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  • richardmitnick 1:11 pm on July 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ALMA, , U Manchester, NGC 4945   

    From U Manchester: “Astronomers Uncover Hidden Stellar Birthplace” 

    U Manchester bloc

    University of Manchester

    26 July, 2016
    Joe Paxton

    1
    No image caption. No image credit.

    A team of astronomers from the University of Manchester, the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy and the University of Bonn have uncovered a hidden stellar birthplace in a nearby spiral galaxy, using a telescope in Chile. The results show that the speed of star formation in the centre of the galaxy – and other galaxies like it – may be much higher than previously thought.

    The team penetrated the thick dust around the centre of galaxy NGC 4945 using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), a single telescope made up of 66 high precision antennas located 5000 metres above sea level in northern Chile.

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

    Astronomers typically look for ultraviolet light or infrared emissions from the brightest, hottest, and bluest stars. The places where stars form are often surrounded by interstellar dust that absorbs the ultraviolet and visible light from the hot blue stars, making it difficult to see where stars are forming. However, the interstellar dust gets warmer when it absorbs light and produces infrared radiation.

    NGC 4945 is unusual because the interstellar dust is so dense that it even absorbs the infrared light that it produces, meaning that astronomers find it hard to know what is happening in the centre of the galaxy. However, ALMA is able to see through even the thickest interstellar dust.

    “When we looked at the galaxy with ALMA, its centre was ten times brighter than we would have anticipated based on the mid-infrared image. It was so bright that I asked one of my collaborators to check my calculations just to make sure that I hadn’t made an error.”
    Dr. George J. Bendo

    “While it looks very dusty and very bright in the infrared compared to the Milky Way or other nearby spiral galaxies, it is very similar to other infrared-bright starburst galaxies that are more common in the more distant universe. If other astronomers are trying to look at star formation using infrared light, they might be missing a lot of what’s happening if the star forming regions are as obscured as in NGC 4945.”

    Fellow collaborator Professor Gary Fuller, also from the University of Manchester, added: “These results demonstrate the remarkable power of ALMA to study star formation which would otherwise be hidden.”

    See the full article here .

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    U Manchester campus

    The University of Manchester (UoM) is a public research university in the city of Manchester, England, formed in 2004 by the merger of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (renamed in 1966, est. 1956 as Manchester College of Science and Technology) which had its ultimate origins in the Mechanics’ Institute established in the city in 1824 and the Victoria University of Manchester founded by charter in 1904 after the dissolution of the federal Victoria University (which also had members in Leeds and Liverpool), but originating in Owens College, founded in Manchester in 1851. The University of Manchester is regarded as a red brick university, and was a product of the civic university movement of the late 19th century. It formed a constituent part of the federal Victoria University between 1880, when it received its royal charter, and 1903–1904, when it was dissolved.

    The University of Manchester is ranked 33rd in the world by QS World University Rankings 2015-16. In the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities, Manchester is ranked 41st in the world and 5th in the UK. In an employability ranking published by Emerging in 2015, where CEOs and chairmen were asked to select the top universities which they recruited from, Manchester placed 24th in the world and 5th nationally. The Global Employability University Ranking conducted by THE places Manchester at 27th world-wide and 10th in Europe, ahead of academic powerhouses such as Cornell, UPenn and LSE. It is ranked joint 56th in the world and 18th in Europe in the 2015-16 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, Manchester came fifth in terms of research power and seventeenth for grade point average quality when including specialist institutions. More students try to gain entry to the University of Manchester than to any other university in the country, with more than 55,000 applications for undergraduate courses in 2014 resulting in 6.5 applicants for every place available. According to the 2015 High Fliers Report, Manchester is the most targeted university by the largest number of leading graduate employers in the UK.

    The university owns and operates major cultural assets such as the Manchester Museum, Whitworth Art Gallery, John Rylands Library and Jodrell Bank Observatory which includes the Grade I listed Lovell Telescope.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:12 am on July 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, , , , , The Role of Magnetic Fields in Star-Formation   

    From CfA: “The Role of Magnetic Fields in Star-Formation” 

    Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
    Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

    July 1, 2016
    No writer credit

    1
    A false-color far-infrared image of the star forming region W43; the contours are for molecular gas density. The subregion MM1 located just left of center in not conspicuous in the image but is the site of massive star formation and fragmentation. A new study has mapped the magnetic fields in this region, and found they are not strong enough to prevent further gravitational collapse. ESA/Herschel and L.Q. Nguyen et al.

    The star forming molecular clump W43-MM1 is very massive and dense, containing about 2100 solar-masses of material in a region only one-third of a light-year across (for comparison, the nearest star to the Sun is a bit over four light-years away). Previous observations of this clump found evidence for infalling motions (signaling that material is still accumulating onto a new star) and weak magnetic fields. These fields are detected by looking for polarized light, which is produced when radiation scatters off of elongated dust grains aligned by magnetic fields. The Submillimeter Array recently probed this source with high spatial resolutions and found evidence for even stronger magnetic fields in places. One of the outstanding issues in star formation is the extent to which magnetic fields inhibit the collapse of material onto stars, and this source seems to offer a particularly useful example.

    CfA astronomers Josep Girart and TK Sridharan and their colleagues have used the ALMA submillimeter facility to obtain images with spatial scales as small as 0.03 light-years. Their detailed polarization maps show that the magnetic field is well ordered all across the clump, which itself is actually fifteen smaller fragments, one of which (at 312 solar-masses) appears to be the most massive fragment known.

    The scientists analyze the magnetic field strengths and show that, even in the least massive fragment the field is not strong enough to inhibit gravitational collapse. In fact, they find indications that gravity, as it pulls material inward, drags the magnetic field lines along. They are, however, unable to rule out possible further fragmentation. The research is the most precise study of magnetic fields in star forming massive clumps yet undertaken, and provides a new reference point for theoretical models.

    Reference(s):

    Interferometric Mapping of Magnetic Fields: The ALMA View of the Massive Star-forming Clump W43-MM1, Paulo C. Cortes, Josep M. Girart, Charles L. H. Hull, Tirupati K. Sridharan, Fabien Louvet, Richard Plambeck, Zhi-Yun Li, Richard M. Crutcher, and Shih-Ping Lai, ApJ 825, L15, 2016.

    See the full article here .

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    About CfA

    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. The long relationship between the two organizations, which began when the SAO moved its headquarters to Cambridge in 1955, was formalized by the establishment of a joint center in 1973. The CfA’s history of accomplishments in astronomy and astrophysics is reflected in a wide range of awards and prizes received by individual CfA scientists.

