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  • richardmitnick 7:24 am on April 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Basic Research, , ,   

    From SOFIA: “NASA’s SOFIA Finds Missing Link Between Supernovae and Planet Formation” 

    NASA SOFIA Banner

    SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy)

    March 19, 2015
    Last Updated: April 18, 2015
    Editor: Sarah Ramsey

    Felicia Chou
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-5241
    felicia.chou@nasa.gov

    Nicholas Veronico

    SOFIA Science Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
    650-604-4589 / 650-224-8726

    nicholas.a.veronico@nasa.gov / nveronico@sofia.usra.edu

    Kate K. Squires

    Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. 

    661-276-2020 

    kate.k.squires@nasa.gov

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    Using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), an international scientific team discovered that supernovae are capable of producing a substantial amount of the material from which planets like Earth can form.

    These findings are published in the March 19 online issue of Science magazine.

    “Our observations reveal a particular cloud produced by a supernova explosion 10,000 years ago contains enough dust to make 7,000 Earths,” said Ryan Lau of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

    The research team, headed by Lau, used SOFIA’s airborne telescope and the Faint Object InfraRed Camera for the SOFIA Telescope, FORCAST, to take detailed infrared images of an interstellar dust cloud known as Supernova Remnant Sagittarius A East, or SNR Sgr A East.

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    Supernova remnant dust detected by SOFIA (yellow) survives away from the hottest X-ray gas (purple). The red ellipse outlines the supernova shock wave. The inset shows a magnified image of the dust (orange) and gas emission (cyan).Credits: NASA/CXO/Lau et al

    The team used SOFIA data to estimate the total mass of dust in the cloud from the intensity of its emission. The investigation required measurements at long infrared wavelengths in order to peer through intervening interstellar clouds and detect the radiation emitted by the supernova dust.

    Astronomers already had evidence that a supernova’s outward-moving shock wave can produce significant amounts of dust. Until now, a key question was whether the new soot- and sand-like dust particles would survive the subsequent inward “rebound” shock wave generated when the first, outward-moving shock wave collides with surrounding interstellar gas and dust.

    “The dust survived the later onslaught of shock waves from the supernova explosion, and is now flowing into the interstellar medium where it can become part of the ‘seed material’ for new stars and planets,” Lau explained.

    These results also reveal the possibility that the vast amount of dust observed in distant young galaxies may have been made by supernova explosions of early massive stars, as no other known mechanism could have produced nearly as much dust.

    “This discovery is a special feather in the cap for SOFIA, demonstrating how observations made within our own Milky Way galaxy can bear directly on our understanding of the evolution of galaxies billions of light years away,” said Pamela Marcum, a SOFIA project scientist at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

    For more information about SOFIA, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/sofia

    or

    http://www.dlr.de/en/sofia

    For information about SOFIA’s science mission and scientific instruments, visit:

    http://www.sofia.usra.edu

    or

    http://www.dsi.uni-stuttgart.de/index.en.html

    See the full article here.

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    SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The aircraft is based at and the program is managed from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center, manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.
    NASA

     
  • richardmitnick 9:22 pm on April 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Basic Research, , Southwest Research Institute   

    From SwRI: “SwRI-led team studies meteorites from asteroids to date Moon-forming impact” 

    SwRI bloc

    Southwest Research Institute

    April 16, 2015
    No Writer Credit

    A NASA-funded research team led by Dr. Bill Bottke of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) independently estimated the Moon’s age as slightly less than 4.5 billion years by analyzing impact-heated shock signatures found in stony meteorites originating from the Main Asteroid Belt. Their work will appear in the April 2015 issue of the journal Science.

    “This research is helping to refine our time scales for ‘what happened when’ on other worlds in the solar system,” said Bottke, of the Institute for the Science of Exploration Targets (ISET). ISET is a founding member of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) and is based in SwRI’s Boulder, Colo. office.

    The Moon-forming giant impact, which took place between a large protoplanet and the proto-Earth, was the inner Solar System’s biggest and most recent known collision. Its timing, however, is still uncertain. Ages of the most ancient lunar samples returned by the Apollo astronauts are still being debated.

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    Images Courtesy of Southwest Research Institute

    Two frames that show a mapping of final material states of the Moon-forming impact event. Here it is assumed that a Mars-sized protoplanet, defined as having 13% of an Earth-mass, struck the proto-Earth at a 45 degree angle near the mutual escape velocity of both worlds. The “red” particles, comprising 0.3% of an Earth-mass, were found to escape the Earth-Moon system. Some of this debris may eventually go on to strike other solar system bodies like large main belt asteroids. “Yellow–green” particles go into the disk that makes the Moon. “Blue” particles were accreted by the proto-Earth.

    The first frame shows the mapping onto the pre-impact states of the Moon-forming impactor and proto-Earth. The second frame shows the mapping nearly 20 minutes into the impact event. The details of this simulation can be found in Canup, R. (2004, Simulations of a late lunar-forming impact, Icarus 168, 433–456).

