From Notre Dame: “Notre Dame astrophysicist confirms source of galaxy collision”

Notre Dame bloc

Notre Dame University

January 05, 2017
Brian Wallheimer

Vinicius Placco. No image credit

Vinicius Placco, a research assistant professor of astrophysics at Notre Dame, collaborated with colleagues at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics [CfA] to confirm that a massive amount of energy seen 2 billion light years from Earth stems from the collision of two galaxy clusters at the site of a giant black hole.

Placco’s work is published today in the inaugural edition of Nature Astronomy. The paper’s findings detail matter ejected by a black hole being swept into the merger of two galaxy clusters.

The black hole in one galaxy cluster shoots away much of the gas flowing toward it. The fast-moving particles receive a boost of energy from the galaxy cluster collision, creating shock waves.

Placco was able to measure the spectrum of light coming from the galaxy harboring the super-massive black hole, to prove that it belongs to the galaxy cluster pair Abell 3411-12. That was used with other data collected from NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope [GMRT] in India, and the Keck Observatory and Japan’s Subaru telescope, both on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

NASA/Chandra Telescope
NASA/Chandra Telescope

GMRT Radio Telescope, located near Pune, India
GMRT Radio Telescope, located near Pune, India

Keck Observatory, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
Keck Observatory, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

NAOJ/Subaru Telescope at Mauna Kea Hawaii, USA
NAOJ/Subaru Telescope at Mauna Kea Hawaii, USA

Placco and Rafael Santucci, a graduate student at Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, were awarded time on the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) Telescope in Chile and were making remote observations from South Bend and São Paulo. A friend from his undergraduate years at Universidade de São Paulo, Felipe Andrade-Santos, who now is a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard, asked Placco if he would use some of his time on the telescope to observe a galaxy in the direction of the Abell 3411 and Abell 3412 galaxy clusters.

NOAO/ Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR)telescope situated on Cerro Pachón - IV Región - Chile, at 2,700 meters (8,775 feet)
NOAO/ Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR)telescope situated on Cerro Pachón – IV Región – Chile, at 2,700 meters

“It can take six months to a year to get time on the telescope, and this would delay the research considerably. Since we were at the telescope, we could help the Harvard team confirm what they were expecting to see,” Placco said. “We were in the right place at the right time with the right expertise.”

Placco said it is satisfying to know that he was able to help as part of one piece of a puzzle that connected researchers on several continents and countries.

“This is what makes science interesting and appealing,” Placco said. “All of these collaborators, even though they are not in the same place all the time, they know they can count on each other and work together.”

See the full article here .

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Notre Dame Campus

The University of Notre Dame du Lac (or simply Notre Dame /ˌnoʊtərˈdeɪm/ NOH-tər-DAYM) is a Catholic research university located near South Bend, Indiana, in the United States. In French, Notre Dame du Lac means “Our Lady of the Lake” and refers to the university’s patron saint, the Virgin Mary.

The school was founded by Father Edward Sorin, CSC, who was also its first president. Today, many Holy Cross priests continue to work for the university, including as its president. It was established as an all-male institution on November 26, 1842, on land donated by the Bishop of Vincennes. The university first enrolled women undergraduates in 1972. As of 2013 about 48 percent of the student body was female.[6] Notre Dame’s Catholic character is reflected in its explicit commitment to the Catholic faith, numerous ministries funded by the school, and the architecture around campus. The university is consistently ranked one of the top universities in the United States and as a major global university.

The university today is organized into five colleges and one professional school, and its graduate program has 15 master’s and 26 doctoral degree programs.[7][8] Over 80% of the university’s 8,000 undergraduates live on campus in one of 29 single-sex residence halls, each of which fields teams for more than a dozen intramural sports, and the university counts approximately 120,000 alumni.[9]

The university is globally recognized for its Notre Dame School of Architecture, a faculty that teaches (pre-modernist) traditional and classical architecture and urban planning (e.g. following the principles of New Urbanism and New Classical Architecture).[10] It also awards the renowned annual Driehaus Architecture Prize.