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  • richardmitnick 9:35 am on February 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: All-sky spectroscopy with SDSS-V, , , , ,   

    From Science Blog from the SDSS: “SDSS-V Is Underway!” 

    SDSS Science blog bloc

    Science Blog from the SDSS

    February 21, 2018
    Gail Zasowski

    “Everything in this project makes life challenging.” “Sure, but challenges make life interesting!”

    This conversation occurred at a very special SDSS meeting in the middle of last month, and indeed no one could accuse SDSSers of ever taking it easy. More than two years before the end of SDSS-IV, plans are well underway for its successor, SDSS-V. Last month’s meeting was the first in-person gathering of the current major players since the Sloan Foundation awarded a $16M grant to the survey. However, members of the team have been working hard for three years already: identifying the most exciting science goals, simulating survey strategies, and designing new hardware, among other tasks. Dr. Juna Kollmeier, from The Carnegie Observatories, was selected as SDSS-V Director last spring, and other members of the Management Committee were chosen shortly afterwards. The core projects are now solidifying and the hardware is being prototyped. It’s an exciting (and oh so busy) time!

    The science and hardware teams listen to Director Kollmeier open the meeting, in the historic library at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, USA.

    The team published a description of the project last fall for the astronomical community, which you can find here. In summary, SDSS-V will consist of three “Mappers,” much like how SDSS-IV now consists of eBOSS, MaNGA, and APOGEE-2.

    The Milky Way Mapper will observe millions of stars in our Milky Way Galaxy and in its companion Magellanic Clouds, tabulating their motions and their compositions to study how stars form, disperse throughout space, make heavy elements, and die.

    Milky Way NASA/JPL-Caltech /ESO R. Hurt

    Large Magellanic Cloud. Adrian Pingstone December 2003

    Small Magellanic Cloud. NASA/ESA Hubble and ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2

    The team will also look for the signatures of planets and invisible companions (including black holes) around the stars. The Local Volume Mapper will measure the strength of light emitted from interstellar gas in the Milky Way, the Magellanic Clouds, the Andromeda Galaxy, and other nearby galaxies.

    Andromeda Galaxy NASA/ESA Hubble

    This emission tells us about how the gas interacts with stars (especially those that are many times the mass of the Sun) as they form and die, and about how the heavy elements that these stars make are transported throughout the galaxy into later generations of stars. The Black Hole Mapper will observe many thousands of galaxy clusters and supermassive black holes in the distant Universe. Because light from these objects left when the Universe was much younger, we can use these data to “watch” how these objects grow, change, and influence other galaxies across cosmic time.

    An artist conception of the 3D Universe that SDSS-V will explore. The Earth, in the Milky Way, is at the center, and scientists peer outwards in all directions to measure the light from nearby galaxies and distant black holes. Image Credit: Robin Dienel/OCIS.

    One of the classic symbols of SDSS is its “plates” — big disks of aluminum that hold the hand-plugged fiber optic cables up to our 2.5-meter telescopes.

    SDSS plate no image credit.

    These plates can be thought of as mini maps of the sky, with holes punched through them at the locations of the stars and galaxies we want to observe.

    But all of that is changing in SDSS-V, in two major ways. First, we’re building a couple of small telescopes to add to the ones that already exist, which the Local Volume Mapper will connect directly to six brand-new instruments for taking their measurements. Second, SDSS-V is replacing its plates with many little robots (500 of ’em!) that are able to position the fiber optic cables anywhere in the focal plane of the telescope. Unlike fibers plugged into the plates, the robots can move from target to target during an observation, allowing the survey to observe each star, quasar, or galaxy cluster only as long as needed and to be much more efficient. We’ll miss our beautiful plates, but robots are pretty cool too, right?

    All three Mappers will operate instruments in both hemispheres — on SDSS’s trusty 2.5-meter Sloan Telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, USA, and on the 2.5-meter du Pont Telescope and the new small telescopes at

    Carnegie Las Campanas Observatory in the southern Atacama Desert of Chile in the Atacama Region approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) northeast of the city of La Serena,near the southern end and over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high

    in Chile.

    Carnegie Las Campanas Dupont telescope, Atacama Desert, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) northeast of the city of La Serena,Chile

    (SDSS-IV has already established an important presence at Las Campanas.) By using both sites, SDSS-V will have a spectroscopic view of the entire sky, because no single place on Earth can see everything. Even though each Mapper has different science goals, SDSS scientists from all of the Mappers will continue to meet together regularly and share results, because we’re all interested in the same Universe!

    SDSS-V can’t happen without the support of member institutions, though. So if you are (or if you know) an astronomer who wants to be part of making it happen and have early access to the data and the global network of collaborators within SDSS, talk to your chair or director, and let us know how we can help!

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point Observatory, near Sunspot NM, USA, Altitude 2,788 meters (9,147 ft)

    After nearly a decade of design and construction, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey saw first light on its giant mosaic camera in 1998 and entered routine operations in 2000. While the collaboration and scope of the SDSS have changed over the years, many of its key principles have stayed fixed: the use of highly efficient instruments and software to enable astronomical surveys of unprecedented scientific reach, a commitment to creating high quality public data sets, and investigations that draw on the full range of expertise in a large international collaboration. The generous support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has been crucial in all phases of the SDSS, alongside support from the Participating Institutions and national funding agencies in the U.S. and other countries.

