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  • richardmitnick 7:30 am on June 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Cosmic Mystery: ESO Telescope Captures the Disappearance of a Massive Star", , , , , Disappearence of luminous blue variable star in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy., ESO - European Southern Observatory   

    From European Southern Observatory: “A Cosmic Mystery: ESO Telescope Captures the Disappearance of a Massive Star” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    30 June 2020

    Andrew Allan
    Trinity College Dublin
    Dublin, Ireland
    Tel: +353 872921396
    Email: allana@tcd.ie

    Jose H. Groh
    Trinity College Dublin
    Dublin, Ireland
    Email: jose.groh@tcd.ie

    Andrea Mehner
    European Southern Observatory
    Santiago, Chile
    Email: amehner@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

    1
    This illustration shows what the luminous blue variable star in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy could have looked like before its mysterious disappearance. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

    Using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) [below], astronomers have discovered the absence of an unstable massive star in a dwarf galaxy. Scientists think this could indicate that the star became less bright and partially obscured by dust. An alternative explanation is that the star collapsed into a black hole without producing a supernova. “If true,” says team leader and PhD student Andrew Allan of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, “this would be the first direct detection of such a monster star ending its life in this manner.”

    2
    Hubble image of the Kinman Dwarf galaxy.
    Image of the Kinman Dwarf galaxy, also known as PHL 293B, taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 in 2011, before the disappearance of the massive star.

    NASA/ESA Hubble WFC3

    Located some 75 million light-years away, the galaxy is too far away for astronomers to clearly resolve its individual stars, but in observations done between 2001 and 2011, they detected the signatures of the massive star. These signatures were not present in more recent data. Credit: NASA, ESA/Hubble, J. Andrews (U. Arizona)

    4
    This wide-field view shows the region of the sky, in the constellation of Aquarius, where the Kinman Dwarf galaxy can be found. This view was created from images forming part of the Digitized Sky Survey 2. Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin


    ESOcast 225 Light: ESO Telescope Captures Disappearance of Massive Star
    The video is available in 4K UHD.
    Credit: ESO
    Directed by: Herbert Zodet.
    Editing: Herbert Zodet.
    Web and technical support: Gurvan Bazin and Raquel Yumi Shida.
    Written by: Caitlyn Buongiorno, Stephanie Rowlands and Bárbara Ferreira.
    Music: tonelabs (www.tonelabs.com) – Orion Fog.
    Footage and photos: ESO, L. Calçada, Digitized Sky Survey 2, N. Risinger (skysurvey.org), NASA, ESA/Hubble, J. Andrews (U. Arizona), ACe Consortium and J. Colosimo.
    Scientific consultants: Paola Amico and Mariya Lyubenova.


    This video starts by showing a wide-field view of a region of the sky in the constellation of Aquarius. It then zooms in to show the Kinman Dwarf galaxy, where a mysterious luminous blue variable star disappeared. The end of the video shows an artistic animation of what the star could have looked like before it disappeared. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada, Digitized Sky Survey 2, N. Risinger (skysurvey.org), NASA, ESA/Hubble, J. Andrews (U. Arizona) Music: Konstantino Polizois.

    Between 2001 and 2011, various teams of astronomers studied the mysterious massive star, located in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy, and their observations indicated it was in a late stage of its evolution. Allan and his collaborators in Ireland, Chile and the US wanted to find out more about how very massive stars end their lives, and the object in the Kinman Dwarf seemed like the perfect target. But when they pointed ESO’s VLT to the distant galaxy in 2019, they could no longer find the telltale signatures of the star. “Instead, we were surprised to find out that the star had disappeared!” says Allan, who led a study of the star published today in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    Located some 75 million light-years away in the constellation of Aquarius, the Kinman Dwarf galaxy is too far away for astronomers to see its individual stars, but they can detect the signatures of some of them. From 2001 to 2011, the light from the galaxy consistently showed evidence that it hosted a ‘luminous blue variable’ star some 2.5 million times brighter than the Sun. Stars of this type are unstable, showing occasional dramatic shifts in their spectra and brightness. Even with those shifts, luminous blue variables leave specific traces scientists can identify, but they were absent from the data the team collected in 2019, leaving them to wonder what had happened to the star. “It would be highly unusual for such a massive star to disappear without producing a bright supernova explosion,” says Allan.

    The group first turned the ESPRESSO instrument toward the star in August 2019, using the VLT’s four 8-metre telescopes simultaneously.

    ESO/ESPRESSO on the VLT, installed at the incoherent combined Coudé facility of the VLT. It is an ultra-stable fibre-fed échelle high-resolution spectrograph (R~140,000, 190,000, or 70,000) which collects the light from either a single UT or the four UTs simultaneously via the so-called UT Coudé trains.

    But they were unable to find the signs that previously pointed to the presence of the luminous star. A few months later, the group tried the X-shooter instrument, also on ESO’s VLT, and again found no traces of the star.

    ESO X-shooter on VLT on UT2 at Cerro Paranal, Chile

    “We may have detected one of the most massive stars of the local Universe going gently into the night,” says team-member Jose Groh, also of Trinity College Dublin. “Our discovery would not have been made without using the powerful ESO 8-metre telescopes, their unique instrumentation, and the prompt access to those capabilities following the recent agreement of Ireland to join ESO.” Ireland became an ESO member state in September 2018.

    The team then turned to older data collected using X-shooter and the UVES instrument on ESO’s VLT, located in the Chilean Atacama Desert, and telescopes elsewhere.

    UVES spectrograph mounted on the VLT at the Nasmyth B focus of UT2

    “The ESO Science Archive Facility enabled us to find and use data of the same object obtained in 2002 and 2009,” says Andrea Mehner, a staff astronomer at ESO in Chile who participated in the study. “The comparison of the 2002 high-resolution UVES spectra with our observations obtained in 2019 with ESO’s newest high-resolution spectrograph ESPRESSO was especially revealing, from both an astronomical and an instrumentation point of view.”

    The old data indicated that the star in the Kinman Dwarf could have been undergoing a strong outburst period that likely ended sometime after 2011. Luminous blue variable stars such as this one are prone to experiencing giant outbursts over the course of their life, causing the stars’ rate of mass loss to spike and their luminosity to increase dramatically.

    Based on their observations and models, the astronomers have suggested two explanations for the star’s disappearance and lack of a supernova, related to this possible outburst. The outburst may have resulted in the luminous blue variable being transformed into a less luminous star, which could also be partly hidden by dust. Alternatively, the team says the star may have collapsed into a black hole, without producing a supernova explosion. This would be a rare event: our current understanding of how massive stars die points to most of them ending their lives in a supernova.

    Future studies are needed to confirm what fate befell this star. Planned to begin operations in 2025, ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) [below] will be capable of resolving stars in distant galaxies such as the Kinman Dwarf, helping to solve cosmic mysteries such as this one.

    More information

    The team is composed of Andrew Allan (School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland [TCD]), Jose J. Groh (TCD), Andrea Mehner (European Southern Observatory, Chile), Nathan Smith (Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, USA [Steward Observatory]), Ioanna Boian (TCD), Eoin Farrell (TCD), Jennifer E. Andrews (Steward Observatory).

    See the full article here .


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

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

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


    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert

    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/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.

