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  • richardmitnick 5:14 pm on May 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CSIRO/Parkes Radio Telescope, , Lets astronomers ‘hear’ a wider range of radio waves from objects in space, Parkes has found most of the known pulsars and most of the ‘fast radio bursts’   

    From Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research: “Telescope’s ‘bionic ear’ hears more of the universe” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    New technology installed on CSIRO’s Parkes radio telescope today will let astronomers ‘hear’ a wider range of radio waves from objects in space, opening the way to new science.

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    Receiver in the anechoic chamber.©CSIRO

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

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    The telescope is now 10,000 times more sensitive than when it was built in 1961 and has found most of the known pulsars and most of the ‘fast radio bursts’ that still mystify astronomers. It also helped reveal the nature of bright sources called quasars and discovered a new spiral arm in our Galaxy. ©CSIRO

    The new equipment is a receiver, a ‘bionic ear’ for the cosmos which catches radio waves and turns them into electrical signals for astronomers to analyse.

    The $2.5 million instrument was developed by CSIRO and a consortium of Australian universities led by Swinburne, with funding from the Australian Research Council, Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

    CSIRO and Swinburne each designed and built parts of the system.

    “Stars and galaxies ‘sing’ with different voices, some high, some low,” CSIRO astronomer Dr George Hobbs said.

    “It’s like a choir out there.”

    A receiver determines which radio frequencies the telescope can hear.

    “Until now we’ve had receivers that heard just one part of the choir at a time,” Dr Hobbs said.

    “This new one lets us listen to the whole choir at once.”

    The new receiver covers a very wide frequency range, 700 MHz to 4 GHz. It does the work of several existing receivers and also covers extra frequencies that they don’t.

    Parkes has been continually upgraded throughout its lifetime and is already one of the world’s most productive radio telescopes.

    The telescope is now 10,000 times more sensitive than when it was built in 1961 and has found most of the known pulsars and most of the ‘fast radio bursts’ that still mystify astronomers.

    It also helped reveal the nature of bright sources called quasars and discovered a new spiral arm in our Galaxy.

    “Most of the projects the new system would be used for are forefront astronomical science,” Swinburne’s Professor Matthew Bailes, who led the university consortium, said.

    Those projects include searching for gravitational waves from black holes in the early Universe, studying the insides of neutron stars, and mapping the magnetic fields that run through our Galaxy.

    The new receiver will let the telescope do different projects at the same time.

    “While some of us are timing a pulsar, other astronomers could be looking for the signs of newborn stars,” Dr Hobbs said.

    “The expertise built up in these technologies will enable Australia to compete effectively into the era of the Square Kilometre Array, the world’s largest radio telescope.”

    SKA ASKAP Phased Array

    Swinburne engineers designed the data processor for the Parkes receiver using experience gained through work for the Square Kilometre Array.

    CSIRO is a world leader in receiver design. CSIRO and engineers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences recently worked together to develop a receiver for China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST). In addition, the Parkes telescope is following up radio sources detected with FAST.

    FAST radio telescope, now operating, located in the Dawodang depression in Pingtang county Guizhou Province, South China, https://astronomynow.com

    See the full article here .

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    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 9:53 am on December 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , CSIRO/Parkes Radio Telescope, , , Telescopes team up to study giant galaxy   

    From ICRAR: “Telescopes team up to study giant galaxy” 

    ICRAR Logo
    International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

    December 12, 2017 [Just today in social media.]

    CONTACT INFORMATION

    Dr Ben McKinley (ICRAR / Curtin University / CAASTRO)
    Ph: +61 424 871 986
    E: Ben.Mckinley@icrar.org

    Professor Steven Tingay (ICRAR / Curtin University)
    Ph: +61 401 103 635
    E: Steven.Tingay@icrar.org

    Pete Wheeler (Media Contact, ICRAR)
    Ph: +61 423 982 018
    E: Pete.Wheeler@icrar.org

    Astronomers have used two Australian radio telescopes and several optical telescopes to study complex mechanisms that are fuelling jets of material blasting away from a black hole 55 million times more massive than the Sun.

    In research published today [MNRAS], the international team of scientists used the telescopes to observe a nearby radio galaxy known as Centaurus A.

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    A close-up view of Centaurus A and the location of a black hole 55 million times more massive than the Sun. Credit: ICRAR/Curtin.

    “As the closest radio galaxy to Earth, Centaurus A is the perfect ‘cosmic laboratory’ to study the physical processes responsible for moving material and energy away from the galaxy’s core,” said Dr Ben McKinley from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) and Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia.

    Centaurus A is 12 million light-years away from Earth—just down the road in astronomical terms—and is a popular target for amateur and professional astronomers in the Southern Hemisphere due to its size, elegant dust lanes, and prominent plumes of material.

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    The giant radio galaxy Centaurus A as observed by the Murchison Widefield Array telescope. Credit ICRAR/Curtin.

    Murchison Widefield Array,SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)

    “Being so close to Earth and so big actually makes studying this galaxy a real challenge because most of the telescopes capable of resolving the detail we need for this type of work have fields of view that are smaller than the area of sky Centaurus A takes up,” said Dr McKinley.

    “We used the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) and Parkes—these radio telescopes both have large fields of view, allowing them to image a large portion of sky and see all of Centaurus A at once.

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    The MWA also has superb sensitivity allowing the large-scale structure of Centaurus A to be imaged in great detail,” he said.