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    Image Courtesy of Vishnu Reddy, Planetary Science Institute

    A meteorite fragment found after a 17–20 meter asteroid disrupted in the atmosphere near Chelyabinsk, Russia on Feb. 15, 2013. The blast wave produced by this event not only caused damage over a wide area but also created a strewn field of stony meteorites like this one. The meteorite is an ordinary chondrite (type LL5). It shows a beautiful contact between impact melt (dark material at top of image) and chondritic host (light material at bottom of image). Chondrules (circular features) are visible in the chondritic host at the bottom and right-hand side of the image. Portions of the chondrite were broken or otherwise separated and have migrated into the impact melt. The impact melt is estimated to be 4452±21 (Popova et al. 2013) and 4456±18 million years old (Lapen et al. 2014). These ages match the ~4470 million year old age of the Moon predicted by our model. We argue these impact melts were likely created when high velocity debris from the Moon-forming impact hit the parent asteroid of the Chelyabinsk bolide and heated near-surface material. (Image credit: Vishnu Reddy, Planetary Science Institute).

    The team used numerical simulations to show that the giant impact likely created a disk near Earth that eventually coalesced to form the Moon, while ejecting huge amounts of debris completely out of the Earth-Moon system. The fate of that material has been a mystery. However, it is plausible that some of it would have blasted other ancient inner-solar-system worlds such as asteroids, leaving behind telltale signs of impact-heating shock on their surfaces. Subsequent, less violent collisions between asteroids have since ejected some shocked remnants back to Earth in the form of fist-sized meteorites.

    By determining the age of the shock signatures on those meteorites, scientists were able to infer that their origin likely corresponds to the time of the giant impact, and therefore to the age of the Moon.

    The SSERVI research indicates that material accelerated by the giant impact struck Main Belt asteroids at much higher velocities than typical Main Belt collisions. The craters left behind by this bombardment contained an abundance of shocked and melted material with formation ages that provide a characteristic of the ancient giant impact event.

    Evidence that the giant impact produced a large number of kilometer-sized fragments can be inferred from laboratory and numerical impact experiments, the ancient lunar impact record itself, and the numbers and sizes of fragments produced by major Main Belt asteroid collisions.

    Once the team concluded that pieces of the Moon-forming impact hit Main Belt asteroids and made ancient impact age signatures in meteorites, they set out to deduce both the timing and the relative magnitude of the bombardment. By modeling their evolution over time, and fitting the results to ancient impact heating signatures in stony meteorites, the team was able to infer the Moon formed about 4.47 billion years ago, in agreement with many previous estimates.

    These impact signatures also provide insights into the last stages of planet formation in the inner solar system. For example, the team is exploring how they can be used to place new constraints on how many planet formation “leftovers,” many in the form of asteroid-like bodies, still existed in the inner solar system in the aftermath of planet formation. “It is even possible,” Bottke said, “that tiny remnants of the Moon-forming impactor or proto-Earth might still be found within meteorites that show signs of shock heating by giant impact debris. This would allow scientists to explore for the first time the unknown primordial nature of our home world.”

    SwRI scientists Dr. Simone Marchi and Dr. Harold (Hal) Levison also contributed to this work, as well as a team of researchers from the University of Arizona, University of Hawaii, and University of Western Ontario. This research was supported in part by SSERVI at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. SSERVI is funded by the Science Mission Directorate and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters to enable cross-team and interdisciplinary research that pushes forward the boundaries of science and exploration.

    For more information about SSERVI, visit http://sservi.nasa.gov.

    See the full article here.

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    SwRI Campus

    Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is an independent, nonprofit applied research and development organization. The staff of nearly 2,800 specializes in the creation and transfer of technology in engineering and the physical sciences. SwRI’s technical divisions offer a wide range of technical expertise and services in such areas as engine design and development, emissions certification testing, fuels and lubricants evaluation, chemistry, space science, nondestructive evaluation, automation, mechanical engineering, electronics, and more.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:38 pm on April 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Basic Research, ,   

    From FNAL- “Frontier Science Result: DES Reticulum II: Welcome to the neighborhood” 

    FNAL Home

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

    April 17, 2015
    Alex Drlica-Wagner

    1
    This plot shows the positions of stars surrounding the newly discovered dwarf galaxy Reticulum II. Points outlined in black represent stars for which high-resolution optical spectra provided velocity measurements. Red points represent stars that were confirmed to be members of the new dwarf galaxy, while gray points are non-members. (Points that are not outlined do not have velocity measurements.)

    The number of dark matter-dominated Milky Way satellite dwarf galaxies was increased by one this week. Scientists discovered the newest dwarf galaxy, Reticulum II, in data from the Dark Energy Survey.

    Dark Energy Survey
    Dark Energy Camera
    DES and DECam, the camera built at FNAL

    However, the DES data alone were not enough to confirm that Reticulum II was indeed a dark matter-dominated dwarf galaxy. Determining the dark matter content of Reticulum II required an extensive campaign combining observations from some of the largest telescopes in the world.

    Researchers determine the dark matter content of dwarf galaxies by measuring the velocities of the stars in these objects. The higher the velocity of the stars, the more mass is required to keep the stars gravitationally bound. Stellar velocities are determined from the Doppler shift of elemental lines, which produce sharp features in the spectrum of visible light coming from the stars. Reticulum II was targeted with high- and medium-resolution spectroscopy by the Magellan 6.5-meter telescope, the Gemini 8.1-meter telescope and the VLT 8.2-meter telescope, all located in Chile.

