer space.

    At these low temperatures, the accelerator becomes what’s known as superconducting, able to boost electrons to high energies with minimal energy loss as they travel through the cavities. By the time the electrons pass through all 37 cryomodules, they’ll be traveling at nearly the speed of light.

    Once the electrons reach such high speeds, they pass through a series of strong magnets, called undulators, which bounce the electron beam back and forth to generate an X-ray laser beam that’s much brighter than the current LCLS, moving from 120 pulses per second to 1 million pulses per second—far beyond any other facility in the world.

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    A total of 12 warm helium compressors, designed and built by Jefferson Lab, will be installed into the cryoplant building. The cryoplant will feed liquid helium into the superconducting linear accelerator.

    When the oscillating voltage in each cavity is timed to the rhythm of electron bunches passing through the cavities, the electrons get a boost of energy and accelerate.

    “If a tuning fork—another type of resonator—had the same performance quality as one of these superconducting cavities, it would ring for well over a year,” says Marc Ross, a SLAC accelerator physicist who is leading the development of the cryomodules. “Superconductivity allows the cavities to accelerate the electrons in a steady, continuous wave without interruption, and with extremely high efficiency.”

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    Cutaway image of a cryomodule. Each large metal cylinder contains layers of insulation and cooling equipment, in addition to the cavities that will accelerate electrons. The cryomodules are fed liquid helium from an aboveground cooling plant. Microwaves reach the cryomodules through waveguides connected to a system of solid-state amplifiers.

    The element niobium is a common material for superconductors, and the cavities are made with an extremely pure version to minimize any electrical loss. Eight niobium cavities are bolted together in a string inside each cryomodule. They’re assembled like “a ship in a bottle,” Ross says. The cavities are surrounded by three nested layers of cooling equipment, with each successive layer lowering the temperature until it reaches nearly absolute zero.

    The Next Generation of X-Ray Lasers

    The system that keeps the cavities cold has been used to cool magnets that steer particles in colliders, including the Large Hadron Collider at European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and Fermilab’s Tevatron.

    Cryomodules with superconducting radiofrequency cavities accelerate electrons that generate X-rays at the recently commissioned European X-ray Free-Electron Laser. Engineers at Fermilab and Jefferson Lab tweaked the design of those cryomodules to tailor the equipment for LCLS-II. They also greatly improved the quality of the cavities through a technique called nitrogen doping, which produces cavities that generate less heat at the coldest temperatures. These tweaks reduce energy loss and make a much brighter laser possible. LCLS-II will be the first large-scale implementation of these latest technical advances.

    For LCLS-II, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, with significant design contributions by Argonne National Laboratory, also created a new advanced “electron gun” to inject electrons into the accelerator and specialized undulators to generate the X-rays.

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    A prototype LCLS-II undulator, which is designed to wiggle electrons, causing them to emit brilliant X-ray light, undergoes magnetic measurements at Berkeley Lab.

    New Scientific Possibilities

    With more frequent pulses, the upgraded laser will allow scientists to gather more data in less time. This increases the number of experiments that can be performed and enables new types of studies that were previously inconceivable.

    “Within the space of just a few hours, LCLS-II will be able to produce more X-ray pulses than the current laser has delivered in its entire operations to date,” says Mike Dunne, director of LCLS. “Data that would currently take a month to collect could be produced in a few minutes.”

    More frequent pulses also increase the chance that scientists can, for example, observe rare events that happen during chemical reactions or in delicate biological molecules in their natural environments. The superconducting accelerator under construction will work in parallel with the original one. The two laser beams will open up entirely new types of studies of the quantum world, informing the development of materials with novel characteristics.

    The remaining 36 cryomodules are expected to arrive at SLAC over the next 18 months. Construction for LCLS-II began last year. The DOE user facility will open to researchers from around the world with the best ideas for experiments in the early 2020s.

    Read more about science opportunities with LCLS-II.

    SLAC’s Historic Linac: Then and Now

    SLAC has a history of taking on large projects since the lab’s birth more than five decades ago. “Project M” (for “Monster”), the construction of a particle accelerator that stretches 2 miles in length, allowed scientists to study the building blocks of the universe. This linear accelerator was the longest ever constructed.

    In 2009, the lab repurposed one-third of the original 1960s-era copper accelerator to feed an electron beam into LCLS, the first laser of its kind that produces rapid pulses of “hard” or high-energy X-rays for innovative imaging experiments. Another one-third of that original copper linac has now been cleared to make room for the arrival of the new superconducting cryomodules.