    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 12:01 pm on June 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hot stars are plagued by giant magnetic spots ESO data shows", , , , , ESO - European Southern Observatory, ESO data shows, Extreme horizontal branch stars-objects with about half the mass of the Sun but four to five times hotter., Hot stars are plagued by giant magnetic spots   

    From European Southern Observatory: “Hot stars are plagued by giant magnetic spots, ESO data shows” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    1 June 2020

    Yazan Al Momany
    INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova
    Padua, Italy
    Tel: +39 333 6297662
    Email: yazan.almomany@inaf.it

    Henri Boffin
    European Southern Observatory
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Email: hboffin@eso.org

    David Jones
    Instituto de Astrofísia de Canarias (IAC)
    Tenerife, Spain
    Tel: +34 63 8982356
    Email: djones@iac.es

    Simone Zaggia
    INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova
    Padua, Italy
    Tel: +39 (0)49 8293533
    Email: simone.zaggia@inaf.it

    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

    1
    Astronomers using European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescopes have discovered giant spots on the surface of extremely hot stars hidden in stellar clusters. Not only are these stars plagued by magnetic spots, some also experience superflare events, explosions of energy several million times more energetic than similar eruptions on the Sun. The findings, published today in Nature Astronomy, help astronomers better understand these puzzling stars and open doors to resolving other elusive mysteries of stellar astronomy.Credit: ESO/L. Calçada, INAF-Padua/S. Zaggia

    2
    Spots on extreme horizontal branch stars (right) appear to be quite different from the dark sunspots on our own Sun (left), but both are caused by magnetic fields. The spots on these hot, extreme stars are brighter and hotter than the surrounding stellar surface, unlike on the Sun where we see spots as dark stains on the solar surface that are cooler than their surroundings. The spots on extreme horizontal branch stars are also significantly larger than sunspots, covering up to a quarter of the star’s surface. While sunspots vary in size, a typical size is around an Earth-size planet, 3000 smaller than a giant spot on an extreme horizontal branch star. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada, INAF-Padua/S. Zaggia


    Astronomers using ESO telescopes have discovered giant spots on the surface of extremely hot stars hidden in stellar clusters. This video offers a summary of the discovery.The video is available in 4K UHD. The ESOcast Light is a series of short videos bringing you the wonders of the Universe in bite-sized pieces. The ESOcast Light episodes will not be replacing the standard, longer ESOcasts, but complement them with current astronomy news and images in ESO press releases. Credit:ESO
    Directed by: Herbert Zodet.
    Editing: Herbert Zodet.
    Web and technical support: Gurvan Bazin and Raquel Yumi Shida.
    Written by: Stephanie Rowlands, Emma Foxell and Bárbara Ferreira.
    Music: Nuclearmetal/New Horizons — Planetarium.
    Footage and photos: ESO, L. Calçada, INAF-Padua/S. Zaggia, C. Malin ( christophmalin.com ) and B. Tafreshi ( twanight.org ).
    Scientific consultants: Paola Amico and Mariya Lyubenova.

    The team, led by Yazan Momany from the INAF Astronomical Observatory of Padua in Italy, looked at a particular type of star known as extreme horizontal branch stars — objects with about half the mass of the Sun but four to five times hotter. “These hot and small stars are special because we know they will bypass one of the final phases in the life of a typical star and will die prematurely,” says Momany, who was previously a staff astronomer at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. “In our Galaxy, these peculiar hot objects are generally associated with the presence of a close companion star.”

    Surprisingly, however, the vast majority of these extreme horizontal branch stars, when observed in tightly packed stellar groups called globular clusters, do not appear to have companions. The team’s long-term monitoring of these stars, made with ESO telescopes, also revealed that there was something more to these mysterious objects. When looking at three different globular clusters, Momany and his colleagues found that many of the extreme horizontal branch stars within them showed regular changes in their brightness over the course of just a few days to several weeks.

    “After eliminating all other scenarios, there was only one remaining possibility to explain their observed brightness variations,” concludes Simone Zaggia, a study co-author from the INAF Astronomical Observatory of Padua in Italy and a former ESO Fellow: “these stars must be plagued by spots!”

    Spots on extreme horizontal branch stars appear to be quite different from the dark sunspots on our own Sun, but both are caused by magnetic fields. The spots on these hot, extreme stars are brighter and hotter than the surrounding stellar surface, unlike on the Sun where we see spots as dark stains on the solar surface that are cooler than their surroundings. The spots on extreme horizontal branch stars are also significantly larger than sunspots, covering up to a quarter of the star’s surface. These spots are incredibly persistent, lasting for decades, while individual sunspots are temporary, lasting only a few days to months. As the hot stars rotate, the spots on the surface come and go, causing the visible changes in brightness.

    Beyond the variations in brightness due to spots, the team also discovered a couple of extreme horizontal branch stars that showed superflares — sudden explosions of energy and another signpost of the presence of a magnetic field. “They are similar to the flares we see on our own Sun, but ten million times more energetic,” says study co-author Henri Boffin, an astronomer at ESO’s headquarters in Germany. “Such behaviour was certainly not expected and highlights the importance of magnetic fields in explaining the properties of these stars.”

    After six decades of trying to understand extreme horizontal branch stars, astronomers now have a more complete picture of them. Moreover, this finding could help explain the origin of strong magnetic fields in many white dwarfs, objects that represent the final stage in the life of Sun-like stars and show similarities to extreme horizontal branch stars. “The bigger picture though,” says team member, David Jones, a former ESO Fellow now at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain, “is that changes in brightness of all hot stars — from young Sun-like stars to old extreme horizontal branch stars and long-dead white dwarfs — could all be connected. These objects can thus be understood as collectively suffering from magnetic spots on their surfaces.”

    To arrive at this result, the astronomers used several instruments on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) [below], including VIMOS, FLAMES and FORS2, as well as OmegaCAM attached to the VLT Survey Telescope [below] at Paranal Observatory.

    ESO VIMOS on VLT Melipal UT3

    ESO/FLAMES on The VLT. FLAMES is the multi-object, intermediate and high resolution spectrograph of the VLT. Mounted at UT2, FLAMES can access targets over a field of view 25 arcmin in diameter. FLAMES feeds two different spectrograph covering the whole visual spectral range:GIRAFFE and UVES.

    ESO FORS2 VLT mounted on Unit Telescope 1 (Antu)

    ESO OmegaCAM on VST at ESO’s Cerro Paranal observatory,with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    They also employed ULTRACAM on the New Technology Telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory [below], also in Chile.

    ESO La Silla NTT ULTRACAM is an ultra fast camera capable of capturing some of the most rapid astronomical events. It can take up to 500 pictures a second in three different colours simultaneously. It was designed and built by scientists from the Universities of Sheffield and Warwick (United Kingdom), in collaboration with the UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh. ULTRACAM employs the latest in charged coupled device (CCD) detector technology in order to take, store and analyse data at the required sensitivities and speeds.

    The breakthrough came as the team observed the stars in the near-ultraviolet part of the spectrum, allowing them to reveal the hotter, extreme stars standing out bright amongst the cooler stars in globular clusters.

    More information

    This research is presented in the paper “A plague of magnetic spots among the hot stars of globular clusters”, published today in Nature Astronomy.

