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  • richardmitnick 2:23 pm on September 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , ESO Paranal VLT, , The Rise of Astrotourism in Chile   

    From ESOblog: “The Rise of Astrotourism in Chile” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From ESOblog

    21 September 2018

    1
    Outreach@ESO

    For the ultimate stargazing experience, Chile is an unmissable destination. The skies above the Atacama Desert are clear for about 300 nights per year, so this high, dry and dark environment offers the perfect window to the Universe. Hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to Chile each year to take advantage of the incredible stargazing conditions, and to visit the scientific observatories — including ESO’s own — that use these skies as a natural astronomical laboratory. But one challenge now affecting Chile’s world-renowned dark skies is that of light pollution.

    The intense Sun beats down on the tourists’ cars as they climb the dusty desert road up Cerro Paranal. The 130-kilometre journey from the closest city of Antofagasta will be worth it because waiting at the top is ESO’s Paranal Observatory.

    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

    The tourists have been eagerly awaiting their tour of this incredible site since they booked it a month ago. Every Saturday, two of ESO’s Chile-based observatories — Paranal and La Silla — open their doors for organised tours led by ESO’s education and Public Outreach Department on behalf of the ESO Representation Office.

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

    Tourists come from far and wide to find out about the technology behind ESO’s world-class telescopes — how they are built and operated, and how astronomers use them to make groundbreaking discoveries. Each tour begins at the visitor centres, which are currently being upgraded with new content designed for the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre, before the guests are taken to see what they really came for: the telescopes.

    ESO Supernova Planetarium, Garching Germany

    Visits to Paranal are centred around ESO’s Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced optical instrument and the flagship facility of European optical astronomy. Visitors also see the control room where astronomers work, and the Paranal Residencia — the astronomers’ “home away from home” when they are observing in Chile.

    ESO Paranal Residencia exterior

    ESO Paranal Residencia inside near the swimming pool

    ESO Paranal Residencia dining room

    At La Silla, on the other hand, visitors spend time at the ESO 3.6-metre telescope and the New Technology Telescope before ending the day at the Swedish–ESO Submillimetre Telescope.


    ESO 3.6m telescope & HARPS at Cerro LaSilla, Chile, 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 Swedish Submillimetre Telescope at La Silla at 2400 meters

    Astronomy enthusiasts can also visit the Operational Support Facility for the impressive Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).

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

    The word “alma” means “soul” in Spanish, and there is definitely something spiritual about this extraordinary location. With its 66 antennas spreading across the desert, ALMA is a hugely popular observatory to visit — tourists book at least two months in advance for an eye-opening tour of the control room, laboratories, and antennas under maintenance.

    The tours at each of these three sites are led by a team of enthusiastic guides. Most are local students who love to share their passion for astronomy. Gonzalo Aravena, a guide at Paranal, thinks that “being a small part of the great astrotourism that exists in Chile today is something to be proud of”, and Jermy Barraza, a La Silla guide, believes that guiding visitors is “a great support to our country’s culture, and encourages awareness of the natural resources that should be protected”.

    2
    Tourists visiting ESO’s Paranal Observatory pose for a snapshot in front of two of the VLT Unit Telescopes.
    Credit: ESO

    With almost 10,000 visitors a year to Paranal and 4000 to La Silla, these ESO observatories are the most popular Chilean sites for astrotourists, especially those who want to visit scientific facilities. Francisco Rodríguez, ESO’s Press Officer in Chile, explains, “Astrotourists are increasingly enthusiastic about experiencing dark skies and impressive astronomical observatories, and ESO sees this reflected in the growing number of visitors that arrive each year — over the last four years we’ve seen the numbers double”. This value is especially impressive considering how difficult the observatories are to get to.

    ESO avoids organising tours and events at night, leaving astronomers undisturbed and able to focus on their scientific research. Usually daytime tours are the only way to visit an ESO observatory, however, the doors are often opened for special events; for example Mercury’s transit of the Sun in 2003 and the partial solar eclipse in 2010. Visitors come to ESO to see the impressive technology and to understand how a professional observatory works, which often leads them to make nighttime visits to other stargazing locations.

    “Chile is an amazing country for astrotourism,” says Rodríguez. “Visitors can combine day visits to the most impressive telescopes in the world, with nighttime views of the stars at tourism observatories across the country.”

    Observatories such as the Collowara Tourism Observatory are popping up specifically for amateur stargazers, and many hotels provide telescopes for their guests to enjoy the beautiful skies. Elqui Domos Hotel has gone even further — dome-shaped rooms feature removable ceilings that open onto the sky, and guests can sleep in observatory cabins with glass roofs. Various astronomical museums have also been opened, including the San Pedro Meteorite Museum, which also conducts stargazing tours.

    Recently, ESO actively collaborated with other governmental, academic, and scientific groups to support a governmental initiative called Astroturismo Chile. Its aim is to “transform Chile into an astrotouristic destination of excellence, to be admired and recognised throughout the world for its attractiveness, quality, variety and sustainability”. Fernando Comerón, the former ESO representative in Astroturismo Chile, elaborates that the strategy “aims to improve the quality and competitiveness of existing astrotourism activities, in addition to preparing the Chilean astrotourism roadmap for 2016–2025”.

    But Chile’s dark skies are facing a growing challenge. La Serena, the closest major city to La Silla Observatory, is expanding rapidly; the region’s population has swelled to over 700 000, growing by more than 200 000 people in the last 20 years. Although some of these people are astronomers and dark sky lovers, increased development can mean increased light pollution if not carefully handled.

    Light pollution is artificial light that shines where it is neither wanted or needed, arising from poorly-designed, incorrectly-directed light fixtures. Light that shines into the sky is scattered by air molecules, moisture and aerosols in the atmosphere, causing the night sky to light up. This phenomenon is known as skyglow. Solutions include power limits for public lighting; shielding street lamps, neon signs, and plasma screens; and stricter guidelines for sport and recreational facilities.

    4
    The arch of the Milky Way emerges from the Cerro Paranal on the left, and sinks into the bright lights of Antofagasta, the closest city to Paranal Observatory.
    Credit: Bruno Gilli/ ESO

    Dark skies are incredibly important to ESO Photo Ambassador, Petr Horálek, who reflects, “I remember a law called Norma Lumínica was signed in 1999 requiring that lighting in the three astronomically-sensitive regions of Chile be directed downwards instead of into the sky… Of course, there are no lamps along the roads close to the observatories”.

    The Norma Lumínica, which establishes protocols for lighting regulations in Chile, was recently updated in 2013 to adapt to new technologies.

    5
    The spectacularly clear skies over the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla show the Milky Way and its galactic bulge.
    Credit: Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO

    Chile is also working with international observatories to encourage UNESCO to add major astronomy sites such as Paranal Observatory to its World Heritage List.
    “By promoting the preservation of natural conditions, particularly the dark skies, astronomy contributes to the formation of an environmentally-aware society”, says Comerón.

    Over the next ten years, Chile plans to invest in many new observatories.

    LSST


    LSST Camera, built at SLAC



    LSST telescope, currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

    Giant Magellan Telescope, to be at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Las Campanas Observatory, to be built some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high

    Currently, more than 50% of the world’s large telescopes are located there, and the Chilean government believe that by 2020 that value could rise to more than 70%. IndexMundi, a data portal that gathers statistics from around the world, suggests the annual number of visitors to Chile has more than quadrupled in the past 15 years In 2017, 6.45 million visitors arrived in Chile, many of whom were enticed by the incredible night skies, and the reports from the Astroturismo Chile initiative estimate that in the next decade, the number of astrotourists visiting Chile will triple.