    Today, some 300 Smithsonian and Harvard scientists cooperate in broad programs of astrophysical research supported by Federal appropriations and University funds as well as contracts and grants from government agencies. These scientific investigations, touching on almost all major topics in astronomy, are organized into the following divisions, scientific departments and service groups.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:12 pm on July 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, ALMA Observes First Protoplanetary Water Snow Line Thanks to Stellar Outburst, , , ,   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Observes First Protoplanetary Water Snow Line Thanks to Stellar Outburst” 

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

    13 July 2016
    Lucas Cieza
    Universidad Diego Portales
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56 22 676 8154
    Cell: +56 95 000 6541
    Email: lucas.cieza@mail.udp.cl

    Nicolás Lira T.
    Education and Public Outreach Coordinator
    Joint ALMA Observatory
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56 2 24 67 65 19
    Cell: +56 9 94 45 77 26
    Email: nicolas.lira@alma.cl

    Richard Hook
    Public Information Officer, ESO

    Garching bei München, Germany

    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655

    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    Charles E. Blue
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
    Tel: +1 434 296 0314
    Cell: +1 202 236 6324
    E-mail: cblue@nrao.edu

    Masaaki Hiramatsu

    Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
    Observatory
Tokyo, Japan

    Tel: +81 422 34 3630

    E-mail: hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

    1
    Artist impression of the water snowline around the young star V883 Orionis, as detected with ALMA. Credit: A. Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF)/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO).

    New observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have produced the first image of a water snow line within a protoplanetary disk. This line marks where the temperature in the disk surrounding a young star drops sufficiently low for snow to form. A dramatic increase in the brightness of the young star V883 Orionis flash heated the inner portion of the disk, pushing the water snow line out to a far greater distance than is normal for a protostar, and making it possible to observe it for the first time. The results will be published in the journal Nature on July 14, 2016.

    2
    Image of the planet-forming disc around the young star V883 Orionis was obtained by ALMA in long-baseline mode. This star is currently in outburst, which has pushed the water snow line further from the star and allowed it to be detected for the first time. The dark ring midway through the disc is the water snowline, the point from the star where the temperature and pressure dip low enough for water ice to form. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/L. Cieza.

    Young stars are often surrounded by dense, rotating disks of gas and dust, known as protoplanetary disks, from which planets are born. Snow lines are the regions in those disks where the temperature reaches the sublimation point for most of the volatile molecules. In the inner disk regions, inside water snow lines, water is vaporized, while outside these lines, in the outer disk, water is found frozen in the form of snow. These lines are so important that they define the basic architecture of planetary systems like our own [1] and are usually located for a typical solar-type star at around 3 au from the star [2].

    However, the recent ALMA observations, to be published in Nature, show that the water snow line in V883 Orionis is currently at more than 40 au of the central star (corresponding to Neptune’s orbit in our system), greatly facilitating its detection [3]. This star is only thirty percent more massive than the Sun, but its luminosity is 400 times brighter as it’s currently experiencing what is known as a FU Ori outburst, a sudden increase in temperature and luminosity due to large amounts of material being transferred from the disk to the star [4]. This explains the displaced location of its water snow line: the disk has been flash-heated by the stellar outburst.

    Lead author Lucas Cieza explains: “The ALMA observations came as a surprise to us. Our observations were designed to look for disk fragmentation leading to planet formation. We saw none of that; instead, we found what looks like a ring at 40 au. This illustrates well the transformational power of ALMA, which delivers exciting results even if they are not the ones we were looking for.”

    The discovery that these outbursts may blast the water snow line to about 10 times its typical radius is very significant for the development of good planetary formation models. Such outbursts are believed to be a stage in the evolution of most planetary systems, so this may be the first observation of a common occurrence. In that case, this observation from ALMA could contribute significantly to a better understanding of how planets form and evolve throughout the Universe.

    3
    This illustration shows how the outburst of the young star V883 Orionis has displaced the water snowline much further out from the star, and rendered it detectable with ALMA. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/L. Cieza.

    4
    This image of the planet-forming disc around the young star V883 Orionis was obtained by ALMA in long-baseline mode. This star is currently in outburst, which has pushed the water snow line further from the star and allowed it to be detected for the first time. The dark ring midway through the disc is the water snowline, the point from the star where the temperature and pressure dip low enough for water ice to form. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/L. Cieza.

    Notes

    [1] In the solar nebula – which gave birth to our Solar System – this line was between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter during the formation of the Solar System, hence the rocky planets Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars formed within the line, and the gaseous planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune formed outside.

    [2] 1 au, or one astronomical unit, is the mean distance between the Earth and the Sun, around 149.6 million kilometers. This unit is typically used to describe distances measured within the Solar System and planetary systems around other stars.

    [3] Resolution is the ability to discern that objects are separate. To the human eye, several bright torches at a distance would seem like a single glowing spot, and only at closer quarters would each torch be distinguishable. The same principle applies to telescopes, and these new observations have exploited the exquisite resolution of ALMA in its long baseline modes. The resolution of ALMA at the distance of V883 Orionis is about 12 au — enough to resolve the water snow line at 40 au in this outbursting system, but not for a typical young star.

    [4] Stars are believed to acquire most of their mass during these short but intense accretion events.

    Additional information

    These observation results were published in a paper entitled “Imaging the water snow-line during a protostellar outburst” to appear in the journal Nature on 14 July, 2016.

    The research team is composed of Lucas A. Cieza [1,2], Simón Casassus [2,3], John Tobin [4], Steven Bos [4], Jonathan P. Williams [5], Sebastián Pérez [2,3], Zhaohuan Zhu [6], Claudio Cáceres [2,7], Héctor Cánovas [2,7], Michael M. Dunham [8], Antonio Hales [9], José L. Prieto [1], David A. Príncipe [1,2], Matthias R. Schreiber [2,7], Dary Ruiz-Rodríguez [10] and Alice Zurlo [1,2,3].

    [1] Núcleo de Astronomía, Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile.

    [2] Millenium Nucleus “Protoplanetary Disks in ALMA Early Science”, Santiago, Chile.

    [3] Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

    [4] Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.

    [5] Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, USA.

    [6] Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, USA.

    [7] Departamento de Física y Astronomía, Universidad de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile.

    [8] Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA.


    [9] Joint ALMA Observatory, Santiago, Chile.

    [10] Australian National University, Mount Stromlo Observatory, Canberra, Australia.

    See the full article here .

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    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.

    ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

    NRAO Small

    ESO 50

    NAOJ

     
  • richardmitnick 10:00 am on July 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, ALMA finds a swirling cool jet that reveals a growing supermassive black hole, , , ONSALA,   

    From ONSALA: “ALMA finds a swirling cool jet that reveals a growing supermassive black hole” 

    1

    ONSALA

    7.4.16
    No writer credit found

    1
    1.Alma’s close-up view of the centre of galaxy NGC 1377 (upper left) reveals a swirling jet. In this colour-coded image, reddish gas clouds are moving away from us, bluish clouds towards us, relative to the galaxy’s centre. The Alma image shows light with wavelength around one millimetre from molecules of carbon monoxide (CO). A cartoon view (lower right) shows how these clouds are moving, this time seen from the side. ​CTIO/H. Roussel et al./ESO (left panel); Alma/ESO/NRAO/S. Aalto (top right panel); S. Aalto (lower right panel)

    A Chalmers-led team of astronomers have used the Alma telescope to make the surprising discovery of a jet of cool, dense gas in the centre of a galaxy located 70 million light years from Earth. The jet, with its unusual, swirling structure, gives new clues to a long-standing astronomical mystery – how supermassive black holes grow.

    A team of astronomers led by Susanne Aalto, professor of radio astronomy at Chalmers, has used the Alma telescope (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) to observe a remarkable structure in the centre of the galaxy NGC 1377, located 70 million light years from Earth in the constellation Eridanus (the River).

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

    The results are presented in a paper published in the June 2016 issue of the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

    “We were curious about this galaxy because of its bright, dust-enshrouded centre. What we weren’t expecting was this: a long, narrow jet streaming out from the galaxy nucleus”, says Susanne Aalto.

    2
    2. Alma’s close-up view of the centre of galaxy NGC 1377 reveals a swirling jet. In this colour-coded image, reddish gas clouds are moving away from us, bluish clouds towards us, relative to the galaxy’s centre. The image shows light with wavelength around one millimetre from molecules of carbon monoxide (CO).
    Image credit: ALMA/ESO/NRAO/S. Aalto & F. Costagliola

    The observations with Alma reveal a jet which is 500 light years long and less than 60 light years across, travelling at speeds of at least 800 000 kilometres per hour (500 000 miles per hour).

    Most galaxies have a supermassive black hole in their centres; these black holes can have masses of between a few million to a billion solar masses. How they grew to be so massive is a long-standing mystery for scientists.

    A black hole’s presence can be seen indirectly by telescopes when matter is falling into it – a process which astronomers call “accretion”. Jets of fast-moving material are typical signatures that a black hole is growing by accreting matter. The jet in NGC 1377 reveals the presence of a supermassive black hole. But it has even more to tell us, explains Francesco Costagliola (Chalmers and ORA-INAF, Italy), co-author on the paper.

    3
    3. This cartoon view shows how the clouds of material that make up the jet are moving outward from the central black hole, this time seen from the side. Red colours show clouds that are moving away from us, and blue colours show clouds that are moving towards us, relative to the black hole in the galaxy’s centre.
    Image credit: S. Aalto

    “The jets we usually see emerging from galaxy nuclei are very narrow tubes of hot plasma. This jet is very different. Instead it’s extremely cool, and its light comes from dense gas composed of molecules”, he says.

    The jet has ejected molecular gas equivalent to two million times the mass of the Sun over a period of only around half a million years – a very short time in the life of a galaxy. During this short and dramatic phase in the galaxy’s evolution, its central, supermassive black hole must have grown fast.

    “Black holes that cause powerful narrow jets can grow slowly by accreting hot plasma. The black hole in NGC1377, on the other hand, is on a diet of cold gas and dust, and can therefore grow – at least for now – at a much faster rate”, explains team member Jay Gallagher (University of Wisconsin-Madison).

    The motion of the gas in the jet also surprised the astronomers. The measurements with Alma are consistent with a jet that is precessing – swirling outwards like water from a garden sprinkler.

    “The jet’s unusual swirling could be due to an uneven flow of gas towards the central black hole. Another possibility is that the galaxy’s centre contains two supermassive black holes in orbit around each other”, says Sebastien Muller, Chalmers, also a member of the team.

    The discovery of the remarkable cool, swirling jet from the centre of this galaxy would have been impossible without Alma, concludes Susanne Aalto.

    “Alma’s unique ability to detect and measure cold gas is revolutionising our understanding of galaxies and their central black holes. In NGC 1377 we’re witnessing a transient stage in a galaxy’s evolution which will help us understand the most rapid and important growth phases of supermassive black holes, and the life cycle of galaxies in the universe”, she says.

    More about the research

    This research is presented in the article A precessing molecular jet signaling an obscured, growing supermassive black hole in NGC 1377?, published in the June 2016 issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics (http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201527664).

    The team is composed of Susanne Aalto (Chalmers), Francesco Costagliola (Chalmers and ORA-INAF, Italy), Sebastien Muller (Chalmers), K, Sakamoto (Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan), Jay S. Gallagher (Department of Astronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison), K. Dasyra (National and Kapodistrian​ University of Athens, Greece), K. Wada (Kagoshima University, Japan), F. Combes (Paris Observatory, France), S. Garcia-Burillo (Observatorio Astronomico Nacional (OAN)-Observatorio de Madrid, Spain), L. E. Kristensen (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA), S. Martin (European Southern Observatory, Joint Alma Observatory and IRAM, France), P. van der Werf (Leiden Observatory, Netherlands), A. S. Evans (University of Virginia and Virginia and National Radio Astronomy Observatory, USA) and J. Kotilainen (Finnish Centre for Astronomy with ESO (FINCA), University of Turku, Finland).

    See the full article here .

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    Onsala 20 meter telescope exterior Sweden
    Onsala 20 meter telescope Sweden

    Onsala Space Observatory (OSO), the Swedish National Facility for Radio Astronomy, provides scientists with equipment to study the Earth and the rest of the Universe. We operate several radio telescopes in Onsala, 45 km south of Göteborg, and take part in international projects. The observatory is a geodetic fundamental station. Examples of facilities and activities:

    The 20 and 25 m telescopes in Onsala: Studies of the birth and death of stars, and of molecules in the Milky Way and other galaxies.
    The LOFAR station in Onsala: One part of an international network of antennas for studies of, e.g., the early history of the Universe.
    VLBI: Telescopes in different countries are linked together for better resolution (“sharper images”) and for measurements of the Earth.
    SKA: Developing technology for the world’s largest radio telescope.
    APEX: Radio telescope in Chile for sub-millimetre waves. Research about everything from planets to the structure of the Universe.
    ALMA: Using and developing the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile.
    Space geodesy: Radio telescopes (VLBI), satellites (e.g., GPS), gravimeters and tide gauges are used to measure, e.g., Earth’s rotation, movements in Earth’s crust, sea level, and water vapour in the atmosphere.
    Time keeping: Two hydrogen maser clocks and one cesium clock contribute to establishing the official Swedish time and international time.
    SALSA: Small radio telescopes in Onsala for educational purposes.
    Receiver development: Laboratories for development of sensitive radio receivers.