    Magellan 6.5 meter telescopes
    Magellan 6.5 meter Interior
    Magellan 6.5 meter telescope

    Gemini South telescope
    Gemini South Interior
    Gemini South

    ESO VLT Interferometer
    ESO VLT Interior
    ESO/VLT

    The result: Reticulum II has 470 times more mass than can be accounted for by its stars alone. This makes Reticulum II the first spectroscopically confirmed dwarf galaxy discovered outside of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

    If dark matter is composed of weakly interacting massive particles, it may annihilate to produce Standard Model particles, including gamma rays.

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    Standard Model of Particle Physics. The diagram shows the elementary particles of the Standard Model (the Higgs boson, the three generations of quarks and leptons, and the gauge bosons), including their names, masses, spins, charges, chiralities, and interactions with the strong, weak and electromagnetic forces. It also depicts the crucial role of the Higgs boson in electroweak symmetry breaking, and shows how the properties of the various particles differ in the (high-energy) symmetric phase (top) and the (low-energy) broken-symmetry phase (bottom).

    Regions of high dark matter density, such as dwarf galaxies, would then shine in gamma rays produced from dark matter annihilation. The strength of the gamma ray signal from each dwarf galaxy would be related to the distance and dark matter content of that galaxy. While nearby and highly dark matter-dominated, Reticulum II actually has a smaller dark matter content than several other previously known dwarf galaxies. This makes it unlikely to detect a gamma ray signal from dark matter annihilation in Reticulum II without seeing a similar signal in other nearby dwarf galaxies with greater dark matter content.

    In addition to Reticulum II, researchers have found seven more dwarf galaxy candidates in the DES data. Since March 10, three additional dwarf galaxy candidates were announced using data from other surveys. Interestingly, two of these three additional candidates used the Dark Energy Camera for photometric confirmation. While spectroscopy is necessary to confirm that these candidates are indeed dwarf galaxies, it is already clear that DECam is a powerful instrument for understanding dark matter.

    See the full article here.

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    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. Fermilab is America’s premier laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Thousands of scientists from universities and laboratories around the world
    collaborate at Fermilab on experiments at the frontiers of discovery.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:57 am on April 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Basic Research,   

    From Chandra: “NGC 6388: White Dwarf May Have Shredded Passing Planet” 

    NASA Chandra

    April 16, 2015

    1
    Composite

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    X-ray

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    Optical
    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/IASF Palermo/M.Del Santo et al; Optical: NASA/STScI
    Release Date April 16, 2015

    A planet may have been ripped apart by a white dwarf star in the outskirts of the Milky Way.

    A white dwarf is the dense core of a star like the Sun that has run out of nuclear fuel.

    Combining data from Chandra and several other telescopes, researchers think a “tidal disruption” may explain what is observed.

    The destruction of a planet may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but a team of astronomers has found evidence that this may have happened in an ancient cluster of stars at the edge of the Milky Way galaxy.

    Using several telescopes, including NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, researchers have found evidence that a white dwarf star – the dense core of a star like the Sun that has run out of nuclear fuel – may have ripped apart a planet as it came too close.

    How could a white dwarf star, which is only about the size of the Earth, be responsible for such an extreme act? The answer is gravity. When a star reaches its white dwarf stage, nearly all of the material from the star is packed inside a radius one hundredth that of the original star. This means that, for close encounters, the gravitational pull of the star and the associated tides, caused by the difference in gravity’s pull on the near and far side of the planet, are greatly enhanced. For example, the gravity at the surface of a white dwarf is over ten thousand times higher than the gravity at the surface of the Sun.

    Researchers used the European Space Agency’s INTErnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) to discover a new X-ray source near the center of the globular cluster NGC 6388.

    ESA Integral
    ESA/INTEGRAL

    Optical observations had hinted that an intermediate-mass black hole with mass equal to several hundred Suns or more resides at the center of NGC 6388. The X-ray detection by INTEGRAL then raised the intriguing possibility that the X-rays were produced by hot gas swirling towards an intermediate-mass black hole.

    In a follow-up X-ray observation, Chandra’s excellent X-ray vision enabled the astronomers to determine that the X-rays from NGC 6388 were not coming from the putative black hole at the center of the cluster, but instead from a location slightly off to one side. A new composite image shows NGC 6388 with X-rays detected by Chandra in pink and visible light from the Hubble Space Telescope in red, green, and blue, with many of the stars appearing to be orange or white.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    Overlapping X-ray sources and stars near the center of the cluster also causes the image to appear white.

    With the central black hole ruled out as the potential X-ray source, the hunt continued for clues about the actual source in NGC 6388. The source was monitored with the X-ray telescope on board NASA’s Swift Gamma Ray Burst mission for about 200 days after the discovery by INTEGRAL.

    NASA SWIFT Telescope
    NASA/Swift

    The source became dimmer during the period of Swift observations. The rate at which the X-ray brightness dropped agrees with theoretical models of a disruption of a planet by the gravitational tidal forces of a white dwarf. In these models, a planet is first pulled away from its parent star by the gravity of the dense concentration of stars in a globular cluster. When such a planet passes too close to a white dwarf, it can be torn apart by the intense tidal forces of the white dwarf. The planetary debris is then heated and glows in X-rays as it falls onto the white dwarf. The observed amount of X-rays emitted at different energies agrees with expectations for a tidal disruption event.

    The researchers estimate that the destroyed planet would have contained about a third of the mass of Earth, while the white dwarf has about 1.4 times the Sun’s mass.