    The team is composed of Y. Momany (INAF Astronomical Observatory of Padua, Italy [INAF Padua]), S. Zaggia (INAF Padua), M. Montalto (Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Padua, Italy [U. Padua]), D. Jones (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias and Department of Astrophysics, University of La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain), H.M.J. Boffin (European Southern Observatory, Garching, Germany, S. Cassisi (INAF Astronomical Observatory of Abruzzo and INFN Pisa, Italy), C. Moni Bidin (Instituto de Astronomia, Universidad Catolica del Norte, Antofagasta, Chile), M. Gullieuszik (INAF Padua), I. Saviane (European Southern Observatory, Santiago, Chile), L. Monaco (Departamento de Ciencias Fisicas, Universidad Andreas Bello, Santiago, Chile), E. Mason (INAF Astronomical Observatory of Trieste, Italy), L. Girardi (INAF Padua), V. D’Orazi (INAF Padua), G. Piotto (U. Padua), A.P. Milone (U. Padua), H. Lala (U. Padua), P.B. Stetson (Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics, National Research Council, Victoria, Canada), and Y. Beletsky (Las Campanas Observatory, Carnegie Institution of Washington, La Serena, Chile).

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


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    Visit ESO in Social Media-

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    ESO Bloc Icon

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

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

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

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert

    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/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.

    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 8:44 am on May 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "ESO Telescope Sees Signs of Planet Birth", , , , , ESO - European Southern Observatory, The young star AB Aurigae   

    From European Southern Observatory Photo Release: “ESO Telescope Sees Signs of Planet Birth” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    20 May 2020

    Anthony Boccaletti
    Laboratory for Space Science and Astrophysical Instrumentation (LESIA), Observatoire de Paris – PSL
    Meudon, France
    Cell: +33 (0)675465583
    Email: anthony.boccaletti@obspm.fr

    Emmanuel Di Folco
    Astrophysics Laboratory of Bordeaux (LAB)
    Bordeaux, France
    Cell: +33 (0)633966142
    Email: emmanuel.difolco@u-bordeaux.fr

    Anne Dutrey
    Astrophysics Laboratory of Bordeaux (LAB)
    Bordeaux, France
    Email: anne.dutrey@u-bordeaux.fr

    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

    The Twist Marks the Spot

    1
    SPHERE image of the disc around AB Aurigae

    3
    This image shows the inner region of the disc around the young AB Aurigae star, where ESO’s Very Large Telescope has spotted signs of planet birth. The ‘twist’ (in very bright yellow) marks the spot where a planet may be forming. This twist lies at about the same distance from the AB Aurigae star as Neptune from the Sun. The image was obtained with the VLT’s SPHERE instrument in polarised light. Credit: ESO/Boccaletti et al.

    2
    The images of the AB Aurigae system showing the disc around it. The image on the right is a zoomed-in version of the area indicated by a red square on the image on the left. It shows the inner region of the disc, including the very-bright-yellow ‘twist’ (circled in white) that scientists believe marks the spot where a planet is forming. This twist lies at about the same distance from the AB Aurigae star as Neptune from the Sun. The blue circle represents the size of the orbit of Neptune.
    The images were obtained with the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in polarised light. Credit: ESO/Boccaletti et al.

    Observations made with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT) [below] have revealed the telltale signs of a star system being born. Around the young star AB Aurigae lies a dense disc of dust and gas in which astronomers have spotted a prominent spiral structure with a ‘twist’ that marks the site where a planet may be forming. The observed feature could be the first direct evidence of a baby planet coming into existence.

    “Thousands of exoplanets have been identified so far, but little is known about how they form,” says Anthony Boccaletti who led the study from the Observatoire de Paris, PSL University, France. Astronomers know planets are born in dusty discs surrounding young stars, like AB Aurigae, as cold gas and dust clump together. The new observations with ESO’s VLT, published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, provide crucial clues to help scientists better understand this process.

    “We need to observe very young systems to really capture the moment when planets form,” says Boccaletti. But until now astronomers had been unable to take sufficiently sharp and deep images of these young discs to find the ‘twist’ that marks the spot where a baby planet may be coming to existence.

    The new images feature a stunning spiral of dust and gas around AB Aurigae, located 520 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Auriga (The Charioteer). Spirals of this type signal the presence of baby planets, which ‘kick’ the gas, creating “disturbances in the disc in the form of a wave, somewhat like the wake of a boat on a lake,” explains Emmanuel Di Folco of the Astrophysics Laboratory of Bordeaux (LAB), France, who also participated in the study. As the planet rotates around the central star, this wave gets shaped into a spiral arm. The very bright yellow ‘twist’ region close to the centre of the new AB Aurigae image, which lies at about the same distance from the star as Neptune from the Sun, is one of these disturbance sites where the team believe a planet is being made.

    Observations of the AB Aurigae system made a few years ago with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which ESO is a partner, provided the first hints of ongoing planet formation around the star.

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

    In the ALMA images, scientists spotted two spiral arms of gas close to the star, lying within the disc’s inner region. Then, in 2019 and early 2020, Boccaletti and a team of astronomers from France, Taiwan, the US and Belgium set out to capture a clearer picture by turning the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s VLT in Chile toward the star. The SPHERE images are the deepest images of the AB Aurigae system obtained to date.

    ESO SPHERE extreme adaptive optics system and coronagraphic facility on the extreme adaptive optics system and coronagraphic facility on the VLT MELIPAL UT3, Cerro Paranal, Chile, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    With SPHERE’s powerful imaging system, astronomers could see the fainter light from small dust grains and emissions coming from the inner disc. They confirmed the presence of the spiral arms first detected by ALMA and also spotted another remarkable feature, a ‘twist’, that points to the presence of ongoing planet formation in the disc. “The twist is expected from some theoretical models of planet formation,” says co-author Anne Dutrey, also at LAB. “It corresponds to the connection of two spirals — one winding inwards of the planet’s orbit, the other expanding outwards — which join at the planet location. They allow gas and dust from the disc to accrete onto the forming planet and make it grow.”

    ESO is constructing the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, which will draw on the cutting-edge work of ALMA and SPHERE to study extrasolar worlds. As Boccaletti explains, this powerful telescope will allow astronomers to get even more detailed views of planets in the making. “We should be able to see directly and more precisely how the dynamics of the gas contributes to the formation of planets,” he concludes.
    More information

    This research was presented in the paper “Are we witnessing ongoing planet formation in AB Aurigae? A showcase of the SPHERE/ALMA synergy” to appear in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    The team is composed of A. Boccaletti (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, Université PSL, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, Univ. Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, CNRS, France), E. Di Folco (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux, Université de Bordeaux, CNRS, France [Bordeaux]), E. Pantin (Laboratoire CEA, IRFU/DAp, AIM, Université Paris-Saclay, Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, CNRS, France), A. Dutrey (Bordeaux), S. Guilloteau (Bordeaux), Y. W. Tang (Academia Sinica, Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Taipei, Taiwan), V. Piétu (IRAM, Domaine Universitaire, France), E. Habart (Institut d’astrophysique spatiale, CNRS UMR 8617, Université Paris-Sud 11, France), J. Milli (CNRS, IPAG, Univ. Grenoble Alpes, France), T. L. Beck (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD, USA), and A.-L. Maire (STAR Institute, Université de Liège, Belgium).

    See the full article here .


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

    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

    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/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.

