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  • richardmitnick 3:55 pm on September 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , CTIO, , Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope   

    From CTIO: “Chilean scientists discover crucial event right before the death of a star in Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO)” 

    NOAO Banner

    From CTIO

    Dark Energy Survey

    1
    Evidence of Type II supernova

    Today, the journal Nature Astronomy will publish the article The delay of shock breakout due to circumstellar material evident in most Type II Supernovae [science paper not made available even in a search], written by a group of researchers from the Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM) and the Department of Astronomy of the University of Chile, Millennium Institute of Astrophysics (MAS) and international institutions, after four years of work.

    The discovery was made at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory – which is part of the AURA Observatory in Chile, funded by the National Science Foundation of the United States – by scanning the sky using DECam for 14 nights at the 4-m Victor Blanco Telescope, and they will change what is known about supernova explosions and the last stages of stellar evolution.


    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

    In particular, the group discovered that supernovae generated from red supergiants, stars of great size in advanced stages of their lives, present a flash before the main explosion not predicted by current models.

    This brightness is explained by the collision between the expanding gas of the supernova and a material of unknown origin that surrounds the star, explains Francisco Förster, a researcher at the CMM and MAS leader of the research: “The presence of this material makes it possible to extract part of the enormous energy produced during the explosion and turn it into light that we can detect. ”

    The discovery was made possible because the explosions were observed in real time in their initial stages. To do this, data analysis techniques developed in Chile unprecedented for Astronomy, machine learning, astrophysical models created in Japan and high performance computing were used.

    “This research is part of the work that the CMM performs around acquiring and structuring complex databases, formulating methodologies to make sense of these databases and interpreting the results,” says Alejandro Maass, director of the Center for Mathematical Modeling. “It’s undoubtedly a step forward in the challenges that data science brings to society, academia and industry.”

    According to Förster, the discovery will open new research steps thanks to the large telescopes that are being built in northern Chile, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, also belonging to the AURA Observatory, which will sweep the entire sky every three nights: “This will enable us to collect more supernova samples, which will let us gain a better understanding of this phenomenon.”

    LSST


    LSST Camera, built at SLAC



    LSST 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.

    For the Director of Cerro Tololo, Dr. Steve Heathcote “This result shows how in the era of Big Data, the use of advanced computing techniques -a field that in Chile has been established with global capabilities in CMM- to filter massive data sets delivered by modern instruments such as DECam, allow scientific discoveries that would have been impossible in the past. The techniques developed at CMM will be critical tools to handle the large amount of data that will come from LSST when it starts operations in Chile in 2023. ”

    Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO)

    NOAO Cerro Tolo

    The Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) is located in northern Chile. CTIO operates the 4-meter, 1.5-meter, 0.9-meter, and Curtis Schmidt telescopes at this site.


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

    See the full article here .

    Stem Education Coalition

    NOAO News
    NOAO is the US national research & development center for ground-based night time astronomy. In particular, NOAO is enabling the development of the US optical-infrared (O/IR) System, an alliance of public and private observatories allied for excellence in scientific research, education and public outreach.

    Our core mission is to provide public access to qualified professional researchers via peer-review to forefront scientific capabilities on telescopes operated by NOAO as well as other telescopes throughout the O/IR System. Today, these telescopes range in aperture size from 2-m to 10-m. NOAO is participating in the development of telescopes with aperture sizes of 20-m and larger as well as a unique 8-m telescope that will make a 10-year movie of the Southern sky.

    In support of this mission, NOAO is engaged in programs to develop the next generation of telescopes, instruments, and software tools necessary to enable exploration and investigation through the observable Universe, from planets orbiting other stars to the most distant galaxies in the Universe.

    To communicate the excitement of such world-class scientific research and technology development, NOAO has developed a nationally recognized Education and Public Outreach program. The main goals of the NOAO EPO program are to inspire young people to become explorers in science and research-based technology, and to reach out to groups and individuals who have been historically under-represented in the physics and astronomy science enterprise.

    The National Optical Astronomy Observatory is proud to be a US National Node in the International Year of Astronomy, 2009.

    The NOAO System Science Center (NSSC)


    Gemini/North telescope at Maunakea, Hawaii, USA,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level


    Gemini North


    Gemini South telescope, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) campus near La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 7200 feet


    Gemini South

    The NOAO System Science Center (NSSC) at NOAO is the gateway for the U.S. astronomical community to the International Gemini Project: twin 8.1 meter telescopes in Hawaii and Chile that provide unprecendented coverage (northern and southern skies) and details of our universe.