    While the case for the tidal disruption of a planet is not iron-clad, the argument for it was strengthened when astronomers used data from the multiple telescopes to help eliminate other possible explanations for the detected X-rays. For example, the source does not show some of the distinctive features of a binary containing a neutron star, such as pulsations or rapid X-ray bursts. Also, the source is much too faint in radio waves to be part of a binary system with a stellar-mass black hole.

    A paper describing these results was published in an October 2014 issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The first author is Melania Del Santo of the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), IASF-Palermo, Italy, and the co-authors are Achille Nucita of the Universitá del Salento in Lecce, Italy; Giuseppe Lodato of the Universitá Degli Studi di Milano in Milan, Italy; Luigi Manni and Francesco De Paolis of the Universitá del Salento in Lecce, Italy; Jay Farihi of University College London in London, UK; Giovanni De Cesare of the National Institute for Astrophysics in IAPS-Rome, Italy and Alberto Segreto of the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), IASF-Palermo, Italy.

    See the full article here.

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:17 pm on April 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Basic Research, ,   

    From ESO: “Giant Galaxies Die from the Inside Out” 


    European Southern Observatory

    16 April 2015
    Sandro Tacchella
    ETH Zurich
    Zurich, Switzerland
    Tel: +41 44 633 6314
    Cell: +41 76 480 7963
    Email: sandro.tacchella@phys.ethz.ch

    Marcella Carollo
    ETH Zurich
    Zurich, Switzerland
    Tel: +41 797 926 581
    Email: marcella@phys.ethz.ch

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

    VLT and Hubble observations show that star formation shuts down in the centres of elliptical galaxies first

    Temp 1

    Astronomers have shown for the first time how star formation in “dead” galaxies sputtered out billions of years ago. ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have revealed that three billion years after the Big Bang, these galaxies still made stars on their outskirts, but no longer in their interiors. The quenching of star formation seems to have started in the cores of the galaxies and then spread to the outer parts. The results will be published in the 17 April 2015 issue of the journal Science.

    A major astrophysical mystery has centred on how massive, quiescent elliptical galaxies, common in the modern Universe, quenched their once furious rates of star formation. Such colossal galaxies, often also called spheroids because of their shape, typically pack in stars ten times as densely in the central regions as in our home galaxy, the Milky Way, and have about ten times its mass.

    Astronomers refer to these big galaxies as red and dead as they exhibit an ample abundance of ancient red stars, but lack young blue stars and show no evidence of new star formation. The estimated ages of the red stars suggest that their host galaxies ceased to make new stars about ten billion years ago. This shutdown began right at the peak of star formation in the Universe, when many galaxies were still giving birth to stars at a pace about twenty times faster than nowadays.

    “Massive dead spheroids contain about half of all the stars that the Universe has produced during its entire life,” said Sandro Tacchella of ETH Zurich in Switzerland, lead author of the article. “We cannot claim to understand how the Universe evolved and became as we see it today unless we understand how these galaxies come to be.”

    Tacchella and colleagues observed a total of 22 galaxies, spanning a range of masses, from an era about three billion years after the Big Bang [1]. The SINFONI instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) collected light from this sample of galaxies, showing precisely where they were churning out new stars. SINFONI could make these detailed measurements of distant galaxies thanks to its adaptive optics system, which largely cancels out the blurring effects of Earth’s atmosphere.

    ESO SINFONI
    SINFONI

    The researchers also trained the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope on the same set of galaxies, taking advantage of the telescope’s location in space above our planet’s distorting atmosphere. Hubble’s WFC3 camera snapped images in the near-infrared, revealing the spatial distribution of older stars within the actively star-forming galaxies.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    “What is amazing is that SINFONI’s adaptive optics system can largely beat down atmospheric effects and gather information on where the new stars are being born, and do so with precisely the same accuracy as Hubble allows for the stellar mass distributions,” commented Marcella Carollo, also of ETH Zurich and co-author of the study.

    According to the new data, the most massive galaxies in the sample kept up a steady production of new stars in their peripheries. In their bulging, densely packed centres, however, star formation had already stopped.

    “The newly demonstrated inside-out nature of star formation shutdown in massive galaxies should shed light on the underlying mechanisms involved, which astronomers have long debated,” says Alvio Renzini, Padova Observatory, of the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics.

    A leading theory is that star-making materials are scattered by torrents of energy released by a galaxy’s central supermassive black hole as it sloppily devours matter. Another idea is that fresh gas stops flowing into a galaxy, starving it of fuel for new stars and transforming it into a red and dead spheroid.

    “There are many different theoretical suggestions for the physical mechanisms that led to the death of the massive spheroids,” said co-author Natascha Förster Schreiber, at the Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik in Garching, Germany. “Discovering that the quenching of star formation started from the centres and marched its way outwards is a very important step towards understanding how the Universe came to look like it does now.”

    Notes

    [1] The Universe’s age is about 13.8 billion years, so the galaxies studied by Tacchella and colleagues are generally seen as they were more than 10 billion years ago.
    More information

    This research was presented in a paper entitled Evidence for mature bulges and an inside-out quenching phase 3 billion years after the Big Bang by S. Tacchella et al., to appear in the journal Science on 17 April 2015.

