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  • richardmitnick 8:12 am on January 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Cosmology, , ,   

    From Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation -CSIRO: “Leading Australian telescopes to get technology upgrades” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation -CSIRO

    17 Jan 2020
    Gabby Russell
    +61 2 9490 8002

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia, 414.80m above sea level

    CSIRO’s iconic Parkes radio telescope – fondly known as ‘The Dish’ – will get a new receiver that will significantly increase the amount of sky it can see at any one time, enabling new science and supporting local innovation in the space sector.

    The receiver is one of two projects announced today that will deliver technology enhancements for Australia’s leading radio telescopes.

    Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grants have been awarded for the development of a new receiver for the Parkes radio telescope, and a major upgrade for the Australia Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri in NSW.

    CSIRO Australia Compact Array, six radio telescopes at the Paul Wild Observatory, is an array of six 22-m antennas located about twenty five kilometres (16 mi) west of the town of Narrabri in Australia.

    Both telescopes are owned and operated by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, for use by astronomers in Australia and around the world.

    A $1.15M LIEF grant will support a $3M project to build a sensitive receiver called a ‘cryoPAF’ for the Parkes radio telescope.

    Once complete, the new cryoPAF will sit high above the Parkes telescope’s dish surface and receive radio signals reflected up from the dish.

    Its detectors will convert radio signals into electrical ones, which can be combined in different ways so that the telescope ‘looks’ in several different directions at once.

    The cryoPAF will be cooled to -253°C to reduce ‘noise’ in its electrical circuits, enhancing the ability to detect weak radio signals from the cosmos at frequencies from 700 MHz to 1.9 GHz.

    The grant was led by The University of Western Australia, which will coordinate construction and commissioning of the cryoPAF. CSIRO will design, build and install the instrument.

    There are five further research organisations involved in the project.

    Professor Lister Staveley-Smith from The University of Western Australia node of ICRAR, who led the grant application, said the cryoPAF has three times more field of view than the previous instrument, allowing quicker and more complete surveys of the sky.

    “The new receiver will help astronomers to study fast radio bursts and pulsar stars, and observe hydrogen gas throughout the Universe,” Professor Staveley-Smith said.

    A phased-array feed or PAF is a close-packed array of radio detectors.

    CSIRO has previously designed and built innovative phased-array feeds for its ASKAP telescope in Western Australia, and a test version of the cryoPAF was used successfully on the Parkes telescope in 2016.

    Director of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, Dr Douglas Bock, said that in addition to boosting the capabilities of the Parkes telescope, the cryoPAF receiver technology had the potential to create spin-off opportunities.

    “Phased arrays have found extensive use in defence radar, medical imaging and even optical laser beam steering, with emerging applications in satellite communications and telecommunications,” Dr Bock said.

    “Their further development at radio wavelengths has technology applications beyond radio astronomy with the potential to fuel the growth of space-related industries here in Australia.”

    A second LIEF grant, worth $530,000, will support a $2.6M upgrade of the Australia Telescope Compact Array.

    The existing digital signal processor will be replaced with a GPU-powered processor to double the bandwidth of the telescope’s signal electronics.

    The project is being led by Professor Ray Norris from Western Sydney University, working closely with CSIRO and seven other university partners.

    Professor Norris said the upgrade will enable Australian researchers to address major challenges in our understanding of the Universe, and make more ground-breaking discoveries, across broad areas of astrophysics.

    “The upgrade will enable the telescope to study radio counterparts to gravitational wave sources, and it will enable it to make detailed observations of initial discoveries made with the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder and other Australian telescopes,” Professor Norris said.

    CSIRO is a leader in radio astronomy technology development, working in close partnership with astronomers who use its telescopes as well as international observatory customers.

    “We’ve been developing specialised instrumentation for radio telescopes since the 1940s, when the field of radio astronomy first emerged, for our own and international telescopes,” Dr Bock said.

    “Through our close collaborations with research partners and our expertise in technology development, we’ll keep the telescopes at the cutting edge of science.”

    CSIRO owns and operates a wide range of science-ready national research facilities and infrastructure that is used by thousands of Australian and international researchers each year. The Parkes radio telescope and Australia Telescope Compact Array are part of the Australia Telescope National Facility, which is funded by the Australian Government.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:26 am on January 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Cosmology, , , ,   

    From European Space Agency – United space in Europe: “XMM-Newton discovers scorching gas in Milky Way’s halo” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United space in Europe

    From United space in Europe

    16/01/2020

    Sanskriti Das
    The Ohio State University, USA
    das.244@buckeyemail.osu.edu

    Smita Mathur
    The Ohio State University, USA
    smita@astronomy.ohio-state.edu

    Fabrizio Nicastro
    Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma—INAF, Italy
    Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA
    fabrizio.nicastro@inaf.it

    Norbert Schartel
    XMM-Newton project scientist
    European Space Agency
    norbert.schartel@esa.int

    1

    ESA’s XMM-Newton has discovered that gas lurking within the Milky Way’s halo reaches far hotter temperatures than previously thought and has a different chemical make-up than predicted, challenging our understanding of our galactic home.

    ESA/XMM Newton

    A halo is a vast region of gas, stars and invisible dark matter surrounding a galaxy. It is a key component of a galaxy, connecting it to wider intergalactic space, and is thus thought to play an important role in galactic evolution.

    Until now, a galaxy’s halo was thought to contain hot gas at a single temperature, with the exact temperature of this gas dependent on the mass of the galaxy.

    However, a new study using ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray space observatory now shows that the Milky Way’s halo contains not one but three different components of hot gas, with the hottest of these being a factor of ten hotter than previously thought. This is the first time multiple gas components structured in this way have been discovered in not only the Milky Way, but in any galaxy.

    “We thought that gas temperatures in galactic haloes ranged from around 10,000 to one million degrees – but it turns out that some of the gas in the Milky Way’s halo can hit a scorching 10 million degrees,” says Sanskriti Das, a graduate student at The Ohio State University, USA, and lead author of the new study.

    “While we think that gas gets heated to around one million degrees as a galaxy initially forms, we’re not sure how this component got so hot. It may be due to winds emanating from the disc of stars within the Milky Way.”

    The study used a combination of two instruments aboard XMM-Newton: the Reflection Grating Spectrometer (RGS) and European Photon Imaging Camera (EPIC). EPIC was used to study the light emitted by the halo, and RGS to study how the halo affects and absorbs light that passes through it.

    To probe the Milky Way’s halo in absorption, Sanskriti and colleagues observed an object known as a blazar: the very active, energetic core of a distant galaxy that is emitting intense beams of light.

    By now iconic image of a blazar. NASA Fermi Gamma ray Space Telescope. Credits M. Weiss/ CfA

    NASA/Fermi LAT


    NASA/Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope

    Having travelled almost five billion light-years across the cosmos, the X-ray light from this blazar also passed through our galaxy’s halo before reaching XMM-Newton’s detectors, and thus holds clues about the properties of this gaseous region.

    Caterpillar Project A Milky-Way-size dark-matter halo and its subhalos circled, an enormous suite of simulations . Griffen et al. 2016

    Unlike previous X-ray studies of the Milky Way’s halo, which normally last a day or two, the team performed observations over a period of three weeks, enabling them to detect signals that are usually too faint to see.

    “We analysed the blazar’s light and zeroed in on its individual spectral signatures: the characteristics of the light that can tell us about the material it’s passed through on its way to us,” says co-author Smita Mathur, also of The Ohio State University, and Sanskriti’s advisor.

    “There are specific signatures that only exist at specific temperatures, so we were able to determine how hot the halo gas must have been to affect the blazar light as it did.”

    The Milky Way’s hot halo is also significantly enhanced with elements heavier than helium, which are usually produced in the later stages of a star’s life. This indicates that the halo has received material created by certain stars during their lifetimes and final stages, and flung out into space as they die.

    3
    Elements found in the Milky Way halo – artist’s impression

    “Until now, scientists have primarily looked for oxygen, as it’s abundant and thus easier to find than other elements,” explains Sanskriti.