    NOAO is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy under a Cooperative Agreement with the National Science Foundation.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:10 pm on January 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , CTIO,   

    From UNC via WRAL: “UNC student astronomers use remote technology to touch the stars” 

    U NC bloc

    University of North Carolina

    1

    WRAL

    December 23, 2016
    DeLaney McGuire / UNC-CH

    NOAO/ Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR)telescope situated on Cerro Pachón - IV Región - Chile, at 2,700 meters (8,775 feet)
    NOAO/ Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR)telescope situated on Cerro Pachón – IV Región – Chile, at 2,700 meters (8,775 feet)

    It’s 8:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is quiet. Classrooms are empty; doors are locked. A few faint stars peek out from behind thick clouds. In a small room in Chapman Hall, two students have just sat down to begin their work. Projected on the wall are a series of graphs, diagrams and data, all accompanying an impressive image of a large, white star surrounded by hundreds more. A monitor in the corner streams live footage from a telescope control room in northern Chile. On the screen, a mustached man wearing glasses and headphones whistles to himself. Behind him on yet another monitor, fans explode with excitement after a soccer star scores a goal for his team.

    From the top of Cerro Pachón, more than 4,500 miles from Chapel Hill, an endless sea of mountains expands in every direction. The vast, desert landscape is otherworldly with its rocky, Mars-like terrain. The sinking sun blankets the region with an orange glow, and its rays glint off large metal domes – giant telescopes that dot the surrounding mountaintops.

    Indigenous peoples of Latin America studied the stars long before the European influence of modern astronomy reached the New World. They memorized the changing constellations and planetary rotations to track time. Long ago, the southern sky was so clear the Incas could pinpoint what they called “dark constellations,” the black undulating formations found in the sparkling band of the Milky Way. The night sky once revered by the Incas has since been tarnished with light pollution emanating from the modern world. Today, that age-old, heavenly scene is visible only from the heights of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

    Listed by National Geographic as the number one stargazing spot on the planet, the Atacama has drawn astronomers from around the globe and is home to some of the world’s most powerful telescopes. Here, a pristine view of the southern sky reveals cosmos unseen from the Northern Hemisphere. Each year, the dry desert air offers more than 200 clear nights, and there are some places in the Atacama where rainfall hasn’t been recorded in more than 500 years. These conditions, along with minimal pollution, make the Atacama Desert a prime location for major international research telescopes.

    Observatories started to crop up in the Atacama in the 1960s when modern astronomy began to flourish. Today, the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, or CTIO, includes seven telescopes on two adjacent mountains, Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón. Headquartered in the nearby coastal city of La Serena, CTIO was one of the first major observatories in Chile.

    CTIO  Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory
    CTIO Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory,approximately 80 km to the East of La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 2200 meters

    The largest CTIO structure is the Víctor Blanco 4m Telescope, built in 1974.

    NOAO/CTIO Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope which houses the DECam at Cerro Tololo, Chile
    NOAO/CTIO Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope which houses the DECam at Cerro Tololo, Chile

    Although it stands at nearly twice the size of CTIO’s Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope, known as SOAR, it’s no more powerful than its shrunken counterpart. That’s because workers built SOAR nearly 30 years after Blanco, the same 30-year stretch that saw a transformation from large, clunky desktop computers to portable laptops. Technology had changed drastically, and the “bigger and better” mentality was on its way out.

    Size, however, isn’t the only thing that’s changed.

    Patricio Ugarte, observer support at SOAR since 2003, strokes his white mustache as he thinks back to his days working at Blanco. “When I arrived at Tololo, we didn’t have telephones. The only way to communicate to La Serena was through a radio station. When my first son was born, I knew it two days after because my wife had to send a telegram,” he said. “In the 70s, you needed to work in the darkness – on the platform, attaching the telescope, feeling the weather, the cold in the night.”

    Today, Ugarte sits in a room lined with computer screens. A camera connects him to astronomers in other parts of world and, at the touch of a button, he can move the telescope without ever leaving his seat.