    Onsala Space Observatory is hosted by Department of Earth and Space Sciences at Chalmers University of Technology, and is operated on behalf of the Swedish Research Council. There are particularly strong links to the Department’s research groups in Advanced receiver development, Radio astronomy and astrophysics, Space geodesy and geodynamics, and Global environmental measurements and modelling.

    The observatory was founded in 1949 by professor Olof Rydbeck.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:38 am on July 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, ALMA discovers dew drops surrounding dusty spider’s web, , , ,   

    From RAS: “ALMA discovers dew drops surrounding dusty spider’s web” 

    Royal Astronomical Society

    Royal Astronomical Society

    01 July 2016
    Media contacts

    Dr Robert Massey
    Royal Astronomical Society
    Mob: +44 (0)7802 877 699
    rm@ras.org.uk

    Ms Anita Heward
    Royal Astronomical Society
    Mob: +44 (0)7756 034 243
    anitaheward@btinternet.com

    Science contacts

    Dr Bitten Gullberg
    Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy
    Durham University
    bitten.gullberg@durham.ac.uk

    1`
    The Spiderweb Galaxy as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope (optical) in red, the Very Large Array (radio) in green and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (sub-millimetre) in blue. The red colour shows where the stars are located within this system of galaxies. The radio jet is shown in green, and the position of the dust and water are seen in blue. The water is located to the left and right of the central galaxy. The water to the right is at the position where the radio jet bends down wards. The dust is also seen in blue. The dust is located at the central galaxy and in smaller companion galaxies in its surroundings. Credit: NASA/ESA/HST/STScI/NRAO/ESO/

    Astronomers have spotted glowing droplets of condensed water in the distant Spiderweb Galaxy – but not where they expected to find them. Detections with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) show that the water is located far out in the galaxy and therefore cannot be associated with central, dusty, star-forming regions, as previously thought.

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

    The results will be presented at the National Astronomy Meeting 2016 in Nottingham by Dr Bitten Gullberg on Friday 1st July.

    “Observations of light emitted by water and by dust often go hand-in-hand. We usually interpret them as an insight into star-forming regions, with the illumination from young stars warming dust particles and water molecules until they start to glow. Now, thanks to the power of ALMA, we can — for the first time — separate out the emissions from the dust and water populations, and pinpoint their exact origins in the galaxy. The results are quite unexpected in that we’ve found that the water is located nowhere near the dusty stellar nurseries,” explained Dr Gullberg, of the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, Durham University, UK.

    The Spiderweb Galaxy is one of the most massive galaxies known. It lies 10 billion light-years away and is made up of dozens of star-forming galaxies in the process of merging together. The ALMA observations show that the light from the dust originates in the Spiderweb Galaxy itself. However, the light from the water is concentrated in two regions far to the east and west of the galaxy core.

    Gullberg and her colleagues believe that the explanation lies with powerful jets of radio waves that are ejected from a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Spiderweb Galaxy. The radio jets compress clouds of gas along their path and heat up water molecules contained within the clouds until they emit radiation.

    “Our results show how important it is to pinpoint the exact locations and origins for light in galaxies. We may also have new clues to the processes that trigger star formation in interstellar clouds,” said Gullberg. “Stars are born out of cold, dense molecular gas. The regions in the Spiderweb where we’ve detected water are currently too hot for stars to form. But the interaction with the radio jets changes the composition of the gas clouds. When the molecules have cooled down again, it will be possible for the seeds of new stars to form. These “dew drop” regions could become the next stellar nurseries in this massive, complex galaxy.”

    Further information

    ALMA Finds Dew Drops in the Dusty Spider’s Web, Bitten Gullberg et al, February 2016, Astronomy & Astrophysics: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1602.04823v1.pdf

    See the full article here .

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    The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:28 pm on July 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, ALMA Uses ‘Double Vision’ to Study Galaxy’s Gaseous Ingredients, , ,   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Uses ‘Double Vision’ to Study Galaxy’s Gaseous Ingredients” 

    ALMA Array

    ALMA

    01 July 2016
    Nicolás Lira T.
    Education and Public Outreach Coordinator
    Joint ALMA Observatory
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56 2 24 67 65 19
    Cell: +56 9 94 45 77 26
    Email: nicolas.lira@alma.cl

    Charles E. Blue
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
    Tel: +1 434 296 0314
    Cell: +1 202 236 6324
    E-mail: cblue@nrao.edu

    Richard Hook
    Public Information Officer, ESO

    Garching bei München, Germany

    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655

    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    Masaaki Hiramatsu

    Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
    Observatory
Tokyo, Japan

    Tel: +81 422 34 3630

    E-mail: hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

    1
    Composite ALMA and optical image showing glowing emission from carbon monoxide (red) in galaxy PKS0439_008_04. The more distant quasar, PKS0439-433 (central blue feature), revealed through absorption in the visible spectrum the presence of an extended, diffuse halo of molecular gas surrounding the galaxy. The optical data are from the Irénée du Pont Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory. Credit: Neeleman et al.; ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF); H.-W. Chen, Carnegie Observatories.

    Las Campanas Dupont telescope exterior,Atacama Desert, Chile
    Las Campanas Dupont telescope interior
    Carnegie Las Campanas Dupont telescope, Atacama Desert, Chile

    Researchers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) combined two techniques for the first time to achieve the most comprehensive study to date of molecular gas in a galaxy. They observed the emission of the very nearby galaxy PKS0439_008_04 and, at the same time, the absorption of a far quasar on a direct line of sight with the galaxy.

    Astronomers usually study molecular gas —the fuel for star formation— using one of two methods: either by investigating a galaxy’s “emission” or its “absorption.” The former technique involves looking at the natural radio emission from the gas that permeates the galaxy and its expansive halo. The latter method examines the light from more distant objects, like a bright quasar, that gets absorbed as it passes through the galaxy.

    This work constitutes the most comprehensive study of molecular gas in a galaxy to date. “Previously, quasar absorption studies ‘blinded’ telescopes to the less intense and much more diffuse emission signal from the galaxy,” said Marcel Neeleman, with the University of California’s Lick Observatory and lead author on a paper published in Astrophysical Journal Letters. In this study, astronomers were able to directly detect the faint emission signal from carbon monoxide in the galaxy.