    The Sloan Digital Sky Survey has created the most detailed three-dimensional maps of the Universe ever made, with deep multi-color images of one third of the sky, and spectra for more than three million astronomical objects.

    In its first five years of operations, the SDSS carried out deep multi-color imaging over 8000 square degrees and measured spectra of more than 700,000 celestial objects. With an ever-growing collaboration, SDSS-II (2005-2008) completed the original survey goals of imaging half the northern sky and mapping the 3-dimensional clustering of one million galaxies and 100,000 quasars. SDSS-II carried out two additional surveys: the Supernova Survey, which discovered and monitored hundreds of supernovae to measure the expansion history of the universe, and the Sloan Extension for Galactic Understanding and Exploration (SEGUE), which extended SDSS imaging towards the plane of the Galaxy and mapped the motions and composition of more than a quarter million Milky Way stars.

    SDSS-III (2008-2014) undertook a major upgrade of the venerable SDSS spectrographs and added two powerful new instruments to execute an interweaved set of four surveys, mapping the clustering of galaxies and intergalactic gas in the distant universe (BOSS), the dynamics and chemical evolution of the Milky Way (SEGUE-2 and APOGEE), and the population of extra-solar giant planets (MARVELS).

    The latest generation of the SDSS (SDSS-IV, 2014-2020) is extending precision cosmological measurements to a critical early phase of cosmic history (eBOSS), expanding its revolutionary infrared spectroscopic survey of the Galaxy in the northern and southern hemispheres (APOGEE-2), and for the first time using the Sloan spectrographs to make spatially resolved maps of individual galaxies (MaNGA).

    This is the “Science blog” of the SDSS. Here you’ll find short descriptions of interesting scientific research and discoveries from the SDSS. We’ll also update on activities of the collaboration in public engagement and other arenas. We’d love to see your comments and questions about what you read here!

    You can explore more on the SDSS Website.

  • richardmitnick 8:42 am on November 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: All-sky spectroscopy with SDSS-V, , , , ,   

    From astrobites: “All-sky spectroscopy with SDSS-V” 

    Astrobites bloc


    Title: SDSS V: Pioneering Panoptic Spectroscopy
    Authors: Juna A. Kollmeier, Gail Zasowski, Hans-Walter Rix, et al.
    First Author’s Institution: Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington, DC

    Status: submitted to arXiv, open access

    “Our human eyes are the tools that peek at the secrets of the night sky”, so said the ancient Chinese astronomers who witnessed the supernova of the Crab Nebula in 1054 AD. But the heavens only truly light up through the lenses of telescopes, allowing us not only to peer into, but also to peel away, the mysteries of our Universe. We started out in 1609 with Galileo’s 37 mm refracting telescope, proceeded to Newton’s 150 mm reflecting telescope in 1668, and leapfrogged to William Herschel’s 49 inch (125 cm) reflector in 1789, which held the record as the world’s largest telescope for the next 50 years. Two hundred years later, not only do we have artificial eyes in space constantly staring deeper into the infancy of the Universe, we also have all sky maps in various wavelengths of light and larger telescopes from the ground, with bigger and more ambitious programs already lined up for the next five to ten years. As an astronomer in training, I never fail to be amazed by the giant leaps we have made over the course of human history.

    Even so, we are still only scratching the surface.

    Astronomers are not strangers to sky surveys. Among the tens of sky surveys, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is probably the king of them all, having been in operation since 2000, with WISE and ROSAT chasing its tail for being truly all-sky.

    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point Observatory, NM, USA, Altitude 2,788 meters (9,147 ft)

    NASA/WISE Telescope

    DLR/NASA ROSAT satellite

    However, all surveys to date, both full- and partial-sky, have been imaging surveys. There is no yet a full-sky spectroscopic survey — at least not until SDSS-V.

    Figure 1: A schematic of SDSS-V, an all-sky spectroscopic survey. The main science programs are the Milky Way Mapper, the Black Hole Mapper, and the Local Volume Mapper. Observations will be carried out in both hemispheres using telescopes at the Apache Point and Las Campanas Observatories. [Figure 1 in paper]

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

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    What do we do?

    Astrobites is a daily astrophysical literature journal written by graduate students in astronomy. Our goal is to present one interesting paper per day in a brief format that is accessible to undergraduate students in the physical sciences who are interested in active research.
    Why read Astrobites?

    Reading a technical paper from an unfamiliar subfield is intimidating. It may not be obvious how the techniques used by the researchers really work or what role the new research plays in answering the bigger questions motivating that field, not to mention the obscure jargon! For most people, it takes years for scientific papers to become meaningful.
    Our goal is to solve this problem, one paper at a time. In 5 minutes a day reading Astrobites, you should not only learn about one interesting piece of current work, but also get a peek at the broader picture of research in a new area of astronomy.

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