    The team is composed of Sandro Tacchella (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), Marcella Carollo (ETH Zurich), Alvio Renzini (Italian National Institute of Astrophysics, Padua, Italy), Natascha Förster Schreiber (Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik, Garching, Germany), Philipp Lang (Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik), Stijn Wuyts (Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik), Giovanni Cresci (Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica), Avishai Dekel (The Hebrew University, Israel), Reinhard Genzel (Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik and University of California, Berkeley, California, USA), Simon Lilly (ETH Zurich), Chiara Mancini (Italian National Institute of Astrophysics), Sarah Newman (University of California, Berkeley, California, USA), Masato Onodera (ETH Zurich), Alice Shapley (University of California, Los Angeles, USA), Linda Tacconi (Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik, Garching, Germany), Joanna Woo (ETH Zurich) and Giovanni Zamorani (Italian National Institute of Astrophysics, Bologna, Italy).

    See the full article here.

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    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

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  • richardmitnick 3:12 pm on April 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Basic Research, Mercury,   

    From NASA: “NASA Spacecraft Achieves Unprecedented Success Studying Mercury” 

    NASA

    NASA

    April 16, 2015

    Dwayne Brown
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1726
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    Paulette Campbell
    Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
    240-228-6792
    paulette.campbell@jhuapl.edu

    NASA Messenger satellite
    NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft traveled more than six and a half years before it was inserted into orbit around Mercury on March 18, 2011.

    After extraordinary science findings and technological innovations, a NASA spacecraft launched in 2004 to study Mercury will impact the planet’s surface, most likely on April 30, after it runs out of propellant.

    NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft will impact the planet at more than 8,750 miles per hour (3.91 kilometers per second) on the side of the planet facing away from Earth. Due to the expected location, engineers will be unable to view in real time the exact location of impact.

    On Tuesday, mission operators in mission control at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, completed the fourth in a series of orbit correction maneuvers designed to delay the spacecraft’s impact into the surface of Mercury. The last maneuver is scheduled for Friday, April 24.

    “Following this last maneuver, we will finally declare the spacecraft out of propellant, as this maneuver will deplete nearly all of our remaining helium gas,” said Daniel O’Shaughnessy, mission systems engineer at APL. “At that point, the spacecraft will no longer be capable of fighting the downward push of the sun’s gravity.”

    Although Mercury is one of Earth’s nearest planetary neighbors, little was known about the planet prior to the MESSENGER mission.

    “For the first time in history we now have real knowledge about the planet Mercury that shows it to be a fascinating world as part of our diverse solar system,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “While spacecraft operations will end, we are celebrating MESSENGER as more than a successful mission. It’s the beginning of a longer journey to analyze the data that reveals all the scientific mysteries of Mercury.”

    The spacecraft traveled more than six and a half years before it was inserted into orbit around Mercury on March 18, 2011. The prime mission was to orbit the planet and collect data for one Earth year. The spacecraft’s healthy instruments, remaining fuel, and new questions raised by early findings resulted in two approved operations extensions, allowing the mission to continue for almost four years and resulting in more scientific firsts.

    One key science finding in 2012 provided compelling support for the hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant frozen water and other volatile materials in its permanently shadowed polar craters.

    Data indicated the ice in Mercury’s polar regions, if spread over an area the size of Washington, would be more than two miles thick. For the first time, scientists began seeing clearly a chapter in the story of how the inner planets, including Earth, acquired water and some of the chemical building blocks for life.

    A dark layer covering most of the water ice deposits supports the theory that organic compounds, as well as water, were delivered from the outer solar system to the inner planets and may have led to prebiotic chemical synthesis and, thusly, life on Earth.

    “The water now stored in ice deposits in the permanently shadowed floors of impact craters at Mercury’s poles most likely was delivered to the innermost planet by the impacts of comets and volatile-rich asteroids,” said Sean Solomon, the mission’s principal investigator, and director of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York. “Those same impacts also likely delivered the dark organic material.”

    In addition to science discoveries, the mission provided many technological firsts, including the development of a vital heat-resistant and highly reflective ceramic cloth sunshade that isolated the spacecraft’s instruments and electronics from direct solar radiation – vital to mission success given Mercury’s proximity to the sun. The technology will help inform future designs for planetary missions within our solar system.

    “The front side of the sunshade routinely experienced temperatures in excess of 300° Celsius (570° Fahrenheit), whereas the majority of components in its shadow routinely operated near room temperature (20°C or 68°F),” said Helene Winters, mission project manager at APL. “This technology to protect the spacecraft’s instruments was a key to mission success during its prime and extended operations.”

    The spacecraft was designed and built by APL. The lab manages and operates the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The mission is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed for the directorate by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

    For a complete listing of science findings and technological achievements of the mission visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/messenger

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:32 pm on April 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Basic Research, ,   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Reveals Intense Magnetic Field Close to Supermassive Black Hole” 

    ESO ALMA Array
    ALMA

    16 April 2015
    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

    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: +1 434.242.9559
    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 surroundings of a supermassive black hole, typical of that found at the heart of many galaxies. The black hole itself is surrounded by a brilliant accretion disc of very hot, infalling material and, further out, a dusty torus. There are also often high-speed jets of material ejected at the black hole’s poles that can extend huge distances into space. Observations with ALMA have detected a very strong magnetic field close to the black hole at the base of the jets and this is probably involved in jet production and collimation.

