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  • richardmitnick 7:19 am on October 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    From ALMA: “Launch of ChiVO, the first Chilean Virtual Observatory” 

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

    ALMA

    Valeria Foncea
    Education and Public Outreach Officer
    Joint ALMA Observatory
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56 2 467 6258
    Cell: +56 9 75871963
    Email: vfoncea@alma.cl

    After more than two years of work, today was launched the first Chilean Virtual Observatory (ChiVO), an astro-informatic platform for the administration and analysis of massive data coming from the observatories built across the country. Its implementation will provide advanced computing tools and research algorithms to the Chilean astronomical community.

    “This project is a major contribution for Chilean astronomers -said Diego Mardones, an astronomer at Universidad de Chile- because besides being an excellent tool for exploring the huge quantity of astronomical data that will be generated in our country in the coming years, it opens new opportunities of interdisciplinary research.”

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    ChiVO main team. Left to right: Paulina Troncoso, Astronomer; Ricardo Contreras, U. of Concepción; Jorge Ibsen, ALMA; Mauricio Solar, ChiVO’s director, U. Técnica Federico Santa María (UFSM); Paola Arellano, REUNA; Victor Parada, U. of Santiago; Marcelo Mendoza, ChiVO’s alternate director, UFSM; Diego Mardones, U. of Chile; Mauricio Araya, UFSM; María; Guillermo Cabrera, U. of Chile.

    The project led by Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María (UTFSM) is a successful collaboration with four other universities in Chile (Universidad de Chile, Universidad Católica, Universidad de Concepción y Universidad de Santiago) and was funded by FONDEF, the Chilean Scientific and Technological Development Fund. Furthermore, both the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and REUNA, the National Universities Network, are associated to the project. Thanks to ChiVO, Chile will become a member of the International Virtual Observatories Alliance (IVOA) and it will be accessible for all astronomers making their research in the country through its website http://www.chivo.cl.

    For the project’s director, Mauricio Solar, “this innovation will allow astronomical data to be processed in Chile using high-quality, local human capital and integrating Chilean astro-informatics with the international community at the highest levels of development.”

    With new telescopes being constructed in Chile, the amount of astronomical data generated will only increase. As an example, once ALMA is operating at full capacity, it will produce close to 250 terabytes of data each year. ChiVO will enable Chilean astronomers to access this data with high transfer rates, provide the infrastructure for high storage capacity and access the analysis of the data.

    “ChiVO and the services provided by it will be a key tool for the Chilean astronomical community, added Jorge Ibsen, director of ALMA’s Department of Computing. “ALMA is proud to be part of this project that will boost the usage of the astronomical data generated in the country.

    Link to ChiVO

    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 7:07 am on October 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ADASS, ALMA, , , , , , , ,   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Organizes International Astroinformatics Conference in Chile” 

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

    ALMA

    20 October, 2017

    Nicolás Lira
    Education and Public Outreach Coordinator
    Joint ALMA Observatory, Santiago – Chile
    Phone: +56 2 2467 6519
    Cell phone: +56 9 9445 7726
    nicolas.lira@alma.cl

    Andrea Riquelme P.
    Journalist
    ADASS – Chile
    Cell phone: +56 9 93 96 96 38
    acriquelme@gmail.com

    Related Posts
    Launch of ChiVO, the first Chilean Virtual Observatory

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    Experts from 33 countries will attend the global Astronomical Data Analysis Software & Systems (ADASS) conference, which brings together astronomy and computer science. Organized by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María (UTFSM), from October 22 to 26 for the first time in Chile, ADASS will seek to develop astronomy and other industries, providing an opportunity to promote local talent to the rest of the world.

    Chile is a privileged setting for astronomic observation and data collection, generating an enormous amount of public data. The ALMA observatory alone generates a terabyte of data per day; the LSST will reach 30 terabytes per night by 2022 and the SKA 360 terabytes per hour by 2030.

    LSST


    LSST Camera, built at SLAC



    LSST telescope, currently under construction at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

    This evolution implies a never seen before data storage and analysis challenge, and Chile is in a position to lead this progress with the support of data, communication and technology platforms and expert human capital with the support of this potent cloud computing era. Herein lies the importance of Chile’s debut as Latin American headquarters for the International Astronomical Data Analysis Software & Systems-ADASS Conference, which after 27 years in practice, has chosen the country as its meeting location.
    Invited speakers. Credit: ADASS 2017 website (www.adass.cl)

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    ADASS Invited speakers. Credit: ADASS 2017 website (www.adass.cl)

    “A modern observatory today is a true data factory, and the creation of systems and infrastructure capable of storing this data and analyzing and sharing it will contribute to the democratization of access to current, critical and unique information, necessary for the hundreds of groups of researchers of the Universe around the world,” says Jorge Ibsen, Head of the ALMA Computing Department and Co-Chair of ADASS.

    The Chilean Virtual Observatory (ChiVO) and The International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA), have worked together for years to define standards for sharing data between observatories around the world and to create public access protocols. Mauricio Solar, Director of ChiVO and Co-Chair of the ADASS conference, assures that Chile can contribute to astronomy, not just through astronomers, but also through the development of applications in astroinformatics that, for example, can help find evidence of extraterrestrial life.