    By comparing this emission to the absorption signal from the quasar, the researchers found that the strongest absorption did not occur in the disk of the galaxy. Instead, most of the quasar’s light was absorbed by the diffuse gas surrounding the galaxy—gas that would be nearly impossible to detect through other means.

    The astronomers’ results suggest that far from the galaxy, there is a significant amount of molecular gas that is not actually part of the galaxy, but bound to it. “We may be witnessing the recycling of material that, in a few billion years, will again trigger a burst of star formation,” concluded Neeleman.

    The nearby galaxy, known as PKS0439_008_04, is approximately 1.4 billion light-years from Earth. The more distant quasar, PKS0439-433, is approximately 7.3 billion light-years from Earth. Both are in the direction of the constellation Caelum.

    Additional information

    These observation results were published as Neeleman et al. First Connection between Cold Gas in Emission and Absorption: CO Emission from a Galaxy-Quasar Pair, in the Astrophysical Journal of Letters, April 2016. (Preprint: https://arxiv.org/abs/1604.05720).
    The team is composed of Marcel Neeleman [1], J. Xavier Prochaska [1], Martin A. Zwaan [2], Nissim Kanekar [3], Lise Christensen [4], Miroslava Dessauges-Zavadsky [5], Johan P.U. Fynbo [4], Eelco van Kampen [2], Palle Møller [2] and Tayyaba Zafar [6].

    [1] Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, UCO/Lick Ob- servatory, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA.

    [2] European Southern Observatory, Garching bei München, Germany.

    [3] Swarnajayanti Fellow; National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Pune, India.

    [4] Dark Cosmology Centre, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

    [5] Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, Sauverny, Switzerland.

    [6] Australian Astronomical Observatory, North Ryde, Australia.

    See the full article here .

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    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.

    ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

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  • richardmitnick 9:23 am on June 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, ALMA Discovers a Rotating Ring of Complex Organic Molecules, , ,   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Discover[s] a Rotating Ring of Complex Organic Molecules” 

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

    ALMA

    28 June 2016
    Nicolás Lira T.
    Education and Public Outreach Coordinator
    Joint ALMA Observatory
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56 2 24 67 65 19
    Cell: +56 9 94 45 77 26
    Email: nicolas.lira@alma.cl

    Masaaki Hiramatsu

    Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
    Observatory
Tokyo, Japan

    Tel: +81 422 34 3630

    E-mail: hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

    Richard Hook
    Public Information Officer, ESO

    Garching bei München, Germany

    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655

    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    Charles E. Blue
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
    Tel: +1 434 296 0314
    Cell: +1 202 236 6324
    E-mail: cblue@nrao.edu

    1
    Figure 1. (Upper panel) A schematic illustration of the infalling gas around the protostar. A disk structure with a radius of about 50 AU exists around the protostar. The disk in turn is surrounded by an envelope of gas extended over a 200 AU scale. OCS exists in the envelope gas, while methyl formate mainly exists in the boundary area between the envelope gas and the disk structure. (Lower left) Intensity distribution of methyl formate (HCOOCH3) observed with ALMA. A structure elongated along A-B can be seen centered on the position of the protostar. Methyl formate is located within 50 AU from the protostar. (Lower right) Intensity distribution of OCS (carbonyl sulfide) observed with ALMA. A structure elongated along A-B can be seen centered on the position of the protostar position, similar to the case of OCS. However the distribution of OCS (~200 AU) is more extended than that of methyl formate. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Oya et al.

    Researchers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered a rotating ring containing large organic molecules around a protostar. This observation definitively shows that organic materials formed in interstellar space are brought into the planet-forming region. Researchers also found that the molecular species brought into the planet-forming region vary from one protostar to another. Chemical composition is a new way to answer the long-standing question of whether or not the Solar System is a typical example of a planetary system.

    Astronomers have long known that organic molecules form in diffuse gas clouds floating between stars. It is thought that as the Solar System formed 4.6 billion years ago, some of these organic molecules were transported from interstellar space to the planet forming disk. Later, these molecules played important roles in the chemical evolution resulting in the emergence of life on the Earth. However, it is still unknown what kinds and quantities of organic molecules were actually supplied from interstellar space. Although radio astronomy observations during the last decade showed that saturated complex organic molecules, such as methanol (CH3OH) and methyl formate (HCOOCH3) [1], exist around Solar-type protostars, their distributions were too compact to be resolved with the radio telescopes available at the time.

    An international team led by Yoko Oya, a graduate student from the Department of Physics at the University of Tokyo, and Nami Sakai, an associate chief scientist of RIKEN, studied with ALMA the distribution of various organic molecules around a Solar-type protostar, IRAS 16293-2422A, at a high spatial resolution. They discovered a ring structure of complex organic molecules around the protostar. The radius of the ring is 50 times wider than the Earth’s orbit. This size is comparable to the size of the Solar System, and the ring structure most likely represents the boundary region between infalling gas and a rotating disk structure around the protostar.

    The observations clearly showed the distribution of large organic molecules methyl formate (HCOOCH3) and carbonyl sulfide (OCS). Apparently the distribution of methyl formate is confined in a more compact area around the protostar than the OCS distribution, which mainly traces the infalling gas. “When we measured the motion of the gas containing methyl formate by using the Doppler effect,” said Oya, “we found a clear rotation motion specific to the ring structure.” In this way, they identified the rotating ring structure of methyl formate, although it is not resolved spatially. A similar ring structure is also found for methanol.

    These saturated organic molecules are formed in interstellar space and are preserved on the surfaces of dust grains. Around the outer boundary of the disk structure, they evaporate due to shock generated by collisions of the disk and infalling material, and/or due to heating by the light from the baby star. This result is the first direct evidence that interstellar organic materials are indeed fed into the rotating disk structure that eventually forms a planetary system.

    2
    Figure 2. (Upper Left) Velocity structure of methyl formate observed along the A-B axis. The abscissa is the position along the A-B axis shown in Figure 1, while the ordinate is the line-of-sight velocity of methyl formate. Positive velocity means that the gas is going away from the observer, while negative velocity means that the gas is approaching the observer. The velocity on the A side is the opposite of that on the B side. (Lower Left) The above features can be interpreted as the rotating ring shown here schematically. Based on molecular velocity information, methyl formate is found to exist in the rotating ring. The size of the ring is about 50 AU, which corresponds to the boundary between the infalling gas and the disk structure. (Upper Right) Velocity structure of H2CS (thioformaldehyde) observed along the A-B axis shown in Figure 1. The H2CS emission is seen farther away from the protostar than the methyl formate emission, indicating its existence in the infalling gas. The velocity increases as it approaches the protostar. Furthermore, the emission is also visible within the ring boundary, and the velocity is higher than that observed for methyl formate. (Lower Right) A schematic illustration of the distribution of H2CS. Both the infalling gas and the disk structure can be seen. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Oya et al.