    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 7:36 am on May 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "ESO Instrument Finds Closest Black Hole to Earth", , , , , ESO - European Southern Observatory, HR 6819-A black hole that can be seen with the unaided eye., Stellar-mass black hole in HR 6819   

    From European Southern Observatory: “ESO Instrument Finds Closest Black Hole to Earth” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    6 May 2020

    Dietrich Baade
    European Southern Observatory
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49-89-6096295
    Email: dbaade@eso.org

    Petr Hadrava
    Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
    Prague, Czech Republic
    Email: petr.hadrava@asu.cas.cz

    Marianne Heida
    European Southern Observatory
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49-157-37744840
    Email: mheida@eso.org

    Thomas Rivinius
    European Southern Observatory
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56 9 8288 4950
    Email: triviniu@eso.org

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

    Invisible object has two companion stars visible to the naked eye.

    1
    A team of astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and other institutes has discovered a black hole lying just 1000 light-years from Earth. The black hole is closer to our Solar System than any other found to date and forms part of a triple system that can be seen with the naked eye. The team found evidence for the invisible object by tracking its two companion stars using the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.


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


    ESOcast 220 Light: Closest Black Hole to Earth Found

    They say this system could just be the tip of the iceberg, as many more similar black holes could be found in the future.

    “We were totally surprised when we realised that this is the first stellar system with a black hole that can be seen with the unaided eye,” says Petr Hadrava, Emeritus Scientist at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Prague and co-author of the research. Located in the constellation of Telescopium, the system is so close to us that its stars can be viewed from the southern hemisphere on a dark, clear night without binoculars or a telescope. “This system contains the nearest black hole to Earth that we know of,” says ESO scientist Thomas Rivinius, who led the study published today in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    The team originally observed the system, called HR 6819, as part of a study of double-star systems. However, as they analysed their observations, they were stunned when they revealed a third, previously undiscovered body in HR 6819: a black hole. The observations with the FEROS spectrograph on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at La Silla showed that one of the two visible stars orbits an unseen object every 40 days, while the second star is at a large distance from this inner pair.

    ESO FEROS, a state-of-the-art bench-mounted, high-resolution, environmentally controlled, astronomical Échelle spectrograph. It is opertated at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in La Silla, Chile

    Dietrich Baade, Emeritus Astronomer at ESO in Garching and co-author of the study, says: “The observations needed to determine the period of 40 days had to be spread over several months. This was only possible thanks to ESO’s pioneering service-observing scheme under which observations are made by ESO staff on behalf of the scientists needing them.”

    The hidden black hole in HR 6819 is one of the very first stellar-mass black holes found that do not interact violently with their environment and, therefore, appear truly black. But the team could spot its presence and calculate its mass by studying the orbit of the star in the inner pair. “An invisible object with a mass at least 4 times that of the Sun can only be a black hole,” concludes Rivinius, who is based in Chile.

    Astronomers have spotted only a couple of dozen black holes in our galaxy to date, nearly all of which strongly interact with their environment and make their presence known by releasing powerful X-rays in this interaction. But scientists estimate that, over the Milky Way’s lifetime, many more stars collapsed into black holes as they ended their lives. The discovery of a silent, invisible black hole in HR 6819 provides clues about where the many hidden black holes in the Milky Way might be. “There must be hundreds of millions of black holes out there, but we know about only very few. Knowing what to look for should put us in a better position to find them,” says Rivinius. Baade adds that finding a black hole in a triple system so close by indicates that we are seeing just “the tip of an exciting iceberg.”

    Already, astronomers believe their discovery could shine some light on a second system. “We realised that another system, called LB-1, may also be such a triple, though we’d need more observations to say for sure,” says Marianne Heida, a postdoctoral fellow at ESO and co-author of the paper. “LB-1 is a bit further away from Earth but still pretty close in astronomical terms, so that means that probably many more of these systems exist. By finding and studying them we can learn a lot about the formation and evolution of those rare stars that begin their lives with more than about 8 times the mass of the Sun and end them in a supernova explosion that leaves behind a black hole.”

    The discoveries of these triple systems with an inner pair and a distant star could also provide clues about the violent cosmic mergers that release gravitational waves powerful enough to be detected on Earth. Some astronomers believe that the mergers can happen in systems with a similar configuration to HR 6819 or LB-1, but where the inner pair is made up of two black holes or of a black hole and a neutron star. The distant outer object can gravitationally impact the inner pair in such a way that it triggers a merger and the release of gravitational waves. Although HR 6819 and LB-1 have only one black hole and no neutron stars, these systems could help scientists understand how stellar collisions can happen in triple star systems.

    More information

    This research was presented in the paper published today in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    The team is composed of Th. Rivinius (European Southern Observatory, Santiago, Chile), D. Baade (European Southern Observatory, Garching, Germany [ESO Germany]), P. Hadrava (Astronomical Institute, Academy of Science of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic), M. Heida (ESO Germany), and R. Klement (The CHARA Array of Georgia State University, Mount Wilson Observatory, Mount Wilson, USA).

    See the full article here .


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

    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

    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/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.

    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 8:24 am on March 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New ESO Study Evaluates Impact of Satellite Constellations on Astronomical Observations", , , , , ESO - European Southern Observatory   

    From European Southern Observatory: “New ESO Study Evaluates Impact of Satellite Constellations on Astronomical Observations” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    5 March 2020
    Olivier R. Hainaut
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6752
    Cell: +49 151 2262 0554
    Email: ohainaut@eso.org

    Andrew Williams
    ESO External Relations Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 320 062 78
    Email: awilliam@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

    1
    Astronomers have recently raised concerns about the impact of satellite mega-constellations on scientific research. To better understand the effect these constellations could have on astronomical observations, ESO commissioned a scientific study of their impact, focusing on observations with ESO telescopes in the visible and infrared but also considering other observatories. The study, which considers a total of 18 representative satellite constellations under development by SpaceX, Amazon, OneWeb and others, together amounting to over 26 thousand satellites [1], has now been accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    The study finds that large telescopes like ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) [below] and ESO’s upcoming Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) [below] will be “moderately affected” by the constellations under development. The effect is more pronounced for long exposures (of about 1000 s), up to 3% of which could be ruined during twilight, the time between dawn and sunrise and between sunset and dusk. Shorter exposures would be less impacted, with fewer than 0.5% of observations of this type affected. Observations conducted at other times during the night would also be less affected, as the satellites would be in the shadow of the Earth and therefore not illuminated. Depending on the science case, the impacts could be lessened by making changes to the operating schedules of ESO telescopes, though these changes come at a cost [2]. On the industry side, an effective step to mitigate impacts would be to darken the satellites.

    The study also finds that the greatest impact could be on wide-field surveys, in particular those done with large telescopes. For example, up to 30% to 50% of exposures with the US National Science Foundation’s Vera C. Rubin Observatory (not an ESO facility) would be “severely affected”, depending on the time of year, the time of night, and the simplifying assumptions of the study.

    Vera C. Rubin Observatory 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.

    Mitigation techniques that could be applied on ESO telescopes would not work for this observatory although other strategies are being actively explored. Further studies are required to fully understand the scientific implications of this loss of observational data and complexities in their analysis. Wide-field survey telescopes like the Rubin Observatory can scan large parts of the sky quickly, making them crucial to spot short-lived phenomena like supernovae or potentially dangerous asteroids. Because of their unique capability to generate very large data sets and to find observation targets for many other observatories, astronomy communities and funding agencies in Europe and elsewhere have ranked wide-field survey telescopes as a top priority for future developments in astronomy.