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    Local Organizing Committee. Credit: ADASS 2017 website (http://www.adass.cl)

    Astroinformatics combines advanced computing, statistics applied to mass complex data, and astronomy. Topics to be addressed at ADASS include: high-performance computing (HPC) for astronomical data, human-computer interaction and interfaces for large data collections, challenges in the operation of large-scale highly complex instrumentation, network infrastructure and data centers in the era of mass data transfer, machine learning applied to astronomical data, and software for the operation of Earth and space observatories, diversity and inclusion, and citizen education and science, among other subjects.

    The ADASS Conference will bring together 350 experts from 33 countries at the Sheraton Hotel in Santiago, and will be followed by an Interoperability Meeting of the International Virtual Observatories Alliance (IVOA), organized by ChiVO, from October 27 to 29. More information at http://www.adass.cl.

    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 6:25 am on October 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, ALMA Eyes Icy Ring Around Young Planetary System, , , , , Fomalhaut star system, ,   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Eyes Icy Ring Around Young Planetary System” This is a replacement 

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

    ALMA

    18 May, 2017

    Nicolás Lira
    Education and Public Outreach Coordinator
    Joint ALMA Observatory, Santiago – Chile
    Phone: +56 2 2467 6519
    Cell phone: +56 9 9445 7726
    nicolas.lira@alma.cl

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

    Masaaki Hiramatsu
    Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
    Observatory
, Tokyo – Japan
    Phone: +81 422 34 3630
    hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

    Richard Hook
    Public Information Officer, ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Phone: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell phone: +49 151 1537 3591
    rhook@eso.org

    1
    Composite image of the Fomalhaut star system. The ALMA data, shown in orange, reveal the distant and eccentric debris disk in never-before-seen detail. The central dot is the unresolved emission from the star, which is about twice the mass of the Sun. Optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope is in blue; the dark region is a coronagraphic mask, which filtered out the otherwise overwhelming light of the central star. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), M. MacGregor; NASA/ESA Hubble, P. Kalas; B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

    Debris disks are common features around young stars and represent a very dynamic and chaotic period in the history of a solar system. Astronomers believe they are formed by the ongoing collisions of comets and other planetesimals in the outer reaches of a recently formed planetary system. The leftover debris from these collisions absorbs light from its central star and reradiates that energy as a faint millimeter-wavelength glow that can be studied with ALMA.

    Using the new ALMA data and detailed computer modeling, the researchers could calculate the precise location, width, and geometry of the disk. These parameters confirm that such a narrow ring is likely produced through the gravitational influence of planets in the system, noted MacGregor.

    The new ALMA observations are also the first to definitively show “apocenter glow,” a phenomenon predicted in a 2016 paper by lead author Margaret Pan, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and co-author on the new ALMA papers. Like all objects with elongated orbits, the dusty material in the Fomalhaut disk travels more slowly when it is farthest from the star. As the dust slows down, it piles up, forming denser concentrations in the more distant portions of the disk. These dense regions can be seen by ALMA as brighter millimeter-wavelength emission.

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    ALMA image of the debris disk in the Fomalhaut star system. The ring is approximately 20 billion kilometers from the central star and it is about 2 billion kilometers wide. The central dot is the unresolved emission from the star, which is about twice the mass of the Sun. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); M. MacGregor

    Using the same ALMA dataset, but focusing on distinct millimeter-wavelength signals naturally emitted by molecules in space, the researchers also detected vast stores of carbon monoxide gas in precisely the same location as the debris disk.

    “These data allowed us to determine that the relative abundance of carbon monoxide plus carbon dioxide around Fomalhaut is about the same as found in comets in our own solar system,” said Luca Matrà with the University of Cambridge, UK, and lead author on the team’s second paper. “This chemical kinship may indicate a similarity in comet formation conditions between the outer reaches of this planetary system and our own.” Matrà and his colleagues believe this gas is either released from continuous comet collisions or the result of a single, large impact between supercomets hundreds of times more massive than Hale-Bopp.

    The presence of this well-defined debris disk around Fomalhaut, along with its curiously familiar chemistry, may indicate that this system is undergoing its own version of the Late Heavy Bombardment, a period approximately 4 billion years ago when the Earth and other planets were routinely struck by swarms of asteroids and comets left over from the formation of the Solar System.

    “Twenty years ago, the best millimeter-wavelength telescopes gave the first fuzzy maps of sand grains orbiting Fomalhaut. Now with ALMA’s full capabilities the entire ring of material has been imaged,” concluded Paul Kalas, an astronomer at the University of California at Berkeley and principal investigator on these observations. “One day we hope to detect the planets that influence the orbits of these grains.”

    This research is presented in a paper titled A complete ALMA map of the Fomalhaut debris disk, M. MacGregor, et al., appearing in The Astrophysical Journal, and Detection of exocometary CO within the 440MYR-old Fomalhaut belt: A similar CO+CO2 ice abundance in exocomets and solar system comets,” L. Matrà et al., appearing in The Astrophysical Journal.

    This work benefited from: NASA’s Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) research coordination network sponsored by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, NASA grants NNX15AC89G, NNX15AD95G, NSF grant AST-1518332, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship DGE1144152, and from NRAO Student Observing Support. This work has also been possible thanks to an STFC postgraduate studentship and the European Union through ERC grant number 279973.

    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 1:01 pm on October 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, , , , , , ,   

    From ESA: “Biomarker found in space complicates search for life on exoplanets” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    1
    Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. No image credit.

    A molecule once thought to be a useful marker for life as we know it has been discovered around a young star and at a comet for the first time, suggesting these ingredients are inherited during the planet-forming phase.