    Chile has its work cut out to limit the impact of light pollution on its magnificent skies, but if successful the country will benefit greatly — as will the visitors who continue to flock there. As La Silla guide Yilin Kong says, “Astrotourism helps teach people about the importance of astronomy, and to encourage the next generations to participate in it”.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Visit ESO in Social Media-

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

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

    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.

    ALMA Array
    ALMA on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 metres.

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

    ESO APEX
    APEX Atacama Pathfinder 5,100 meters above sea level, 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

    SPECULOOS four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes 2016 in the ESO Paranal Observatory, 2,635 metres (8,645 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

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  • richardmitnick 10:18 am on July 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO Paranal VLT, , Steffen Mieske Head of Science Operations at Paranal   

    From ESOblog: Interview with Steffen Mieske, Head of Science Operations at Paranal 

    ESO 50 Large

    From ESOblog

    1

    6 July 2018

    Since the Paranal Observatory opened in May 1998, it has become one of the most productive observatories in the world. The observatory houses the Very Large Telescope (VLT), ESO’s premier observatory consisting of four large telescopes and four smaller partner telescopes. For its 20th year in operation, we caught up with Steffen Mieske, Head of Science Operations at Paranal, to learn more about the past, present, and future of the observatory.

    Q: What has been your personal role at Paranal?

    A: I was a regular staff astronomer between 2008 and 2015, where amongst other things I was in charge of the instruments VIMOS and OmegaCAM. Since 2015 I have been the Head of Paranal Science Operations, where we have about 40 astronomers and 25 engineers in the department. My work involves making sure science operations run smoothly. I’m in charge of the optimisation of output and quality, support of new facilities and instruments, preparation and control of the department budget, as well as definition and implementation of policies at the observatory.

    2
    This distant, aerial view of Paranal and surrounding the Atacama Desert was taken in late 1997. The Pacific Ocean is seen in the background while the buildings at the basecamp are seen below and to the left of the summit. Credit: ESO

    Q: Do you enjoy working at Paranal? What is it like to work in the Atacama Desert?

    A: I enjoy working at Paranal more and more every year. The place is growing in terms of capabilities and continues to be at the absolute forefront of astronomy. We have extraordinarily dedicated staff that all share a great motivation to work here. Therefore, I do consider it a privilege to have my job. Personally, I enjoy going on walks and jogs through the desert and really immerse myself in the special atmosphere of Paranal. When I am in a particularly good mood, I may even sing a Pet Shop Boys song in the control room, much to the edification of my colleagues.

    Q: Could you tell us more about the history of Paranal and how ESO came to be located there?

    A: In the 1980s, after ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile had been established for a couple of decades, it became clear that technology and astronomy as a science had evolved such that optical telescopes with apertures in the 8–10m range were becoming feasible and necessary. Furthermore, based on more detailed meteorological data of Chile, it became clear that there were sites in north Chile with even better atmospheric conditions than La Silla. The site selection for ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) then converged to Cerro Paranal, a mountain summit 120 km south of Antofagasta and 12 km from the Pacific Ocean at an altitude of 2635 metres. In 1988, the Chilean government donated the Paranal Summit and an area around it to ESO for the construction of the VLT. Then, in 1995, construction was halted for a while due to a legal dispute about the ownership of the summit with a Chilean family. The dispute was eventually settled, and in 1996 Paranal was formally inaugurated by the Chilean president. The “first light” took place in May 1998.

    ESO VLT (VLT) in the Atacama Desert from aboveCredit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacamaphoto

    3
    The image shown here was obtained with the VLT on 16 May, 1998. The 10-minute exposure of the centre of Omega Centauri demonstrated the VLT’s ability to continuously track continuously with a very high precision. Credit: ESO

    Q: Could you tell us what “first light” is and the event that took place in 1998?

    A: The first light event for a telescope is when the first astronomical image is recorded with it. For Paranal, this event took place 20 years ago, on 25 May 1998 with Unit Telescope 1 (UT1). In the “life” of a telescope, this is a very important event since it demonstrates the performance capabilities of the telescope for the first time. The sharper the image we can obtain, the better. Many pieces must fall into place for this to happen, including achieving the best possible optical surfaces in the various telescope mirrors, an active adaption to optical deviations in the system, and highly accurate tracking of the telescope. The first light for the VLT on 25 May 1998 was a big success in this context: we obtained very sharp images of thousands of stars in the globular cluster Omega Centauri.

    Q: How important has the VLT and Paranal been to astronomy?

    A: Paranal is the most productive optical observatory in the world due to its variety of astronomical instruments and the unique atmospheric conditions. True to ESO’s mission, observations with Paranal telescopes have served thousands of individual astronomers across Europe and the world. This service to the broad community, enabled by its current arsenal of instruments, makes Paranal unique.

    At the same time, it’s recognised by ESO and the community at-large that large, coherent observing campaigns pursued by big, strong collaborations can provide transformational advances in our understanding of the universe. These programmes are either of use to a large part of the community, complementing the large number of smaller programmes of teams of a few people, or aim to answer one of the “big” questions in astronomy. One such example is the observing campaign of the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way that has been going on for more than 25 years with several instruments. These kinds of programmes have been increasing, and Paranal has the best suite of instruments to investigate this very special physical phenomenon.

    Q: Have there been any issues for ESO whilst at Paranal?

    A: Except for the eventually-settled legal dispute during the construction phase in 1995, there have not been any major issues. Quite the contrary. Relations with the Chilean government have been excellent throughout the years. This is evidenced, for example, by the additional transfer and concession of land around the Cerro Armazones summit that has allowed ESO to start the construction of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).

    Q: What have been the major achievements and discoveries over the 20 years at Paranal?

    A: The continuous observation of the surroundings of the Milky Way’s centre is one of Paranal’s key achievements. Measuring the motion of stars in this region has provided the ultimate proof for the existence of black holes. Paranal has also obtained the first ever image of an exoplanet and the first ever characterisation of the atmosphere of a Super-Earth exoplanet. The VLT helped to prove that the violent cosmic events called Gamma Ray Bursts are linked to supernovae. It measured the light emanating from the gravitational wave event in 2017 and was instrumental in confirming the nature of a nearby solar system with seven Earth-like planets.

    Q: What changes have occurred over the years?

    In the early days, data was shipped to Europe on hard disks and took weeks to arrive. Now you can download them to your laptop within minutes.

    A: Unsurprisingly, there have been many changes over the years. Information technology and, in particular, worldwide connectivity have improved dramatically. At the beginning of operations at Paranal, the observatory really was a lonely island in the middle of the desert, both geographically and in terms of communication. Nowadays, we have high-speed internet connectivity that includes a real-time transfer of data taken at Paranal to the data archive at ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany. In the early days, data was shipped to Europe on hard disks and took weeks to arrive. Now you can download them to your laptop within minutes. This has enabled a very close feedback loop to our colleagues in Garching and to users all over the world and immensely streamlined the science operations data flow.

    Until a few years ago, most of our daily working routine was based on paper checklists. Now we have integrated online activity tracking tools across ESO. Until recently, internet connectivity in the accommodation for scientists and engineers, the Residencia, was restricted to some ethernet cables. Now we have high-speed wireless that even allows, say, Netflix streaming in one of the most remote places in the world. Also, for many years turbines and generators on site supplied power to the observatory. Since 2017, Paranal has been connected to the Chilean power grid.

    On the side of the instruments in use: the early instruments were certainly less complex compared to the standards of today. Nevertheless, several of these older instruments continue to be at the very top of the scientific publication ranking and requests for telescope time due to the unique observing areas each cover. With newer instruments, several are very complex in order to fulfil the specific needs of a certain community, such as imaging planets and stellar disks. But the ones that receive the highest time requests are typically the ones with a general purpose and a “simple” observing mode (though a “simple” mode does not mean it is a simple device — sometimes quite the opposite). Examples of these are MUSE and X-Shooter for the second generation of instruments, and FORS2 for the first generation.