    This project is supported by DOE’s Office of Science. LCLS is a DOE Office of Science user facility.

    Text & Production: Amanda Solliday
    Graphics: Greg Stewart, Terry Anderson
    Video: Robert Kish, Farrin Abbott, Greg Stewart, Andy Freeberg
    Photos: Dawn Harmer, Matt Beardsley, Fermilab, Jefferson Lab, Berkeley Lab
    Editing: Angela Anderson, Glennda Chui
    Web Design: Yvonne Tang

    There is a great deal of video material which was unavailable to me because of the form in which it was produced. I highly recommend you visit the full article.

    See the full article here .

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    SLAC Campus
    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.
    i1

     
  • richardmitnick 3:06 pm on January 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Fermilab delivers first cryomodule for ultrapowerful X-ray laser at SLAC, , ,   

    From FNAL: “Fermilab delivers first cryomodule for ultrapowerful X-ray laser at SLAC” 

    FNAL II photo

    FNAL Art Image
    FNAL Art Image by Angela Gonzales

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

    January 19, 2018

    Science contact
    Rich Stanek
    rstanek@fnal.gov
    630-840-3519

    Media contact
    Andre Salles, Fermilab Office of Communication,
    asalles@fnal.gov
    630-840-6733

    A Fermilab team built and tested the first new superconducting accelerator cryomodule for the LCLS-II project, which will be the nation’s only X-ray free-electron laser facility.

    1
    The first cryomodule for SLAC’s LCLS-II X-ray laser departed Fermilab on Jan. 16. Photo: Reidar Hahn

    Earlier this week, scientists and engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab in Illinois loaded one of the most advanced superconducting radio-frequency cryomodules ever created onto a truck and sent it heading west.

    Today, that cryomodule arrived at the U.S. DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California, where it will become the first of 37 powering a three-mile-long machine that will revolutionize atomic X-ray imaging. The modules are the product of many years of innovation in accelerator technology, and the first cryomodule Fermilab developed for this project set a world record in energy efficiency.

    These modules, when lined up end to end, will make up the bulk of the accelerator that will power a massive upgrade to the capabilities of the Linac Coherent Light Source at SLAC, a unique X-ray microscope that will use the brightest X-ray pulses ever made to provide unprecedented details of the atomic world. Fermilab will provide 22 of the cryomodules, with the rest built and tested at the U.S. DOE’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Virginia.

    The quality factor achieved in these components is unprecedented for superconducting radio-frequency cryomodules. The higher the quality factor, the lower the cryogenic load, and the more efficiently the cavity imparts energy to the particle beam. Fermilab’s record-setting cryomodule doubled the quality factor compared to the previous state-of-the-art.

    “LCLS-II represents an important technological step which demonstrates that we can build more efficient and more powerful accelerators,” said Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer. “This is a major milestone for our accelerator program, for our productive collaboration with SLAC and Jefferson Lab and for the worldwide accelerator community.”

    Today’s arrival is merely the first. From now into 2019, the teams at Fermilab and Jefferson Lab will build the remaining cryomodules, including spares, and scrutinize them from top to bottom, sending them to SLAC only after they pass the rigorous review.

    “It’s safe to say that this is the most advanced machine of its type,” said Elvin Harms, a Fermilab accelerator physicist working on the project. “This upgrade will boost the power of LCLS, allowing it to deliver X-ray laser beams that are 10,000 times brighter than it can give us right now.”

    With short, ultrabright pulses that will arrive up to a million times per second, LCLS-II will further sharpen our view of how nature works at the smallest scales and help advance transformative technologies of the future, including novel electronics, life-saving drugs and innovative energy solutions. Hundreds of scientists use LCLS each year to catch a glimpse of nature’s fundamental processes.

    To meet the machine’s standards, each Fermilab-built cryomodule must be tested in nearly identical conditions as in the actual accelerator. Each large metal cylinder — up to 40 feet in length and 4 feet in diameter — contains accelerating cavities through which electrons zip at nearly the speed of light. But the cavities, made of superconducting metal, must be kept at a temperature of 2 Kelvin (minus 456 degrees Fahrenheit).

    2
    Thirty-seven cryomodules lined end to end — half from Fermilab and half from Jefferson Lab — will make up the bulk of the LCLS-II accelerator. Photo: Reidar Hahn

    To achieve this, ultracold liquid helium flows through pipes in the cryomodule, and keeping that temperature steady is part of the testing process.