    Ugarte, in his old age, appreciates the convenience of today’s astrotechnology. “Now, you can work inside of this building. There’s a heater in the winter, you can use the web, you can watch the news. Now, you can go outside, take a look at the sky. You can go to the kitchen to make tea. You know, you can make a lot of things. I have Netflix so I can see some movies,” he said.

    3

    Also in the Atacama,

    ESO/CerroLaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres
    ESO/CerroLaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

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

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

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

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

    ESO APEX
    APEX Atacama Pathfinder 5,100 meters above sea level, at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert

    And soon to be in the Atacama

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

    LSST

    LSST telescope, currently under construction at Cerro Pachón Chile
    LSST telescope, currently under construction at Cerro Pachón Chile

    “So what is the reward of being a scientist? Why would you ever spend all this time and all this effort to do something like look at points of light that we call stars? Well, there’s this moment when you look deeply into something and you have a special tool that you built, so you can see things for the first time that no one else knows. So the moment of scientific discovery that excites most scientists, that keeps them going, is when you learn something about this universe, and for a little bit of time, only you know that. You have possession of knowledge no one else on earth has, you know something about the universe – maybe it’s not significant, maybe it is significant – but you alone know it. And before you tell anybody, you get to enjoy a few minutes in possession of profound knowledge that you got through your own hard labor, that only you possess. That’s why people are scientists.” Dr. Chris Clemens, UNC astronomy professor and SOAR board member, says. (Photos by Aly Moser)
    Most of the workers inside the SOAR telescope have been around SOAR ever since its existence. “There’s something special about it, it draws you in and you can’t stop.” Mauricio, a SOAR mechanic, says about his passion for astronomy and love for the SOAR telescope. The team is small and works long hours together has created a family relationship among them. (Photos by Aly Moser)

    SOAR technicians take a special trip inside the telescope wiring after a malfunction with the system alerts the control room. “We don’t usually do this.” Ian, the lead technician says. “It’s no big deal, something is wrong and we simply need to figure it out. I am not panicked. I am just doing my job.” The technicians tinker with the telescope’s calibration until they receive a call from the neighbouring telescope’s staff alerting them that there it is a power outage which is what likely caused the malfunction. The team rushes to a different room and turns on a generator. Problem solved. (Photos by Aly Moser) 9

    Map Marker Find News Near Me

    By DeLaney McGuire / UNC-CH

    Chapel Hill, N.C. — It’s 8:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is quiet. Classrooms are empty; doors are locked. A few faint stars peek out from behind thick clouds. In a small room in Chapman Hall, two students have just sat down to begin their work. Projected on the wall are a series of graphs, diagrams and data, all accompanying an impressive image of a large, white star surrounded by hundreds more. A monitor in the corner streams live footage from a telescope control room in northern Chile. On the screen, a mustached man wearing glasses and headphones whistles to himself. Behind him on yet another monitor, fans explode with excitement after a soccer star scores a goal for his team.

    From the top of Cerro Pachón, more than 4,500 miles from Chapel Hill, an endless sea of mountains expands in every direction. The vast, desert landscape is otherworldly with its rocky, Mars-like terrain. The sinking sun blankets the region with an orange glow, and its rays glint off large metal domes – giant telescopes that dot the surrounding mountaintops.

    There are two telescopes here on Cerro Pachón and another underway, eight across the valley on top of Cerro Tololo and, deeper in the desert, dozens more.

    Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope

    As the sun drops below the horizon, the first glittery stars emerge in the cobalt sky. Soon, millions will burn through the darkness and, once again, ignite a curiosity that has captivated people for thousands of years.

    Indigenous peoples of Latin America studied the stars long before the European influence of modern astronomy reached the New World. They memorized the changing constellations and planetary rotations to track time. Long ago, the southern sky was so clear the Incas could pinpoint what they called “dark constellations,” the black undulating formations found in the sparkling band of the Milky Way. The night sky once revered by the Incas has since been tarnished with light pollution emanating from the modern world. Today, that age-old, heavenly scene is visible only from the heights of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

    Listed by National Geographic as the number one stargazing spot on the planet, the Atacama has drawn astronomers from around the globe and is home to some of the world’s most powerful telescopes. Here, a pristine view of the southern sky reveals cosmos unseen from the Northern Hemisphere. Each year, the dry desert air offers more than 200 clear nights, and there are some places in the Atacama where rainfall hasn’t been recorded in more than 500 years. These conditions, along with minimal pollution, make the Atacama Desert a prime location for major international research telescopes.