    3
    Figure 3. Schematic illustration of the molecular distribution around the protostars. (Left) The case of IRAS 16293-2422A, in which saturated complex organic molecules are abundant. The boundary is highlighted by saturated complex organic molecules. (Right) The case of L1527, in which unsaturated complex organic molecules are abundant. The boundary is highlighted by SO (sulfur monoxide). Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Oya et al.

    In 2014, the team found a similar ring structure of SO (sulfur monoxide) around another Solar-type protostar, L1527. In this source, unsaturated complex organic molecules such as CCH and cyclic-C3H2 are very abundant in the infalling gas, while SO preferentially exists in the boundary between the infalling gas and the disk structure. Although the physical structure in L1527 is similar to that found in IRAS 16293-2422A, the chemical composition is much different. Saturated complex organic molecules are almost completely absent in L1527.

    The present result, taken together with previous results on L1527, clearly demonstrates for the first time that the materials delivered to a planetary system differ from star to star. A new perspective on chemical composition is thus indispensable for a thorough understanding of the origin of the Solar System and the origin of life on the Earth.

    Notes

    [1] Organic molecules without multiple bonds between atoms are collectively called saturated molecules. On the other hand, molecules with multiple bonds are called unsaturated molecules.

    Additional information

    These observation results were published as Oya et al. Infalling-Rotating Motion and Associated Chemical Change in the Envelope of IRAS 16293-2422 Source A Studied with ALMA in the Astrophysical Journal issued on 20 June 2016.

    The research team members are:

    Yoko Oya (The University of Tokyo), Nami Sakai (RIKEN), Ana López-Sepulcre (The University of Tokyo), Yoshimasa Watanabe (The University of Tokyo), Cecilia Ceccarelli (Universite Grenoble Alpes/CNRS), Bertrand Lefloch (Universite Grenoble Alpes/CNRS), Cécile Favre (Universite Grenoble Alpes/CNRS), Satoshi Yamamoto (The University of Tokyo)

    This study is supported by the Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS), Grant-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technologies of Japan (21224002, 25400223, 25108005, and 15J0161), JSPS-MAEE Japan-France Integrated Action Program (SAKURA: 25765VC), and CNRS France-Japan action program.

    See the full article here .

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    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.

    ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

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  • richardmitnick 9:47 am on June 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, , Band 1 receivers, , ,   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Telescope to Further Extend Vision with Band 1” 

    ALMA Array

    ALMA

    23 June 2016
    Dr. Yuh-Jing Huang,
    Institute of Astrophysics and Astronomy,
    Academia Sinica
    Tel: +886-2-2366-5340
    Email: yjhuang@asiaa.sinica.edu.tw

    Dr. Mei-Yin Chou,
    Institute of Astrophysics and Astronomy,
    Academia Sinica
    Tel: +886-2-2366-5389
    Email: cmy@asiaa.sinica.edu.tw

    Nicolás Lira T.
    Education and Public Outreach Coordinator
    Joint ALMA Observatory
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56 2 24 67 65 19
    Cell: +56 9 94 45 77 26
    Email: nicolas.lira@alma.cl

    Masaaki Hiramatsu
    Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
    Observatory
Tokyo, Japan

    Tel: +81 422 34 3630

    E-mail: hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

    Charles E. Blue
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
    Tel: +1 (434) 296 0314
    Cell: +1 202 236 6324
    E-mail: cblue@nrao.edu

    Richard Hook
    Public Information Officer, ESO

    Garching bei München, Germany

    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655

    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    1
    ALMA Band 1 Warm Receiver Assembly. It is cascaded together with the cold cartridge to form the complete receiver Front End. It processes and converts the weak astronomical radio signal to be further processed at the Back End.

    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Board officially approved the production of Band 1 receivers developed by an international team led by the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA). When installed the observatory will be able to detect the most distant and earliest star-forming gas reservoirs in the Universe, and to see dust grains grow to cm-sized pebbles around nearby stars: the first steps of planet formation.

    For ALMA’s Observatory Scientist, John Carpenter, the main drivers for Band 1 development are “probing the evolution of dust grains as planets form in circumstellar disks; and detecting molecular gas in re-ionization epoch galaxies”. Thanks to this the observatory will be able to detect distant objects with higher redshifts because of the sensitivity to twice longer wavelengths.

    ALMA observes the Universe in radio waves: light that is invisible to the human eye. The weak electromagnetic glow from space is captured by the array of 66 antennas. Their receivers transform this weak radiation into an electrical signal.

    To scout a broad range of frequencies, ALMA antennas Front End are equipped with up to ten different receivers, each one specially designed to cover a specific range of wavelengths. The Band 1 covers a range of wavelengths from 6 to 8.5 millimeters (frequencies from 35 to 52 GHz). To date there are seven receivers that have already been developed and installed in each of the ALMA antennas. Band 5 cartridges are being constructed and delivered until 2017 and are being integrated to the antennas as they arrive. Band 2 is going to be completed in the future.

    The ASIAA-developed Band 1 receiver is remarkable in its low noise, high sensitivity and high dynamic range of signal-receiving. “Technical requirements for ALMA Band 1 receivers, due to the physical properties of this particular frequency band, are far more stringent than any other existing receiver systems”, said Ted Huang, Band 1 Project Manager at ASIAA, Taiwan.

    “The fact that the ALMA Board approves Band 1 confirms the excellent technical level of all the members of the partnership”, says Ricardo Finger, part of the Band 1 team from the Center for Astrophysics and Associated Technologies at Universidad de Chile, that will be responsible for two components of the optics: the horn antenna and a Fresnel lens. A total of 73 sets of receivers are to be manufactured and delivered by the end of 2019 and integrated during the first quarter of 2020.

    The development of the ALMA Band 1 receiver took ten years. Since eight years ago, ASIAA led the project which was joined by an international team comprises of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the University of Chile, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics (HIA) and the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST).

    2
    ALMA Band 1 Receiver Cold Cartridge Assembly. The Band 1 receiver cold cartridge is operated in a cryogenic cooled temperature at -258 degree Celsius. This would allow the measured signal from conical horn antenna to be amplified by low-noise amplifiers and provide low-noise and high-sensitivity capability.

    3
    ALMA Band 1 Receiver Cold Cartridge Assembly. The Band 1 receiver cold cartridge is operated in a cryogenic cooled temperature at -258 degree Celsius. This would allow the measured signal from conical horn antenna to be amplified by low-noise amplifiers and provide low-noise and high-sensitivity capability.