    “Our study was more detailed: we looked at not only oxygen but also nitrogen, neon and iron, and found some hugely interesting results.”

    Scientists expect the halo to contain elements in similar ratios to those seen in the Sun. However, Das and colleagues noticed less iron in the halo than expected, indicating that the halo has been enriched by massive dying stars, and also less oxygen, likely due to this element being taken up by dusty particles in the halo.

    “This is really exciting – it was completely unexpected, and tells us that we have much to learn about how the Milky Way has evolved into the galaxy it is today,” adds Sanskriti.

    4
    The cosmic budget of ‘ordinary’ matter

    While the mysterious dark matter and dark energy make up about 25 and 70 percent of our cosmos respectively, the ordinary matter that makes up everything we see – from stars and galaxies to planets and people – amounts to only about five percent.

    ______________________________________________________________________

    Fritz Zwicky discovered Dark Matter when observing the movement of the Coma Cluster., Vera Rubin a Woman in STEM denied the Nobel, did most of the work on Dark Matter.

    Fritz Zwicky from http:// palomarskies.blogspot.com

    Coma cluster via NASA/ESA Hubble

    Astronomer Vera Rubin at the Lowell Observatory in 1965, worked on Dark Matter (The Carnegie Institution for Science)


    Vera Rubin measuring spectra, worked on Dark Matter (Emilio Segre Visual Archives AIP SPL)


    Vera Rubin, with Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) image tube spectrograph attached to the Kitt Peak 84-inch telescope, 1970. https://home.dtm.ciw.edu

    The LSST, or Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is to be named the Vera C. Rubin Observatory by an act of the U.S. Congress.

    LSST telescope, The Vera Rubin Survey Telescope currently under construction on the El Peñón peak 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.

    LSST Data Journey, Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    Dark Matter Research

    Universe map Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey

    Scientists studying the cosmic microwave background [CMB]hope to learn about more than just how the universe grew—it could also offer insight into dark matter, dark energy and the mass of the neutrino.

    [caption id="attachment_73741" align="alignnone" width="632"] CMB per ESA/Planck

    Dark matter cosmic web and the large-scale structure it forms The Millenium Simulation, V. Springel et al

    Dark Matter Particle Explorer China

    DEAP Dark Matter detector, The DEAP-3600, suspended in the SNOLAB deep in Sudbury’s Creighton Mine

    LBNL LZ Dark Matter project at SURF, Lead, SD, USA


    Inside the ADMX experiment hall at the University of Washington Credit Mark Stone U. of Washington. Axion Dark Matter Experiment

    Dark Energy Survey


    Dark Energy Camera [DECam], built at FNAL


    NOAO/CTIO Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope which houses the DECam at Cerro Tololo, Chile, housing DECam at an altitude of 7200 feet

    Timeline of the Inflationary Universe WMAP

    The Dark Energy Survey (DES) is an international, collaborative effort to map hundreds of millions of galaxies, detect thousands of supernovae, and find patterns of cosmic structure that will reveal the nature of the mysterious dark energy that is accelerating the expansion of our Universe. DES began searching the Southern skies on August 31, 2013.

    According to Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, gravity should lead to a slowing of the cosmic expansion. Yet, in 1998, two teams of astronomers studying distant supernovae made the remarkable discovery that the expansion of the universe is speeding up. To explain cosmic acceleration, cosmologists are faced with two possibilities: either 70% of the universe exists in an exotic form, now called dark energy, that exhibits a gravitational force opposite to the attractive gravity of ordinary matter, or General Relativity must be replaced by a new theory of gravity on cosmic scales.

    DES is designed to probe the origin of the accelerating universe and help uncover the nature of dark energy by measuring the 14-billion-year history of cosmic expansion with high precision. More than 400 scientists from over 25 institutions in the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, and Australia are working on the project. The collaboration built and is using an extremely sensitive 570-Megapixel digital camera, DECam, mounted on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, high in the Chilean Andes, to carry out the project.

    Over six years (2013-2019), the DES collaboration used 758 nights of observation to carry out a deep, wide-area survey to record information from 300 million galaxies that are billions of light-years from Earth. The survey imaged 5000 square degrees of the southern sky in five optical filters to obtain detailed information about each galaxy. A fraction of the survey time is used to observe smaller patches of sky roughly once a week to discover and study thousands of supernovae and other astrophysical transients.

    ______________________________________________________________________

    However, stars in galaxies across the Universe only make up about seven percent of all ordinary matter. The cold interstellar gas that permeates galaxies – the raw material to create stars – amounts to about 1.8 percent of total, while the hot, diffuse gas in the haloes that encompass galaxies makes up roughly five percent, and the even hotter gas that fills galaxy clusters – the largest cosmic structures held together by gravity – accounts for four percent.

    This is not surprising: stars, galaxies and galaxy clusters form in the densest knots of the cosmic web, the filamentary distribution of both dark and ordinary matter that extends throughout the Universe. While these sites are dense, they are also rare, so not the best spots to look for the majority of cosmic matter.

    Most of the Universe’s ordinary matter, or baryons, must be lurking in the ubiquitous filaments of this cosmic web, where matter is however less dense and therefore more challenging to observe. Using different techniques over the years, they were able to locate a good chunk of this intergalactic material – mainly its cool component (also known as Lyman-alpha forest, which makes up about 28 percent of all baryons) and its warm component (about 15 percent).

    After two decades of observations, astronomers using ESA’s XMM-Newton space observatory have detected the hot component of this intergalactic material along the line of sight to a distant quasar. The amount of hot intergalactic gas detected in these observations amounts up to 40 percent of all baryons in the Universe, closing the gap in the overall budget of ordinary matter in the cosmos.

    The newly discovered hot gas component also has wider implications that affect our overall understanding of the cosmos. Our galaxy contains far less mass than we expect: this is known as the ‘missing matter problem’, in that what we observe does not match up with theoretical predictions.

    From its long-term mapping of the cosmos, ESA’s Planck spacecraft predicted that just under 5% of the mass in the Universe should exist in the form of ‘normal’ matter – the kind making up stars, galaxies, planets, and so on.

    ESA/Planck 2009 to 2013

    “However, when we add up everything we see, our figure is nowhere by S. Das, S. Mathur, F. Nicastro, and Y. Krongold near this prediction,” adds co-author Fabrizio Nicastro of Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma—INAF, Italy, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA.

    “So where’s the rest? Some suggest that it may be hiding in the extended and massive halos surrounding galaxies, making our finding really exciting.”

    As this hot component of the Milky Way’s halo has never been seen before, it may have been overlooked in previous analyses – and may thus contain a large amount of this ‘missing’ matter.

    “These observations provide new insights into the thermal and chemical history of the Milky Way and its halo, and challenge our knowledge of how galaxies form and evolve,” concludes ESA XMM project scientist Norbert Schartel.

    “The study looked at the halo along one sightline – that towards the blazar – so it will be hugely exciting to see future research expand on this.”

    Science papers:
    https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/ab3b09 , by S. Das, S. Mathur, F. Nicastro, and Y. Krongold

    https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/ab5846 , S. Das, S. Mathur, A, Gupta, F. Nicastro, and Y. Krongold

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 2:24 pm on January 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Cosmology, , , , The LSST Vera C. Rubin Observatory,   

    From The Kavli Foundation: “Behold the Whole Sky” The LSST Vera C. Rubin Observatory 

    KavliFoundation

    From The Kavli Foundation

    01/02/2020
    Adam Hadhazy

    Fritz Zwicky discovered Dark Matter when observing the movement of the Coma Cluster., Vera Rubin a Woman in STEM denied the Nobel, did most of the work on Dark Matter.

    Fritz Zwicky from http:// palomarskies.blogspot.com

    Coma cluster via NASA/ESA Hubble

    Astronomer Vera Rubin at the Lowell Observatory in 1965, worked on Dark Matter (The Carnegie Institution for Science)

    Vera Rubin measuring spectra, worked on Dark Matter (Emilio Segre Visual Archives AIP SPL)

    Vera Rubin, with Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) image tube spectrograph attached to the Kitt Peak 84-inch telescope, 1970.