    ESO MUSE on the VLT

    ESO X-shooter on VLT at Cerro Paranal, Chile

    In recent years, the big change for Paranal for sure is the beginning of work for the ELT. Paranal sometimes doesn’t feel like a small family anymore. It has certain characteristics of industrial places, with very strict maintenance protocols and a large number of staff and contractors. With the arrival of the ELT and its interface with the Paranal infrastructure, those aspects will gain further importance. I am sure we will maintain Paranal as a great place to work and live even—or in particular—with the inclusion of the ELT, which will require a lot of preparation for the changes to come.

    Q: What does the future hold for ESO at Paranal, in regard to the ELT?

    A: The future is extremely bright with the ongoing construction of the ELT, which will see first light in about six and a half years. The ELT will be fully integrated into the Paranal Observatory. Amongst other things, we all secretly hope to detect a second Earth around another star with the ELT, and generally contribute to a much better understanding of our Universe. It is exciting to see the constructions at Cerro Armazones proceeding, and the first technical infrastructure be erected at Paranal premises. It will be very hard work for many of us, and, in particular, the project team, to achieve our dream of observing the universe with the ELT. In terms of long-term motivation for a job at Paranal, I would say there has never been a better time.

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

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

    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.

    ALMA Array
    ALMA on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 metres.

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

    ESO APEX
    APEX Atacama Pathfinder 5,100 meters above sea level, 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

    SPECULOOS four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes 2016 in the ESO Paranal Observatory, 2,635 metres (8,645 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

     
  • richardmitnick 8:13 am on July 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO Paranal VLT, First Confirmed Image of Newborn Planet Caught with ESO’s VLT, Orange dwarf star PDS 70, PDS 70b is a giant gas planet with a mass a few times that of Jupiter   

    From European Southern Observatory: “First Confirmed Image of Newborn Planet Caught with ESO’s VLT” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    2 July 2018

    Miriam Keppler
    Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
    Heidelberg, Germany
    Tel: +49 6221 528 203
    Email: keppler@mpia.de

    André Müller
    Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
    Heidelberg, Germany
    Tel: +49 6221 528 227
    Email: amueller@mpia.de

    Thomas Henning
    Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
    Heidelberg, Germany
    Tel: +49 6221 528 200
    Email: henning@mpia.de

    Mariya Lyubenova
    ESO Outreach Astronomer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6188
    Email: mlyubeno@eso.org

    1
    SPHERE, a planet-hunting instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, has captured the first confirmed image of a planet caught in the act of forming in the dusty disc surrounding a young star. The young planet is carving a path through the primordial disc of gas and dust around the very young star PDS 70. The data suggest that the planet’s atmosphere is cloudy.

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

    2
    This colourful image shows the sky around the faint orange dwarf star PDS 70 (in the middle of the image). The bright blue star to the right is χ Centauri. Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin


    ESOcast 169 Light: First Confirmed Image of Newborn Planet (4K UHD)


    This sequence takes the viewer towards the southern constellation of Centaurus. We zoom in on the orange dwarf star PDS 70. The final shot shows the spectacular new image of the planet PDS 70b cleaving a path through the planet-forming material surrounding the young star. Credit: ESO, N. Risinger (skysurvey.org), DSS. Music: Astral electronic.

    Astronomers led by a group at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany have captured a spectacular snapshot of planetary formation around the young dwarf star PDS 70. By using the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) — one of the most powerful planet-hunting instruments in existence — the international team has made the first robust detection of a young planet, named PDS 70b, cleaving a path through the planet-forming material surrounding the young star [1].

    The SPHERE instrument also enabled the team to measure the brightness of the planet at different wavelengths, which allowed properties of its atmosphere to be deduced.

    The planet stands out very clearly in the new observations, visible as a bright point to the right of the blackened centre of the image. It is located roughly three billion kilometres from the central star, roughly equivalent to the distance between Uranus and the Sun. The analysis shows that PDS 70b is a giant gas planet with a mass a few times that of Jupiter. The planet’s surface has a temperature of around 1000°C, making it much hotter than any planet in our own Solar System.

    The dark region at the centre of the image is due to a coronagraph, a mask which blocks the blinding light of the central star and allows astronomers to detect its much fainter disc and planetary companion. Without this mask, the faint light from the planet would be utterly overwhelmed by the intense brightness of PDS 70.

    “These discs around young stars are the birthplaces of planets, but so far only a handful of observations have detected hints of baby planets in them,” explains Miriam Keppler, who lead the team behind the discovery of PDS 70’s still-forming planet. “The problem is that until now, most of these planet candidates could just have been features in the disc.”

    The discovery of PDS 70’s young companion is an exciting scientific result that has already merited further investigation. A second team, involving many of the same astronomers as the discovery team, including Keppler, has in the past months followed up the initial observations to investigate PDS 70’s fledgling planetary companion in more detail. They not only made the spectacularly clear image of the planet shown here, but were even able to obtain a spectrum of the planet. Analysis of this spectrum indicated that its atmosphere is cloudy.

    PDS 70’s planetary companion has sculpted a transition disc — a protoplanetary disc with a giant “hole” in the centre. These inner gaps have been known about for decades and it has been speculated that they were produced by disc-planet interaction. Now we can see the planet for the first time.

    “Keppler’s results give us a new window onto the complex and poorly-understood early stages of planetary evolution,” comments André Müller, leader of the second team to investigate the young planet. “We needed to observe a planet in a young star’s disc to really understand the processes behind planet formation.” By determining the planet’s atmospheric and physical properties, the astronomers are able to test theoretical models of planet formation.

    This glimpse of the dust-shrouded birth of a planet was only possible thanks to the impressive technological capabilities of ESO’s SPHERE instrument, which studies exoplanets and discs around nearby stars using a technique known as high-contrast imaging — a challenging feat. Even when blocking the light from a star with a coronagraph, SPHERE still has to use cleverly devised observing strategies and data processing techniques to filter out the signal of the faint planetary companions around bright young stars [2] at multiple wavelengths and epochs.

    Thomas Henning, director at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and leader of the teams, summarises the scientific adventure: “After more than a decade of enormous efforts to build this high-tech machine, now SPHERE enables us to reap the harvest with the discovery of baby planets!”

    Notes

    [1] The disc and planet images and the planet’s spectrum have been captured in the course of the two survey programmes called SHINE (SpHere INfrared survey for Exoplanets) and DISK (sphere survey for circumstellar DISK). SHINE aims to image 600 young nearby stars in the near-infrared using SPHERE’s high contrast and high angular resolution to discover and characterise new exoplanets and planetary systems. DISK explores known, young planetary systems and their circumstellar discs to study the initial conditions of planetary formation and the evolution of planetary architectures.

    [2] In order to tease out the weak signal of the planet next to the bright star, astronomers use a sophisticated method that benefits from the Earth’s rotation. In this observing mode, SPHERE continuously takes images of the star over a period of several hours, while keeping the instrument as stable as possible. As a consequence, the planet appears to slowly rotate, changing its location on the image with respect to the stellar halo. Using elaborate numerical algorithms, the individual images are then combined in such a way that all parts of the image that appear not to move during the observation, such as the signal from the star itself, are filtered. This leaves only those that do apparently move — making the planet visible.