    4
    (Bottom left) A ALMA antennas located in the Atacama desert in Chile, (Top left) Receivers are installed in the back of the antenna, (Top middle) ALMA cryostat for ten receiver cold cartridges, (Right) The ALMA Band 1 receiver, including the cold cartridge assembly and warm receiver assembly. Credit: S. Guisard – (ASIAA/NAOJ/ESO)

    See the full article here .

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    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.

    ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

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  • richardmitnick 2:58 pm on June 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, ALMA Observes Most Distant Oxygen Ever, , , ,   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Observes Most Distant Oxygen Ever” 

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array
    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array

    ALMA

    16 June 2016
    Akio Inoue
    Osaka Sangyo University
    Osaka, Japan
    Email: akinoue@las.osaka-sandai.ac.jp

    Nicolás Lira T.
    Education and Public Outreach Coordinator
    Joint ALMA Observatory
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56 2 24 67 65 19
    Cell: +56 9 94 45 77 26
    Email: nicolas.lira@alma.cl

    Masaaki Hiramatsu
    Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
    Observatory
Tokyo, Japan

    Tel: +81 422 34 3630

    E-mail: hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

    Richard Hook
    Public Information Officer, ESO

    Garching bei München, Germany

    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655

    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    Charles E. Blue
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
    Tel: +1 434 296 0314
    Cell: +1 202 236 6324
    E-mail: cblue@nrao.edu

    1
    Figure 1. Schematic diagram of the history of the Universe. The Universe is in a neutral state at 400 thousands years after the Big Bang and light from the first generation stars starts to ionize the hydrogen. After several hundred million years, the gas in the Universe is completely ionized. Credit. NAOJ

    Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), detected a clear signal from oxygen in a galaxy located 13.1 billion light-years away from us. This is the most distant oxygen ever detected. Oxygen in this galaxy seems to be ionized by a number of young giant stars, and this detection is a key step to understand the enigmatic “cosmic reionization” in the early history of the Universe. These observations have opened a new window to probe the early Universe with ALMA.

    The research team from Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and ESO have used ALMA to observe one of the most distant galaxies known. SXDF-NB1006-2 lies at a redshift of 7.2, meaning that we see it only 700 million years after the Big Bang.

    The astronomers hoped to find out about the heavy chemical elements [1] present in the galaxy, as they can tell us about the level of star formation, and hence provide clues about the period in the history of the Universe known as cosmic reionisation.

    “Seeking heavy elements in the early Universe is an essential approach to explore the star formation activity in that period,” said Akio Inoue of Osaka Sangyo University, Japan, the lead author of the research paper which is being published in the journal Science on Thursday, June 16, 2016; and added that “Studying heavy elements also gives us a hint to understand how the galaxies were formed and what caused the cosmic reionization”.

    Various elements are found around us in the present Universe, but just after the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago, only the lightest elements (hydrogen, helium, and lithium) existed. Heavier elements, such as carbon and oxygen, have been formed in stars and accumulated in the Universe over time.

    Before the first celestial objects formed, the Universe was filled with electrically neutral gas. Celestial objects emitted strong radiation and started to ionize the neutral gas a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. This is known as cosmic reionization. The state of the whole Universe changed dramatically during this period. But, the process is deeply shrouded in darkness. It has been under debate what kind of objects caused the reionization.

    “We expected that the light from ionized oxygen is strong enough to be observed, even 13 billion light-years away,” explained Hiroshi Matsuo at the NAOJ, “because the Japanese infrared astronomy satellite AKARI has found that this emission is very bright in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which has an environment similar to the early Universe.”

    JAXA AKARI spacecraft
    JAXA AKARI spacecraft

    Nevertheless, the detection of light from ionized oxygen in very distant galaxies was a new challenge for ALMA. To secure the competitive observation time with ALMA, the researchers first performed large-scale computer simulations of the cosmic evolution to predict the emission brightness. “The simulation showed that the light should be particularly bright and easily detected with ALMA,” said Ikkoh Shimizu at Osaka University, the main contributor to this simulation.

    2
    Color composite image of a portion of the Subaru XMM-Newton Deep Survey Field. Right panel: The red galaxy at the center of the image is the most distant galaxy, SXDF-NB1006-2. Left panels: Close-ups of the most distant galaxy. Credit: NAOJ

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

    ESA/XMM Newton
    ESA/XMM Newton

    High sensitivity observations with ALMA were performed in June 2015 and the light from ionized oxygen in SXDF-NB1006-2 was definitively detected [2]. This is the most distant detection of oxygen ever achieved and is firm evidence of oxygen in the very early Universe, only 700 million years after the Big Bang. The team estimated that the abundance of oxygen in SXDF-NB1006-2 is ten times smaller than that observed in the Sun.

    3
    Color composite image of SXDF-NB1006-2. Light from ionized oxygen detected by ALMA is shown in green. Light from ionized hydrogen detected by the Subaru Telescope and ultraviolet light detected by the UK Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) are shown in blue and red, respectively. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NAOJ

    UKIRT
    UKIRT interior
    UKIRT, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    “The small abundance is expected because the Universe was still young and had a short history of star formation at that time,” commented Naoki Yoshida at the University of Tokyo. “In fact, our simulation predicted an abundance ten times smaller than the Sun. But we have another, unexpected, result: a very small amount of dust.”

    The observations show that the amount of heavy elements is about 10% of that found in the present Universe, but the amount of dust, which is made from heavy elements, seems to be much smaller. The team was also unable to detect any emissions from carbon in the galaxy. “Something unusual may be happening in this galaxy,” said Inoue. “I suspect that almost all the gas is highly ionized.”

    4
    Artist’s concept of SXDF-NB1006-2. Many young bright stars are located in the galaxy and ionize the gas inside and around the galaxy. Green color indicates the ionized oxygen detected by ALMA, whereas purple shows the distribution of ionized hydrogen detected by the Subaru Telescope. Credit: NAOJ

    The emission from ionized oxygen indicates that a number of giant stars, several dozen times heavier than the Sun, have formed in the galaxy and are emitting intense ultraviolet light. The deficits of dust and carbon in the galaxy are crucially important for cosmic reionization to occur. They enable the intense ionizing light to escape from the galaxy and ionize vast amounts of gas outside the galaxy. “SXDF-NB1006-2 would be a prototype of the light sources responsible for the cosmic reionization,” said Inoue.