    The LSST Vera C. Rubin Observatory

    LSST Camera, built at SLAC



    LSST telescope, Vera C. Rubin Observatory, currently under construction on the El Peñón peak 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.


    LSST Data Journey, Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    When construction is complete, the LSST, Vera C. Rubin Observatory, will be “the widest, fastest, deepest eye of the new digital age.”

    There’s about to be a new telescope in town—in the figurative sense, that is, unless you happen to literally live more than a mile-and-a-half up on the summit of a mountain named Cerro Pachón in the foothills of the Chilean Andes.

    There, construction is humming along for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, or LSST. Slated to start science operations early next decade, LSST in all likelihood will be a gamechanger for astronomy and astrophysics.

    What makes LSST so special is how big and fast it will be compared to other telescopes. “Big” in this case refers to the telescope’s field of view, which captures a chunk of sky 40 times the size of the full Moon. “Big” also refers to LSST’s mirror size, a very respectable 8.4 meters in diameter, which means it can collect ample amounts of cosmic light. Thirdly, “big” applies to LSST’s 3.2 billion-pixel camera, the biggest digital camera ever built. Put all those bits together, and LSST will be able to record images of significantly fainter and farther-away objects than other ground-based optical telescopes.

    And finally, as for “fast,” LSST will soak up more than 800 panoramas each night, cumulatively scanning the entire sky twice per week. That means the telescope will catch sight of fleeting astrophysical events, known as transients, that are often missed because telescopes—even today’s state-of-the-art, automated networks of ‘scopes—are not gobbling up so much of the sky so quickly. Transients that last days, weeks, and months—for instance, cataclysmic stellar explosions called supernovae—are routinely spotted. But the shortest events, lasting mere hours or even minutes, are another, untold story.

    “Unfortunately, we still know relatively little about the transient optical sky because we have never before had a survey that can make observations of a very large fraction of the sky repeatedly every few nights,” says Steven Kahn, Director of the LSST project. “LSST will meet this need.”

    Kahn, the Cassius Lamb Kirk Professor in the Natural Sciences and Professor of Particle Physics and Astrophysics at Stanford University, is also a member of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC). He stepped into the director role back in 2013 when LSST was on the drawing board. Now the huge instrument is nearing the completion of its construction. Kahn and his colleagues are dearly looking forward to all that LSST will bring to the table, building on the pioneering work into gauging the transient sky underway with other, precursor projects worldwide.

    “LSST will go significantly deeper and cover the sky more rapidly,” says Kahn. “By covering more sky per unit time, we are more sensitive to very rare events, which are often the most interesting.”

    In this way, LSST is going to open up a major discovery space, for phenomena both (poorly) known and (entirely) unknown.

    “The Universe is far from static,” says Kahn. “There are stellar explosions of many different kinds that allow stars to brighten dramatically and then fade away on different timescales.” Some of these transient flashes of light are expected from the vicinities of neutron stars and black holes as they interact with matter that strays too close. Researchers hope to gain new insights into these dense objects’ properties, whose extreme physics challenge our best-supported theories.

    Another primary goal for LSST is to advance our understanding of the “dark universe” of dark matter and dark energy. Together, these entities compose 95 percent of the cosmos, with the “normal” matter that makes up stars, planets, and people registering as the remaining rounding error. Yet scientists have only stabs in the dark, as it were, on what exactly dark matter and dark energy really are. LSST will help by acquiring images of billions of galaxies, stretching back to some of the earliest epochs in the universe. Analyzing the shapes and distributions of these galaxies in space as well as time (recall that the farther away you see something in the universe, the farther you’re seeing back in time) will better show dark matter’s role in building up cosmic structure. The signature of dark energy, a force that is seemingly accelerating the universe’s expansion, will also be writ across the observed eons of galactic loci.

    Closer to home, LSST will vastly expand our knowledge of our own Solar System. It will take a census of small bodies, such as asteroids and comets, that fly by overhead, too faint for us humans to notice but there all the same—and in rare instances, potentially dangerously so; just ask the dinosaurs.

    “LSST will measure everything that moves in the sky,” says Kahn. “Of particular interest, we will provide the most complete catalogue of potentially hazardous asteroids, those objects whose orbits might allow them to impact the Earth.”

    Not done yet, LSST will also extend our catalogue of stars in the galaxy, aiding in charting the history and evolution of our own Milky Way galaxy. Furthermore, LSST will be a premier instrument for discovering the sources of gravitational waves, the ripples in spacetime first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1915 and finally directly detected in 2015 by the LIGO experiment. It can be a tough business today, even with the rich array of telescopes in operation, to rapidly pinpoint the visible light that gravitational wave-spawning neutron star collisions give off. LSST should aid in that regard admirably.

    The wait is nearly over. The LSST building is nearly complete, the large mirrors are on site, and the camera is being integrated at the at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California, which co-hosts KIPAC along with Stanford.

    “Basically, everything that needed to be fabricated for the LSST telescope and camera has been fabricated,” says Kahn. “The remaining work largely involves putting the system together and getting it working.”

    Kahn has been to the telescope site recently, in both September and October. He likes what he sees.

    “Visiting the site in Chile is a remarkable experience,” Kahn says. “It is a beautiful site, and the LSST facility sits prominently atop the edge of a cliff on Cerro Pachón. The sheer size of the building and its complexity is striking.”

    Before long, the impressiveness of the building will recede into the background as the profundity of the science LSST generates takes center stage.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work.

    The Foundation’s mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, professorships, and symposia in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics as well as prizes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:47 pm on January 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Behind howls of solar wind quiet chirps reveal its origins", , , , Cosmology, , ,   

    From JHU HUB: “Behind howls of solar wind, quiet chirps reveal its origins” 

    From JHU HUB

    1.15.20
    Jeremy Rehm

    1
    Image credit: NASA/Naval Research Laboratory/Parker Solar Probe

    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker

    Scientists have studied the solar wind (pictured) for more than 60 years, but they’re still puzzled over some of its behaviors. The small chirps, squeaks, and rustles recorded by the Parker Solar Probe hint at the origin of this mysterious and ever-present wind.

    There’s a wind that emanates from the sun, and it blows not like a soft whistle but like a hurricane’s scream.

    Made of electrons, protons, and heavier ions, the solar wind courses through the solar system at roughly 1 million miles per hour, barreling over everything in its path. Yet through the wind’s roar, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe can hear small chirps, squeaks, and rustles that hint at the origins of this mysterious and ever-present wind. Now, the team at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, which designed, built, and manages the Parker Solar Probe for NASA, is getting their first chance to hear those sounds, too.

    “We are looking at the young solar wind being born around the sun,” says Nour Raouafi, mission project scientist for the Parker Solar Probe. “And it’s completely different from what we see here near Earth.”


    Sounds of the Solar Wind from NASA’s Parker Solar Probe

    Scientists have studied the solar wind for more than 60 years, but they’re still puzzled over many of its behaviors. For example, while they know it comes from the sun’s million-degree outer atmosphere called the corona, the solar wind doesn’t slow down as it leaves the sun—it speeds up, and it has a sort of internal heater that keeps it from cooling as it zips through space. With growing concern about the solar wind’s ability to interfere with GPS satellites and disrupt power grids on Earth, it’s imperative to better understand it.

    Just 17 months since the probe’s launch and after three orbits around the sun, Parker Solar Probe has not disappointed in its mission.

    “We expected to make big discoveries because we’re going into uncharted territory,” Raouafi says. “What we’re actually seeing is beyond anything anybody imagined.”

    Researchers suspected that plasma waves within the solar wind could be responsible for some of the wind’s odd characteristics. Just as fluctuations in air pressure cause winds that force rolling waves on the ocean, fluctuations in electric and magnetic fields can cause waves that roll through clouds of electrons, protons, and other charged particles that make up the plasma racing away from the sun. Particles can ride these plasma waves much like the way a surfer rides an ocean wave, propelling them to higher speeds.