    This research was presented in two papers, entitled Discovery of a planetary-mass companion within the gap of the transition disk around PDS 70 and Orbital and atmospheric characterization of the planet within the gap of the PDS 70 transition disk, both to be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    The team behind the discovery paper is composed of M. Keppler (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), M. Benisty (Univ. Grenoble, France and Unidad Mixta Internacional Franco-Chilena de Astronomía, Chile), A. Müller (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), Th. Henning (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), R. van Boekel (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), F. Cantalloube (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), C. Ginski (Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands), R.G. van Holstein (Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands), A.-L. Maire (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), A. Pohl (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), M. Samland (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), H. Avenhaus (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), J.-L. Baudino (Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK), A. Boccaletti (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, France), J. de Boer (Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands), M. Bonnefoy (Univ. Grenoble, France), S. Desidera (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy), M. Langlois (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Marseille, France and CRAL, UMR 5574, CNRS, Université de Lyon, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France), C. Lazzoni (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy), N. Pawellek (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), T. Stolker (Institute for Particle Physics and Astrophysics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland), A. Vigan (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Marseille, France), T. Birnstiel (University Observatory, Faculty of Physics, Ludwig-Maximilians- Universität München, Germany), W. Brandner(Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), G. Chauvin (Univ. Grenoble, France and Unidad Mixta Internacional Franco-Chilena de Astronomía, Chile), M. Feldt (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), M. Flock (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, USA and Kavli Institute For Theoretical Physics, University of California, USA), J. Girard(Univ. Grenoble, France and ESO, Chile), R. Gratton (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy), J. Hagelberg (Univ. Grenoble, France), A. Isella (Rice University, Department of Physics and Astronomy, USA), M. Janson (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany and Department of Astronomy, Stockholm University, Sweden), A. Juhasz (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK), J. Kemmer (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), Q. Kral (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, France and Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK), A.-M. Lagrange (Univ. Grenoble, France), R. Launhardt (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), G. Marleau (Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany and Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany) A. Matter (Université Côte d’Azur, OCA, CNRS, France), F. Ménard (Univ. Grenoble, France), J. Milli (ESO, Chile), P. Mollière (Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands), C. Mordasini (Physikalisches Institut, Universität Bern, Switzerland), J. Olofsson (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany, Instituto de Física y Astronomía, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Valparaíso, Chile, and Núcleo Milenio Formación Planetaria – NPF, Universidad de Valparaíso, Chile), L. Pérez (Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy, Bonn, Germany and Universidad de Chile, Departamento de Astronomia, Chile), P. Pinilla (Department of Astronomy/Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, USA), C. Pinte (Univ. Grenoble, France, UMI-FCA, CNRS/INSU, France (UMI 3386), and Dept. de Astronomía, Universidad de Chile, Chile, and Monash Centre for Astrophysics (MoCA) and School of Physics and Astronomy, Monash University, Australia), S. Quanz (Institute for Particle Physics and Astrophysics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland), T. Schmidt (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, France), S. Udry (Geneva Observatory, University of Geneva, Switzerland), Z. Wahhaj (ESO, Chile), J. Williams (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, USA), A. Zurlo (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France, Núcleo de Astronomía, Facultad de Ingeniería y Ciencias, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile, Escuela de Ingeniería Industrial, Facultad de Ingeniería y Ciencias, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile), E. Buenzli (Institute for Particle Physics and Astrophysics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland), M. Cudel (Univ. Grenoble, France), R. Galicher (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, France), M. Kasper (ESO, Germany), J. Lannier (Univ. Grenoble, France), D. Mesa (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy and INCT, Universidad De Atacama, Copiapó, Chile), D. Mouillet (Univ. Grenoble, France), S. Peretti (Geneva Observatory, University of Geneva, Switzerland), C. Perrot (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, France), G. Salter (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France), E. Sissa (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy), F. Wildi (Geneva Observatory, University of Geneva, Switzerland), L. Abe (Université Côte d’Azur, OCA, CNRS, Lagrange, France), J. Antichi (INAF – Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Italy), J.-C. Augereau (Univ. Grenoble, France), P. Baudoz (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, France), J.-L. Beuzit (Univ. Grenoble, France), P. Blanchard (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France), S. S. Brems (Landessternwarte Königstuhl, Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Germany), M. Carle (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France), A. Cheetham (Geneva Observatory, University of Geneva, Switzerland), A. Costille (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France), A. Delboulbé (Univ. Grenoble, France), C. Dominik (Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy, The Netherlands), P. Feautrier (Univ. Grenoble, France), L. Gluck (Univ. Grenoble, France), D. Gisler (Institute for Particle Physics and Astrophysics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland), Y. Magnard (Univ. Grenoble, France), D. Maurel (Univ. Grenoble, France), M. Meyer (Institute for Particle Physics and Astrophysics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland), T. Moulin (Univ. Grenoble, France), T. Buey (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, France), A. Baruffolo (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy), A. Bazzon (Institute for Particle Physics and Astrophysics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland), V. De Caprio (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, Italy), M. Carbillet (Université Côte d’Azur, OCA, CNRS, Lagrange, France), E. Cascone (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, Italy), R. Claudi (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy), K. Dohlen (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France), D. Fantinel (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy), T. Fusco (ONERA (Office National d’Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales), France), E. Giro (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy), C. Gry (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France), N. Hubin (ESO, Germany), E. Hugot (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France), M. Jaquet (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France), D. Le Mignant (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France), M. Llored (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France), O. Möller-Nilsson (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), F. Madec (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France), P. Martinez (Université Côte d’Azur, OCA, CNRS, Lagrange, France), L. Mugnier (ONERA (Office National d’Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales), France), A. Origné (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France), P. Puget (Univ. Grenoble, France), D. Perret (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, France), J. Pragt (NOVA Optical Infrared Instrumentation Group, Dwingeloo, The Netherlands), F. Rigal (Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy, The Netherlands), R. Roelfsema (NOVA Optical Infrared Instrumentation Group, Dwingeloo, The Netherlands), A. Pavlov (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), C. Petit (ONERA (Office National d’Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales), France), G. Rousset (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, France), J. Ramos (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), P. Rabou (Univ. Grenoble, France), S. Rochat (Univ. Grenoble, France), A. Roux (Univ. Grenoble, France), B. Salasnich (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy),C. Soenke (ESO, Germany), E. Stadler (Univ. Grenoble, France), J.-F. Sauvage (ONERA (Office National d’Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales), France), M. Suarez ( INAF – Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Italy), A. Sevin (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, France), M. Turatto (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy), L. Weber (Geneva Observatory, University of Geneva, Switzerland).

    The team behind the characterisation paper consisted of A. Müller (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), M. Keppler (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), Th. Henning (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), M. Samland (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), G. Chauvin (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, France and Unidad Mixta Internacional Franco-Chilena de Astronomía, CNRS/INSU Universidad de Chile, Chile), H. Beust (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, France), A.-L. Maire (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), K. Molaverdikhani (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), R. van Boekel (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), M. Benisty (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, France and Unidad Mixta Internacional Franco-Chilena de Astronomía, CNRS/INSU Universidad de Chile, Chile), A. Boccaletti (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, France), M. Bonnefoy (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, France), F. Cantalloube (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), B. Charnay (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, France), J.-L. Baudino (Department of Physics, University of Oxford, UK), M. Gennaro (Space Telescope Science Institute, USA), Z. C. Long (Space Telescope Science Institute, USA), A. Cheetham (Geneva Observatory, University of Geneva, Switzerland), S. Desidera (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy), M. Feldt (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), T. Fusco (DOTA, ONERA, Université Paris Saclay, and Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, LAM Marseille, France), J. Girard (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, France and Space Telescope Science Institute, USA), R. Gratton (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy), J. Hagelberg (Institute for Particle Physics and Astrophysics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland), M. Janson (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany and Department of Astronomy, Stockholm University, Sweden), A.-M. Lagrange (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, France), M. Langlois (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Marseille, France and CRAL, UMR 5574, CNRS, Université de Lyon, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France), C. Lazzoni (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy), R. Ligi (INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera, Italy), F. Ménard (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, France), D. Mesa (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy and INCT, Universidad De Atacama, Copiapó, Atacama, Chile), M. Meyer (Institute for Particle Physics and Astrophysics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland and Department of Astronomy, University of Michigan, USA), P. Mollière (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, the Netherlands), C. Mordasini (Physikalisches Institut, Universität Bern, Switzerland), T. Moulin (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, France), A. Pavlov (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), N. Pawellek (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany and Konkoly Observatory, Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary), S. Quanz (Institute for Particle Physics and Astrophysics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland), J. Ramos (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), D. Rouan (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, France), E. Sissa (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy), E. Stadler (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, France), A. Vigan (Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LAM, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France), Z. Wahhaj (ESO, Chile), L. Weber (Geneva Observatory, University of Geneva, Switzerland), A. Zurlo (Núcleo de Astronomía, Facultad de Ingeniería y Ciencias, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile, Escuela de Ingeniería Industrial, Facultad de Ingeniería y Ciencias, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile).