    “The difference between room temperature and a few Kelvin creates a problem, one that manifests as vibrations in the cryomodule,” said Genfa Wu, a Fermilab scientist working on LCLS-II. “And vibrations are bad for linear accelerator operation.”

    In initial tests of the prototype cryomodule, scientists found vibration levels that were higher than specification. To diagnose the problem, they used geophones — the same kind of equipment that can detect earthquakes — to rule out external vibration sources. They determined that the cause was inside the cryomodule and made a number of changes, including adjusting the path of the flow of liquid helium. The changes worked, substantially reducing vibration levels — to a 10th of what they were originally — and have been successfully applied to subsequent cryomodules.

    Fermilab scientists and engineers are also ensuring that unwanted magnetic fields in the cryomodule are kept to a minimum, since excessive magnetic fields reduce the operating efficiency.

    “At Fermilab, we are building this machine from head to toe,” Lockyer said. “From nanoengineering the cavity surface to the integration of thousands of complex components, we have come a long way to the successful delivery of LCLS-II’s first cryomodule.”

    Fermilab has tested seven cryomodules, plus one built and previously tested at Jefferson Lab, with great success. Each of those, along with the modules yet to be built and tested, will get its own cross-country trip in the months and years to come.

    Read more about the LCLS-II project in SLAC’s press release.

    This project is supported by DOE’s Office of Science. LCLS is a DOE Office of Science user facility.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

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    FNAL Icon

    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. Fermilab is America’s premier laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Thousands of scientists from universities and laboratories around the world
    collaborate at Fermilab on experiments at the frontiers of discovery.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:30 pm on January 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , U Texas San Antonio   

    From phys.org: “New research challenges existing models of black holes” 

    physdotorg
    phys.org

    January 19, 2018
    Joanna Carver, University of Texas at San Antonio

    1
    Credit: University of Texas at San Antonio

    Chris Packham, associate professor of physics and astronomy at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has collaborated on a new study [Science] that expands the scientific community’s understanding of black holes in our galaxy and the magnetic fields that surround them.

    “Dr. Packham’s collaborative work on this study is a great example of the innovative research happening now in physics at UTSA. I’m excited to see what new research will result from these findings,” said George Perry, dean of the UTSA College of Sciences and Semmes Foundation Distinguished University Chair in Neurobiology.

    Packham and astronomers lead from the University of Florida observed the magnetic field of a black hole within our own galaxy from multiple wavelengths for the first time. The results, which were a collective effort among several researchers, are deeply enlightening about some of the most mysterious objects in space.

    A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so strongly that even light cannot escape its grasp. Black holes usually form when a massive star explodes and the remnant core collapses under the force of intense gravity. As an example, if a star around 3 times more massive than our own Sun became a black hole, it would be roughly the size of San Antonio. The black hole Packham and his collaborators featured in their study, which was recently published in Science, contains about 10 times the mass of our own sun and is known as V404 Cygni.

    “The Earth, like many planets and stars, has a magnetic field that sprouts out of the North Pole, circles the planet and goes back into the South Pole. It exists because the Earth has a hot, liquid iron rich core,” said Packham. “That flow creates electric currents that create a magnetic field. A black hole has a magnetic field as it was created from the remnant of a star after the explosion.”

    As matter is broken down around a black hole, jets of electrons are launched by the magnetic field from either pole of the black hole at almost the speed of light. Astronomers have long been flummoxed by these jets.

    These new and unique observations of the jets and estimates of magnetic field of V404 Cygni involved studying the body at several different wavelengths. These tests allowed the group to gain a much clearer understanding of the strength of its magnetic field. They discovered that magnetic fields are much weaker than previously understood, a puzzling finding that calls into question previous models of black hole components. The research shows a deep need for continued studies on some of the most mysterious entities in space.

    “We need to understand black holes in general,” Packham said. “If we go back to the very earliest point in our universe, just after the big bang, there seems to have always been a strong correlation between black holes and galaxies. It seems that the birth and evolution of black holes and galaxies, our cosmic island, are intimately linked. Our results are surprising and one that we’re still trying to puzzle out.”

    See the full article here .