    “Plasma waves certainly play a part in heating and accelerating the particles,” Raouafi says. Scientists just don’t know how much of a part. That’s where Parker Solar Probe comes in.

    The spacecraft’s FIELDS instrument can eavesdrop on the electric and magnetic fluctuations caused by plasma waves. It can also “hear” when the waves and particles interact with one another, recording frequency and amplitude information about these plasma waves that scientists can then play as sound waves. And it results in some striking sounds.

    2
    Parker Solar Probe Diagram instrument FIELDS. NASA

    Take, for example, whistler-mode waves. These are caused by energetic electrons bursting out of the sun’s corona. These electrons follow magnetic field lines that stretch away from the sun out into the solar system’s farthest edge, spinning around them like they’re riding a carousel. When a plasma wave’s frequency matches how frequently those electrons are spin, they amplify one another. And it sounds like a scene out of Star Wars.

    “Some theories suggest that part of the solar wind’s acceleration is due to these escaping electrons,” says David Malaspina, a member of the FIELDS team and an assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. He adds that the electrons could also be a critical clue to understanding one process that heats the solar wind.

    “We can use observations of these waves to work our way backward and probe the source of these electrons in the corona,” Malaspina says.

    Another example are dispersive waves, which quickly shift from one frequency to another as they move through the solar wind. These shifts create a sort of “chirp” that sounds like wind rushing over a microphone. They’re rare near the Earth, so researchers believed they were unimportant. But closer to the sun, scientists discovered, these waves are everywhere.

    “These waves haven’t been detected in the solar wind before, at least not in any large numbers,” Malaspina explains. “Nobody knows what causes these chirping waves or what they do to heat and accelerate the solar wind. That’s what we’re going to be determining. I think it’s incredibly exciting.”

    Raouafi commented that seeing all of this wave activity very close to the sun is why this mission is so critical. “We are seeing new, early behaviors of solar plasma we couldn’t observe here at Earth, and we’re seeing that the energy carried by the waves is being dissipated somewhere along the way, to heat and accelerate the plasma.”

    But it wasn’t just plasma waves that Parker Solar Probe heard. While barreling through a cloud of microscopic dust, the spacecraft’s instruments also captured a sound resembling old TV static. That static-like sound is actually hundreds of microscopic impacts happening every day: dust from asteroids torn apart by the sun’s gravity and heat and particles stripped away from comets strike the spacecraft at speeds close to a quarter of a million miles per hour. As Parker Solar Probe cruises through this dust cloud, the spacecraft doesn’t just crash into these particles—it obliterates them. Each grain’s atoms burst apart into electrons, protons, and other ions in a mini puff of plasma that the FIELDS instrument can “hear.”

    Each collision, however, also chips away a tiny bit of the spacecraft.

    “It was well understood that this would happen,” Malaspina says. “What was not understood was how much dust was going to be there.”

    APL engineers used models and remote observations to estimate how bad the dust situation might be well before the spacecraft launched. But in this uncharted territory, the number was bound to have some margin of error.

    James Kinnison, the Parker Solar Probe mission system engineer at APL, says this discrepancy in dust density is just one more reason why the probe’s proximity to the sun is so useful.

    “We protected almost everything from the dust,” Kinnison says. And although the dust is denser than expected, nothing right now points to dust impacts being a concern for the mission, he adds.

    Parker Solar Probe is scheduled to make another 21 orbits around the sun, using five flybys of Venus to propel itself increasingly closer to the star. Researchers will have the opportunity to better understand how these plasma waves change their behavior and to build a more complete evolutionary picture of the solar wind.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    About the Hub
    We’ve been doing some thinking — quite a bit, actually — about all the things that go on at Johns Hopkins. Discovering the glue that holds the universe together, for example. Or unraveling the mysteries of Alzheimer’s disease. Or studying butterflies in flight to fine-tune the construction of aerial surveillance robots. Heady stuff, and a lot of it.

    In fact, Johns Hopkins does so much, in so many places, that it’s hard to wrap your brain around it all. It’s too big, too disparate, too far-flung.

    We created the Hub to be the news center for all this diverse, decentralized activity, a place where you can see what’s new, what’s important, what Johns Hopkins is up to that’s worth sharing. It’s where smart people (like you) can learn about all the smart stuff going on here.

    At the Hub, you might read about cutting-edge cancer research or deep-trench diving vehicles or bionic arms. About the psychology of hoarders or the delicate work of restoring ancient manuscripts or the mad motor-skills brilliance of a guy who can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under eight seconds.

    There’s no telling what you’ll find here because there’s no way of knowing what Johns Hopkins will do next. But when it happens, this is where you’ll find it.

    The Johns Hopkins University opened in 1876, with the inauguration of its first president, Daniel Coit Gilman. “What are we aiming at?” Gilman asked in his installation address. “The encouragement of research … and the advancement of individual scholars, who by their excellence will advance the sciences they pursue, and the society where they dwell.”

    The mission laid out by Gilman remains the university’s mission today, summed up in a simple but powerful restatement of Gilman’s own words: “Knowledge for the world.”

    What Gilman created was a research university, dedicated to advancing both students’ knowledge and the state of human knowledge through research and scholarship. Gilman believed that teaching and research are interdependent, that success in one depends on success in the other. A modern university, he believed, must do both well. The realization of Gilman’s philosophy at Johns Hopkins, and at other institutions that later attracted Johns Hopkins-trained scholars, revolutionized higher education in America, leading to the research university system as it exists today.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:00 am on January 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "How far is Betelgeuse?", , , , , Cosmology,   

    From ALMA via EarthSky: “How far is Betelgeuse?” 

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

    From ALMA

    via

    1

    EarthSky

    January 16, 2020

    Recent speculation that Betelgeuse might be on the verge of going supernova prompted many to ask: how far away is it? But getting a distance measurement for this star has been no easy task.

    1
    An image of Betelgeuse taken at sub-millimeter wavelengths by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). It shows a section of hot gas slightly protruding from the red giant star’s extended atmosphere. Some of the data used to compute the latest parallax for Betelgeuse came from observations by ALMA. Image via ALMA.

    Betelgeuse, the bright red star in the constellation of Orion the Hunter, is in the end stage of its stellar life. Astronomers have long thought it will someday explode to become a supernova. In late 2019 and early 2020, Betelgeuse generated a lot of chatter on social media among astronomers. They wondered, somewhat jokingly, if an explosion were imminent because the star has dimmed, unprecedentedly, by a noticeable amount since late October 2019. As the news went mainstream, many people wondered how far Betelgeuse was from us and if an explosion could hurt life on Earth. The good news is that if Betelgeuse explodes, it is close enough to put on a spectacular light show, but far enough to not cause us on Earth any harm. To answer the distance question first, Betelgeuse is approximately 724 light-years away. But getting that answer, even for a relatively nearby star, is surprisingly difficult.

    It’s only in the last 30 years, with the use of new technologies, that astronomers have obtained more accurate measurements for the distance to Betelgeuse and other nearby stars. This advance began in 1989, when the European Space Agency (ESA) launched a space telescope called Hipparcos, named after the famous Greek astronomer Hipparchus.

    ESA/Hipparcos satellite

    Over several years of observations, the Hipparcos space telescope provided parallax and distance data for more than 100,000 relatively nearby stars.

    Those measurements became the basis for most of the estimated distances to stars that you see today.

    3
    When viewed from two locations, there is a slight shift in the position of a nearby star with respect to distant background stars. For observations on Earth, taken six months apart, the separation between those two locations is the diameter of Earth’s orbit. The angle alpha is the parallax angle. Image via P.wormer / Wikimedia Commons.

    The original Hipparcos data gave a parallax of 7.63 milliarcseconds for Betelgeuse; that’s about one-millionth the width of the full moon. Computations based on that parallax yielded a distance of about 430 light-years.

    However, Betelgeuse is what’s known as a variable star because its brightness fluctuates with time (that said, the recent excitement over Betelgeuse’s dimming is because it’s the biggest dip in brightness ever observed). And therein began the difficulty in estimating Betelgeuse’s distance.