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 1:53 pm on June 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO Paranal VLT, , `Oumuamua now seen as a comet   

    From European Southern Observatory and NASA/ESA Hubble : “ESO’s VLT Sees `Oumuamua Getting a Boost” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    ESO VLT Platform at Cerro Paranal elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft)

    and

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    27 June 2018
    Olivier Hainaut
    European Southern Observatory
    Garching, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6752
    Email: ohainaut@eso.org

    Marco Micheli
    Space Situational Awareness Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre, European Space Agency
    Frascati, Italy
    Tel: +39 06 941 80365
    Email: marco.micheli@esa.int

    Karen Meech
    Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii
    Honolulu, USA
    Cell: +1 720 231 7048
    Email: meech@IfA.Hawaii.Edu

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

    Donna Weaver
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4493
    dweaver@stsci.edu

    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4514
    villard@stsci.edu

    1

    `Oumuamua, the first interstellar object discovered in the Solar System, is moving away from the Sun faster than expected. This anomalous behaviour was detected by a worldwide astronomical collaboration including ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. The new results suggest that `Oumuamua is most likely an interstellar comet and not an asteroid. The discovery appears in the journal Nature.

    2
    Featured Image: Artist’s Impression of `Oumuamua. News release ID: STScI-2018-25. Release Date: Jun 27, 2018

    3
    From ESA ‘Oumuamua’s journey through our Solar System

    `Oumuamua — the first interstellar object discovered within our Solar System — has been the subject of intense scrutiny since its discovery in October 2017 [1]. Now, by combining data from the ESO’s Very Large Telescope and other observatories, an international team of astronomers has found that the object is moving faster than predicted. The measured gain in speed is tiny and `Oumuamua is still slowing down because of the pull of the Sun — just not as fast as predicted by celestial mechanics.

    The team, led by Marco Micheli (European Space Agency) explored several scenarios to explain the faster-than-predicted speed of this peculiar interstellar visitor. The most likely explanation is that `Oumuamua is venting material from its surface due to solar heating — a behaviour known as outgassing [2]. The thrust from this ejected material is thought to provide the small but steady push that is sending `Oumuamua hurtling out of the Solar System faster than expected — as of 1 June 2018 it is traveling at roughly 114 000 kilometres per hour.

    Such outgassing is a behaviour typical for comets and contradicts the previous classification of `Oumuamua as an interstellar asteroid. “We think this is a tiny, weird comet,” commented Marco Micheli. “We can see in the data that its boost is getting smaller the farther away it travels from the Sun, which is typical for comets.”

    Usually, when comets are warmed by the Sun they eject dust and gas, which form a cloud of material — called a coma — around them, as well as the characteristic tail. However, the research team could not detect any visual evidence of outgassing.

    “We did not see any dust, coma, or tail, which is unusual,” explained co-author Karen Meech of the University of Hawaii, USA. Meech led the discovery team’s characterisation of `Oumuamua in 2017. “We think that ‘Oumuamua may vent unusually large, coarse dust grains.”

    The team speculated that perhaps the small dust grains adorning the surface of most comets eroded during `Oumuamua’s journey through interstellar space, with only larger dust grains remaining. Though a cloud of these larger particles would not be bright enough to be detected, it would explain the unexpected change to ‘Oumuamua’s speed.

    Not only is `Oumuamua’s hypothesised outgassing an unsolved mystery, but also its interstellar origin. The team originally performed the new observations on `Oumuamua to exactly determine its path which would have probably allowed it to trace the object back to its parent star system. The new results means it will be more challenging to obtain this information.

    This finding is based on observations with the Hubble Space Telescope and several ground-based observatories, conducted by scientists at the European Space Agency’s Space Situational Awareness Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre (NEOCC), NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and the University of Hawaii along with an international team of astronomers.

    The calculation, based on the telescopes’ high-precision measurements of `Oumuamua’s position in the sky, found that its motion was perturbed by a force in addition to the known gravitational influences of the Sun and planets.

    Although the team considered several possible causes for `Oumuamua’s slight deviation in trajectory, they concluded that the most likely explanation is that the object was jetting out gaseous material — like a comet. This emission of gas could explain the small but measurable perturbation of the object’s path as it headed out from the inner-solar system. This hypothesized outgassing (not directly visible in any observations) was likely produced by heating from the Sun, which caused ices to sublimate and vent away from the object.

    “The true nature of this enigmatic interstellar nomad may remain a mystery,” concluded team member Olivier Hainaut, an astronomer at ESO. “`Oumuamua’s recently-detected gain in speed makes it more difficult to be able to trace the path it took from its extrasolar home star.”

    Hubble observations of the interstellar visitor were combined with other precise ground-based observations from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, and the Gemini South Telescope. Co-author Davide Farnocchia of CNEOS in Pasadena, California, assessed the direction and magnitude of `Oumuamua’s position over a two-month period in late 2017 and early 2018.


    CFHT Telescope, Maunakea, Hawaii, USA, at Maunakea, Hawaii, USA,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level


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

    “We have evidence from the data that the motion of `Oumuamua was continuously affected by a non-gravitational perturbation, all the way from its discovery to the last observations in January,” Farnocchia said. “This additional force we see acting on `Oumuamua is very similar to the kind of perturbation we see in comets from our solar system — which is a result of outgassing.”

    Comets in our solar system normally eject large amounts of dust and gas when warmed by the Sun. This ejected material forms a cloud called a “coma,” and a tail. Surprisingly, even though `Oumuamua passed very close to the Sun — within the orbit of Mercury — no dust or gas was detected, even in the most detailed images. “We did not see any coma, tail, or small dust cloud, which is unusual if this is a comet,” said team member Olivier Hainaut of the European Southern Observatory.

    The team estimated that if `Oumuamua’s outgassing had contained small dust particles, it could only have amounted to a couple of coffee cans full.

    Karen Meech of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, speculated that small dust grains typically present on the surface of most comets may have eroded away during `Oumuamua’s long journey through interstellar space. The researchers’ computer models, however, don’t rule out the possibility that the interstellar visitor vented larger, coarse dust grains in its journey through the solar system. A sparse cloud of these larger particles would have been too faint to be detected by Hubble or ground-based observatories.

    “Despite the many unknowns, we were able to develop a model that is consistent with the observed acceleration — provided this is an unusual comet,” Meech explained. “The more we study `Omuamua, the more exciting it gets. I’m amazed at how much we have learned from a short intense observing campaign. I can hardly wait for the next interstellar object!”