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    About Phys.org in 100 Words

    Phys.org™ (formerly Physorg.com) is a leading web-based science, research and technology news service which covers a full range of topics. These include physics, earth science, medicine, nanotechnology, electronics, space, biology, chemistry, computer sciences, engineering, mathematics and other sciences and technologies. Launched in 2004, Phys.org’s readership has grown steadily to include 1.75 million scientists, researchers, and engineers every month. Phys.org publishes approximately 100 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide. Quancast 2009 includes Phys.org in its list of the Global Top 2,000 Websites. Phys.org community members enjoy access to many personalized features such as social networking, a personal home page set-up, RSS/XML feeds, article comments and ranking, the ability to save favorite articles, a daily newsletter, and other options.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:51 pm on January 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Dr Julien Milli - Paranal’s Adaptive Optics Scientist,   

    From ESOblog: “Working atop Paranal – Dr Julien Milli, Paranal’s Adaptive Optics Scientist” 

    ESO 50 Large

    ESOblog

    19 January 2018

    1

    ESO’s Adaptive Optics Scientist at Paranal talks about life in the desert.

    Even in the pristine conditions of ESO’s Paranal Observatory in the high, dry Chilean desert, turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere can distort starlight and blur astronomical observations. Astronomers are able to peer past this distortion using advanced technology that has become more and more refined in recent years. We’ve asked Dr Julien Milli, Paranal’s Adaptive Optics Scientist, to tell us about how his work provides ESO telescopes with a truly spectacular view of the Universe.

    Q: As Adaptive Optics Scientist at Paranal, you’re responsible for a crucial feature of some of the world’s most advanced telescopes. How does your work help keep ESO’s observations at the forefront of ground-based astronomy?

    A: Adaptive optics (AO) has indeed become a crucial component of Paranal’s instrumentation, and it will continue to have an even larger impact in the future — especially when ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) begins operations. My work ensures that the astronomers and operators have the knowledge to work with these complex systems, and that these systems are combined with compatible atmospheric conditions so they give us the best possible performance.

    Q: How would you explain adaptive optics to a non-expert? Are there any analogous processes in day-to-day life?

    A: Have you ever tried to look at a coin sitting on the bottom of the swimming pool? It’s not as easy as it sounds — if the water is turbulent with waves or eddies on the surface, then the image of the coin will be distorted. If you snapped a long-exposure photo of the coin with a camera, it would be blurry. A similar thing happens in astronomy. The atmosphere actually behaves like water, or any fluid medium, and astronomers are trying to observe distant objects through this medium to see as many fine details as possible. But if the atmosphere is turbulent, then the image that a ground-based telescope creates of a star or a galaxy will be blurry.

    The first solution to this problem is to select astronomical sites with the least turbulence, such as in dry, high-altitude regions. The second, more high-tech solution is to correct the remaining turbulence by using a deformable mirror, which essentially changes its shape to adjust the light that reaches the telescope and compensates for the image distortion.

    2
    Inside the UT4 of the Very Large Telescope, the four laser guide stars point to the skies during the first observations using the MUSE instrument.
    Credit: Roland Bacon/ESO

    Q: So how did you become Paranal’s Adaptive Optics Scientist?

    A: I previously worked at ESO as a postdoctoral fellow, with duties on an extreme AO instrument called SPHERE. SPHERE is a system built to detect exoplanets by direct imaging. Because planets detectable from Earth orbit close to bright stars, we needed to use adaptive optics to get very sharp images to try to detect exoplanets despite the glare of their parent stars. I gained a lot of experience by operating this complex system. In the past, I also used the NACO instrument for my scientific research, which is also equipped with AO, so I was already acquainted with the two larger AO systems in operation at Paranal at that time. This really helped me to become Paranal’s Adaptive Optics Scientist.

    Q: Paranal must be one of the most remarkable places in the world to work — what’s a working day like in the midst of the Atacama Desert?

    A: There is no typical working day, which is part of the charm of Paranal. Your activities can vary widely depending on whether you work during the day (for instance, as a day astronomer or shift coordinator), or during the night. In the day, you check the data obtained the previous night, make sure the corresponding calibrations are made, and prepare the instruments for the coming night. You also interact a lot with engineers, who use the day to perform necessary maintenance on the telescopes. When I work at night, on the other hand, I usually wake up in the afternoon and enjoy a swim in the pool or a run in the desert before getting ready for a night of observations. If we have visiting astronomers, we bring them into the control room and discuss their observation strategy. Otherwise, we interact mostly with the telescope and instrument operators — they are in charge of the telescope side of the observations, and are also experts in using the instruments. So there’s a lot of variety!

    3
    This amazing panorama shows the observing platform of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Cerro Paranal, in Chile.
    Credit: ESO/H.H. Heyer

    Q: What’s it like to live in such an extreme region?