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    A ‘radio colour’ view of the sky above a ‘tile’ of the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope, located in outback Western Australia. The Milky Way is visible as a band across the sky and the dots beyond are some of the 300,000 galaxies observed by the telescope for the GLEAM survey. The Centaurus A radio galaxy is visible to the right of the image. Red indicates the lowest frequencies, green the middle frequencies and blue the highest frequencies. Credit: Radio image by Natasha Hurley-Walker (ICRAR/Curtin) and the GLEAM Team. MWA tile and landscape by Dr John Goldsmith / Celestial Visions.

    The MWA is a low frequency radio telescope located at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia’s Mid West, operated by Curtin University on behalf of an international consortium. The Parkes Observatory is a 64-metre radio telescope commonly known as “the Dish” located in New South Wales and operated by CSIRO.

    Observations from several optical telescopes were also used for this work— the Magellan Telescope in Chile, Terroux Observatory in Canberra, and High View Observatory in Auckland [no view available].

    Carnegie 6.5 meter Magellan Baade and Clay Telescopes located at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory, Chile. over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high

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    Terroux Observatory in Canberra, AU

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    Centaurus A observed at 2307 MHz by the the Parkes radio telescope, as part of the S-PASS survey. Credit: E. Carretti and the S-PASS team.

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    Centaurus A observed at 154 MHz by the Murchison Widefield Array. Credit: ICRAR/Curtin.

    “If we can figure out what’s going in Centaurus A, we can apply this knowledge to our theories and simulations for how galaxies evolve throughout the entire Universe,” said co-author Professor Steven Tingay from Curtin University and ICRAR.

    “As well as the plasma that’s fuelling the large plumes of material the galaxy is famous for, we found evidence of a galactic wind that’s never been seen—this is basically a high speed stream of particles moving away from the galaxy’s core, taking energy and material with it as it impacts the surrounding environment,” he said.

    By comparing the radio and optical observations of the galaxy the team also found evidence that stars belonging to Centaurus A existed further out than previously thought and were possibly being affected by the winds and jets emanating from the galaxy.

    See the full article here .

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    ICRAR is an equal joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia with funding support from the State Government of Western Australia. The Centre’s headquarters are located at UWA, with research nodes at both UWA and the Curtin Institute for Radio Astronomy (CIRA).
    ICRAR has strong support from the government of Australia and is working closely with industry and the astronomy community, including CSIRO and the Australian Telescope National Facility, <a
    ICRAR is:

    Playing a key role in the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, the world's biggest ground-based telescope array.

    Attracting some of the world’s leading researchers in radio astronomy, who will also contribute to national and international scientific and technical programs for SKA and ASKAP.
    Creating a collaborative environment for scientists and engineers to engage and work with industry to produce studies, prototypes and systems linked to the overall scientific success of the SKA, MWA and ASKAP.

    MORE INFORMATION

    The MWA
    The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is a low frequency radio telescope and is the first of four Square Kilometre Array (SKA) precursors to be completed.
    A consortium of partner institutions from seven countries (Australia, USA, India, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and China) financed the development, construction, commissioning, and operations of the facility. The MWA consortium is led by Curtin University.

    Parkes Observatory
    Parkes Observatory, just outside the central-west NSW town of Parkes, hosts the 64-metre Parkes radio telescope, one of the telescopes comprising CSIRO’s Australia Telescope National Facility.
    ICRAR
    The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) is a joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia with support and funding from the State Government of Western Australia.

    CASS
    CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS) operates the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF), comprising a set of world-class radio-astronomy observatories including the Parkes 64-metre radio telescope and the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) in New South Wales, and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) in Western Australia.

    CSIRO ATCA at the Paul Wild Observatory, about 25 km west of the town of Narrabri in rural NSW about 500 km north-west of Sydney, AU

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

     
  • richardmitnick 11:41 am on November 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , CSIRO/Parkes Radio Telescope, , , ,   

    From CSIROscope: “ASKAP helps us see more of our intergalatic neighbour” 

    CSIRO bloc

    CSIROscope

    29 November 2017
    Gabby Russell

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    Atomic hydrogen gas in the Small Magellanic Cloud as imaged with our Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder. The Small Magellanic Cloud, located only 200,000 light-years away, is one of our nearest galactic neighbours and visible to the naked eye in the Southern sky. Credit: N. McClure-Griffiths (ANU), H. Denes (CSIRO), J. Dickey (UTas) and the ACES and GASKAP teams.

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

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    The galaxy sweet galaxy that we call home, the Milky Way, is comprised of around 200 to 400 billion stars. A dwarf galaxy, on the other hand, is one that has around 100 million up to several billion stars. In fact, one of our closest neighbours is a dwarf galaxy – the Small Magellanic Cloud – and our new Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope has just made the most detailed radio image of it yet.

    The Small Magellanic Cloud is a hundred times smaller than the Milky Way and orbits our Galaxy once every 1.5 billion years. You can see it with your own eyes if you are away from city lights, it looks like a faint cloud among the Milky Way’s stars.

    Unlike optical telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope that collect visible light, radio telescopes use radio waves to form a picture and reveal otherwise hidden details in space.

    This new image was snapped using ASKAP’s fast-imaging ‘radio cameras’ known as phased array feeds. It reveals the galaxy’s vibrant history, including streams of hydrogen gas reeled in by the gravitational pull of our own Milky Way galaxy and billowing voids generated by massive stars that exploded millions of years ago.

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia


    Our ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia.

    Professor Naomi McClure-Griffiths from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, who jointly led the work with Professor John Dickey of the University of Tasmania, says the new image shows that the Small Magellanic Cloud’s very dynamic past can be used to predict its future.

    “Hydrogen is the fundamental building block of all galaxies and shows off the more extended structure of a galaxy than its stars and dust.”