    That’s because subsequent studies found an error in the methods used for reducing the Hipparcos data for variable stars. An effort to correct those errors gave a parallax of 5.07 milliarcseconds, changing Betelgeuse’s estimated distance from 430 light-years to about 643 light-years, plus or minus 46 light-years.

    But wait, there’s more. In 2017, astronomers published new calculations that further refined Betelgeuse’s parallax to 4.51 milliiarcseconds. This new analysis of data from Hipparcos also included observations from several ground-based radio telescopes. That placed Betelgeuse at a distance of about 724 light-years, or, more accurately, between 613 and 881 light-years when data uncertainties are included.

    You might know that the European Space Agency’s Gaia astrometry mission has the goal of making a three-dimensional map of our Milky Way galaxy.

    ESA/GAIA satellite

    At the time of its second data release in April 2018, ESA said Gaia’s data had already made possible:

    “… the richest star catalog to date, including high-precision measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars….”

    Yet Betelgeuse is not one of those stars, and Gaia won’t be used to find a more precise distance for Betelgeuse. The reason is that Betelgeuse is too bright for the spacecraft’s sensors.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:57 am on January 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers Have Found Signs of Another Planet at Proxima Centauri- And It's Huge", , , , Cosmology, Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica,   

    From Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica via Science Alert: “Astronomers Have Found Signs of Another Planet at Proxima Centauri, And It’s Huge” 

    From Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    16 JAN 2020
    MORGAN MCFALL-JOHNSEN

    1
    (Lorenzo Santinelli)

    Proxima Centauri is our nearest neighbouring star; it’s just 4.2 light-years away. It has one planet [?Proxima Centauri forms a third member of the Alpha Centauri system, being identified as component Alpha Centauri C, and is 2.18° to the southwest of the Alpha Centauri AB pair] that astronomers know of, a potentially habitable world called Proxima b.

    Centauris Alpha Beta Proxima 27, February 2012. Skatebiker

    But in a new study, researchers from Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics report that they have observed changes in the star’s activity that indicate it could have another planet. They dubbed the world Proxima c in their paper, which was published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

    The potential new planet seems to be a super-Earth – the term for a planet with a mass larger than Earth but significantly smaller than the ice giant Neptune.

    “Proxima Centauri is the nearest star to the sun, and this detection would make it the closest planetary system to us,” astronomer Mario Damasso, the paper’s lead author, told Business Insider in an email.

    Proxima c (if it exists) is probably not habitable – given its distance from its star, the planet is probably freezing or shrouded in a suffocating hydrogen-helium atmosphere. But its proximity to us could offer a unique opportunity to study another star system.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Institute for Astrophysics (Italian: Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, or INAF) is an Italian research institute in astronomy and astrophysics, founded in 1999. INAF funds and operates twenty separate research facilities, which in turn employ scientists, engineers and technical staff. The research they perform covers most areas of astronomy, ranging from planetary science to cosmology.

    INAF is the most important Italian research body for the universe’s study. It promotes, realizes and coordinates research activities in the field of astronomy and astrophysics, cooperating with universities and public-private organizations at national and international level. The Institute designs and develops innovative technologies and advanced instruments for the cosmos exploration. It also promotes the scientific culture dissemination by projects for the education system and, more in general, for the society.

    INAF coordinates the activities of twenty research units, nineteen in Italy and one in Spain:

    Bologna Observatory
    Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica cosmica di Bologna
    Istituto di Radioastronomia di Bologna
    Cagliari Observatory
    Catania Observatory
    Arcetri Observatory (Florence)
    Brera Observatory (Milan)
    Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica cosmica di Milano
    Capodimonte Observatory (Naples)
    Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova
    Palermo Observatory
    Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica cosmica di Palermo
    Rome Observatory
    Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica cosmica di Roma
    Istituto di Fisica dello Spazio Interplanetario di Roma
    Collurania-Teramo Observatory
    Turin Observatory
    Istituto di Fisica dello Spazio Interplanetario di Torino
    Trieste Observatory
    Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (Canary Islands, Spain)
    Sardinia Radio Telescope (San Basilio, Sardinia)
    Noto Radio Observatory (Noto, Sicily)

    International partnerships

    The European Southern Observatory (Italy has been an ESO member since 1982)
    The astronomical observatories located in Canary Islands (Teide Observatory and Roque de los Muchachos Observatory)
    The Large Binocular Telescope, in partnership with the United States and Germany
    The Very Long Baseline Interferometry consortium
    The European Space Agency (ESA)
    National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA-USA)

     
  • richardmitnick 7:38 pm on January 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers Discover Class of Strange Objects Near Our Galaxy’s Enormous Black Hole", , , , Cosmology,   

    From Keck Observatory: “Astronomers Discover Class of Strange Objects Near Our Galaxy’s Enormous Black Hole” 

    Keck Observatory, operated by Caltech and the University of California, Maunakea Hawaii USA, 4,207 m (13,802 ft)

    From Keck Observatory

    January 15, 2020

    Astronomers from UCLA and W. M. Keck Observatory have discovered four more bizarre objects at the center of our galaxy, not far from the supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A*, that are now forming a class of their own.
    1
    Artist’s impression of g objects, with the reddish centers, orbiting the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. the black hole is represented as a dark sphere inside a white ring (above the middle of the rendering).CREDIT: JACK CIURLO

    SGR A* , the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory

    SgrA* NASA/Chandra supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, X-ray image of the center of our galaxy, where the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* resides. Image via X-ray: NASA/UMass/D.Wang et al., IR: NASA/STScI.

    Sgr A* from ESO VLT

    The study, which is part of UCLA’s Galactic Center Orbits Initiative, consists of 13 years of data taken from Keck Observatory on Maunakea in Hawaii; the results published online today in the journal Nature.

    2
    UCLA’s Galactic Center Orbits Initiative. Image credit : National Science Foundation

    “These objects look like gas but behave like stars,” said co-author Andrea Ghez, UCLA’s Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine Professor of Astrophysics and director of the UCLA Galactic Center Group.

    Andrea Ghez, director of the UCLA Galactic Center Group

    This new class of objects, called G objects, look compact most of the time and stretch out when their orbits bring them closest to the black hole. Their orbits range from about 100 to 1,000 years, said lead author Anna Ciurlo, a UCLA postdoctoral researcher.

    Ciurlo led the study while participating in Keck Observatory’s Visiting Scholars Program and labeled the four new objects G3, G4, G5 and G6. This set is in addition to the first pair of G objects found near the Galactic Center; G1 was discovered by Ghez’s research group in 2005, followed by G2, which was discovered by astronomers in Germany in 2012.

    3
    A near infrared image from the W.M. Keck Observatory shows that G2 survived its closest approach to our galaxy’s black hole and continues on its orbit. The green object to its right depicts the supermassive black hole. UCLA Galactic Center Group. November 3, 2014

    “The fact that there now several of these objects observed near the black hole means that they are, most likely, part of a common population,” said co-author Randy Campbell, science operations lead at Keck Observatory.

    The researchers have determined orbits for each of the newly discovered G objects. While G1 and G2 have similar orbits, G3, G4, G5, and G6 all have very different orbits.

    Ghez and her research team believe that G2 is most likely two stars that had been orbiting the black hole in tandem and merged into an extremely large star, cloaked in unusually thick gas and dust.

    “At the time of closest approach, G2 had a really strange signature,” Ghez said. “We had seen it before, but it didn’t look too peculiar until it got close to the black hole and became elongated, and much of its gas was torn apart. It went from being a pretty innocuous object when it was far from the black hole to one that was really stretched out and distorted at its closest approach and lost its outer shell, and now it’s getting more compact again.”

    4
    Orbits of the G objects at the center of our galaxy, with the supermassive black hole marked with a white cross. Stars, gas, and dust are in the background. CREDIT: ANNA CIURLO, TUAN DO/UCLA GALACTIC CENTER GROUP

    “One of the things that has gotten everyone excited about the G objects is that the stuff that gets pulled off of them by tidal forces as they sweep by the central black hole must inevitably fall into the black hole,” said co-author Mark Morris, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy. “When that happens, it might be able to produce an impressive fireworks show since the material eaten by the black hole will heat up and emit copious radiation before it disappears across the event horizon.”