    The discovery of methyl chloride was made by the ground-based Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, and by ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft following Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. It is the simplest member of a class of molecules known as organohalogens, which contain halogens, such as chlorine or fluorine, bonded with carbon.

    Methyl chloride is well known on Earth as being used in industry. It is also produced naturally by biological and geological activity: it is the most abundant organohalogen in Earth’s atmosphere, with up to three megatonnes produced a year, primarily from biological processes.

    As such, it had been identified as a possible ‘biomarker’ in the search for life at exoplanets. This has been called into question, however, now it is seen in environments not derived from living organisms, and instead as a raw ingredient from which planets could eventually form.

    This is also the first time an organohalogen has been detected in space, indicating that halogen- and carbon-centred chemistries are more intertwined than previously thought.

    The ALMA observations were made towards the young star IRAS 16293-2422, a low-mass binary system in the Rho Ophiuchi star-forming region about 400 light-years from Earth.

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

    The system was already known to have a wealth of organic molecules distributed around it, but ALMA now makes it possible to zoom in to scales equivalent to the outer planets in our own Solar System, making it an ideal target for comparative studies with comets.

    Because comets are believed to preserve the chemical composition of the Sun’s birth cloud, and in order to better understand the formation pathways of organic molecules, the detection of the molecule in the young star system triggered a search in the extensive data collected by ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft during its 2014–16 mission at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

    Because comets are believed to preserve the chemical composition of the Sun’s birth cloud, and in order to better understand the formation pathways of organic molecules, the detection of the molecule in the young star system triggered a search in the extensive data collected by ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft during its 2014–16 mission at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

    ESA/Rosetta spacecraft

    “We found it but it is very elusive, one of the ‘chameleons’ of our molecule zoo, only present during short times when we observed a lot of chlorine,” says Kathrin Altwegg, principal investigator of the ROSINA instrument that made the comet detection.

    ESA Rosetta ROSINA

    The measurements were made in May 2015, when the comet was approaching its closest point to the Sun along its elliptical orbit, near to the orbit of Mars, and was very active, releasing a lot of gas and dust as the Sun warmed its icy surface. The methyl chloride was identified in the measurements when the hydrogen chloride signal was at its highest.

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    Delivering ingredients to Earth. Released 02/10/2017. Copyright ESA

    Our Solar System condensed from a cloud of gas and dust over 4.6 billion years ago. As the newborn planets settled in their orbits, gravitational perturbations are thought to have disrupted swarms of comets into the inner Solar System, impacting the rocky planets. As well as inheriting ingredients during the planet-forming process itself, comets are also believed to have delivered some of the basic ingredients for life to Earth, leading to life as we know it today.

    Moreover, the methyl chloride was found in comparable abundances in both the young star system and the comet. Rocky planets like Earth could directly inherit these ingredients during the planet-building phase, but comets could also act as a vessel to deliver them through the high rate of impacts occurring in the early years of a forming solar system.

    “The dual detection of an organohalogen in a star-forming region and at a comet indicates that these chemicals will likely be part of the ‘primordial soup’ on the young Earth and newly formed rocky exoplanets,” says Edith Fayolle, lead author of the study published in Nature Astronomy. “Understanding this initial chemistry on planets is an important step toward the origins of life.”

    It is also a crucial aspect for the search for life outside our Solar System, but the apparent prevalence of organohalogens in space calls into question their use as a biomarker when interpreting possible future detections of the molecule in the atmospheres of rocky exoplanets.

    “The combined study takes detections of key biological molecules to a new level, with the exciting possibility that they predate the formation of our Solar System as we know it today,” comments Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta project scientist.

    “The complementary results provide an important context for our Rosetta data and for the wider implications of Solar System formation, and especially how we might interpret observations of extrasolar systems.”

    Notes for Editors

    Protostellar and cometary detections of organohalogens, by E. Fayolle et al. is published in Nature Astronomy, 2 October 2017.

    The ALMA data were part of the Protostellar Interferometric Line Survey (PILS). The aim of the survey is to chart the chemical complexity of IRAS 16293-2422 by imaging the full wavelength range covered by ALMA on very small scales, equivalent to the size of our Solar System.

    ALMA is an international astronomy facility, and a partnership between the European Southern Observatory, the US National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences of Japan in collaboration with the Republic of Chile. More about ALMA partners.

    See the full article here .

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 10:56 am on October 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, , IRAS 16293-2422 star-forming region, Rho Ophiuchi star formation region   

    From ALMA: “ALMA and Rosetta Detect Organohalogens in Two Distant Places in Space” 

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

    ALMA

    10.2.17

    Nicolás Lira
    Education and Public Outreach Coordinator
    Joint ALMA Observatory, Santiago – Chile
    Phone: +56 2 2467 6519
    Cell phone: +56 9 9445 7726
    nicolas.lira@alma.cl

    Dr. Edith Fayolle
    Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
    Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    fayolle@cfa.harvard.edu

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

    Richard Hook
    Public Information Officer, ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Phone: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell phone: +49 151 1537 3591
    rhook@eso.org

    Masaaki Hiramatsu
    Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
    Observatory
, Tokyo – Japan
    Phone: +81 422 34 3630
    hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

    1
    Organohalogen methyl chloride (Freon-40) discovered by ALMA around the infant stars in IRAS 16293-2422. These same organic compounds were discovered in the thin atmosphere surrounding Comet 67P/C-G by the ROSINA instrument on ESA’s Rosetta space probe. Credit: B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF).