    “This is the first step to understanding what kind of objects caused cosmic reionization,” explained Yoichi Tamura at the University of Tokyo. “Our next observations with ALMA have already started. Higher resolution observations will allow us to see the distribution and motion of ionized oxygen in the galaxy and provide precious information to understand the properties of the galaxy.”

    Notes

    The original wavelength of the light from doubly ionized oxygen is 88 micrometers. The wavelength of the light from SXDF-NB1006-2 is stretched to 725 micrometers due to the expansion of the Universe, making the light observable with the ALMA Band 8 receivers developed by NAOJ.

    [From ESO]
    [1] In astronomical terminology, chemical elements heavier than lithium are known as heavy elements.

    [2] The Japanese infrared astronomy satellite AKARI had found that this oxygen emission is very bright in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which has an environment similar to the early Universe.

    [3] The original wavelength of the light from doubly ionised oxygen is 0.088 millimetres. The wavelength of the light from SXDF-NB1006-2 is stretched to 0.725 millimetres by the expansion of the Universe, making the light observable with ALMA.

    [4] Earlier work by Finkelstein et al. suggested the presence of oxygen at a slightly earlier time, but there was no direct detection of an emission line, as is the case in the new work.

    Additional information

    These observation results were published online as Inoue et al. “Detection of an oxygen emission line from a high redshift galaxy in the reionization epoch” by the journal Science on Thursday, June 16, 2016 [Science paper is not available.]

    The research team members are:

    Akio Inoue (Osaka Sangyo University), Yoichi Tamura (The University of Tokyo), Hiroshi Matsuo (NAOJ/The Graduate University for Advanced Studies), Ken Mawatari (Osaka Sangyo University), Ikkoh Shimizu (Osaka University), Takatoshi Shibuya (The University of Tokyo), Kazuaki Ota (University of Cambridge), Naoki Yoshida (The University of Tokyo), Erik Zackrisson (Uppsala University), Nobunari Kashikawa (NAOJ/The Graduate University for Advanced Studies), Kotaro Kohno (The University of Tokyo), Hideki Umehata (European Southern Observatory/The University of Tokyo), Bunyo Hatsukade (NAOJ), Masanori Iye (NAOJ), Yuichi Matsuda (NAOJ/The Graduate University for Advanced Studies), Takashi Okamoto (Hokkaido University), Yuki Yamaguchi (The University of Tokyo).

    This research was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science through Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research 26287034, 26247022, 25287050, 24740112, 15H02073, 15K17616 and its Research Fellowship for Young Scientists; The Global COE program “The Next Generation of Physics, Spun from Universality and Emergence” of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan; the Kavli Institute Fellowship at the Kavli Institute for Cosmology in the University of Cambridge supported by the Kavli Foundation; the Swedish Research 11 Council (project 2011-5349); and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.

    See the full article here .

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    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.

    ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

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  • richardmitnick 7:12 am on June 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, , , First Detection of Methyl Alcohol in a Planet-forming Disc, ,   

    From ALMA: “First Detection of Methyl Alcohol in a Planet-forming Disc” 

    ALMA Array

    ALMA

    15 June 2016
    Catherine Walsh
    Leiden Observatory
    Leiden University, The Netherlands
    Tel: +31 71527 ext 6287
    Email: cwalsh@strw.leidenuniv.nl

    Nicolás Lira T.
    Education and Public Outreach Coordinator
    Joint ALMA Observatory
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56 2 24 67 65 19
    Cell: +56 9 94 45 77 26
    Email: nicolas.lira@alma.cl

    Richard Hook
    Public Information Officer, ESO

    Garching bei München, Germany

    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655

    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    Charles E. Blue
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
    Tel: +1 434 296 0314
    Cell: +1 202 236 6324
    E-mail: cblue@nrao.edu

    Masaaki Hiramatsu

    Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
    Observatory
Tokyo, Japan

    Tel: +81 422 34 3630

    E-mail: hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

    1
    This artist’s impression shows the closest known protoplanetary disc, around the star TW Hydrae in the huge constellation of Hydra (The Female Watersnake). The organic molecule methyl alcohol (methanol) has been found by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in this disc. This is the first such detection of the compound in a young planet-forming disc. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

    The sharp vision of ALMA has also allowed astronomers to map the gaseous methanol across the TW Hydrae disc. They discovered a ring-like pattern in addition to significant emission from close to the central star [1].

    The observation of methanol in the gas phase, combined with information about its distribution, implies that methanol formed on the disc’s icy grains, and was subsequently released in gaseous form. This first observation helps to clarify the puzzle of the methanol ice–gas transition [2], and more generally the chemical processes in astrophysical environments [3].

    Ryan A. Loomis, a co-author of the study, adds: “Methanol in gaseous form in the disc is an unambiguous indicator of rich organic chemical processes at an early stage of star and planet formation. This result has an impact on our understanding of how organic matter accumulates in very young planetary systems.”

    This successful first detection of cold gas-phase methanol in a protoplanetary disc means that the production of ice chemistry can now be explored in discs, paving the way to future studies of complex organic chemistry in planetary birthplaces. In the hunt for life-sustaining exoplanets, astronomers now have access to a powerful new tool.


    Access mp4 video here
    This artist’s impression video shows the closest known protoplanetary disc, around the star TW Hydrae in the huge constellation of Hydra (The Female Watersnake). The organic molecule methyl alcohol (methanol) has been found by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in this disc. This is the first such detection of the compound in a young planet-forming disc. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser


    Access mp4 video here .
    This artist’s impression video shows the molecule methanol, or methyl alcohol (CH3OH). This organic compound has been found by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in the closest known protoplanetary disc, around the star TW Hydrae in the huge constellation of Hydra (The Female Watersnake). This is the first such detection of the compound in a young planet-forming disc. Its detection helps astronomers understand the chemical processes that occur during the formation of planetary systems and that ultimately lead to the creation of the ingredients for life. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

    Additional information

    This research was presented in a paper entitled “First detection of gas-phase methanol in a protoplanetary disk”, by Catherine Walsh et al., published in Astrophysical Journal, Volume 823, Number 1.

    The team is composed of Catherine Walsh (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands), Ryan A. Loomis (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA), Karin I. Öberg (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA), Mihkel Kama (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands), Merel L. R. van’t Hoff (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands), Tom J. Millar (School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK), Yuri Aikawa (Center for Computational Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan), Eric Herbst (Departments of Chemistry and Astronomy, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA), Susanna L. Widicus Weaver (Department of Chemistry, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA) and Hideko Nomura (Department of Earth and Planetary Science, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan).

    Link
    Research paper

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon
    Stem Education Coalition

    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.

    ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

    NRAO Small

    ESO 50 Large

    NAOJ

     
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