    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has revealed an extremely powerful magnetic field, beyond anything previously detected in the core of a galaxy, very close to the event horizon of a supermassive black hole. This new observation helps astronomers to understand the structure and formation of these massive inhabitants of the centres of galaxies, and the twin high-speed jets of plasma they frequently eject from their poles. The results appear in the 17 April 2015 issue of the journal Science.

    Supermassive black holes, often with masses billions of times that of the Sun, are located at the heart of almost all galaxies in the Universe. These black holes can accrete huge amounts of matter in the form of a surrounding disc. While most of this matter is fed into the black hole, some can escape moments before capture and be flung out into space at close to the speed of light as part of a jet of plasma. How this happens is not well understood, although it is thought that strong magnetic fields, acting very close to the event horizon, play a crucial part in this process, helping the matter to escape from the gaping jaws of darkness.

    Up to now only weak magnetic fields far from black holes — several light-years away — had been probed [1]. In this study, however, astronomers from Chalmers University of Technology and Onsala Space Observatory in Sweden have now used ALMA to detect signals directly related to a strong magnetic field very close to the event horizon of the supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy named PKS 1830-211. This magnetic field is located precisely at the place where matter is suddenly boosted away from the black hole in the form of a jet.

    The team measured the strength of the magnetic field by studying the way in which light was polarised, as it moved away from the black hole.

    “Polarisation is an important property of light and is much used in daily life, for example in sun glasses or 3D glasses at the cinema,” says Ivan Marti-Vidal, lead author of this work. “When produced naturally, polarisation can be used to measure magnetic fields, since light changes its polarisation when it travels through a magnetised medium. In this case, the light that we detected with ALMA had been travelling through material very close to the black hole, a place full of highly magnetised plasma.”

    The astronomers applied a new analysis technique that they had developed to the ALMA data and found that the direction of polarisation of the radiation coming from the centre of PKS 1830-211 had rotated [2]. These are the shortest wavelengths ever used in this kind of study, which allow the regions very close to the central black hole to be probed [3].

    “We have found clear signals of polarisation rotation that are hundreds of times higher than the highest ever found in the Universe,” says Sebastien Muller, co-author of the paper. “Our discovery is a giant leap in terms of observing frequency, thanks to the use of ALMA, and in terms of distance to the black hole where the magnetic field has been probed — of the order of only a few light-days from the event horizon. These results, and future studies, will help us understand what is really going on in the immediate vicinity of supermassive black holes.”

    Notes

    [1] Much weaker magnetic fields have been detected in the vicinity of the relatively inactive supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. Recent observations have also revealed weak magnetic fields in the active galaxy NGC 1275, which were detected at millimetre wavelengths.

    [2] Magnetic fields introduce Faraday rotation, which makes the polarisation rotate in different ways at different wavelengths. The way in which this rotation depends on the wavelength tells us about the magnetic field in the region.

    [3] The ALMA observations were at an effective wavelength of about 0.3 millimetres, earlier investigations were at much longer radio wavelengths. Only light of millimetre wavelengths can escape from the region very close to the black hole, longer wavelength radiation is absorbed.

    More Information

    This research was presented in a paper entitled “A strong magnetic field in the jet base of a supermassive black hole” to appear in Science on 16 April 2015.

    The team is composed of I. Martí-Vidal (Department of Earth and Space Sciences, Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, Onsala, Sweden), S. Muller (Onsala Space Observatory), W. Vlemmings (Onsala Space Observatory), C. Horellou (Onsala Space Observatory), S. Aalto (Onsala Space Observatory).

    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 10:37 am on April 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Basic Research, , , ,   

    From FNAL: “Physics in a Nutshell Particle – beams and the scattering process” 

    FNAL Home

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

    April 16, 2015
    Roger Dixon

    1
    The Main Injector is the flagship accelerator at Fermilab. Over the coming months, this column will review how machines such as this one achieve high-energy particle beams. Photo: Reidar Hahn

    Much of the information we gather from the physical world comes to us by a scattering process. Scattering occurs when a beam consisting of light or charged particles strikes a target. The incident particle and target can simply recoil from the interaction, or other additional particles can materialize out of the energy of the collision. Information about the target and beam is carried away in the recoiling particles.

    Consider an everyday example: A beam of sunlight strikes a flower and scatters off the magnificent petals in the form of light particles at particular frequencies, which make their way to our eyes. From there the information is transmitted to the brain, which compares the data with existing data in the brain, and we recognize that we are looking at a beautiful flower.

    We gather information about much smaller, subatomic objects in the same way. A beam from a particle accelerator strikes a target, and a detector records information about the recoiling debris: angles, momentum, energy of the scattered particles. The detector (an eye) registers the raw information and processes it before sending it on to a computer (a brain), which seeks recognizable patterns in the data that reveal basic aspects of the beam and the target. Through the ensuing analysis, we can distinguish between particles and measure their properties, such as charge, mass and spin, among others.

    Order discerned in this manner is a fundamental basis for our knowledge of the physical world. A subtlety of the process is that the incident beam must have specific properties in order to reveal the type of information we want with the desired level of detail.

    To explore the details of very small particles, scientists need to create beams with high energies. Electric fields are used to accelerate charged particles. An electric field resides between the two poles of a battery. The unit of energy used for beams of charged particle is the electronvolt (eV). One eV is the energy gained by an electron when it is accelerated through a one-volt potential.