    Ghez believes all six objects were binary stars — a system of two stars orbiting each other — that merged because of the strong gravitational force of the supermassive black hole. The merging of two stars takes more than 1 million years to complete, Ghez said.

    “Mergers of stars may be happening in the universe more often than we thought, and likely are quite common,” Ghez said. “Black holes may be driving binary stars to merge. It’s possible that many of the stars we’ve been watching and not understanding may be the end product of mergers that are calm now. We are learning how galaxies and black holes evolve. The way binary stars interact with each other and with the black hole is very different from how single stars interact with other single stars and with the black hole.”

    Ciurlo noted that while the gas from G2’s outer shell got stretched dramatically, its dust inside the gas did not get stretched much. “Something must have kept it compact and enabled it to survive its encounter with the black hole,” Ciurlo said. “This is evidence for a stellar object inside G2.”

    “The unique dataset that Professor Ghez’s group has gathered during more than 20 years is what allowed us to make this discovery,” Ciurlo said. “We now have a population of ‘G’ objects, so it is not a matter of explaining a ‘one-time event’ like G2.”

    The researchers made the observations using powerful technology that Ghez helped pioneer at Keck Observatory called adaptive optics (AO), which corrects the distorting effects of the Earth’s atmosphere in real time.

    UCO Keck Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics,Keck Observatory, operated by Caltech and the University of California, Maunakea Hawaii USA, 4,207 m (13,802 ft)

    AO, combined with Keck Observatory’s OH-Suppressing Infrared Imaging Spectrograph (OSIRIS), allowed the team to obtain spectroscopic measurements of the Galactic Center’s gas dynamics.

    UCO Keck OSIRIS

    “The challenge was trying distinguish G objects from a crowded cluster of stars,” said Campbell. “Because their spectra are different from standard stars, we were able to separate them using a tool called the OSIRIS-Volume Display, or OsrsVol.”

    The OsrsVol software Campbell developed produces a 3-D spectral data cube that consists of two spatial dimensions plus a wavelength dimension that contains velocity information. This allowed the team to clearly isolate the G-objects and track their movement to see how they behaved around the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole.

    In September 2019, Ghez’s team reported that the black hole is getting hungrier and it is unclear why. The stretching of G2 in 2014 appeared to pull off gas that may recently have been swallowed by the black hole, said co-author Tuan Do, a UCLA research scientist and deputy director of the Galactic Center Group.

    The research is funded by the National Science Foundation, W. M. Keck Foundation, Keck Visiting Scholars Program, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, Lauren Leichtman and Arthur Levine, Jim and Lori Keir, and Howard and Astrid Preston.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Mission
    To advance the frontiers of astronomy and share our discoveries with the world.

    The W. M. Keck Observatoryoperates the largest, most scientifically productive telescopes on Earth. The two, 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea on the Island of Hawaii feature a suite of advanced instruments including imagers, multi-object spectrographs, high-resolution spectrographs, integral-field spectrometer and world-leading laser guide star adaptive optics systems. Keck Observatory is a private 501(c) 3 non-profit organization and a scientific partnership of the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and NASA.

    Today Keck Observatory is supported by both public funding sources and private philanthropy. As a 501(c)3, the organization is managed by the California Association for Research in Astronomy (CARA), whose Board of Directors includes representatives from the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, with liaisons to the board from NASA and the Keck Foundation.


    Keck UCal

     
  • richardmitnick 11:09 am on January 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers Reveal Interstellar Thread of One of Life’s Building Blocks", , , , , Cosmology, , , Phosphorus-how it arrived on the early Earth is something of a mystery.   

    From European Southern Observatory and ALMA: “Astronomers Reveal Interstellar Thread of One of Life’s Building Blocks” 

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

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

    ALMA

    15 January 2020

    ESO Contacts

    Víctor Rivilla
    INAF Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory
    Florence, Italy
    Tel: +39 055 2752 319
    Email: rivilla@arcetri.astro.it

    Kathrin Altwegg
    University of Bern
    Bern, Switzerland
    Tel: +41 31 631 44 20
    Email: kathrin.altwegg@space.unibe.ch

    Leonardo Testi
    European Southern Observatory
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6541
    Email: ltesti@eso.org

    Bárbara Ferreira
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6670
    Cell: +49 151 241 664 00
    Email: pio@eso.org

    ALMA Contacts

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

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

    Bárbara Ferreira
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Phone: +49 89 3200 6670
    Email: pio@eso.org

    Iris Nijman
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory Charlottesville, Virginia – USA

    ALMA and Rosetta map the journey of phosphorus

    1
    Phosphorus, present in our DNA and cell membranes, is an essential element for life as we know it. But how it arrived on the early Earth is something of a mystery. Astronomers have now traced the journey of phosphorus from star-forming regions to comets using the combined powers of ALMA and the European Space Agency’s probe Rosetta.

    2
    This ALMA image shows a detailed view of the star-forming region AFGL 5142. A bright, massive star in its infancy is visible at the centre of the image. The flows of gas from this star have opened up a cavity in the region, and it is in the walls of this cavity (shown in colour), that phosphorus-bearing molecules like phosphorus monoxide are formed. The different colours represent material moving at different speeds. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Rivilla et al.

    4
    This wide-field view shows the region of the sky, in the constellation of Auriga, where the star-forming region AFGL 5142 is located. This view was created from images forming part of the Digitized Sky Survey 2. Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin


    This video starts by showing a wide-field view of a region of the sky in the constellation of Auriga. It then zooms in to show the star-forming region AFGL 5142, recently observed with ALMA. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Rivilla et al.; Mario Weigand, http://www.SkyTrip.de; ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2; Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org). Music: Astral Electronics


    This animation shows the key results from a study that has revealed the interstellar thread of phosphorus, one of life’s building blocks. Thanks to ALMA, astronomers could pinpoint where phosphorus-bearing molecules form in star-forming regions like AFGL 5142. The background of this animation shows a part of the night sky in the constellation of Auriga, where the star-forming region AFGL 5142 is located. The ALMA image of this object appears on the top left, and one of the locations where the team found phosphorus-bearing molecules is indicated by a circle. The most common phosphorus-bearing molecule in AFGL 5142 is phosphorus monoxide, represented in orange and red in the diagram that appears on the bottom left. Another molecule found was phosphorus nitride, represented in orange and blue. Using data from the ROSINA instrument onboard ESA’s Rosetta, astronomers also found phosphorus monoxide on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, which appears on the bottom right at the end of the video. This first sighting of phosphorus monoxide on a comet helps astronomers draw a connection between star-forming regions, where the molecule is created, all the way to Earth, where it played a crucial role in starting life.
    Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser/L.Calçada; ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Rivilla et al.; ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM; Mario Weigand, http://www.SkyTrip.de

    ESA/Rosetta spacecraft, European Space Agency’s legendary comet explorer Rosetta

    Their research shows, for the first time, where molecules containing phosphorus form, how this element is carried in comets, and how a particular molecule may have played a crucial role in starting life on our planet.

    “Life appeared on Earth about 4 billion years ago, but we still do not know the processes that made it possible,” says Víctor Rivilla, the lead author of a new study published today in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The new results from the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is a partner, and from the ROSINA instrument on board Rosetta, show that phosphorus monoxide is a key piece in the origin-of-life puzzle.

    ESA Rosetta ROSINA

    With the power of ALMA, which allowed a detailed look into the star-forming region AFGL 5142, astronomers could pinpoint where phosphorus-bearing molecules, like phosphorus monoxide, form. New stars and planetary systems arise in cloud-like regions of gas and dust in between stars, making these interstellar clouds the ideal places to start the search for life’s building blocks.