    Observations made with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and ESA’s Rosetta mission…

    ESA Rosetta ROSINA

    ESA/Rosetta spacecraft

    …have detected the faint molecular fingerprint of methyl chloride in gas, a chemical commonly produced by industrial biological processes on Earth, around both an infant star and a comet. Methyl chloride (CH3Cl), also known as Freon-40, is one of a class of molecules known as organohalogens, which are formed by organic processes on Earth. But, this is the first ever detection of them in interstellar space, dashing hopes molecule could point to life on other planets.

    Indeed, this discovery suggests that organohalogens may not be as useful markers of life as had been hoped by astrobiologists, who previously suggested searching for methyl chloride in the atmospheres of alien worlds as a possible indicator of life. However, these molecules may be significant components of the material from which planets form. This result, which appears in the journal Nature Astronomy, underscores the challenge of finding molecules that could indicate the presence of life beyond Earth.

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    Organohalogen methyl chloride discovered by ALMA around the infant stars in IRAS 16293-2422. These same organic compounds were discovered in the thin atmosphere surrounding 67P/C-G by the Rosetta space probe. Credit: B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF).

    Using data captured by ALMA in Chile and from the ROSINA instrument on ESA’s Rosetta mission, a team of astronomers has found faint traces of methyl chloride, around both the infant star system IRAS 16293-2422 [1], about 400 light-years away, and the famous comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P/C-G), in our own Solar System. The new ALMA observation is the first detection ever of an organohalogen in interstellar space [2].

    Organohalogens consist of halogens, such as chlorine and fluorine, bonded with carbon and sometimes other elements. On Earth, these compounds are created by some biological processes, in organisms ranging from humans to fungi, as well as by industrial processes such as the production of dyes and medical drugs [3].

    The discovery of one of these compounds, methyl chloride, in places that must predate the origin of life, can be a disappointment, as earlier research had suggested that these molecules could indicate the presence of life.

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    Approximate location of comet 67P/C-G when the Rosetta space probe discovered traces of methyl chloride — the same molecule detected by ALMA around the IRAS 16293-2422 star-forming region. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF.

    “Finding the organohalogen Freon-40 near these young, Sun-like stars was surprising,” said Edith Fayolle, a researcher with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, (Massachusetts, USA), and lead author of this new paper. “We simply didn’t predict its formation and were surprised to find it in such significant concentrations. It’s clear now that these molecules form readily in stellar nurseries, providing insights into the chemical evolution of planetary systems, including our own.”

    Exoplanet research has gone beyond the point of finding planets (more than 3000 exoplanets are now known) to looking for chemical markers that might indicate the potential presence of life. A vital step is determining which molecules could indicate life, but establishing reliable markers remains a tricky process.

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    ALMA and Rosetta Detect Freon-40 in Space – Organohalogen methyl chloride (Freon-40) discovered by ALMA around the infant stars in IRAS 16293-2422. These same organic compounds were discovered in the thin atmosphere surrounding Comet 67P/C-G by the ROSINA instrument on ESA’s Rosetta space probe. Credit: B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF).

    “ALMA’s discovery of organohalogens in the interstellar medium also tells us something about the starting conditions for organic chemistry on planets. Such chemistry is an important step toward the origins of life,” adds Karin Öberg, a co-author on the study. “Based on our discovery, organohalogens are likely to be a constituent of the so-called ‘primordial soup’, both on the young Earth and on nascent rocky exoplanets.”

    This finding suggests that astronomers may have had things around the wrong way; rather than indicating the presence of existing life, organohalogens may be an important element in the little-understood chemistry involved in the origin of life.

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    This chart shows the location of the Rho Ophiuchi star formation region in the constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer). The star Rho Ophiuchi, which gives the region its name, is marked with the Greek letter rho (ρ). The position of IRAS 16293-2422, a young binary star with similar mass to the Sun, is marked in red. Credit: ESO, IAU and Sky & Telescope.

    Co-author Jes Jørgensen from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen adds: “This result shows the power of ALMA to detect molecules of astrobiological interest toward young stars on scales where planets may be forming. Using ALMA, we have previously found simple sugars and precursors to amino acids around different stars. The additional discovery of Freon-40 around Comet 67P/C-G strengthens the links between the pre-biological chemistry of distant protostars and our own Solar System.”

    ALMA can function as an interstellar chemical analyzer by detecting the faint radio signals emitted naturally by molecules in space. Each molecule has a distinctive fingerprint, or series of spikes, in the radio spectrum. It takes incredibly sensitive instruments like ALMA to tease out the telltale of the signal of molecules like methyl chloride. The Rosetta spacecraft could detect it in the atmosphere of comet 67P/C-G using the onboard instrument known as the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA).

    “ROSINA was able to capture some of the molecules around the comet, separate them by mass, and count them with exquisite precision,” said Kathrin Altwegg with the University of Bern (Switzerland), and Principal Investigator of ROSINA. “This highly sensitive instrument enabled us to detect a host of the chemicals around the comet, including the one also discovered by ALMA, far from our Solar System.”

    The astronomers also compared the relative amounts of Freon-40 that contain different isotopes of carbon in the infant star system and the comet and found similar abundances. The results support the idea that a young planetary system can inherit the chemical composition of its parent star-forming cloud and opens up the possibility that organohalogens could arrive on planets in young systems during planet formation or via comet impacts.