    The unexpected perturbation acting on `Oumuamua’s path makes it more challenging for astronomers to accurately trace its trajectory back to the parent star system where it originally formed long ago.

    `Oumuamua, which is less than a half-mile in length, was first spotted in October 2017 by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope. The interstellar visitor is now farther away from the Sun than Jupiter and traveling away from the Sun at about 70,000 miles per hour as it heads toward the outskirts of the solar system. In only another four years, it will exceed the distance of Neptune’s orbit on its way back into interstellar space.

    `Oumuamua is the first interstellar object ever observed, the researchers cautioned, and so it’s difficult to draw general conclusions about this new class of celestial bodies. The observations point to the idea that perhaps low-mass cometary bodies are regularly ejected from other star systems and wander the Milky Way galaxy for billions of years. Therefore, there should be more of them drifting among the stars. Future survey telescopes, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) under construction in Chile or NASA’s planned space-based NEO detection and tracking infrared telescope, could potentially detect more of these orphaned vagabonds, providing a larger sample for scientists to analyze to better understand their nature.

    Notes [ESO]

    [1]`Oumuamua, pronounced “oh-MOO-ah-MOO-ah”, was first discovered using the Pan-STARRS telescope at the Haleakala Observatory, Hawaii.

    Pann-STARS telescope, U Hawaii, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA, 4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    Its name means “scout” in Hawaiian, and reflects its nature as the first known object of interstellar origin to have entered the Solar System. The original observations indicated it was an elongated, tiny object whose colour were similar to that of a comet.

    [2] The team tested several hypothesis to explain the unexpected change in speed. They analysed if solar radiation pressure, the Yarkovsky effect, or friction-like effects could explain the observations. It was also checked if the gain in speed could have been caused by an impulse event (such as a collision), by `Oumuamua being a binary object or by `Oumuamua being a magnetised object. The unlikely theory that `Oumuamua is an interstellar spaceship was also rejected: the facts that the smooth and continuous change in speed is not typical for thrusters and that the object is tumbling on all three axis speak against it being an artificial object.
    More information

    The research team’s work is presented in the scientific paper “Non-gravitational acceleration in the trajectory of 1I/2017 U1 (`Oumuamua)”, which will be
    published in the journal Nature on 27 June 2018.

    The international team of astronomers in this study consists of Marco Micheli (European Space Agency & INAF, Italy), Davide Farnocchia (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA), Karen J. Meech (University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, USA), Marc W. Buie (Southwest Research Institute, USA), Olivier R. Hainaut (European Southern Observatory, Germany), Dina Prialnik (Tel Aviv University School of Geosciences, Israel), Harold A. Weaver (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, USA), Paul W. Chodas (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA), Jan T. Kleyna (University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, USA), Robert Weryk (University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, USA), Richard J. Wainscoat (University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, USA), Harald Ebeling (University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, USA), Jacqueline V. Keane (University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, USA), Kenneth C. Chambers (University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, USA), Detlef Koschny (European Space Agency, European Space Research and Technology Centre, & Technical University of Munich, Germany), and Anastassios E. Petropoulos (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA).

    See the full ESO article here .
    See the full NASA/ESA Hubble article here .


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

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

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

    ESO 2.2 meter telescope at La Silla, 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 Platform at Cerro Paranal elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft)

    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/Vista 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, at an altitude 3,046 m (9,993 ft)

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

    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

    SPECULOOS four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes 2016 in the ESO Paranal Observatory, 2,635 metres (8,645 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

     
  • richardmitnick 1:35 pm on June 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ESO Paranal VLT, , , The nearby galaxy ESO 325-G004   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope and ESO VLT: “Most Precise Test of Einstein’s General Relativity Outside Milky Way” 

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    and

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    ESO VLT Platform at Cerro Paranal elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft)

    6.21.18

    Thomas Collett
    University of Portsmouth
    Portsmouth, UK
    Tel: +44 239 284 5146
    Email: thomas.collett@port.ac.uk

    Bob Nichol
    University of Portsmouth
    Portsmouth, UK
    Tel: +44 239 284 3117
    Email: bob.nichol@port.ac.uk

    Mathias Jäger
    ESA/Hubble, Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 176 62397500
    Email: mjaeger@partner.eso.org

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

    1

    An international team of astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope has made the most precise test of general relativity yet outside our Milky Way. The nearby galaxy ESO 325-G004 acts as a strong gravitational lens, distorting light from a distant galaxy behind it to create an Einstein ring around its centre. By comparing the mass of ESO 325-G004 with the curvature of space around it, the astronomers found that gravity on these astronomical length-scales behaves as predicted by general relativity. This rules out some alternative theories of gravity.

    Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), a team led by Thomas Collett (University of Portsmouth, UK), was able to perform the most precise test of general relativity outside the Milky Way to date.

    The theory of general relativity predicts that objects deform spacetime, causing any light that passes by to be deflected and resulting in a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. This effect is only noticeable for very massive objects. A few hundred strong gravitational lenses are known, but most are too distant to precisely measure their mass. However, the elliptical galaxy ESO 325-G004 is amongst the closest lenses at just 450 million light-years from Earth.

    Using the MUSE instrument on the VLT the team calculated the mass of ESO 325-G004 by measuring the movement of stars within it.

    ESO MUSE on the VLT

    Using Hubble the scientists were able to observe an Einstein ring resulting from light from a distant galaxy being distorted by the intervening ESO 325-G004. Studying the ring allowed the astronomers to measure how light, and therefore spacetime, is being distorted by the huge mass of ESO 325-G004.

    Collett comments: “We know the mass of the foreground galaxy from MUSE and we measured the amount of gravitational lensing we see from Hubble. We then compared these two ways to measure the strength of gravity — and the result was just what general relativity predicts, with an uncertainty of only nine percent. This is the most precise test of general relativity outside the Milky Way to date. And this using just one galaxy!”
    General relativity has been tested with exquisite accuracy on Solar System scales, and the motions of stars around the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way are under detailed study, but previously there had been no precise tests on larger astronomical scales. Testing the long range properties of gravity is vital to validate our current cosmological model.

    These findings may have important implications for models of gravity alternative to general relativity. These alternative theories predict that the effects of gravity on the curvature of spacetime are “scale dependent”. This means that gravity should behave differently across astronomical length-scales from the way it behaves on the smaller scales of the Solar System. Collett and his team found that this is unlikely to be true unless these differences only occur on length scales larger than 6000 light-years.

    “The Universe is an amazing place providing such lenses which we can use as our laboratories,” adds team member Bob Nichol (University of Portsmouth). “It is so satisfying to use the best telescopes in the world to challenge Einstein, only to find out how right he was.”

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

    More information

    This research was presented in a paper entitled A precise extragalactic test of General Relativity by Collett et al., to appear in the journal Science.

    The team is composed of T. E. Collett (Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK), L. J. Oldham (Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK), R. Smith (Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, Durham University, Durham, UK), M. W. Auger (Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK), K. B. Westfall (Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK; University of California Observatories – Lick Observatory, Santa Cruz, USA), D. Bacon (Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK), R. C. Nichol (Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK), K. L. Masters (Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK), K. Koyama (Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK), R. van den Bosch (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Königstuhl, Heidelberg, Germany).

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

    See the full NASA/ESA Hubble article here .
    See the full ESO/VLT article here .