    “The outlook for this dwarf galaxy is not good, as it’s likely to eventually be gobbled up by our Milky Way,” she said.

    The previous ‘best’ radio image of the Small Magellanic Cloud was made with another of our telescopes, the Australia Telescope Compact Array. That telescope had to be pointed in 320 different places across the face of the galaxy over eight nights.

    CSIRO ATCA at the Paul Wild Observatory, about 25 km west of the town of Narrabri in rural NSW about 500 km north-west of Sydney, AU

    By contrast, this new image was made in one shot – over three nights – using only 16 of ASKAP’s 36 receivers. The result covers a larger area of the sky than previously achieved, revealing more of the outer parts of the Small Magellanic Cloud. Data from our Parkes radio telescope was also added to pick up faint details.

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    So the new image is bigger, has finer detail, and is more sensitive than previous radio images of the Small Magellanic Cloud.

    According to Dr Phil Edwards, leader of our astronomy science program, this is just a taste of what’s to come. “This stunning new image showcases the wide field-of-view of the ASKAP telescope. The depth of our images will only get better when the full array comes online next year.”

    See the full article here .

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    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    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 10:21 am on August 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CDSCC-Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, , CSIRO/Parkes Radio Telescope, , , , Voyager probes are still talking to Australia after 40 years   

    From CSIRO blog: “From the edge of the Solar System, Voyager probes are still talking to Australia after 40 years” 

    CSIRO bloc

    CSIRO blog

    [THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO E.B. IN L.A. WELCOME ABOARD. I HOPE YOU ENJOY THE RIDE.]

    21 August 2017
    John Sarkissian
    Ed Kruzins

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    Both Voyager spacecraft are only in communication with Earth via a Canberra tracking station. NASA/JPL

    This month marks 40 years since NASA launched the two Voyager space probes on their mission to explore the outer planets of our Solar System, and Australia has been helping the US space agency keep track of the probes at every step of their epic journey.

    CSIRO operates NASA’s tracking station in Canberra, a set of four radio telescopes, or dishes, known as the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC).

    It’s one of three tracking stations spaced around the globe, which form the Deep Space Network. The other two are at Goldstone, in California, and Madrid, in Spain.

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    Welcome to Goldstone

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    Deep Space Network Madrid

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    The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC).

    Between them they provide NASA, and other space exploration agencies, with continuous, two-way radio communication coverage to every part of the Solar System.

    Four decades on and the Australian tracking station is now the only one with the right equipment and position to be able to communicate with both of the probes as they continue to push back the boundaries of deep space exploration.

    The launch of Voyagers

    The Voyagers’ primary purpose was to fly by Jupiter and Saturn. If all the scientific objectives were met at Saturn, then Voyager 2 would be targeted to continue on to Uranus and Neptune.

    At each planetary encounter – running on power equivalent to the light bulb in your refrigerator – the Voyagers would transmit photographs and scientific data back to Earth before being accelerated towards their next target by the planet’s gravity, like a slingshot.

    Timed to take advantage of a favourable alignment of the outer planets not expected to recur for another 175 years, Voyager 2 launched first on August 20, 1977, followed by Voyager 1 on September 5. Although launched second, Voyager 1 was sent on a faster trajectory and was timed to arrive at Jupiter ahead of Voyager 2.

    At each planetary encounter – running on power equivalent to the light bulb in your refrigerator – the Voyagers would transmit photographs and scientific data back to Earth before being accelerated towards their next target by the planet’s gravity, like a slingshot.

    Timed to take advantage of a favourable alignment of the outer planets not expected to recur for another 175 years, Voyager 2 launched first on August 20, 1977, followed by Voyager 1 on September 5. Although launched second, Voyager 1 was sent on a faster trajectory and was timed to arrive at Jupiter ahead of Voyager 2.

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    Voyager 2 launches aboard Titan-Centaur rocket.

    When Voyager 1 arrived at Jupiter in 1979 the mission’s scientific discoveries began.

    The world watched as the Voyagers’ cameras sent back – via the tracking stations – close up images of Jupiter and its moons, letting us see these worlds in detail for the very first time.

    From the turbulence surrounding huge storms on Jupiter, to a volcano erupting on Jupiter’s moon Io, to hints that the icy surface of Europa probably conceals an ocean underneath, the Voyager mission started to reveal the outer Solar System to us in inspiring detail.

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    Getting close to Jupiter. NASA/JPL

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    Peering into Jupiter’s famous red spot. NASA/JPL

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    Voyager 1 captures a volcanic eruption on Jupiter’s moon Io. NASA/JPL [The single most volcanic body in our solar system.]

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    Voyager 1 image of Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon and the largest moon in the Solar System at 5,262km in diameter (compared to Earth’s Moon at 3,475km diameter). NASA/JPL/Image processed by Bjӧrn Jόnsson

    Indeed, during the course of their 12-year mission, the Voyagers discovered 24 new moons orbiting the outer planets and refined NASA’s use of the Deep Space Network to listen to signals from distant spacecraft.

    To Saturn and beyond
    After Jupiter, both Voyagers went on to encounter Saturn. Voyager 1 achieved the major goal of closely approaching Saturn’s giant moon, Titan.

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    Both Voyagers passed by the ringed planet Saturn.

    Following this encounter, with its primary mission ended, Voyager 1 was flung on a northward trajectory above the plain of the orbits of the planets. Voyager 2 was subsequently targeted to travel outward on an extended mission to visit the next two gas giant worlds.

    When Voyager 2 flew past Uranus in January 1986, the signals being received were much weaker than when it flew by Saturn, five years earlier.

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    Voyager 2 captures Uranus.