    Professional and amateur astronomers alike have also raised concerns about how satellite mega-constellations could impact the pristine views of the night sky. The study shows that about 1600 satellites from the constellations will be above the horizon of an observatory at mid-latitude, most of which will be low in the sky — within 30 degrees of the horizon. Above this — the part of the sky where most astronomical observations take place — there will be about 250 constellation satellites at any given time. While they are all illuminated by the Sun at sunset and sunrise, more and more get into the shadow of the Earth toward the middle of the night. The ESO study assumes a brightness for all of these satellites. With this assumption, up to about 100 satellites could be bright enough to be visible with the naked eye during twilight hours, about 10 of which would be higher than 30 degrees of elevation. All these numbers plummet as the night gets darker and the satellites fall into the shadow of the Earth. Overall, these new satellite constellations would about double the number of satellites visible in the night sky to the naked eye above 30 degrees [3].

    These numbers do not include the trains of satellites visible immediately after launch. Whilst spectacular and bright, they are short lived and visible only briefly after sunset or before sunrise, and — at any given time — only from a very limited area on Earth.

    The ESO study uses simplifications and assumptions to obtain conservative estimates of the effects, which may be smaller in reality than calculated in the paper. More sophisticated modelling will be necessary to more precisely quantify the actual impacts. While the focus is on ESO telescopes, the results apply to similar non-ESO telescopes that also operate in the visible and infrared, with similar instrumentation and science cases.

    Satellite constellations will also have an impact on radio, millimetre and submillimetre observatories, including the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) [below] and the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) [below]. This impact will be considered in further studies.

    ESO, together with other observatories, the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the American Astronomical Society (AAS), the UK Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), and other societies, is taking measures to raise the awareness of this issue in global fora such as the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and the European Committee on Radio Astronomy Frequencies (CRAF). This is being done while exploring with the space companies practical solutions that can safeguard the large-scale investments made in cutting-edge ground-based astronomy facilities. ESO supports the development of regulatory frameworks that will ultimately ensure the harmonious coexistence of highly promising technological advancements in low Earth orbit with the conditions that enable humankind to continue its observation and understanding of the Universe.

    Notes

    [1] Many of the parameters characterising satellite constellations, including the total number of satellites, are changing on a frequent basis. The study assumes 26,000 constellation satellites in total will be orbiting the Earth, but this number could be higher.

    [2] Examples of mitigation measures include: computing the position of the satellites to avoid observing where one will pass; closing the telescope shutter at the precise moment when a satellite crosses the field of view; and constraining observations to areas of the sky that are in Earth’s shadow, where satellites are not illuminated by the sun. These methods, however, are not suitable for all science cases.

    [3] It is estimated that about 34 000 objects greater than 10 cm in size are currently orbiting the Earth. Of these, about 5500 are satellites, including about 2300 functional ones. The remainder are space debris, including rocket upper stages and satellite launch adapters. About 2000 of these objects are above the horizon at any given place at any one time. During twilight hours, about 5–10 of them are illuminated by the Sun and bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.
    More information

    The study, “On the impact of Satellite Constellations on Astronomical Observations with ESO Telescopes in the Visible and Infrared Domains”, by O. Hainaut and A. Williams, will appear in Astronomy and Astrophysicsand on arXiv.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    Visit ESO in Social Media-

    Facebook

    Twitter

    YouTube

    ESO Bloc Icon

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

    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

    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/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.

    A novel gamma ray telescope under construction on Mount Hopkins, Arizona. a large project known as the Cherenkov 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 9:42 am on February 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "ESO Telescope Sees Surface of Dim Betelgeuse", , , , , ESO - European Southern Observatory, ,   

    From European Southern Observatory: “ESO Telescope Sees Surface of Dim Betelgeuse” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    14 February 2020

    Miguel Montargès
    FWO [PEGASUS]² Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow / Institute of Astronomy, KU Leuven
    Leuven, Belgium
    Tel: +32 16 32 74 67
    Email: miguel.montarges@kuleuven.be

    Emily Cannon
    Institute of Astronomy, KU Leuven
    Leuven, Belgium
    Tel: +32 16 32 88 92
    Email: emily.cannon@kuleuven.be

    Pierre Kervella
    LESIA, Observatoire de Paris – PSL
    Paris, France
    Tel: +33 0145077966
    Email: pierre.kervella@observatoiredeparis.psl.eu

    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

    1
    Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) [below], astronomers have captured the unprecedented dimming of Betelgeuse [2020], a red supergiant star in the constellation of Orion. The stunning new images of the star’s surface show not only the fading red supergiant but also how its apparent shape is changing.

    3
    The red supergiant star Betelgeuse, in the constellation of Orion, has been undergoing unprecedented dimming. This stunning image of the star’s surface was taken with the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in January 2019, before the star started to dim. When compared with the image taken in December 2019, it shows how much the star has faded and how its apparent shape has changed. Credit: ESO/M. Montargès et al.

    2
    The red supergiant star Betelgeuse, in the constellation of Orion, has been undergoing unprecedented dimming. This stunning image of the star’s surface, taken with the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope late last year, is among the first observations to come out of an observing campaign aimed at understanding why the star is becoming fainter. When compared with the image taken in January 2019, it shows how much the star has faded and how its apparent shape has changed. Credit: ESO/M. Montargès et al.

    4
    This comparison image shows the star Betelgeuse before and after its unprecedented dimming. The observations, taken with the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in January and December 2019, show how much the star has faded and how its apparent shape has changed. Credit: ESO/M. Montargès et al.

    5
    This image, obtained with the VISIR instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, shows the infrared light being emitted by the dust surrounding Betelgeuse in December 2019. The clouds of dust, which resemble flames in this dramatic image, are formed when the star sheds its material back into space. The black disc obscures the star’s centre and much of its surroundings, which are very bright and must be masked to allow the fainter dust plumes to be seen. The orange dot in the middle is the SPHERE image of Betelgeuse’s surface, which has a size close to that of Jupiter’s orbit. Credit: ESO/P. Kervella/M. Montargès et al., Acknowledgement: Eric Pantin

    ESOcast 217 Light: ESO Telescope Sees Surface of Dim Betelgeuse

    Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have captured the unprecedented dimming of Betelgeuse, a red supergiant star in the constellation Orion.
    The video is available in 4K UHD.
    The ESOcast Light is a series of short videos bringing you the wonders of the Universe in bite-sized pieces. The ESOcast Light episodes will not be replacing the standard, longer ESOcasts, but complement them with current astronomy news and images in ESO press releases. Credit: ESO

    Directed by: Herbert Zodet.
    Editing : Herbert Zodet.
    Web and technical support: Gurvan Bazin and Raquel Yumi Shida.
    Written by: Caitlyn Buongiorno and Bárbara Ferreira.
    Music: tonelabs (www.tonelabs.com) – Expect The Unexpected.
    Footage and photos: Kervella/M. Montargès et al., acknowledgement: Eric Pantin, Digitized Sky Survey 2, M. Zamani and P. Horálek.
    Scientific consultants: Paola Amico and Mariya Lyubenova.