    Observatories started to crop up in the Atacama in the 1960s when modern astronomy began to flourish. Today, the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, or CTIO, includes seven telescopes on two adjacent mountains, Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón. Headquartered in the nearby coastal city of La Serena, CTIO was one of the first major observatories in Chile.

    SOAR work takes place in absolute dark

    The largest CTIO structure is the Víctor Blanco 4m Telescope, built in 1974. Although it stands at nearly twice the size of CTIO’s Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope, known as SOAR, it’s no more powerful than its shrunken counterpart. That’s because workers built SOAR nearly 30 years after Blanco, the same 30-year stretch that saw a transformation from large, clunky desktop computers to portable laptops. Technology had changed drastically, and the “bigger and better” mentality was on its way out.

    Size, however, isn’t the only thing that’s changed.

    Patricio Ugarte, observer support at SOAR since 2003, strokes his white mustache as he thinks back to his days working at Blanco. “When I arrived at Tololo, we didn’t have telephones. The only way to communicate to La Serena was through a radio station. When my first son was born, I knew it two days after because my wife had to send a telegram,” he said. “In the 70s, you needed to work in the darkness – on the platform, attaching the telescope, feeling the weather, the cold in the night.”

    Today, Ugarte sits in a room lined with computer screens. A camera connects him to astronomers in other parts of world and, at the touch of a button, he can move the telescope without ever leaving his seat.

    Ugarte, in his old age, appreciates the convenience of today’s astrotechnology. “Now, you can work inside of this building. There’s a heater in the winter, you can use the web, you can watch the news. Now, you can go outside, take a look at the sky. You can go to the kitchen to make tea. You know, you can make a lot of things. I have Netflix so I can see some movies,” he said.

    Patricio Ugarte
    However, some astronomers miss the adventure of the old days.

    Dr. Wayne Christiansen and his colleague Bruce Carney, who at the time were the only two researching astronomers in the astronomy department at UNC-Chapel Hill, proposed the creation of SOAR in 1986. Although remote observing was one of the futuristic features that helped sell the telescope to wary donors 30 years ago, Christiansen prefers to observe in person.

    “I mean, you don’t need to be there,” Christiansen said. “But, emotionally, if you will, it’s not the same. It’s not the same as going on that pilgrimage to the mountain and going out on the mountaintop and seeing the sky and saying, ‘I’m doing something big here.’”

    Ugarte agreed, but said although modern technology might weed out some of the exciting challenges that marked the old days of astronomy, it comes with the potential to take astronomers to places they’ve never imagined.

    “The old astronomy was more romantic because you saw with your eyes, you touched with your hands. It’s more impersonal [now],” Ugarte said.

    4

    But, he said today’s astrotechnology has its own kind of magic. Not only can remote observing connect astronomers from thousands of miles away to a telescope in the Atacama, but modern telescopes can connect astronomers to worlds from farther away than ever before. Today, optical telescopes can capture images of stars that are tens of thousands of times fainter than those seen with the human eye.

    In fact, these stars are so far away that it can take billions of years for their light to reach Earth. That means what an astronomer sees when looking at a faraway star is actually what the star looked like billions of years ago. The telescope basically serves as a rudimentary time machine.

    “Everything you look at at night – those stars belong to our galaxy, and it’s part of our past,” Ugarte said. “When you look through the biggest telescope, you are getting one step closer to the beginning of the universe because you can look deeper into the sky.”

    The farthest view into space, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, reached 13.2 billion years into the past. Some scientists believe the universe itself has existed for 13.7 billion years.

    A new space observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope, will be able to see even further into our past. The telescope is scheduled to launch in October 2018. Scientists expect it to see the very first galaxies, which formed just a couple hundred million years after the Big Bang. Whereas the Hubble showed astronomers the toddler stage of the universe’s life, Webb can reveal its infancy.

    While the future of astronomy is both impressive and exciting, scientists are making new discoveries everyday with the technology we already have. Telescopes don’t need to be launched into space or able to see the beginnings of the universe to have an impact. Research astronomer Kathy Vivas has spent the past year observing at SOAR to investigate the formation of our own galaxy.

    “Today, we believe that [large] galaxies form from the merger of many small galaxies,” she said. “That means small galaxies start merging together and, finally, they make a big galaxy like the Milky Way.”