    Consequently, CSIRO’s radio telescope at Parkes was linked, or arrayed, with NASA’s dishes in Canberra to boost Voyager 2’s weak radio signal.

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    This was the first time an array of telescopes had been used to track a spacecraft. Yet this array would be insufficient to receive the even fainter signals expected when Voyager 2 reached Neptune in 1989.

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    CDSCC staff at Parkes monitoring the encounter with Uranus’ moon, Miranda, in 1986.

    So in the time between the encounters, NASA expanded Canberra’s largest dish from 64 metres to 70 metres in diameter to increase its sensitivity, and then linked it again with the Parkes 64 metre dish, to maximise the data capture at Neptune.

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    Neptune’s bright wispy cirrus-type clouds can been seen against the blue atmosphere.

    The increased size and sensitivity of the Canberra dish also meant that it was able to support Voyager’s ongoing journey beyond the outer planets.

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    Robina Otrupcek tracking Voyager 2 at Neptune from the CSIRO Parkes telescope on the day before the close approach in 1989.
    CSIRO, Author provided.

    In 1990 Voyager 1 turned its cameras towards home. The resulting photograph, known as the Pale Blue Dot, is our most distant view of Earth, a fraction of a pixel floating in a deep black sea.

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    This pale blue dot, less than a pixel in size, is Voyager 1’s view of Earth. NASA/JPL.

    The legendary astrophysicist Carl Sagan, involved with Voyager since its inception, reflected that this distant view of the tiny stage on which we play out our lives should inspire us “to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known”.

    Both Voyagers have long since left the outer planets behind, two explorers heading into the galaxy in different directions, still sending data back to Earth and answering questions we didn’t even know to ask when they were launched 40 years ago.

    Voyagers only talk to Australia

    The Canberra tracking station continues to receive signals from both Voyager spacecraft every day, and is currently the only tracking station capable of exchanging signals with Voyager 2, owing to the spacecraft’s position as it heads on its southward path out of the Solar System.

    Due to their respective distances, tens of billions of kilometres from home, the signal strength from both spacecraft is very weak, only one-tenth of a billion-trillionth of a watt.

    In 2012, Voyager 1 became the first spacecraft to have entered interstellar space, the region between the stars. Lying beyond the influence of the magnetic bubble generated by our Sun, Voyager 1 is able to directly study the composition of the interstellar medium, for the first time.

    Voyager 1 is still receiving commands that can only be sent from Canberra’s dishes. It is the only station with the high-power transmitter that can transmit a signal strong enough to be received by the spacecraft.

    It has been an epic voyage for two spacecraft no bigger than small buses, two brilliant robots with an eight track tape deck to record data and 256kB of memory.

    A golden message

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    The golden record and instructions on how to play it. NASA/JPL.

    The cover art features a pictorial representation of how to play the record and a map reference to Earth’s location in our galaxy based on the positions of surrounding pulsars.

    By 2030, both Voyagers will be out of power, their scientific instruments deactivated, no longer able to exchange signals with Earth. They will continue on at their current speeds of more than 17 kilometres per second, carrying their golden records like messages in bottles across the vast ocean of interstellar space.Heading in opposite directions, southward and northward out of the Solar System, it will be 40,000 years before Voyager 2 passes within a handful of light years of the closest star system along its flight path, and 296,000 years before Voyager 1 passes by the bright star Sirius.Beyond that, we may imagine them surviving for billions of years as the only traces of a civilisation of human explorers in the far reaches of our galaxy.John Sarkissian, Operations Scientist, CSIRO and Ed Kruzins, Facilities Program Director Nasa Operations Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex , CSIRO

    See the full article here .

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    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.

    The CSIRO blog is designed to entertain, inform and inspire by generally digging around in the work being done by our terrific scientists, and leaving the techie speak and jargon for the experts.

    We aim to bring you stories from across the vast breadth and depth of our organisation: from the wild sea voyages of our Research Vessel Investigator to the mind-blowing astronomy of our Space teams, right through all the different ways our scientists solve national challenges in areas as diverse as Health, Farming, Tech, Manufacturing, Energy, Oceans, and our Environment.

    If you have any questions about anything you find on our blog, we’d love to hear from you. You can reach us at socialmedia@csiro.au.

    And if you’d like to find out more about us, our science, or how to work with us, head over to CSIRO.au

     
  • richardmitnick 9:21 am on February 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , CSIRO/Parkes Radio Telescope,   

    From COSMOS: “Fast radio bursts: enigmatic and infuriating” 

    Cosmos Magazine bloc

    COSMOS

    13 February 2017
    Katie Mack

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia
    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    The best science stories are mystery stories. Something unexplained occurs, the detectives gather their clues, theories are proposed and shot down. In the end, if all goes well, the mystery is solved – at least until the next time something goes bump in the night.

    One of the most perplexing mysteries in astronomy today is the fast radio burst, or FRB. Almost 10 years ago, astronomer Duncan Lorimer at West Virginia University noticed a shockingly bright, incredibly quick signal in data collected by the Parkes radio telescope observatory in New South Wales a few years before. Only a few milliseconds long, the burst was as brilliant as some of the brightest galaxies radio astronomers had ever observed.

    Intriguingly, the signal swept across radio frequencies, mimicking the behaviour of bright flashes of radiation from very distant pulsars – ultra-dense stars that emit regular pulses of light. A signal that spreads across frequencies usually indicates that cosmic matter is dispersing the light, in the same way a prism spreads white light into a rainbow.

    But while the burst looked a lot like a pulsar blip, it didn’t repeat the way pulsar signals do, and no other telescope detected it. Dubbed the “Lorimer Burst”, it stood for years as a one-off event.