    Zooming in on Betelgeuse

    This video takes the viewer from the constellation of Orion to the surface of the supergiant star Betelgeuse, which is undergoing unprecedented dimming. That dot appearing at the end of the zoom is a SPHERE image showing Betelgeuse’s visible surface, which has a size close to the orbit of Jupiter. Credit: ESO/P. Kervella/M. Montargès et al., Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgement: Eric Pantin, N. Risinger (skysurvey.org). Music: Johan B. Monell (www.johanmonell.com)

    From Betelgeuse’s surroundings to its surface

    This video takes the viewer from the surroundings of Betelgeuse, recently observed with the VISIR instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), to its surface, which has been imaged by SPHERE on the VLT. The VISIR image shows the infrared light being emitted by the dust surrounding Betelgeuse in December 2019. The SPHERE image shows Betelgeuse’s visible surface, which has a size close to the orbit of Jupiter, in the same month. Credit: ESO/P. Kervella/M. Montargès et al., Acknowledgement: Eric Pantin

    Betelgeuse has been a beacon in the night sky for stellar observers but it began to dim late last year. At the time of writing Betelgeuse is at about 36% of its normal brightness, a change noticeable even to the naked eye. Astronomy enthusiasts and scientists alike were excitedly hoping to find out more about this unprecedented dimming.

    A team led by Miguel Montargès, an astronomer at KU Leuven in Belgium, has been observing the star with ESO’s Very Large Telescope since December, aiming to understand why it’s becoming fainter. Among the first observations to come out of their campaign is a stunning new image of Betelgeuse’s surface, taken late last year with the SPHERE instrument.

    ESO SPHERE extreme adaptive optics system and coronagraphic facility on the extreme adaptive optics system and coronagraphic facility on the VLT MELIPAL UT3, Cerro Paranal, Chile, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    The team also happened to observe the star with SPHERE in January 2019, before it began to dim, giving us a before-and-after picture of Betelgeuse. Taken in visible light, the images highlight the changes occurring to the star both in brightness and in apparent shape.

    Many astronomy enthusiasts wondered if Betelgeuse’s dimming meant it was about to explode. Like all red supergiants, Betelgeuse will one day go supernova, but astronomers don’t think this is happening now. They have other hypotheses to explain what exactly is causing the shift in shape and brightness seen in the SPHERE images. “The two scenarios we are working on are a cooling of the surface due to exceptional stellar activity or dust ejection towards us,” says Montargès [1]. “Of course, our knowledge of red supergiants remains incomplete, and this is still a work in progress, so a surprise can still happen.”

    Montargès and his team needed the VLT at Cerro Paranal in Chile to study the star, which is over 700 light-years away, and gather clues on its dimming. “ESO’s Paranal Observatory is one of few facilities capable of imaging the surface of Betelgeuse,” he says. Instruments on ESO’s VLT allow observations from the visible to the mid-infrared, meaning astronomers can see both the surface of Betelgeuse and the material around it. “This is the only way we can understand what is happening to the star.”

    Another new image, obtained with the VISIR instrument on the VLT, shows the infrared light being emitted by the dust surrounding Betelgeuse in December 2019.

    ESO/VISIR on UT3 of the VLT

    These observations were made by a team led by Pierre Kervella from the Observatory of Paris in France who explained that the wavelength of the image is similar to that detected by heat cameras. The clouds of dust, which resemble flames in the VISIR image, are formed when the star sheds its material back into space.

    “The phrase ‘we are all made of stardust’ is one we hear a lot in popular astronomy, but where exactly does this dust come from?” says Emily Cannon, a PhD student at KU Leuven working with SPHERE images of red supergiants. “Over their lifetimes, red supergiants like Betelgeuse create and eject vast amounts of material even before they explode as supernovae. Modern technology has enabled us to study these objects, hundreds of light-years away, in unprecedented detail giving us the opportunity to unravel the mystery of what triggers their mass loss.”

    Notes

    [1] Betelgeuse’s irregular surface is made up of giant convective cells that move, shrink and swell. The star also pulsates, like a beating heart, periodically changing in brightness. These convection and pulsation changes in Betelgeuse are referred to as stellar activity.

    More information

    The team is composed of Miguel Montargès (Institute of Astronomy, KU Leuven, Belgium), Emily Cannon (Institute of Astronomy, KU Leuven, Belgium), Pierre Kervella (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris – PSL, France), Eric Lagadec (Laboratoire Lagrange, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, France), Faustine Cantalloube (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Heidelberg, Germany), Joel Sánchez Bermúdez (Instituto de Astronomía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico and Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Heidelberg, Germany), Andrea Dupree (Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, USA), Elsa Huby (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris – PSL, France), Ryan Norris (Georgia State University, USA), Benjamin Tessore (IPAG, France), Andrea Chiavassa (Laboratoire Lagrange, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, France), Claudia Paladini (ESO, Chile), Agnès Lèbre (Université de Montpellier, France), Leen Decin (Institute of Astronomy, KU Leuven, Belgium), Markus Wittkowski (ESO, Germany), Gioia Rau (NASA/GSFC, USA), Arturo López Ariste (IRAP, France), Stephen Ridgway (NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, USA), Guy Perrin (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris – PSL, France), Alex de Koter (Astronomical Institute Anton Pannekoek, Amsterdam University, The Netherlands & Institute of Astronomy, KU Leuven, Belgium), Xavier Haubois (ESO, Chile).

    The VISIR image was obtained as part of the NEAR science demonstration observations. NEAR (Near Earths in the AlphaCen Region) is an upgrade of VISIR, which was implemented as a time-limited experiment.

    See the full article here .


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

    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 Cherenkov 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 7:09 am on February 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , "This ‘death process’ was terminated prematurely and dramatically as a nearby low-mass companion star was engulfed by the giant”, , , , , , ESO - European Southern Observatory, The star system HD101584 engaged in a merger with another star was in a "death process" that was interrupted.   

    From ALMA via ESO: “ALMA catches beautiful outcome of stellar fight” 

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

    From ALMA

    via

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    5 February 2020

    Hans Olofsson
    Chalmers University of Technology
    Onsala, Sweden
    Tel: +46 31 772 5535
    Email: hans.olofsson@chalmers.se

    Elizabeth Humphreys
    European Southern Observatory (ESO)
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56 2 2463 6912
    Email: ehumphre@eso.org

    Sofia Ramstedt
    Uppsala University
    Uppsala, Sweden
    Tel: +46 18 471 5970
    Email: sofia.ramstedt@physics.uu.se

    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

    1
    Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) [below], in which ESO is a partner, have spotted a peculiar gas cloud that resulted from a confrontation between two stars. One star grew so large it engulfed the other which, in turn, spiralled towards its partner provoking it into shedding its outer layers.
    Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Olofsson et al. Acknowledgement: Robert Cumming

    Like humans, stars change with age and ultimately die. For the Sun and stars like it, this change will take it through a phase where, having burned all the hydrogen in its core, it swells up into a large and bright red-giant star. Eventually, the dying Sun will lose its outer layers, leaving behind its core: a hot and dense star called a white dwarf.

    “The star system HD101584 is special in the sense that this ‘death process’ was terminated prematurely and dramatically as a nearby low-mass companion star was engulfed by the giant,” said Hans Olofsson of the Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, who led a recent study, published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, of this intriguing object.

    Thanks to new observations with ALMA, complemented by data from the ESO-operated Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX), Olofsson and his team now know that what happened in the double-star system HD101584 was akin to a stellar fight.