    One way to create such a potential is with a 1.5-volt flashlight battery. An electron passing between the poles would gain 1.5 eV. However, a battery is not the best way to accelerate charged particles. To achieve 1 trillion electronvolts (1 TeV) with flashlight batteries would require 667 billion batteries, and the battery string would be roughly 24 million miles long.

    The good news is that I found batteries on sale for $1.15 each if we act fast. However, a quick review of the numbers reveals that batteries simply won’t work due to both cost and environmental issues. We need a better solution for accelerating our beams.

    In future columns I will summarize more reasonable solutions for achieving high-energy beams. We will discover that modern accelerators use a combination of brute force and ingenuity. What could be more fun?

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. Fermilab is America’s premier laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Thousands of scientists from universities and laboratories around the world
    collaborate at Fermilab on experiments at the frontiers of discovery.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:17 am on April 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Basic Research, ,   

    From U Colorado: “After successful mission to Mercury, spacecraft on a crash course with history” 

    U Colorado

    University of Colorado Boulder

    April 16, 2015
    William McClintock, 303-492-8407
    william.mcclintock@lasp.colorado.edu

    Daniel Baker, 303-492-0591
    daniel.baker@lasp.colorado.edu

    Gregory Holsclaw, 303-735-0480
    gregory.holsclaw@colorado.edu

    Jim Scott, CU-Boulder media relations, 303-492-3114
    jim.scott@colorado.edu

    NASA Messenger satellite
    MESSENGER

    NASA’s MESSENGER mission to Mercury carrying an $8.7 million University of Colorado Boulder instrument is slated to run out of fuel and crash into the planet in the coming days after a wildly successful, four-year orbiting mission chock full of discoveries.

    The mission began in 2004, when the MESSENGER spacecraft launched from Florida on a seven year, 4.7 billion mile journey that involved 15 loops around the sun before the spacecraft settled in Mercury’s orbit in March 2011. Since then the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS), built by CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), has been making measurements of Mercury’s surface and its tenuous atmosphere, called the exosphere.

    U ColoradoMASCS
    MASCS

    “The spacecraft is finally running out of fuel, and at this point it’s just sort of skimming the planet’s surface,” said Senior Research Scientist William McClintock of LASP, the principal investigator of the MASCS instrument for the mission. It could crash onto Mercury’s surface or run into towering cliff-like features known as scarps that are evidence of a planet-wide contraction as the object cooled, he said.

    “A lot of people didn’t give this spacecraft much of a chance of even getting to Mercury, let alone going into orbit and then gathering data for four years instead of the original scheduled one-year mission.” said McClintock. “In the end, most of what we considered to be gospel about Mercury turned out to be a little different than we thought.”

    Mercury is about two-thirds of the way closer to the sun than Earth and has been visited by only one other spacecraft, NASA’s Mariner 10, in 1974 and 1975.

    NASA Mariner 10
    Mariner 10

    About half the size of a compact car, MESSENGER is equipped with a large sunshade and is toting a camera, a magnetometer, an altimeter and four spectrometers.

    One surprise to the CU-Boulder scientists was the behavior of the thin, tenuous atmosphere of Mercury known as the exosphere. “We thought the exosphere would be highly variable and episodic, and we discovered quite the opposite,” said McClintock. “We found it was very seasonal, like our climate on Earth. We saw the same patterns year after year, which was a big surprise.”

    A number of wild discoveries have come from the MESSENGER mission: Mercury may have as much as 1 trillion metric tons of ice tucked in the dark recesses of its craters, despite its 800 degree Fahrenheit surface temperatures; dust from comets may have painted its surface dark with carbon; some of its craters were once filled with lava; it has a lopsided magnetic field and a gigantic iron core.

    Despite the large iron core, very little of the element was found on the surface, said Greg Holsclaw, a LASP researcher who helped develop the MASCS instrument. “Despite clear evidence of volcanic activity, the abundance of iron was found to be very low,” he said. “This, combined with the presence of materials that vaporize at relatively low temperatures, indicates Mercury experienced a formation history unlike any other planet.”

    During the mission, McClintock and his colleagues used MASCS to make the first detection of magnesium in the planet’s exosphere. The team also determined magnesium, calcium and sodium, the major elements observed with MASCS, show distinctive and different spatial patterns that repeat every Mercury year.

    LASP Director Daniel Baker, also a co-investigator on the MESSENGER mission, is studying Mercury’s magnetic field and its interaction with the solar wind including violent “sub-storms” that occur in the planet’s vicinity. “MESSENGER has taught us more in four years of orbiting our sun’s nearest neighbor than we’ve learned in the prior several centuries put together,” Baker said. “We have come to understand much more deeply the geology, chemistry, atmospheric aspects and the space environment of a truly fascinating ‘miniature’ world.”

    Baker said CU-Boulder’s involvement in the MESSENGER mission has helped attract bright and energetic faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. Even undergraduates have been participating in the mission including senior Ryan Dewey, a 2014 Goldwater Scholarship winner who sought out Baker as a sophomore because he wanted to be at the forefront of the MESSENGER discoveries.

    “Ryan is an exceptional student who has worked on Mercury science at a level often reserved for advanced graduate students,” said Baker, noting Dewey was lead author on a 2013 scientific paper dealing with the interactions of Mercury’s magnetosphere and its space environment. “I know this work will serve him well as he moves on to graduate school and a professional career after that.”