    “Our results show that we still have more to learn about the formation of organohalogens,” concludes Fayolle. “This does, however, raise the question: How much of the comet’s organic content is directly inherited from the early stages of star formation? Additional searches for organohalogens around other protostars and comets need to be undertaken to help find the answer.”
    Notes

    [1] This protostar is a binary star system surrounded by a molecular cloud in the Rho Ophiuchi star-forming region, which makes it an excellent target for ALMA’s millimeter/submillimeter view.

    [2] The data used were from the ALMA Protostellar Interferometric Line Survey (PILS). This survey aims to chart the chemical complexity of IRAS 16293-2422 by imaging the full wavelength range covered by ALMA in the 0.8-millimeter atmospheric window on very small scales, equivalent to the size of the Solar System.

    [3] Freon was widely used as a refrigerant (hence the name) but is now banned as it has a destructive effect on the Earth’s protective ozone layer.
    Additional information

    This research was presented in a paper Protostellar and Cometary Detections of Organohalogens by E. Fayolle et al., to appear in Nature Astronomy on 2 October 2017.

    The team is composed of Edith C. Fayolle (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA), Karin I. Öberg (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA), Jes K. Jørgensen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Kathrin Altwegg (University of Bern, Switzerland), Hannah Calcutt (University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Holger S. P. Müller (Universität zu Köln, Germany), Martin Rubin (University of Bern, Switzerland), Matthijs H. D. van der Wiel (The Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, The Netherlands), Per Bjerkeli (Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden), Tyler L. Bourke (Jodrell Bank Observatory, UK), Audrey Coutens (University College London, UK), Ewine F. van Dishoeck (Leiden University, The Netherlands; Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Germany), Maria N. Drozdovskaya (University of Bern, Switzerland), Robin T. Garrod (University of Virginia, USA), Niels F. W. Ligterink (Leiden University, The Netherlands), Magnus V. Persson (Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden), Susanne F. Wampfler (University of Bern, Switzerland) and the ROSINA team.

    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 4:29 pm on September 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, , , , , First Detection of an Intermediate-Mass Black Hole Candidate in the Milky Way,   

    From ALMA : “First Detection of an Intermediate-Mass Black Hole Candidate in the Milky Way” 

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


    ALMA

    September 28, 2017

    1
    An image of clouds accelerating due to gravitational scattering caused by the intermediate-mass black hole. Credit: Tomoharu Oka (Keio University)

    Professor Tomoharu Oka of the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science and Technology, Keio University and his research team carried out a detailed radio wave observations using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA; ALMA telescope) on the peculiar molecular cloud CO–0.40–0.22, which was discovered in the central region of the Milky Way. This peculiar molecular cloud lies about 200 light-years away from Sagittarius A* (star), the nucleus of the Milky Way, and inside it’s unusually broad velocity width, the researchers identified the possibility of an intermediate-mass black hole with a mass 100,000 times greater than the sun. From the observations, a point-like radio source CO–0.40–0.22* (star), as well as a highly dense and compact molecular cloud near the center of CO–0.40–0.22, were detected. The luminosity of the detected point-like radio source is 1/500 of Sagittarius A*, and it has a radiation spectrum that is distinctly different from that of thermal plasma or interstellar dust. Results of gravitational N-body simulations that placed a 100,000-solar mass point-like mass at the location of CO–0.40–0.22* showed that the distribution and motion of gas in the adjacent area could be reproduced very well. From these findings, it can be thought that the point-like radio source CO–0.40–0.22* is the intermediate-mass black hole that has been suggested to exist within the peculiar molecular cloud CO–0.40–0.22. This is the first detection of an intermediate-mass black hole candidate within the Milky Way galaxy in which we exist.

    The results of this research were published in the September 4 issue of the British scientific journal Nature Astronomy.

    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 7:11 pm on September 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, , , , , ,   

    From NRAO: “Image Release: ALMA Reveals Sun in New Light” 

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    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres
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    1
    This ALMA image of an enormous sunspot was taken on 18 December 2015 with the Band 6 receiver at a wavelength of 1.25 millimeters. Sunspots are transient features that occur in regions where the Sun’s magnetic field is extremely concentrated and powerful. They are lower in temperature than their surrounding regions, which is why they appear relatively dark in visible light. The ALMA image is essentially a map of temperature differences in a layer of the Sun’s atmosphere known as the chromosphere, which lies just above the visible surface of the Sun (the photosphere). The chromosphere is considerably hotter than the photosphere. Understanding the heating and dynamics of the chromosphere are key areas of research that will be addressed by ALMA. Observations at shorter wavelengths probe deeper into the solar chromosphere than longer wavelengths. Hence, band 6 observations map a layer of the chromosphere that is closer to the visible surface of the Sun than band 3 observations.Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

    New images from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) reveal stunning details of our Sun, including the dark, contorted center of an evolving sunspot that is nearly twice the diameter of the Earth.

    These images are part of the testing and verification campaign to make ALMA’s solar observing capabilities available to the international astronomical community.

    Though designed principally to observe remarkably faint objects throughout the universe — such as distant galaxies and planet-forming disks around young stars – ALMA is also capable of studying objects in our own solar system, including planets, comets, and now the Sun.

    During a 30-month period beginning in 2014, an international team of astronomers harnessed ALMA’s single-antenna and array capabilities to detect and image the millimeter-wavelength light emitted by the Sun’s chromosphere — the region that lies just above the photosphere, the visible surface of the Sun.

    These new images demonstrate ALMA’s ability to study solar activity at longer wavelengths than observed with typical solar telescopes on Earth, and are an important expansion of the range of observations that can be used to probe the physics of our nearest star.