    The ALMA observations showed that phosphorus-bearing molecules are created as massive stars are formed. Flows of gas from young massive stars open up cavities in interstellar clouds. Molecules containing phosphorus form on the cavity walls, through the combined action of shocks and radiation from the infant star. The astronomers have also shown that phosphorus monoxide is the most abundant phosphorus-bearing molecule in the cavity walls.

    After searching for this molecule in star-forming regions with ALMA, the European team moved on to a Solar System object: the now-famous comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The idea was to follow the trail of these phosphorus-bearing compounds. If the cavity walls collapse to form a star, particularly a less-massive one like the Sun, phosphorus monoxide can freeze out and get trapped in the icy dust grains that remain around the new star. Even before the star is fully formed, those dust grains come together to form pebbles, rocks and ultimately comets, which become transporters of phosphorus monoxide.

    ROSINA, which stands for Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis, collected data from 67P for two years as Rosetta orbited the comet. Astronomers had found hints of phosphorus in the ROSINA data before, but they did not know what molecule had carried it there. Kathrin Altwegg, the Principal Investigator for Rosina and an author in the new study, got a clue about what this molecule could be after being approached at a conference by an astronomer studying star-forming regions with ALMA: “She said that phosphorus monoxide would be a very likely candidate, so I went back to our data and there it was!”

    This first sighting of phosphorus monoxide on a comet helps astronomers draw a connection between star-forming regions, where the molecule is created, all the way to Earth.

    “The combination of the ALMA and ROSINA data has revealed a sort of chemical thread during the whole process of star formation, in which phosphorus monoxide plays the dominant role,” says Rivilla, who is a researcher at the Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory of INAF, Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics.

    “Phosphorus is essential for life as we know it,” adds Altwegg. “As comets most probably delivered large amounts of organic compounds to the Earth, the phosphorus monoxide found in comet 67P may strengthen the link between comets and life on Earth.”

    This intriguing journey could be documented because of the collaborative efforts between astronomers. “The detection of phosphorus monoxide was clearly thanks to an interdisciplinary exchange between telescopes on Earth and instruments in space,” says Altwegg.

    Leonardo Testi, ESO astronomer and ALMA European Operations Manager, concludes: “Understanding our cosmic origins, including how common the chemical conditions favourable for the emergence of life are, is a major topic of modern astrophysics. While ESO and ALMA focus on the observations of molecules in distant young planetary systems, the direct exploration of the chemical inventory within our Solar System is made possible by ESA missions, like Rosetta. The synergy between world leading ground-based and space facilities, through the collaboration between ESO and ESA, is a powerful asset for European researchers and enables transformational discoveries like the one reported in this paper.”

    More information

    This research was presented in a paper to appear in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    The team is composed of V. M. Rivilla (INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Florence, Italy [INAF-OAA]), M. N. Drozdovskaya (Center for Space and Habitability, University of Bern, Switzerland [CSH]), K. Altwegg (Physikalisches Institut, University of Bern, Switzerland), P. Caselli (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany), M. T. Beltrán (INAF-OAA), F. Fontani (INAF-OAA), F.F.S. van der Tak (SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, and Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, The Netherlands), R. Cesaroni (INAF-OAA), A. Vasyunin (Ural Federal University, Ekaterinburg, Russia, and Ventspils University of Applied Sciences, Latvia), M. Rubin (CSH), F. Lique (LOMC-UMR, CNRS–Université du Havre), S. Marinakis (University of East London, and Queen Mary University of London, UK), L. Testi (INAF-OAA, ESO Garching, and Excellence Cluster “Universe”, Germany), and the ROSINA team (H. Balsiger, J. J. Berthelier, J. De Keyser, B. Fiethe, S. A. Fuselier, S. Gasc, T. I. Gombosi, T. Sémon, C. -y. Tzou).

    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.

    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It has 16 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile and with Australia as a Strategic Partner. 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 [below] and its world-leading Very Large Telescope Interferometer [below]as well as two survey telescopes, VISTA [below] working in the infrared and the visible-light VLT Survey Telescope [below]. Also at Paranal ESO will host and operate the Čerenkov Telescope Array South, the world’s largest and most sensitive gamma-ray observatory. ESO is also a major partner in two facilities on Chajnantor, APEX [below] and ALMA [below], the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT [below], which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    See the full article here .

    This blog post was built on the ESO release for this work.
    If ALMA does their own release, a blog post will be done from that release.

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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 Large

    NRAO Small
    ESO 50 Large

    ESO La Silla HELIOS (HARPS Experiment for Light Integrated Over the Sun)

    ESO/HARPS at La Silla

    ESO 3.6m telescope & HARPS at Cerro LaSilla, Chile, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    MPG/ESO 2.2 meter telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

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

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo,

    2009 ESO VLTI Interferometer image, Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).

    ESO VLT 4 lasers on Yepun

    Glistening against the awesome backdrop of the night sky above ESO_s Paranal Observatory, four laser beams project out into the darkness from Unit Telescope 4 UT4 of the VLT.

    ESO/NTT at Cerro La Silla, Chile, at an altitude of 2400 metres

    ESO VLT Survey telescope

    Part of ESO’s Paranal Observatory, the VISTA Telescope observes the brilliantly clear skies above the Atacama Desert of Chile. Credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

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

    ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 ft).

    ESO APEXESO/MPIfR APEX high on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile’s Atacama region, at an altitude of over 4,800 m (15,700 ft)at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert.

    Leiden MASCARA instrument, 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)

    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)

    ESO Next Generation Transit Survey at Cerro Paranel, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO Speculoos telescopes four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes at ESO Paranal Observatory 2635 metres 8645 ft above sea level

    ESO TAROT telescope at Paranal, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO ExTrA telescopes at Cerro LaSilla at an altitude of 2400 metres

    A novel gamma ray telescope under construction on Mount Hopkins, Arizona. a large project known as the Čerenkov Telescope Array, composed of hundreds of similar telescopes to be situated in the Canary Islands and Chile. The telescope on Mount Hopkins will be fitted with a prototype high-speed camera, assembled at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and capable of taking pictures at a billion frames per second. Credit: Vladimir Vassiliev

     
  • richardmitnick 6:36 pm on January 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Cosmology, Faraday rotation effect, Galactic magnetic field, Interstellar Medium (ISM), , , THOR survey, University of Calgary in Canada, Warm Ionized Medium (WIM)   

    From Max Planck Institute for Astronomy: “Hot gas feeds spiral arms of the Milky Way” 

    From Max Planck Institute for Astronomy

    January 14, 2020

    Dr. Markus Nielbock
    Press and public relations officer
    Phone:+49 6221 528-134
    Email: pr@mpia.de

    Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg

    Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
    Prof. Dr. Henrik Beuther
    Phone:+49 6221 528-447
    Email: beuther@mpia.de

    Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg

    Magnetic fields point the way to the material that sustains star formation in the Milky Way.

    An international research team, with significant participation of astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA), has gained important insights into the origin of the material in the spiral arms of the Milky Way, from which new stars are ultimately formed. By analysing properties of the galactic magnetic field, they were able to show that the dilute so-called Warm Ionized Medium (WIM), in which the Milky Way is embedded, condenses near a spiral arm. While gradually cooling, it serves as a supply of the colder material of gas and dust that feeds star formation.

    1
    False-colour representation of the radio emission in the Milky Way from the THOR survey at a wavelength of about 21 cm. The upper band (1.4 GHz continuum) shows the emission from different sources, while the lower bands show the distribution of atomic hydrogen. Credit: Y. Wang/MPIA

    The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy, a disc-shaped island of stars in the cosmos, in which most bright and young stars cluster in spiral arms. There they form from the dense Interstellar Medium (ISM), which consists of gas (especially hydrogen) and dust (microscopic grains with high abundances of carbon and silicon). In order for new stars to form continuously, material must be constantly flushed into the spiral arms to replenish the supply of gas and dust.

    Milky Way NASA/JPL-Caltech /ESO R. Hurt. The bar is visible in this image

    A group of astronomers from the University of Calgary in Canada, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg and other research institutions have now been able to show that the supply comes from a much hotter component of the ISM, which usually envelops the entire Milky Way.