    To prove this theory, Vivas has been searching for the remains of small galaxies that were destroyed by the tidal forces of the Milky Way. If confirmed, the theory could also be used to explain the formations of other large galaxies like ours.

    “For me, the most important reason why we are doing astronomy is because we can tell you where we are in the universe, what is our place in the universe,” Vivas said. “The fact that you can say, ‘Okay, we are here, this is the place we live, these are the surroundings we have, these are the dangers we may have in the future.’”

    5

    North of the equator, at UNC-Chapel Hill, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers are using SOAR to study distant, extinct solar systems. Chris Clemens, astrophysicist and senior associate dean for Natural Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill, built SOAR’s Goodman Spectrograph. One of the telescope’s most crucial instruments, the Goodman Spectrograph is utilized during nearly 80 percent of SOAR research.

    Clemens leads a UNC-Chapel Hill project on exoplanetary rubble. “When the sun is done being a regular star it will become a white dwarf, which is a very small, dense object about the size of the Earth,” he said. “Some of the leftover debris in the solar system will get crushed if it gets close enough, and then it’ll fall down onto the white dwarf.”

    Clemens’ team examines the debris to determine which materials, such as iron or calcium, made up the planets that once orbited stars like our sun. Like Vivas, Clemens compares astronomical systems separated by space and time in order to help us better understand our surroundings in the past, present and future, and to discover more about our place in the universe.

    It’s 7:15 a.m. on Thursday, the two students in Chapel Hill emerge from Chapman Hall. The sun is shining and the campus is coming alive with students headed for class. Tonight, another astronomer in another part of the world will sit down in a small room and stare at a series of graphs, diagrams and data, all accompanying an impressive image of a large, white star surrounded by hundreds more. In the corner, a screen will show a mustached man wearing glasses and headphones, whistling to himself as he aims the telescope toward the stars.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition</a

    U NC campus

    Carolina’s vibrant people and programs attest to the University’s long-standing place among leaders in higher education since it was chartered in 1789 and opened its doors for students in 1795 as the nation’s first public university. Situated in the beautiful college town of Chapel Hill, N.C., UNC has earned a reputation as one of the best universities in the world. Carolina prides itself on a strong, diverse student body, academic opportunities not found anywhere else, and a value unmatched by any public university in the nation.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:01 pm on March 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CTIO, ,   

    From Symmetry Magazine: “Astronomers give Dark Energy Camera rave reviews” 

    Even before the Dark Energy Survey begins, the Dark Energy Camera is exceeding expectations in the astrophysics community.

    March 27, 2013
    Andre Salles

    decamii

    “Astronomer Daniel Kelson is part of a team working to answer an intriguing question about our universe: Why are fewer and fewer stars being created over time? He’s been collecting data for years, but one piece of the puzzle eluded him.

    That is, until December of last year, when he spent two nights in Chile observing the sky with the new Dark Energy Camera. Kelson came away from his observing session with the information he needed to complete his research, and with a healthy dose of respect for what he calls the “super camera,” installed at the southern hemisphere station of the US National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

    dfecam
    DECam.

    ‘It was beautiful to use,’ Kelson says. ‘It’s impressive that the various teams could come together and make such a phenomenal camera.’

    He’s not alone in his appreciation.

    The 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera—the world’s most powerful digital imaging device, built at Fermilab and installed on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile—was constructed for the Dark Energy Survey, a five-year effort to map a portion of the southern sky in unprecedented detail. Since the camera was turned on in November, the DES has spent 50 nights completing the science verification phase of the experiment.

    Cerro Tololo
    Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory

    Dark Energy Icon

    When DES members are not operating the camera, it’s available for other astronomers like Kelson to use. Since last December, 19 other groups of scientists from institutions including Harvard, the University of Virginia and the University of California at Berkeley have signed up for nights with the Dark Energy Camera. Some teams searched for asteroids while some examined the properties of galaxies.

    David Silva, Director of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, has been pleased with the camera’s ability to tackle a wide range of astronomical problems of pressing interest to US astronomers.

    ‘After almost a decade of anticipation, it has been extremely gratifying to see the diversity of astronomical research problems being enthusiastically investigated so early in the lifetime of a major new instrument by astronomers from the US and abroad,’ Silva says.”

    See the full article here.

    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.


     
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