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

    As the main star puffed up into a red giant, it grew large enough to swallow its lower-mass partner. In response, the smaller star spiralled in towards the giant’s core but didn’t collide with it. Rather, this manoeuvre triggered the larger star into an outburst, leaving its gas layers dramatically scattered and its core exposed.

    The team says the complex structure of the gas in the HD101584 nebula is due to the smaller star’s spiralling towards the red giant, as well as to the jets of gas that formed in this process. As a deadly blow to the already defeated gas layers, these jets blasted through the previously ejected material, forming the rings of gas and the bright bluish and reddish blobs seen in the nebula.

    A silver lining of a stellar fight is that it helps astronomers to better understand the final evolution of stars like the Sun. “Currently, we can describe the death processes common to many Sun-like stars, but we cannot explain why or exactly how they happen. HD101584 gives us important clues to solve this puzzle since it is currently in a short transitional phase between better studied evolutionary stages. With detailed images of the environment of HD101584 we can make the connection between the giant star it was before, and the stellar remnant it will soon become,” says co-author Sofia Ramstedt from Uppsala University, Sweden.

    Co-author Elizabeth Humphreys from ESO in Chile highlighted that ALMA and APEX, located in the country’s Atacama region, were crucial to enabling the team to probe “both the physics and chemistry in action” in the gas cloud. She added: “This stunning image of the circumstellar environment of HD101584 would not have been possible without the exquisite sensitivity and angular resolution provided by ALMA.”

    More information

    This research was presented in a paper published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    The team is composed of H. Olofsson (Department of Space, Earth and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden [Chalmers]), T. Khouri (Chalmers), M. Maercker (Chalmers), P. Bergman (Chalmers), L. Doan (Department of Physics and Astronomy, Uppsala University, Sweden [Uppsala]), D. Tafoya (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), W. H. T. Vlemmings (Chalmers), E. M. L. Humphreys (European Southern Observatory [ESO], Garching, Germany), M. Lindqvist (Chalmers), L. Nyman (ESO, Santiago, Chile), and S. Ramstedt (Uppsala).

    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of ESO, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI). ALMA construction and operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

    See the full ESO article here .
    If ALMA publishes an article, there will b a blog post for that article.

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

    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

     
  • richardmitnick 6:59 am on January 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Five minutes with Andreas Kaufer", , , , , ESO - European Southern Observatory,   

    From ESOblog: “Five minutes with Andreas Kaufer” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From ESOblog

    17 January 2020
    People@ESO

    1
    Andreas Kaufer

    ESO’s Director of Operations talks maps, mops and modern technology

    From late nights studying sky maps with his grandfather to late nights leaving parties to make observations. From building small instruments for telescopes himself to being part of the construction of the biggest eye on the sky. Andreas Kaufer talks about how astronomy has changed during his career, along with the challenges ahead as the field continues to advance.

    Q. What about astronomy first piqued your interest?

    A. My grandfather was a big fan of world maps and the last page of world atlases at that time always had a map of the stars. So, one evening, when I was a kid we were looking at the sky and he had one of his big atlases out and we were trying to understand what this white light in the sky was. We couldn’t figure it out because it wasn’t on the map. Eventually, we found out it was a planet which doesn’t appear on a paper map because its position is always changing. We were curious and got some books to read about it and that’s how I first became interested in astronomy. Shortly after I joined a nearby amateur observatory.

    But I saw astronomy as a hobby at first, and it was not actually my goal to be a professional astronomer. I only returned to astronomy at the end of my physics studies.

    Q. So how did you come back to astronomy?

    A. I studied Physics in Heidelberg, Germany, where there was a heavy focus on particle physics. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN was really taking off at the time and many of us were getting into particle physics and working on the big experiments there. But there was the option to do an astronomy practicum at the observatory in Heidelberg — so I got back into astronomy.

    2
    Cutting through the turbulence
    The biggest obstacle in ground based astronomy is the same thing that causes the stars to twinkle — the atmosphere. This romantic effect is due to the distortion of light as it travels through turbulent gases to reach the Earth’s surface. This stunning image shows the scientific solution — the 4 Laser Guide Star Facility on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) [see also below] — here appearing to pierce the side of the Milky Way. The lasers form an integral part of the adaptive optics system on the VLT, by beaming artificial stars into the sky. Astronomers can then use these guide laser stars as reference points, allowing them to correct their observations of true celestial bodies. Credit: F. Kamphues/ESO

    I did some stellar atmosphere modelling work on the university’s mainframe computers at a time when this was quite a new thing. At the same time I got into observations because we had some monitoring programmes there at night at the observatory on the Königstuhl. It’s not the best site but when the weather was clear and the city below was under clouds we could observe. But the downside was that when I was on-shift and the weather was clear, I would have to leave parties and movies to go to the observatory in the middle of the night!

    Building instruments was my favourite thing. At the amateur observatory, we had to build instruments ourselves because we couldn’t afford to buy such equipment. I was lucky to be able to do it later on a big scale. First at the observatory in Heidelberg, and then later here at ESO where we build instruments on a very big scale, so it’s a dream come true to be here!

    Q. How does the Directorate of Operations contribute to ESO’s overall mission?

    A. In the Directorate of Operations we take care of the scientific operation of all of ESO’s facilities; this includes all the telescopes and instruments which are built by the organisation and in collaboration with institutes and the industry in our Member States. We maintain the telescopes and instruments at their best possible performance and run the whole system from preparing and executing the observations with our telescopes to delivering the processed data to the scientists. For many observations the scientist do not go to observe onsite anymore but we take their observation at the best possible time for them.

    Q. What are some of the most rewarding aspects of the job?

    A. For me, the big eye-opener coming to ESO was seeing what all the other scientists are doing. Academia and institutes are usually focused on small areas of science, so people (like me) coming from there are often only exposed to a specific part of astronomy. Then arriving at the observatories, one sees all these ideas; we review about a thousand research proposals to use the telescopes every six months and whilst not all of them are accepted, we see ideas from all areas of ground-based astronomy. Due to my current role, I don’t participate in huge projects anymore, but for me, the reward is to see other people pushing forward diverse and innovative research using ESO facilities.

    The satisfaction somehow (which I think is true for many people at ESO) is to enable research. You feel part of these discoveries even if you did not do the science or the analysis yourself. But the telescope and instrument worked in the right way at the right time to get the best possible observations. That for me is still and always will be the motivation: to enable.

    4
    Andreas Kaufer mops up a leak from the VLT’s SINFONI instrument. Credit: ESO

    Q. And some of the strangest?

    A. There is a picture of me with a mop under one of the big telescopes, mopping up some water dripping out of the instrument.

    We had a huge leak in a cooling line inside the VLT’s SINFONI instrument. Everybody had to rush, me included, to clean up otherwise the cooling liquid would destroy the oil film on which the telescope rotates. For me this was a natural thing to do, so I was surprised when people were later showing this picture around saying “look the Director has been mopping the telescope!”

    Q. What are the challenges you see for the next generation of scientists and engineers in astronomy?

    A. As for scientists, we already see that they are becoming more and more disconnected from the data collection by the telescopes, as they often stay at home whilst observatory staff collect the data. Modern scientists are very good at using data from whichever telescopes help them answer their questions, be they space- or ground-based. Given this, we need to ensure that we keep understanding the scientists’ needs, and that we keep adjusting to meet them.