    A: Paranal is a very special place, and the contrast between the desert and the inside makes the experience of living there unforgettable. Outside, the desert is majestic, overwhelmingly silent, with endless hills on the horizon, an intense blue sky in the day and a stunning star-studded sky at night, inviting you to think about how tiny humans are in the Universe. This is in huge contrast with the inside of the observatory, where engineers, operators, astronomers are actively working in this hive to deliver the best-quality data from the telescopes and their instruments. The desert can also be dangerous, with very dry air and high solar radiation — again in contrast with the well-organised logistics inside the observatory, making sure everyone working there feels comfortable.

    Q: You’re originally from France — is there anything you miss about home? Conversely, when you’re in France do you miss anything about Chile?

    A: Like most French people living in Chile, I miss the cheese and any French cheese specialities like raclette, fondue, and tartiflette! When I’m in France I miss “palta”, the Chilean word for avocado, which is a very common ingredient used in every kind of meal in Chile.

    Q: What’s it like to work for ESO?

    A: Through working at ESO, I’ve greatly improved my technical expertise in the wide range of instruments operating at Paranal. This has directly impacted my scientific research; it means I can write successful proposals for my own observations because I really understand the ideal conditions for each instrument I want to use.

    Working at Paranal, or more generally in an observatory, is a good opportunity to understand the complete data cycle, and I really enjoy following studies from the original idea for an observation right up until the publication of the results. At ESO I’m also lucky enough to interact with a wide range of people, from engineers to operators to visitors — so many more different kinds of professionals than if I had a job in a research institute. This means I can get to know many fascinating fields of astronomy that aren’t my own area of expertise.

    ESO bird’s eye view of the Paranal platform, elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level


    A birds-eye view of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory, located in the remote, sparsely populated Atacama Desert in northern Chile. Credit: J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl (atacamaphoto.com)/ESO

    Q: Do you still have time for your own research? If so, what are you working on?

    A: Keeping our own research up-to-date is actually part of working at ESO, so I spend about a third of my time on my own scientific research. I try to understand how planetary systems form and evolve, by looking at a particular component of most planetary systems: Kuiper belt analogues, which are also known as debris discs. I recently tried to understand why so few debris discs were detected through their scattered light — I led a survey of 55 stars believed to host such a disc, but without detection of scattered light so far. We ended up discovering several new discs, plus a low-mass companion, most likely a brown dwarf.

    Q: Tell us a bit about the algorithms you have developed to process high-contrast data.

    A: When we try to detect material around a star — for example, a disc or a planet — this material is almost always extremely faint compared to the star, which is typically a hundred thousand times brighter. For instance, one of the first exoplanets, Beta Pictoris b, was detected in 2008 but its signal was already present in images as old as 2003. The faint signal had been missed in the first place because data processing techniques at the time weren’t efficient enough to reveal it among the glare of its host star. So in order to see what’s around the star, we need to somehow remove the star’s bright halo. I develop algorithms to do this. It’s an exciting new area with a lot of room for improvement, and it allows me to express my scientific creativity by testing new ideas. It’s an area where my technical knowledge of the instruments, cameras, observation strategies, and atmospheric conditions is a real asset, allowing me to fine-tune data processing techniques.

    5
    This artist’s rendering of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) shows how the telescope’s laser guide star system (a fundamental element of any AO system) will look in action in 2024. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

    Q: The upcoming ELT will be a revolutionary telescope and will come equipped with adaptive optics. How will experience from the VLT improve adaptive optics in the future?

    A: Today, the fourth Unit Telescope of the VLT (UT4) is already a fully adaptive telescope, with a large secondary adaptive mirror. The technical experience gained by operating such a large adaptive mirror will be extremely valuable for the ELT, which will face additional challenges, especially because its primary mirror will be made up of hundreds of segments working together as a whole. Optimising the schedule and the time allocation of the science programmes on the ELT will also benefit from our experience with the AO instruments on the VLT. AO systems require very specific atmospheric conditions to work, so we’ll need time turbulence predictions and real-time schedule optimisation tools in order to avoid wasting precious ELT observation time.

    See the full article here .

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    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 European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

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

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

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

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

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope at Cerro Paranal with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    ALMA Array
    ALMA on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 metres.

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO/E-ELT to be built at Cerro Armazones at 3,060 m.

    ESO APEX
    APEX Atacama Pathfinder 5,100 meters above sea level, at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert.

    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

     
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