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  • richardmitnick 2:12 pm on June 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Too Many Massive Stars in Starburst Galaxies, , , , , , ESO Paranal VLT, , Near and Far"   

    From ALMA and VLT: “Too Many Massive Stars in Starburst Galaxies, Near and Far” 

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

    From ALMA

    and

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    4 June 2018

    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

    Zhi-Yu Zhang
    University of Edinburgh and ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49-89-3200-6910
    Email: zzhang@eso.org

    Fabian Schneider
    Department of Physics — University of Oxford
    Oxford, United Kingdom
    Tel: +44-1865-283697
    Email: fabian.schneider@physics.ox.ac.uk

    Rob Ivison
    ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49-89-3200-6669
    Email: rob.ivison@eso.org

    Mariya Lyubenova
    ESO Outreach Astronomer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6188
    Email: mlyubeno@eso.org

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

    Charles E. Blue
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory Charlottesville, Virginia – USA
    Phone: +1 434 296 0314
    Cell phone: +1 202 236 6324
    Email: cblue@nrao.edu

    1
    This artist’s impression shows a dusty galaxy in the distant Universe that is forming stars at a rate much higher than in our Milky Way. New ALMA observations have allowed scientists to lift the veil of dust and see what was previously inaccessible — that such starburst galaxies have an excess of massive stars as compared to more peaceful galaxies.
    Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

    2
    This image shows the four distant starburst galaxies observed by ALMA. The top images depict the 13CO emission from each galaxy, while the bottom ones show their C18O emission. The ratio of these two isotopologues allowed astronomers to determine that these starburst galaxies have an excess of massive stars. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Zhang et al.


    Astronomers using ALMA and the VLT have discovered that starburst galaxies in both the early and the nearby Universe contain a much higher proportion of massive stars than is found in more peaceful galaxies. The video is available in 4K UHD. Credit: ESO.
    Directed by: Nico Bartmann.
    Editing: Nico Bartmann.
    Web and technical support: Mathias André and Raquel Yumi Shida.
    Written by: Stephen Molyneux and Richard Hook.
    Music: written and performed by Stan Dart (www.stan-dart.com).
    Footage and photos: ESO, M. Kornmesser, L. Calçada.
    Executive producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen.

    Astronomers using ALMA and the VLT have discovered that both starburst galaxies in the early Universe and a star-forming region in a nearby galaxy contain a much higher proportion of massive stars than is found in more peaceful galaxies. These findings challenge current ideas about how galaxies evolved, changing our understanding of cosmic star-formation history and the build up of chemical elements.

    Probing the distant Universe a team of scientists, led by University of Edinburgh astronomer Zhi-Yu Zhang, used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to investigate the proportion of massive stars in four distant gas-rich starburst galaxies [1]. These galaxies are seen when the Universe was much younger than it is now so the infant galaxies are unlikely to have undergone many previous episodes of star formation, which might otherwise have confused the results.

    Zhang and his team developed a new technique — analogous to radiocarbon dating (also known as carbon-14 dating) — to measure the abundances of different types of carbon monoxide in four very distant, dust-shrouded starburst galaxies [2]. They observed the ratio of two types of carbon monoxide containing different isotopes [3].

    “Carbon and oxygen isotopes have different origins”, explains Zhang. “18O is produced more in massive stars, and 13C is produced more in low- to intermediate-mass stars.” Thanks to the new technique the team was able to peer through the dust in these galaxies and assess for the first time the masses of their stars.

    The mass of a star is the most important factor determining how it will evolve. Massive stars shine brilliantly and have short lives and less massive ones, such as the Sun, shine more modestly for billions of years. Knowing the proportions of stars of different masses that are formed in galaxies therefore underpins astronomers’ understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies throughout the history of the Universe. Consequently, it gives us crucial insights about the chemical elements available to form new stars and planets and, ultimately, the number of seed black holes that may coalesce to form the supermassive black holes that we see in the centres of many galaxies.

    Co-author Donatella Romano from the INAF-Astrophysics and Space Science Observatory in Bologna explains what the team found: “The ratio of 18O to 13C was about 10 times higher in these starburst galaxies in the early Universe than it is in galaxies such as the Milky Way, meaning that there is a much higher proportion of massive stars within these starburst galaxies.”

    The ALMA finding is corroborated by another discovery in the local Universe. A team led by Fabian Schneider of the University of Oxford, UK, made spectroscopic measurements with ESO’s Very Large Telescope of 800 stars in the gigantic star-forming region 30 Doradus in the Large Magellanic Cloud in order to investigate the overall distribution of stellar ages and initial masses [4].

    30 Doradus, The Tarantula Nebula or NGC 2070, resembles the legs of a tarantula 3 December 2009 ESO IDA Danish 1.5 m R. Gendler, C. C. Thöne, C. Féron, and J.-E. Ovaldsen

    Schneider explained, “We found around 30% more stars with masses more than 30 times that of the Sun than expected, and about 70% more than expected above 60 solar masses. Our results challenge the previously predicted 150 solar mass limit for the maximum birth mass of stars and even suggest that stars could have birth masses up to 300 solar masses!”

    Rob Ivison, co-author of the new ALMA paper, concludes: “Our findings lead us to question our understanding of cosmic history. Astronomers building models of the Universe must now go back to the drawing board, with yet more sophistication required.”
    Notes

    [1] Starburst galaxies are galaxies that are undergoing an episode of very intense star formation. The rate at which they form new stars can be 100 times or more the rate in our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Massive stars in these galaxies produce ionising radiation, stellar outflows, and supernova explosions, which significantly influence the dynamical and chemical evolution of the medium around them. Studying the mass distribution of stars in these galaxies can tell us more about their own evolution, and also the evolution of the Universe more generally.

    [2] The radiocarbon dating method is used for determining the age of an object containing organic material. By measuring the amount of 14C, which is a radioactive isotope whose abundance continuously decreases, one can calculate when the animal or plant died. The isotopes used in the ALMA study, 13C and 18O, are stable and their abundances continuously increase during the lifetime of a galaxy, being synthesised by thermal nuclear fusion reactions inside stars.

    [3] These different forms of the molecule are called isotopologues and they differ in the number of neutrons they can have. The carbon monoxide molecules used in this study are an example of such molecular species, because a stable carbon isotope can have either 12 or 13 nucleons in its nucleus, and a stable oxygen isotope can have either 16, 17, or 18 nucleons.

    [4] Schneider et al. made spectroscopic observations of individual stars in 30 Doradus, a star-forming region in the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud, using the Fibre Large Array Multi Element Spectrograph (FLAMES) on the Very Large Telescope (VLT).

    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.

    Large Magellanic Cloud. Adrian Pingstone December 2003

    This study was one of the first to be carried out that has been detailed enough to show that the Universe is able to produce star-forming regions with different mass distributions from that in the Milky Way.

    7
    Galaxies in the distant Universe are seen during their youth and therefore have relatively short and uneventful star formation histories. This makes them an ideal laboratory to study the earliest epochs of star formation. But at a price — they are often enshrouded by obscuring dust that hampers the correct interpretation of the observations. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

    8
    This kind of galaxy is typically forming stars at such a high rate that astronomers often refer to them as “starbursts”. They can form up to 1000 times more stars per year, compared to the Milky Way. Thanks to the unique capabilities of ALMA, astronomers have been able to measure the proportion of high-mass stars in such starburst galaxies. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

    More information

    The ALMA results are published in a paper entitled Stellar populations dominated by massive stars in dusty starburst galaxies across cosmic time that will appear in Nature on 4 June 2018. The VLT results are published in a paper entitled An excess of massive stars in the local 30 Doradus starburst, which has been published in Science on 5 January 2018.