    Given its uniqueness, some suggested it must have been some kind of Earth-based interference, or perhaps simply a glitch in the Parkes telescope.

    Today, fast radio bursts are no longer anomalies. With a hint of what to look for – very short, bright events – astronomers have scoured data from the Parkes telescope and other radio telescopes around the world. FRBs are now so numerous it’s hard to keep up with their discovery.

    Yet FRBs are a study in contradictions. So far, only one source repeats, but at such irregular intervals that astronomers have not been able to determine a pattern. Only two bursts have coincided with emissions in visible or any other kind of light, which is necessary to pinpoint the source of the FRB since the radio telescopes can’t give an exact location.

    However, one of those two bursts now appears more likely to be a chance alignment than a true correlation, and the other paints the picture of an explosion with such odd characteristics it is hard to reconcile with any known model.

    Careful analysis of different FRB signals has suggested explosions of young stars, or old stars, or even collisions between stars, but none of those fit with an FRB that repeats.

    One of the biggest open questions is exactly how far away FRBs are. Every attempt to work out their distance has been inconclusive. Even the pattern of their locations in the sky is odd. If they’re all far beyond our own galaxy, we would expect them to appear at random places in the sky.

    If they’re all in our galaxy, we should see them mostly along the plane of the Milky Way, where most of the stars are. In actuality, we’ve found them to lie somewhat more often above or below the plane of the galaxy, not randomly like distant sources, and not in the plane like close ones. But with only 20 or so seen so far, it is hard to draw a conclusion.

    Thanks to FRBs, we are now looking at the universe in a new way, redesigning our observation strategies and scouring the data for super-short-duration events. Just as every new observing wavelength we try or instrumental technique we develop opens a new window to the universe, this new frontier may allow us to see an entire zoo of cosmic events that were happening all along, unseen. It wouldn’t be surprising to find that FRBs represent a diverse family of cosmic explosions rather than one kind of thing.

    The key to solving this mystery will be to catch an FRB in the act and, at the same time, see its fingerprints on a signal detected with another kind of light, thus allowing us to see the galaxy it came from.

    Astronomers are already designing surveys that watch for FRBs with radio telescopes and scour the sky with optical, infrared, or gamma ray telescopes around the world simultaneously. Once we have a handful of real-time FRBs along with their host galaxies, we will start to close this case and, more likely than not, open several exciting new ones.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 2:11 pm on January 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Automated Planet Finder at Lick Observatory, , Breakthrough Prize Foundation, , CSIRO/Parkes Radio Telescope, ,   

    From Seeker: “Kepler’s ‘Alien Megastructure’ Star to Spill SETI Secrets?” 

    Seeker bloc

    SEEKER

    Oct 26, 2016 [I missed this, but it is important]
    IAN O’NEILL

    gbo-logo

    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA
    GBO – Green Bank Radio Telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA

    The star KIC 8462852 — informally known as Tabby’s Star — has been the focus of the worlds’ attention for months now, and for good reason. Its strange behavior could be a sign that there’s a super-advanced alien civilization carrying out the mother of all engineering projects in orbit. But the mysterious dips in observed light from the star could alternatively just be a huge swarm of comets or some other as-yet-to-be-understood stellar phenomenon.

    Although astronomers are generally skeptical that there really is an extraterrestrial civilization constructing a starlight-blocking megastructure only 1,480 light-years from Earth, the Breakthrough Listen SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project is committing radio telescope time of one of the most powerful observatories on the planet to at least test the intelligent alien hypothesis.

    The project is a part of the $100 million Breakthrough Prize Foundation that’s funded by Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner and backed by British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

    Starting Wednesday (Oct. 26), a team of astronomers will use the renowned 100-meter Green Bank Telescope (pictured above) that is located deep in a radio-silent corner of West Virginia to study Tabby’s Star. For eight hours per night for three nights over the next two months, a special instrument attached to the huge radio telescope will be used to carry out an unprecedented observation campaign of the star.

    “The Breakthrough Listen program has the most powerful SETI equipment on the planet, and access to the largest telescopes on the planet,” said Andrew Siemion, director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center and co-director of Breakthrough Listen, in a statement. “We can look at it with greater sensitivity and for a wider range of signal types than any other experiment in the world.”

    Although other projects have tried to eavesdrop on the star before, SETI campaigns have typically been limited by the number of radio frequencies that can be recorded simultaneously and the amount of time committed to just one star in the sky. This new instrument [new only to the project, the telescope began regular science operations in 2001.] is able to record a huge amount of data across a range of frequencies at the same time, potentially allowing us to detect the radio transmissions from any transmitting intelligent aliens at Tabby’s Star.

    “The Green Bank Telescope is the largest fully steerable radio telescope on the planet, and it’s the largest, most sensitive telescope that’s capable of looking at Tabby’s star given its position in the sky,” said Siemion. “We’ve deployed a fantastic new SETI instrument that connects to that telescope, that can look at many gigahertz of bandwidth simultaneously and many, many billions of different radio channels all at the same time so we can explore the radio spectrum very, very quickly.”

    It’s estimated that up to one petabyte of data may be collected over the observing run — that’s enough data to fill a thousand computer hard drives (assuming each can store one terabyte). The researchers say that it could be over a month before we know whether or not a signal was detected because it will take a long time to process all the observations.

    With Siemion, Tabetha Boyajian, from Louisiana State University, and visiting UC Berkeley astronomer Jason Wright will be heading the study. Boyajian was the first to report on KIC 8462852’s peculiar light-curve in September 2015, which was initially flagged by citizen scientists participating in the Planet Hunters project. Tabby’s Star is so-named in honor of Boyajian.