    “We’re accustomed to seeing how our Sun appears in visible light, but that can only tell us so much about the dynamic surface and energetic atmosphere of our nearest star,” said Tim Bastian, an astronomer with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Va. “To fully understand the Sun, we need to study it across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, including the millimeter and submillimeter portion that ALMA can observe.”

    Since our Sun is many billions of times brighter than the faint objects ALMA typically observes, the solar commissioning team had to developed special procedures to enable ALMA to safely image the Sun.

    The result of this work is a series of images that demonstrates ALMA’s unique vision and ability to study our Sun on multiple scales.

    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.

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky VLA, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA

    The NRAO operates a complementary, state-of-the-art suite of radio telescope facilities for use by the scientific community, regardless of institutional or national affiliation: the Very Large Array (VLA), and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA)*.

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

    Access to ALMA observing time by the North American astronomical community will be through the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC).

    NRAO VLBA

    NRAO VLBA

    *The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) comprises ten radio telescopes spanning 5,351 miles. It’s the world’s largest, sharpest, dedicated telescope array. With an eye this sharp, you could be in Los Angeles and clearly read a street sign in New York City!

    Astronomers use the continent-sized VLBA to zoom in on objects that shine brightly in radio waves, long-wavelength light that’s well below infrared on the spectrum. They observe blazars, quasars, black holes, and stars in every stage of the stellar life cycle. They plot pulsars, exoplanets, and masers, and track asteroids and planets.

    And the future Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA).

     
  • richardmitnick 6:34 am on September 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ageing Star Blows Off Smoky Bubble, ALMA, , , , , ,   

    From ALMA: “Ageing Star Blows Off Smoky Bubble” 

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

    20 September 2017

    Nicolás Lira
    Education and Public Outreach Coordinator
    Joint ALMA Observatory, Santiago – Chile
    Phone: +56 2 2467 6519
    Cell: +56 9 9445 7726
    nicolas.lira@alma.cl

    Richard Hook
    Public Information Officer, ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Phone: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    Francisco Rodríguez I.
    ESO Press Officer in Chile
    Santiago, Chile
    +56 2 24633019
    frrodrig@eso.org

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

    Masaaki Hiramatsu
    Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
    Observatory
, Tokyo – Japan
    Phone: +81 422 34 3630
    hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

    Related Posts

    1
    Astronomers have used ALMA to capture a strikingly beautiful view of a delicate bubble of expelled material around the exotic red star U Antliae. These observations will help astronomers to better understand how stars evolve during the later stages of their life-cycles.

    In the faint southern constellation of Antlia (The Air Pump) the careful observer with binoculars will spot a very red star, which varies slightly in brightness from week to week. This very unusual star is called U Antliae and new observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) are revealing a remarkably thin spherical shell around it.

    2
    This image was created from ALMA data on the unusual red carbon star U Antliae and its surrounding shell of material. The colours show the motion of the glowing material in the shell along the line of sight to the Earth. Blue material lies between us and the central star, and is moving towards us. Red material around the edge is moving away from the star, but not towards the Earth.
    For clarity this view does not include the material on the far side of the star, which is receding from us in a symmetrical manner. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), F. Kerschbaum


    Astronomers have used ALMA to capture a strikingly beautiful view of a delicate bubble of expelled material around the exotic red star U Antliae. These observations will help astronomers to better understand how stars evolve during the later stages of their life-cycles.
    This short podcast takes a look at this important new result and what it means. Credit:ESO.
    Directed by: Nico Bartmann.
    Editing: Nico Bartmann.
    Web and technical support: Mathias André and Raquel Yumi Shida.
    Written by: Izumi Hansen and Richard Hook.
    Music: Colin Rayment & Stan Dart.
    Footage and photos: ESO, spaceengine.org, NASA, SDO, M.Kornmesser, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), F. Kerschbaum.
    Executive producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen.

    U Antliae [1] is a carbon star, an evolved, cool and luminous star of the asymptotic giant branch type. Around 2700 years ago, U Antliae went through a short period of rapid mass loss. During this period of only a few hundred years, the material making up the shell seen in the new ALMA data was ejected at high speed. Examination of this shell in further detail also shows some evidence of thin, wispy gas clouds known as filamentary substructures.

    This spectacular view was only made possible by the unique ability to create sharp images at multiple wavelengths that is provided by the ALMA radio telescope, located on the Chajnantor Plateau in Chile’s Atacama Desert, at 5,000 metres. ALMA can see much finer structure in the U Antliae shell than has previously been possible.

    The new ALMA data are not just a single image; ALMA produces a three-dimensional dataset (a data cube) with each slice being observed at a slightly different wavelength. Because of the Doppler Effect, this means that different slices of the data cube show images of gas moving at different speeds towards or away from the observer. This shell is also remarkable as it is very symmetrically round and also remarkably thin. By displaying the different velocities we can cut this cosmic bubble into virtual slices just as we do in computer tomography of a human body.