    The fate of MESSENGER is not in doubt, said McClintock. “Before long it’s going to be in pieces scattered across the surface of Mercury. But I don’t think anyone who has worked on the project will ever forget it,” he said. “It has been an extremely exciting mission, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

    CU-Boulder’s LASP has designed and built instruments that have visited or are en route to every planet in the solar system. As the MESSENGER mission to Mercury winds down, LASP has a student-built dust counter on NASA’s New Horizons mission, which launched in 2006 and will make its closest flyby of Pluto — 7,000 miles — on July 14. LASP also built instruments for NASA spacecraft now at Mars and Saturn.

    NASA New Horizons spacecraft
    New Horizons

    The Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University manages the MESSENGER mission for NASA. Sean Solomon from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, is the MESSENGER principal investigator. For more information about MESSENGER visit http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/. For more information about LASP, visit http://lasp.colorado.edu/.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Colorado Campus

    As the flagship university of the state of Colorado, CU-Boulder is a dynamic community of scholars and learners situated on one of the most spectacular college campuses in the country. As one of 34 U.S. public institutions belonging to the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) – and the only member in the Rocky Mountain region – we have a proud tradition of academic excellence, with five Nobel laureates and more than 50 members of prestigious academic academies.

    CU-Boulder has blossomed in size and quality since we opened our doors in 1877 – attracting superb faculty, staff, and students and building strong programs in the sciences, engineering, business, law, arts, humanities, education, music, and many other disciplines.

    Today, with our sights set on becoming the standard for the great comprehensive public research universities of the new century, we strive to serve the people of Colorado and to engage with the world through excellence in our teaching, research, creative work, and service.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:22 pm on April 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Basic Research, ,   

    From ING: “First Near Earth Asteroids Discovered from La Palma” 

    Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes Logo
    Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes

    15 April, 2015

    1
    The first NEAs discovered using the Isaac Newton Telescope and from La Palma plus one subsequently lost. Six to eight NEA apparitions were combined in the same stellar field. Credit: F. Char, UAUA Chile

    In 2014 the Isaac Newton Telescope became the first telescope in La Palma to discover and secure five Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) as part of the EURONEAR project and as a result of the allocation of several override programmes awarded by the time allocation committees.

    Actually these NEA discoveries were made serendipitously by a team comprising about 10 students and amateur astronomers who carefully blinked the INT Wide Field Camera (WFC) images to search for NEAs previously discovered in one opposition, and in order to improve their orbits, the actual objective of these observations. In the past other NEAs were discovered serendipitously by EURONEAR since 2008, but none could be confirmed due to the lack of telescope time. Thanks to the INT override time, and time on other telescopes part of the EURONEAR network, and to the volunteering work of the students and amateurs, the team could rapidly recover and secure, mostly during the following night, the five discovered NEAs:

    014 LU14 (EURONEAR acronym EUHT171). It is the first NEA discovered from La Palma (2 Jun 2014), by L. Hudin (ROASTERR-1 Cluj), who analysed the images, from observations by O. Vaduvescu and V. Tudor (ING).

    2014 NL52 (EUHT288). At discovery it was moving rapidly on the sky at 6 arcsec/minute and close to the Earth. It was soon found to rotate extremely fast with a period of 4.5 minutes, meaning that it can be an interesting object to study the evolution and possible fragmentation of small NEAs. Discovered on 10 July 2014 by L. Hudin (ROASTERR-1 Cluj), from observations by O. Zamora (IAC).

    2014 OL339 (EURC061). It is the fourth quasi-satellite of the Earth and the first Aten quasi-satellite (C. and R. de la Fuente Marcos, 2014, MNRAS, 445, 2985). Discovered on 29 Jul 2014 by F. Char (Universidad de Antofagasta, Chile) from observations by O. Vaduvescu and V. Tudor (ING).

    2014 SG143 (EUHT461). It is a large NEA, size around 1 km. Discovered on 18 Sep 2014 by L. Hudin (ROASTERR-1 Cluj) and observers O. Vaduvescu, T. Mocnik (ING) and M. Popescu (Romanian Astronomical Institute).

    2014 VP (EUHR001). It is the brightest EURONEAR discovery (R=19.3). Discovered on 4 Nov 2014 by the R. Cornea (SARM Romania) and L. Hudin (ROASTERR-1 Cluj), from observations M. Díaz Alfaro, T. Mocnik, I. Ordoñez-Etxeberría and F. López-Martínez

    Temp 1
    Top: follow-up INT composite light curve of 2014 NL52 showing a very rapid spin (P=4.5 min), credit T. Kwiatkowski. Bottom: follow-up spectra obtained using the Gran Telescopio Canarias showing its S-type taxonomic class, credit: J. de Leon and A. Cabrera-Lavers. Extracted from MNRAS, 449, 1614.

    The Isaac Newton Telescope equipped with the WFC remains a very powerful tool in NEA research and survey work. Based on these statistics recently published by the EURONEAR team, one NEA could be discovered in good conditions in 3-5 square degrees, covered by 12-20 WFC pointings, requiring 3-4 hours. During about 50 dark nights, the WFC could take European leadership in NEA survey work, being capable to discover more than 100 NEAs.

    More information:

    O. Vaduvescu et al., 2015, First EURONEAR NEA discoveries from La Palma using the INT, MNRAS, 449, 1614. Paper.

    The EURONEAR website, including animated images and orbits of the discovered NEAs.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

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    Isaac Newton Group telescopes

     
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