    The project asks for the help of the public to look at candidate exoplanet transits from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Kepler has confirmed hundreds of worlds orbiting other stars by detecting the dip in brightness of a star (described by the star’s “light-curve”) by an exoplanet passing in front — an event known as a “transit.” And the transit signal produced by Tabby’s star was as dramatic as it was bizarre.

    Typically, an exoplanet signal might dim a star’s light by around 2%. But several of the irregular transits of Tabby’s Star caused the starlight to drop by up to 22%. This means that something very big must be passing in front. What’s more, it seems the star’s brightness has been dimming for hundreds of years according to historical astronomical records, only adding to the intrigue. Although several ideas have been put forward to explain the signal, the key one being the possibility of a huge cloud of comets drifting in front of the star, all have fallen short of fully explaining the Kepler observation.

    After the weirdness of Tabby’s Star was known, Jason Wright discussed the possibility of Tabby’s Star’s dimming not being caused by natural phenomena; could the dimming be caused by an advanced alien intelligence creating a “megastructure” around the star? Could this be the first observational evidence of a huge solar array (like a Dyson Sphere) being built?

    For now, this is pure speculation, but Breakthrough Listen hopes to investigate further. If this hypothetical alien civilization is transmitting powerful radio signals into space, perhaps we’ll detect it. Though it is highly unlikely an artificial radio signal will be detected, the mere chance Tabby’s Star might spill its secrets in the form of transmissions from an advanced alien race is enough for us to at least try.

    [Also participating are Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia, and the Automated Planet Finder at UCO Lick, Mt Hamilton, California.

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia
    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA
    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA]

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 8:19 am on November 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CSIRO/Parkes Radio Telescope, , ,   

    From Science Alert: “Astronomers have traced the source of the most powerful radio signal ever received from space” 

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    18 NOV 2016
    PETER DOCKRILL

    It’s not coming from inside the Milky Way.

    1
    The intensity of FRB 150807 at different radio frequencies. Credit: Dr Vikram Ravi/Caltech and Dr Ryan Shannon/ICRAR-Curtin/CSIRO

    Scientists have observed the most powerful fast radio burst (FRB) ever – an intensely brilliant burst of radiation emanating from outside our own Milky Way galaxy.

    The signal, which researchers say travelled at least a billion light-years to reach Earth, only lasted for a fraction of a second, but the observation could help us understand more about the epic gaps that exist between galaxies, called the cosmic web.

    “FRBs are extremely short but intense pulses of radio waves, each only lasting about a millisecond,” says astrophysicist Ryan Shannon from Curtin University in Australia. “Some are discovered by accident and no two bursts look the same.”

    There’s a lot we still don’t understand about FRBs and where they come from, partly because we’ve so far witnessed very few of them.

    This new burst – called FRB 150807 – is just the 18th FRB detected to date since they were first discovered in 2001.

    But despite this apparent rarity, scientists actually think these intensely powerful but short phenomena are happening all the time – we just don’t notice them.

    “We estimate that there are between 2,000 and 10,000 FRBs occurring in the sky every day,” says one of the team, astronomer Vikram Ravi from Caltech.

    One of the difficulties with detecting FRBs is how quickly they flash, which makes it difficult for telescopes observing large portions of the sky to pinpoint where the bursts originate.

    But FRB 150807’s intense luminosity not only made it easier to help trace the burst’s likely origins – it also gave scientists new clues about the intergalactic matter the burst travelled through to get here.

    “This particular FRB is the first detected to date to contain detailed information about the cosmic web – regarded as the fabric of the Universe,” says Shannon.

    “[B]ut it is also unique because its travel path can be reconstructed to a precise line of sight and back to an area of space about a billion light years away that contains only a small number of possible home galaxies.”

    When FRBs travel through space, they pass through a range of matter – including gases, ionised particles, and magnetic fields – which can distort the radio wave on its path.

    But FRB 150807 – which was detected using the CSIRO’s Parkes Observatory in Australia – appeared to only be weakly distorted, which suggests that the space dust and magnetic fields throughout the cosmic web are less turbulent than the gas and other material in the Milky Way.

    2
    Australia’s Parkes radio telescope detected a fast radio burst while monitoring a nearby pulsar.
    Roger Ressmeyer / Corbis / VCG / Getty Images

    Thanks to the signal’s brightness, the team triangulated its origin to a small handful of galaxies, with the most likely candidate being a star system called VHS7.

    This galaxy is thought to be located between 3.2 and 6.5 billion light-years away, although the researchers acknowledge that they can’t be 100 percent certain that this is where the FRB hails from.

    And it’s also possible that the FRB could have come from a dim galaxy that we haven’t previously detected in sky surveys – but the team is convinced that wherever this distant galaxy is, it’s at least 1.5 billion light-years from Earth.

    While there’s still a lot we don’t know about these intense radio waves, FRB 150807’s stronger-than-usual signal at least should have cleared up any longstanding doubts as to whether FRBs actually emanate from outside the Milky Way – some scientists thought the signals could be explained by phenomena occurring inside our own galaxy.

    “I think this is laid to rest for the class of objects,” astronomer James M. Cordes from Cornell University, who wasn’t involved with the research, told Nadia Drake at National Geographic. “There may be one or two in the 18 published bursts that could still be in our galaxy, but the others could not.”

    And while we’ve still got our fair share of questions about what these FRBs are and what’s actually generating them, at least this new data gives us our clearest picture yet of these insanely powerful micro-events.