    Understanding the chemical composition of the shells and atmospheres of these stars, and how these shells form by mass loss, is important to properly understand how stars evolve in the early Universe and also how galaxies evolved. Shells such as the one around U Antliae show a rich variety of chemical compounds based on carbon and other elements. They also help to recycle matter, and contribute up to 70% of the dust between stars.
    Notes

    [1] The name U Antliae reflects the fact that it is the fourth star that changes its brightness to be found in the constellation of Antlia (The Air Pump). The naming of such variable stars followed a complicated sequence as more and more were found and is explained here.
    More information

    This research was presented in a paper entitled Rings and filaments. The remarkable detached CO shell of U Antliae, by F. Kerschbaum et al., to appear in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    The team is composed of F. Kerschbaum (University of Vienna, Austria), M. Maercker (Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden), M. Brunner (University of Vienna, Austria), M. Lindqvist (Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden), H. Olofsson (Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden), M. Mecina (University of Vienna, Austria), E. De Beck (Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden), M. A. T. Groenewegen (Koninklijke Sterrenwacht van België, Belgium), E. Lagadec (Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, CNRS, France), S. Mohamed (University of Cape Town, South Africa), C. Paladini (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium), S. Ramstedt (Uppsala University, Sweden), W. H. T. Vlemmings (Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden), and M. Wittkowski (ESO)

    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of ESO, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI).

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

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
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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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    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”.

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

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

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

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    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)

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    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

     
  • richardmitnick 1:17 pm on September 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, , , , , Explosive Birth of Stars Swells Galactic Cores - ALMA spots transforming disk galaxies, ,   

    From ALMA: “Explosive Birth of Stars Swells Galactic Cores – ALMA spots transforming disk galaxies” 

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

    2017.09.11
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    1
    NAOJ

    Astronomers found that active star formation upswells galaxies, like yeast helps bread rise. Using three powerful telescopes on the ground and in orbit, they observed galaxies from 11 billion years ago and found explosive formation of stars in the cores of galaxies. This suggests that galaxies can change their own shape without interaction with other galaxies.

    Astronomers found that active star formation upswells galaxies, like yeast helps bread rise. Using three powerful telescopes on the ground and in orbit, they observed galaxies from 11 billion years ago and found explosive formation of stars in the cores of galaxies. This suggests that galaxies can change their own shape without interaction with other galaxies.

    “Massive elliptical galaxies are believed to be formed from collisions of disk galaxies,” said Ken-ichi Tadaki, the lead author of two research papers and a postdoctoral researcher at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). “But, it is uncertain whether all the elliptical galaxies have experienced galaxy collision. There may be an alternative path.”

    Aiming to understand galactic metamorphosis, the international team explored distant galaxies 11 billion light-years away. Because it takes time for the light from distant objects to reach us, by observing galaxies 11 billion light-years away, the team can see what the Universe looked like 11 billion years ago, 3 billion years after the Big Bang. This corresponds the peak epoch of galaxy formation; the foundations of most galaxies were formed in this epoch.

    Receiving faint light which has travelled 11 billion years is tough work. The team harnessed the power of three telescopes to anatomize the ancient galaxies. First, they used NAOJ’s 8.2-m Subaru Telescope in Hawai`i and picked out 25 galaxies in this epoch.


    NAOJ/Subaru Telescope at Mauna Kea Hawaii, USA

    Then they targeted the galaxies for observations with NASA/ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    The astronomers used HST to capture the light from stars which tells us the “current” (as of when the light was emitted, 11 billion years ago) shape of the galaxies, while ALMA observed submillimeter waves from cold clouds of gas and dust, where new stars are being formed. By combining the two, we know the shapes of the galaxies 11 billion years ago and how they are evolving.

    2
    Observation images of a galaxy 11 billion light-years away. Submillimeter waves detected with ALMA are shown in left, indicating the location of dense dust and gas where stars are being formed. Optical and infrared light seen with the Hubble Space Telescope are shown in the middle and right, respectively. A large galactic disk is seen in infrared, while three young star clusters are seen in optical light.
    Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, Tadaki et al.

    Thanks to their high resolution, HST and ALMA could illustrate the metamorphosis of the galaxies. With HST images the team found that a disk component dominates the galaxies. Meanwhile, the ALMA images show that there is a massive reservoir of gas and dust, the material of stars, so that stars are forming very actively. The star formation activity is so high that huge numbers of stars will be formed at the centers of the galaxies. This leads the astronomers to think that ultimately the galaxies will be dominated by the stellar bulge and become elliptical or lenticular galaxies.

    “Here, we obtained firm evidence that dense galactic cores can be formed without galaxy collisions. They can also be formed by intense star formation in the heart of the galaxy.” said Tadaki. The team used the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope to observe the target galaxies and confirmed that there are no indications of massive galaxy collisions.

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

    Almost 100 years ago, American astronomer Edwin Hubble invented the morphological classification scheme for galaxies. Since then, many astronomers have devoted considerable effort to understanding the origin of the variety in galaxy shapes. Utilizing the most advanced telescopes, modern astronomers have come one step closer to solving the mysteries of galaxies.

    3
    Evolution diagram of a galaxy. First the galaxy is dominated by the disk component (left) but active star formation occurs in the huge dust and gas cloud at the center of the galaxy (center). Then the galaxy is dominated by the stellar bulge and becomes an elliptical or lenticular galaxy. Credit: NAOJ

    Paper and research team
    These observation results were published as Tadaki et al. Bulge-forming Galaxies with an Extended Rotating Disk at z ~ 2 and Rotating Starburst Cores in Massive Galaxies at z = 2.5 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters in January and May 2017, respectively.