    2

    This Warm Ionized Medium (WIM) has an average temperature of 10,000 degrees. High-energy radiation from hot stars causes the hydrogen gas of the WIM to be largely ionised. The results suggest that the WIM condenses in a narrow area near a spiral arm and gradually flows into it while cooling.

    4
    Segment of the THOR survey near the Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way. The crosses indicate the position of sources of polarised radio emission. Their sizes correspond to the magnitude of the Faraday rotation effect. The strongest signals were measured in a rather inconspicuous strip to the right of the bright objects in the middle of the image. The strong radio sources indicate the position of the spiral arm. Credit: J. Stil/University of Calgary/MPIA

    The scientists discovered the dense WIM by measuring the so-called Faraday rotation, an effect named after the English physicist Michael Faraday. This involves changing the orientation of linearly polarised radio emissions when they pass through a plasma (ionised gas) traversed by a magnetic field. One speaks of polarised radiation when the electric field oscillates in only one plane. Ordinary light is not polarised. The magnitude of the change in polarisation also depends on the observed wavelength.

    In the present study, recently published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, astronomers were able to detect an unusually strong signal in a rather inconspicuous area of the Milky Way.The analysis is based on the THOR survey (The HI/OH Recombination Line Survey of the Milky Way), which has been conducted at MPIA for several years now and in which a large area of the Milky Way is observed at several radio wavelengths. Polarised radio sources such as distant quasars or neutron stars serve as “probes” for determining the Faraday rotation. This allows astronomers not only to detect the otherwise difficult to measure magnetic fields in the Milky Way, but also to study the structure and properties of the hot gas. “We were very surprised by the strong signal in a rather quiet area of the Milky Way,” says Henrik Beuther from MPIA, who is leading the THOR project. “These results show us that there is still a lot to be discovered in studying the structure and dynamics of the Milky Way.”tect an unusually strong signal in a rather inconspicuous area of the Milky Way, which is located directly on the side of the Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way facing the Galactic Centre. The spiral arm itself stands out in the imaging data due to strong radio emission generated by embedded hot stars and supernova remnants. However, the astronomers found the strongest shift in polarisation outside this prominent zone. They conclude from this that the increased Faraday rotation does not originate within this active part of the spiral arm. Instead, it originates from condensed WIM, which, like the magnetic field, belongs to a less obvious component of the spiral arm.

    The analysis is based on the THOR survey (The HI/OH Recombination Line Survey of the Milky Way), which has been conducted at MPIA for several years now and in which a large area of the Milky Way is observed at several radio wavelengths. Polarised radio sources such as distant quasars or neutron stars serve as “probes” for determining the Faraday rotation. This allows astronomers not only to detect the otherwise difficult to measure magnetic fields in the Milky Way, but also to study the structure and properties of the hot gas. “We were very surprised by the strong signal in a rather quiet area of the Milky Way,” says Henrik Beuther from MPIA, who is leading the THOR project. “These results show us that there is still a lot to be discovered in studying the structure and dynamics of the Milky Way.”

    Collaboration

    This study was made possible by a cooperation of the following research institutions:

    Department of Physics and Astronomy, The University of Calgary, Canada; Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany; Department of Physics and Astronomy, West Virginia University, USA; Green Bank Observatory, USA; Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology, West Virginia University, USA; Argelander Institute for Astronomy, University of Bonn, Germany; Centre for Astronomy, University of Heidelberg, Germany; Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, USA; Interdisciplinary Centre for Scientific Computing, University of Heidelberg, Germany; Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia; Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Bonn, Germany; Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, The University of Manchester, United Kingdom

    See the full article here .

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    Max Planck Institute for Astronomy campus

    The Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
    How do stars and planets form? What can we learn about planets orbiting stars other than the Sun? How do galaxies form, and how have they changed in the course of cosmic history?

    Those are the central questions guiding the work of the scientists and engineers at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg. The institute was founded in 1967, and it is one of roughly 80 institutes of the Max Planck Society, Germany’s largest organizations for basic research.

    MPIA has a staff of around 290, three quarters of which are working in sci-tech. At any given time, the institute features numerous junior scientists and guest scientists both from Germany and abroad.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:03 pm on January 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Collisions of supermassive black holes may be simultaneously observable in both gravitational waves and X-rays at the beginning of the next decade., Cosmology, , , , ,   

    From University of Birmingham UK: “X-rays and gravitational waves will combine to illuminate massive black hole collisions” 

    From University of Birmingham UK

    14 Jan 2020
    Beck Lockwood, Press Office
    University of Birmingham UK
    tel: +44 (0)121 414 2772.
    r.lockwood@bham.ac.uk

    A new study by a group of researchers at the University of Birmingham has found that collisions of supermassive black holes may be simultaneously observable in both gravitational waves and X-rays at the beginning of the next decade.

    1
    An image of the use of Athena and LISA to observe the same source. Credits: R.Buscicchio (University of Birmingham), based on content from NASA, ESA, IFCA, the Athena Community Office, G. Alexandrov, A. Burrows

    ESA/Athena spacecraft depiction

    Gravity is talking. Lisa will listen. Dialogos of Eide


    ESA/NASA eLISA space based, the future of gravitational wave research

    The European Space Agency (ESA) has recently announced that its two major space observatories of the 2030s will have their launches timed for simultaneous use. These missions, Athena, the next generation X-ray space telescope and LISA, the first space-based gravitational wave observatory, will be coordinated to begin observing within a year of each other and are likely to have at least four years of overlapping science operations.

    According to the new study, published this week in Nature Astronomy, ESA’s decision will give astronomers an unprecedented opportunity to produce multi-messenger maps of some of the most violent cosmic events in the Universe, which have not been observed so far and which lie at the heart of long-standing mysteries surrounding the evolution of the Universe.

    They include the collision of supermassive black holes in the core of galaxies in the distant universe and the “swallowing up” of stellar compact objects such as neutron stars and black holes by massive black holes harboured in the centres of most galaxies.

    The gravitational waves measured by LISA will pinpoint the ripples of space time that the mergers cause while the X-rays observed with Athena reveal the hot and highly energetic physical processes in that environment. Combining these two messengers to observe the same phenomenon in these systems would bring a huge leap in our understanding of how massive black holes and galaxies co-evolve, how massive black holes grow their mass and accrete, and the role of gas around these black holes.

    These are some of the big unanswered questions in astrophysics that have puzzled scientists for decades.

    Dr Sean McGee, Lecturer in Astrophysics at the University of Birmingham and a member of both the Athena and LISA consortiums, led the study. He said, “The prospect of simultaneous observations of these events is uncharted territory, and could lead to huge advances. This promises to be a revolution in our understanding of supermassive black holes and how they growth within galaxies.”

    Professor Alberto Vecchio, Director of the Institute for Gravitational Wave Astronomy, University of Birmingham, and a co-author on the study, said: “I have worked on LISA for twenty years and the prospect of combining forces with the most powerful X-ray eyes ever designed to look right at the centre of galaxies promises to make this long haul even more rewarding. It is difficult to predict exactly what we’re going to discover: we should just buckle up, because it is going to be quite a ride”.

    During the life of the missions, there may be as many as 10 mergers of black holes with masses of 100,000 to 10,000,000 times the mass of the sun that have signals strong enough to be observed by both observatories. Although due to our current lack of understanding of the physics occurring during these mergers and how frequently they occur, the observatories could observe many more or many fewer of these events. Indeed, these are questions which will be answered by the observations.

    In addition, LISA will detect the early stages of stellar mass black holes mergers which will conclude with the detection in ground based gravitational wave observatories. This early detection will allow Athena to be observing the binary location at the precise moment the merger will occur.

    See the full article here .

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    Birmingham has been challenging and developing great minds for more than a century. Characterised by a tradition of innovation, research at the University has broken new ground, pushed forward the boundaries of knowledge and made an impact on people’s lives. We continue this tradition today and have ambitions for a future that will embed our work and recognition of the Birmingham name on the international stage.

     
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