    “[FRB 150807] shows the promise of probing the large-scale structure of the Universe,” astrophysicist Duncan Lorimer from West Virginia University, who was not involved with this research, told Loren Grush at The Verge.

    “This particular source doesn’t solve the mystery of what [FRBs] are. But it gives us a great amount of hope for what [scientists] can do in the future.”

    The findings are reported in Science.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 10:50 am on November 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , CSIRO/Parkes Radio Telescope,   

    From Astronomy Now: “Breakthrough Listen searches new-found nearby planet Proxima b for signs of ET” 

    Astronomy Now bloc

    Astronomy Now

    8 November 2016
    No writer credit found

    1
    The 64-metre-wide Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales, Australia is affectionately known as “The Dish.” It played an iconic role in receiving the first deliberate transmissions from the surface of another world, as the astronauts of Apollo 11 set foot on our Moon. Now, Parkes joins once again in expanding human horizons as we search for the answer to one of our oldest questions: Are we alone? Image credit: Parkes Radio Telescope © 2005 Shaun Amy.

    Breakthrough Listen, the 10-year, $100-million astronomical search for intelligent life beyond Earth launched in 2015 by Internet entrepreneur Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking, today announced its first observations using the Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales, Australia.

    Parkes joins the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia, USA, and the Automated Planet Finder (APF) at Lick Observatory in California, USA, in their ongoing surveys to determine whether civilisations elsewhere have developed technologies similar to our own.

    gbo-logo
    GBO radio telescope, West Virginia, USA
    GBO radio telescope, West Virginia, USA

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA
    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA

    Parkes radio telescope is part of the Australia Telescope National Facility, owned and managed by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

    Drawing on over nine months of experience in operation of the dedicated Breakthrough Listen instrument at GBT, a team of scientists and engineers from the University of California, Berkeley’s SETI Research Center (BSRC) deployed similar hardware at Parkes, bringing Breakthrough Listen’s unprecedented search tools to a wide range of sky inaccessible from the GBT. The Southern Hemisphere sky is rich with targets, including the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy, large swaths of the galactic plane, and numerous other galaxies in the nearby universe.

    “The Dish” at Parkes played an iconic role in receiving the first deliberate transmissions from the surface of another world, as the astronauts of Apollo 11 set foot on our Moon. Now, Parkes joins once again in expanding human horizons as we search for the answer to one of our oldest questions: Are we alone?

    “The Parkes Radio Telescope is a superb instrument, with a rich history,” said Pete Worden, Chairman of Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Executive Director of the Breakthrough Initiatives. “We’re very pleased to be collaborating with CSIRO to take Listen to the next level.”

    With its new combined all-sky range, superb telescope sensitivity and computing capacity, Breakthrough Listen is the most powerful, comprehensive, and intensive scientific search ever undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth.

    Moreover, this expansion of Breakthrough Listen’s range follows the announcement on 12 October that it will be joining forces with the new FAST telescope — the world’s largest filled-aperture radio receiver — to coordinate their searches for artificial signals. The two programs will exchange observing plans, search methods and data, including the rapid sharing of promising new signals for additional observation and analysis. The partnership represents a major step toward establishing a fully connected, global search for intelligent life in the universe.

    “The addition of Parkes is an important milestone,” said Yuri Milner, founder of the Breakthrough Initiatives, which include Breakthrough Listen. “These major instruments are the ears of planet Earth, and now they are listening for signs of other civilisations.”

    First light focused on exo-Earth

    After 14 days of commissioning and test observations, first light for Breakthrough Listen at Parkes was achieved on 7 November, with an observation of the newly-discovered Earth-size planet orbiting the nearest star to the Sun. Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf star 4.2 light-years from Earth, is now known to have a planet (“Proxima b”) within its habitable zone — the region where water could exist in liquid form on the planet’s surface. Such “exo-Earths” (habitable zone exoplanets) are among the primary targets for Breakthrough Listen.

    Centauris Alpha Beta Proxima 27, February 2012. Skatebiker
    Centauris Alpha Beta Proxima 27, February 2012. Skatebiker

    “The chances of any particular planet hosting intelligent life-forms are probably minuscule,” said Andrew Siemion, director of UC Berkeley SETI Research Center. “But once we knew there was a planet right next door, we had to ask the question, and it was a fitting first observation for Parkes. To find a civilisation just 4.2 light-years away would change everything.”

    As the closest known exoplanet, Proxima b is also the current primary target for Breakthrough Listen’s sister initiative, Breakthrough Starshot, which is developing the technology to send gram-scale spacecraft to the nearest stars.

    “Parkes is one of the most highly cited radio telescopes in the world, with a long list of achievements to its credit, including the discovery of the first ‘fast radio burst.’ Parkes’ unique view of the southern sky, and cutting-edge instrumentation, means we have a great opportunity to contribute to the search for extra-terrestrial life,” said Douglas Bock, Director of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 4:56 pm on June 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CSIRO/Parkes Radio Telescope, Life's First Handshake: Chiral Molecule Detected in Interstellar Space, , , Sagittarius (Sgr) B2   

    From NRAO: “Life’s First Handshake: Chiral Molecule Detected in Interstellar Space” 

    NRAO Icon
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory

    NRAO Banner

    1
    Scientists applaud the first detection of a “handed” molecule, (propylene oxide) in interstellar space. It was detected, primarily with the NSF’s Green Bank Telescope, near the center of our Galaxy in Sagittarius (Sgr) B2, a massive star-forming region. Propylene oxide is one of a class of so-called “chiral” molecules — molecules that have an identical chemical composition, but right- and left-handed versions. Chiral molecules are essential for life and their discovery in deep space may help scientists understand why life on Earth relies on a certain handedness to perform key biological functions. Sgr A* in this image indicates the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy. The white features in the composite image are the bright radio sources in the center of our Galaxy as seen with the VLA. The background image is from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The two “handed” versions of propylene oxide are illustrated. The “R” and “S” designations are for the Latin terms rectus (right) and sinister (left).
    Credit: B. Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF from data provided by N.E. Kassim, Naval Research Laboratory, Sloan Digital Sky Survey