    The research team members are:
    Ken-ichi Tadaki (Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics [MPE]/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan [NAOJ]), Reinhard Genzel (MPE/University of California, Berkeley), Tadayuki Kodama (NAOJ/The Graduate University for Advanced Studies [SOKENDAI], Tohoku University), Stijn Wuyts (University of Bath), Emily Wisnioski (MPE), Natascha M. Foerster Schreiber (MPE), Andreas Burkert (MPE/Ludwig Maximilian University), Phillip Lang (MPE), Linda J. Tacconi (MPE), Dieter Lutz (MPE), Sirio Belli (MPE), Richard I. Davies (MPE), Bunyo Hatsukade (The University of Tokyo), Masao Hayashi (NAOJ), Rodrigo Herrera-Camus (MPE), Soh Ikarashi (University of Groningen), Shigeki Inoue (The University of Tokyo), Kotaro Kohno (The University of Tokyo), Yusei Koyama (NAOJ), J. Trevor Mendel (MPE / Ludwig Maximilian University), Kouichiro Nakanishi (NAOJ/SOKENDAI), Rhythm Shimakawa (SOEKNDAI/University of California), Tomoko L. Suzuki (SOEKNDAI/NAOJ), Yoichi Tamura (The University of Tokyo/Nagoya University), Ichi Tanaka (NAOJ), Hannah Uebler (MPE), Dave J. Wilman (MPE/ Ludwig Maximilian University), Erica J. Nelson (MPE), Magdalena Lippa (MPE)

    This research was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the German Academic Exchange Service under the Japan-German Research Cooperative 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 12:05 pm on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA, , , , , , Researchers at ALMA study the effects of working at high altitude   

    From ALMA: “Researchers at ALMA study the effects of working at high altitude” 

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

    17 August, 2017

    Nicolás Lira
    Education and Public Outreach Coordinator
    Joint ALMA Observatory, Santiago – Chile
    Phone: +56 2 2467 6519
    Cell phone: +56 9 9445 7726
    nicolas.lira@alma.cl

    1
    An international team of doctors and researchers conducted a study at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to identify the consequences of working at high altitude where the body can experience oxygen deficiency, a medical condition known as hypoxia. The extreme altitude of the observatory — 2,900 meters at the Operations Support Facility (OSF) and the Array Operations Site (AOS) at 5,000 meters — makes it a natural laboratory for this type of research, which is extremely useful to both ALMA and other operations at high altitudes. The first results of these studies are being made available to the scientific community (see posters) and will soon be published.

    Canadian, Swiss, and Chilean experts met at ALMA in April 2016 to examine workers who volunteered for the study, separating those who suffer from chronic illnesses such as hypertension or obesity from healthy workers in order to compare and understand the effects of hypoxia. Over the course of six weeks, doctors examined their cognitive skills, sleep quality, breathing patterns, blood flow to the brain, and hemodynamic changes between the heart and lungs.

    For Dr. Marc Poulin from the University of Calgary, Canada, who forms part of this study, “The working conditions at ALMA are ideal for our research. It has high quality infrastructure and is a true natural laboratory due to its high altitude.”

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    An international team of doctors and researchers conducted a study at ALMA to identify the consequences of working at high altitude where the body can experience oxygen deficiency, a medical condition known as hypoxia. The extreme altitude of the observatory — 2,900 meters at the OSF and the AOS at 5,000 meters — makes it a natural laboratory for this type of research, which is extremely useful to both ALMA and other operations at high altitudes. Credit: Iván López – ALMA (NRAO/NAOJ/ESO)

    Most of the workers at the observatory live in cities located at low altitudes, and work 8×6 shifts (8 days of work followed by 6 days off) at the ALMA OSF. The camp where the workers sleep is located here, as well as the laboratories, workshops, offices and antenna control room. Some workers have to ascend to the ALMA AOS at 5,000 meters, where they work with the antennas and correlator that synchronizes their signals. It is at this higher altitude that some staff experience intermittent hypoxia.

    The purpose of this study is to understand the long-term effects on workers’ performance, health, and safety from ongoing or intermittent exposure to hypoxia. This study is meant to optimize treatments that would help workers operate at altitude. It also may lead to new treatments from the lessons learned through this study in development.

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    “We are very happy about this study, as it gives us an objective database of the effects of hypoxia in workers and helps adapt the risk prevention program to real conditions, in order to improve the quality of life of all staff,” says Iván López, ALMA Risk Prevention, Health, Environment and Safety Manager.

    4
    An international team of doctors and researchers conducted a study at ALMA to identify the consequences of working at high altitude where the body can experience oxygen deficiency, a medical condition known as hypoxia. The extreme altitude of the observatory — 2,900 meters at the OSF and the AOS at 5,000 meters — makes it a natural laboratory for this type of research, which is extremely useful to both ALMA and other operations at high altitudes. Credit: Iván López – ALMA (NRAO/NAOJ/ESO)

    Early results from these studies suggest that intermittent and/or regular exposure to high altitudes may have a negative effect on psychomotor alertness, which is especially evident in those who work on tasks that require a high level of concentration, such as those found in mining and astronomical observatories. It also has bearing on athletes performing at high altitude.

    These studies also indicate that there is an alteration in workers’ sleep quality, although acclimatization would reduce these effects after a few days of exposure. Cognitive abilities would also be affected at extreme altitude exposure (5,050 meters above sea level), especially cognitive abilities and, to a much lesser extent, executive capacity. These effects would also be partially reduced as workers are acclimatized after a few days.

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    Among the measures taken by ALMA to reduce the effects of hypoxia are the mandatory use of portable medical oxygen for all workers performing tasks over an altitude of 3000 meters, permanent oxygenation of the technical building located at an altitude of 5000 meters, and constant on-site monitoring by the observatory’s medical team. In addition, new strategies are being developed that include a special diet and exercise 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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