    For the engineers, the world of technology is changing very rapidly. At ESO we are already quite advanced in many areas but not in others, so we need to keep an eye open to the advancements happening around us. At Paranal Observatory, we’re working with technologies from when the VLT [below] was built, from the 80s and 90s. The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) [below] — currently under construction — will use much more modern technology. The challenge for our engineers at the observatory is to make this bridge between the different generations of technology and master them all. Those are what I would see as the two big challenges for ESO: Trying to keep our scientific community engaged and staying at the forefront of technology so that we can achieve the best quality science.

    Q. What are you looking forward to in astronomy over the next ten years?

    A. We are all fascinated by the idea of making progress in the search for life elsewhere in the Universe! But a more realistic goal is continuing our search for exoplanets and to advance on the analysis of their atmospheres.

    [Didier Patrick] Queloz and [Michel] Mayor recently together received the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering the first extrasolar planet orbiting a solar-type star, which they found just when I first got into professional astronomy. This was really an eye-opener. We knew that there must be planets around other stars but when they observed the first one, it was like science fiction becoming reality! That kicked off a whole new field of astronomy and, one generation later, we’ve discovered several hundred planets with our instruments at La Silla Observatory [below]. Furthermore, the VLT has taken many images of planets around stars other than our Sun, and in the next ten years we will be able to use the ELT to look for traces of life in their atmospheres.

    A few years ago now, APEX [below] opened up the submillimetre window for the ESO community; at the time we were not sure where submillimetre astronomy would go but now the ALMA [below] partnership is an integral part of ESO. Today, ALMA is the most powerful submillimetre observatory and perfectly complements the most powerful optical observatory on the ground — the VLT.

    I’m also looking forward to ESO’s partnership with the Čerenkov Telescope Array (CTA) Observatory. CTA will be an observatory made up of an array of many telescopes that allow us to observe the sky at very high energies by capturing gamma-rays. And ESO will host the southern part of this observatory again opening up a new window to the ESO community!

    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

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Visit ESO in Social Media-

    Facebook

    Twitter

    YouTube

    ESO Bloc Icon

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

    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,

    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, a major asset of the Adaptive Optics system


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

    ESO VLT 4 lasers on Yepun


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

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

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope at Cerro Paranal 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.

    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 11:09 am on January 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers Reveal Interstellar Thread of One of Life’s Building Blocks", , , , , , ESO - European Southern Observatory, , 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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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 7:02 am on December 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "ESO Observations Reveal Black Holes' Breakfast at the Cosmic Dawn", , , , , , ESO - European Southern Observatory   

    From European Southern Observatory: “ESO Observations Reveal Black Holes’ Breakfast at the Cosmic Dawn” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    19 December 2019
    Emanuele Paolo Farina
    Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
    Heidelberg and Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3000 02297
    Email: emanuele.paolo.farina@gmail.com

    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

    1
    “Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope [below] have observed reservoirs of cool gas around some of the earliest galaxies in the Universe. These gas halos are the perfect food for supermassive black holes at the centre of these galaxies, which are now seen as they were over 12.5 billion years ago. This food storage might explain how these cosmic monsters grew so fast during a period in the Universe’s history known as the Cosmic Dawn.”

    Dark Energy Camera Enables Astronomers a Glimpse at the Cosmic Dawn. CREDIT National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

    ____________________________________________________________
    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.
    ____________________________________________________________

    “We are now able to demonstrate, for the first time, that primordial galaxies do have enough food in their environments to sustain both the growth of supermassive black holes and vigorous star formation,” says Emanuele Paolo Farina, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, who led the research published today in The Astrophysical Journal. “This adds a fundamental piece to the puzzle that astronomers are building to picture how cosmic structures formed more than 12 billion years ago.”

    Astronomers have wondered how supermassive black holes were able to grow so large so early on in the history of the Universe.

    4
    Supermassive black hole Messier 87 imaged by the EHT

    “The presence of these early monsters, with masses several billion times the mass of our Sun, is a big mystery,” says Farina, who is also affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching bei München. It means that the first black holes, which might have formed from the collapse of the first stars, must have grown very fast. But, until now, astronomers had not spotted ‘black hole food’ — gas and dust — in large enough quantities to explain this rapid growth.

    To complicate matters further, previous observations with ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, revealed a lot of dust and gas in these early galaxies that fuelled rapid star formation.

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

    These ALMA observations suggested that there could be little left over to feed a black hole.

    To solve this mystery, Farina and his colleagues used the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Chilean Atacama Desert to study quasars — extremely bright objects powered by supermassive black holes which lie at the centre of massive galaxies.

    ESO MUSE on the VLT on Yepun (UT4)

    The study surveyed 31 quasars that are seen as they were more than 12.5 billion years ago, at a time when the Universe was still an infant, only about 870 million years old. This is one of the largest samples of quasars from this early on in the history of the Universe to be surveyed.

    The astronomers found that 12 quasars were surrounded by enormous gas reservoirs: halos of cool, dense hydrogen gas extending 100 000 light years from the central black holes and with billions of times the mass of the Sun. The team, from Germany, the US, Italy and Chile, also found that these gas halos were tightly bound to the galaxies, providing the perfect food source to sustain both the growth of supermassive black holes and vigorous star formation.


    3D view of gas halo observed by MUSE surrounding a galaxy merger seen by ALMA

    The research was possible thanks to the superb sensitivity of MUSE, the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer, on ESO’s VLT, which Farina says was “a game changer” in the study of quasars. “In a matter of a few hours per target, we were able to delve into the surroundings of the most massive and voracious black holes present in the young Universe,” he adds. While quasars are bright, the gas reservoirs around them are much harder to observe. But MUSE could detect the faint glow of the hydrogen gas in the halos, allowing astronomers to finally reveal the food stashes that power supermassive black holes in the early Universe.

    In the future, ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will help scientists reveal even more details about galaxies and supermassive black holes in the first couple of billion years after the Big Bang.

    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).

    “With the power of the ELT, we will be able to delve even deeper into the early Universe to find many more such gas nebulae,” Farina concludes.

    More information

    This research is presented in a paper to appear in The Astrophysical Journal.

    The team is composed of Emanuele Paolo Farina (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy [MPIA], Heidelberg, Germany and Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics [MPA], Garching bei München, Germany), Fabrizio Arrigoni-Battaia (MPA), Tiago Costa (MPA), Fabian Walter (MPIA), Joseph F. Hennawi (MPIA and Department of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, US [UCSB Physics]), Anna-Christina Eilers (MPIA), Alyssa B. Drake (MPIA), Roberto Decarli (Astrophysics and Space Science Observatory of Bologna, Italian National Institute for Astrophysics [INAF], Bologna, Italy), Thales A. Gutcke (MPA), Chiara Mazzucchelli (European Southern Observatory, Vitacura, Chile), Marcel Neeleman (MPIA), Iskren Georgiev (MPIA), Eduardo Bañados (MPIA), Frederick B. Davies (UCSB Physics), Xiaohui Fan (Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, Tucson, US [Steward]), Masafusa Onoue (MPIA), Jan-Torge Schindler (MPIA), Bram P. Venemans (MPIA), Feige Wang (UCSB Physics), Jinyi Yang (Steward), Sebastian Rabien (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching bei München, Germany), and Lorenzo Busoni (INAF-Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory, Florence, Italy).

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

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

    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 Cherenkov 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

     
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