    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point, NM, USA
    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point, NM, USA

    2
    The S (Latin for sinister, left) and R (Latin for rectus, right) versions of the chiral molecule propylene oxide, which was discovered in a massive star-forming region near the center of our Galaxy. This is the first detection of a chiral molecule in interstellar space. Credit: B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

    Like a pair of human hands, certain organic molecules have mirror-image versions of themselves, a chemical property known as chirality. These so-called “handed” molecules are essential for biology and have intriguingly been found in meteorites on Earth and comets in our Solar System. None, however, has been detected in the vast reaches of interstellar space, until now.

    A team of scientists using highly sensitive radio telescopes has discovered the first complex organic chiral molecule in interstellar space. The molecule, propylene oxide (CH3CHOCH2), was found near the center of our Galaxy in an enormous star-forming cloud of dust and gas known as Sagittarius B2 (Sgr B2).

    The research was undertaken primarily with the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia as part of the Prebiotic Interstellar Molecular Survey. Additional supporting observations were taken with the [CSIRO] Parkes radio telescope in Australia.

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory
    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory

    “This is the first molecule detected in interstellar space that has the property of chirality, making it a pioneering leap forward in our understanding of how prebiotic molecules are made in the Universe and the effects they may have on the origins of life,” said Brett McGuire, a chemist and Jansky Postdoctoral Fellow with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    “Propylene oxide is among the most complex and structurally intricate molecules detected so far in space,” said Brandon Carroll, a chemistry graduate student at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “Detecting this molecule opens the door for further experiments determining how and where molecular handedness emerges and why one form may be slightly more abundant than the other.”

    McGuire and Carroll share first authorship on a paper published today in the journal Science. They also are presenting their results at the American Astronomical Society meeting in San Diego, California.

    Forming and Detecting Molecules in Space

    Complex organic molecules form in interstellar clouds like Sgr B2 in several ways. The most basic pathway is through gas-phase chemistry, in which particles collide and merge to produce ever more complex molecules. Once organic compounds as large as methanol (CH3OH) are produced, however, this process becomes much less efficient.

    To form more complex molecules, like propylene oxide, astronomers believe thin mantles of ice on dust grains help link small molecules into longer and larger structures. These molecules can then evaporate from the surface of the grains and further react in the gas of the surrounding cloud.

    To date, more than 180 molecules have been detected in space. Each molecule, as it naturally tumbles and vibrates in the near vacuum of the interstellar medium, gives off a distinctive signature, a series of telltale spikes that appear in the radio spectrum. Larger and more complex molecules have a correspondingly more complex signature, making them harder to detect.

    To claim a definitive detection, scientists must observe multiple spectral lines associated with the same molecule. In the case of propylene oxide, the research team detected two such lines with the GBT. The third was at a frequency difficult to observe from the Northern Hemisphere due to satellite radio interference. Carroll, McGuire, and their colleagues used the Parkes telescope to tease out the final spectral line needed to verify their results.

    The current data, however, do not distinguish between the left- and right-handed versions of the molecule. In additional to the same chemical composition, chiral molecules have the same melting, boiling, and freezing points, and the same spectra. “These spectra are like your hands’ shadows,” said Carroll. “It’s impossible to tell if a right hand or a left hand is casting the shadow.” This presents a challenge for researchers trying to determine if one version of propylene oxide is more abundant than the other.

    Chirality in Space, a Helping Hand to Biology on Earth

    Every living thing on Earth uses one, and only one handedness of many types of chiral molecules. This trait, called homochirality, is critical for life and has important implications for many biological structures, including DNA’s double helix. Scientists do not yet understand how biology came to rely on one handedness and not the other. The answer, the researchers speculate, may be found in the way these molecules naturally form in space before being incorporated into asteroids and comets and later deposited on young planets.

    “Meteorites in our Solar System contain chiral molecules that predate the Earth itself, and chiral molecules have recently been discovered in comets,” noted Carroll. “Such small bodies may be what pushed life to the handedness we see today.”

    “By discovering a chiral molecule in space, we finally have a way to study where and how these molecules form before they find their way into meteorites and comets, and to understand the role they play in the origins of homochirality and life,” McGuire said.

    The researchers believe it may eventually be possible to determine if there is an excess of one handedness of propylene oxide over the other by examining how polarized light interacts with the molecules in space.

    “The Prebiotic Interstellar Molecular Survey is the culmination of a nearly decade-long research campaign with the GBT,” said Anthony Remijan, an astrochemist with the NRAO and head of the research team. “It is an invaluable resource and helps us understand the cosmic origins of this and other similarly elusive molecules.”

    The 100-meter Green Bank Telescope is the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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

    ALMA Array

    NRAO ALMA

    NRAO/GBT radio telescope
    NRAO GBT

    NRAO VLA
    NRAO VLA

    The NRAO is building two new major research facilities in partnership with the international community that will soon open new scientific frontiers: the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA). Access to ALMA observing time by the North American astronomical community will be through the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC).
    *The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) comprises ten radio telescopes spanning 5,351 miles. It’s the world’s largest, sharpest, dedicated telescope array. With an eye this sharp, you could be in Los Angeles and clearly read a street sign in New York City!

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

     
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