    The ALMA team is composed of: Z. Zhang (Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK; European Southern Observatory, Garching bei München, Germany), D. Romano (INAF, Astrophysics and Space Science Observatory, Bologna, Italy), R. J. Ivison (European Southern Observatory, Garching bei München, Germany; Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK), P .P. Papadopoulos (Department of Physics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece; Research Center for Astronomy, Academy of Athens, Athens, Greece;) and F. Matteucci (Trieste University; INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste; INFN, Sezione di Trieste, Trieste, Italy)

    The VLT team is composed of: F. R. N. Schneider ( Department of Physics, University of Oxford, UK), H. Sana (Institute of Astrophysics, KU Leuven, Belgium), C. J. Evans ( UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Royal Observatory Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK), J. M. Bestenlehner (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Heidelberg, Germany; Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, UK), N. Castro (Department of Astronomy, University of Michigan, USA), L. Fossati (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Space Research Institute, Graz, Austria), G. Gräfener (Argelander-Institut für Astronomie der Universität Bonn, Germany), N. Langer (Argelander-Institut für Astronomie der Universität Bonn, Germany), O. H. Ramírez-Agudelo (UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Royal Observatory Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK), C. Sabín-Sanjulián (Departamento de Física y Astronomía, Universidad de La Serena, Chile), S. Simón-Díaz (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Tenerife, Spain; Departamento de Astrofísica, Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain), F. Tramper (European Space Astronomy Centre, Madrid, Spain), P. A. Crowther (Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, UK), A. de Koter (Astronomical Institute Anton Pannekoek, Amsterdam University, Netherlands; Institute of Astrophysics, KU Leuven, Belgium), S. E. de Mink (Astronomical Institute Anton Pannekoek, Amsterdam University, Netherlands), P. L. Dufton (Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK), M. Garcia (Centro de Astrobiología, CSIC-INTA, Madrid, Spain), M. Gieles (Department of Physics, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Surrey, UK), V. Hénault-Brunet (National Research Council, Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics, Canada; Department of Astrophysics/Institute for Mathematics, Astrophysics and Particle Physics, Radboud University, Netherlands), A. Herrero (Departamento de Física y Astronomía, Universidad de La Serena, Chile), R. G. Izzard (Department of Physics, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Surrey, UK; Institute of Astronomy, The Observatories, Cambridge, UK), V. Kalari (Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile), D. J. Lennon (European Space Astronomy Centre, Madrid, Spain), J. Maíz Apellániz (Centro de Astrobiología, CSIC–INTA, European Space Astronomy Centre campus, Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain), N. Markova (Institute of Astronomy with National Astronomical Observatory, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Smolyan, Bulgaria), F. Najarro (Centro de Astrobiología, CSIC-INTA, Madrid, Spain), Ph. Podsiadlowski (Department of Physics, University of Oxford, UK; Argelander-Institut für Astronomie der Universität Bonn, Germany), J. Puls (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany), W. D. Taylor (UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Royal Observatory Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK), J. Th. van Loon (Lennard-Jones Laboratories, Keele University, Staffordshire, UK), J. S. Vink (Armagh Observatory, Northern Ireland, UK) and C. Norman (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA; Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, USA)

    Links

    Zhang et al. research paper
    Schneider et al. research paper
    Photos of ALMA
    Photos of the VLT

    See the full ESO article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


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    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.

    ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

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  • richardmitnick 8:33 am on May 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , E0102-72.3: Astronomers Spot a Distant and Lonely Neutron Star, ESO Paranal VLT, ,   

    From NASA Chandra: “E0102-72.3: Astronomers Spot a Distant and Lonely Neutron Star” 

    NASA Chandra Banner

    NASA/Chandra Telescope


    From NASA Chandra

    1
    Composite

    2
    X-ray

    3
    Optical
    Credit X-ray (NASA/CXC/ESO/F.Vogt et al); Optical (ESO/VLT/MUSE & NASA/STScI)

    An isolated neutron star — with a low magnetic field and no stellar companion — has been found for the first time outside of the Milky Way galaxy.

    Astronomers used data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Very Large Telescope, and other telescopes to make this discovery.

    Neutron stars are the ultra dense cores of massive stars that collapse and undergo a supernova explosion.

    Future observations at X-ray, optical, and radio wavelengths should help astronomers better understand this lonely neutron star.

    Astronomers [F.P.A. Vogt, E.S. Bartlett, I.R. Seitenzahl, M.A. Dopita, P. Ghavamian, A.J. Ruiter, J.P. Terry] have discovered a special kind of neutron star for the first time outside of the Milky Way galaxy, using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.

    ESO VLT Platform at Cerro Paranal elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft)

    Neutron stars are the ultra dense cores of massive stars that collapse and undergo a supernova explosion. This newly identified neutron star is a rare variety that has both a low magnetic field and no stellar companion.

    The neutron star is located within the remains of a supernova — known as 1E 0102.2-7219 (E0102 for short) — in the Small Magellanic Cloud, located 200,000 light years from Earth.

    Small Magellanic Cloud. 10 November 2005. ESA/Hubble and Digitized Sky Survey 2

    This new composite image of E0102 allows astronomers to learn new details about this object that was discovered more than three decades ago. In this image, X-rays from Chandra are blue and purple, and visible light data from VLT’s Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument are bright red.

    ESO MUSE on the VLT

    Additional data from the Hubble Space Telescope are dark red and green.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Oxygen-rich supernova remnants like E0102 are important for understanding how massive stars fuse lighter elements into heavier ones before they explode. Seen up to a few thousand years after the original explosion, oxygen-rich remnants contain the debris ejected from the dead star’s interior. This debris (visible as a green filamentary structure in the combined image) is observed today hurtling through space after being expelled at millions of miles per hour.

    Chandra observations of E0102 show that the supernova remnant is dominated by a large ring-shaped structure in X-rays, associated with the blast wave of the supernova. The new MUSE data revealed a smaller ring of gas (in bright red) that is expanding more slowly than the blast wave. At the center of this ring is a blue point-like source of X-rays. Together, the small ring and point source act like a celestial bull’s eye.

    The combined Chandra and MUSE data suggest that this source is an isolated neutron star, created in the supernova explosion about two millennia ago. The X-ray energy signature, or “spectrum,” of this source is very similar to that of the neutron stars located at the center of two other famous oxygen-rich supernova remnants: Cassiopeia A (Cas A) and Puppis A. These two neutron stars also do not have companion stars.

    Cassiopeia A false color image using Hubble and Spitzer telescopes and Chandra X-ray Observatory. Credit NASA JPL-Caltech

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    Puppis A Supernova Remnant astrodonimaging.com

    The lack of evidence for extended radio emission or pulsed X-ray radiation, typically associated with rapidly rotating highly-magnetized neutron stars, indicates that the astronomers have detected the X-radiation from the hot surface of an isolated neutron star with low magnetic fields. About ten such objects have been detected in the Milky Way galaxy, but this is the first one detected outside our galaxy.

    But how did this neutron star end up in its current position, seemingly offset from the center of the circular shell of X-ray emission produced by the blast wave of the supernova? One possibility is that the supernova explosion did occur near the middle of the remnant, but the neutron star was kicked away from the site in an asymmetric explosion, at a high speed of about two million miles per hour. However, in this scenario, it is difficult to explain why the neutron star is, today, so neatly encircled by the recently discovered ring of gas seen at optical wavelengths.

    Another possible explanation is that the neutron star is moving slowly and its current position is roughly where the supernova explosion happened. In this case, the material in the optical ring may have been ejected either during the supernova explosion, or by the doomed progenitor star up to a few thousand years before.

    A challenge for this second scenario is that the explosion site would be located well away from the center of the remnant as determined by the extended X-ray emission. This would imply a special set of circumstances for the surroundings of E0102: for example, a cavity carved by winds from the progenitor star before the supernova explosion, and variations in the density of the interstellar gas and dust surrounding the remnant.

    Future observations of E0102 at X-ray, optical, and radio wavelengths should help astronomers solve this exciting new puzzle posed by the lonely neutron star.

    A paper describing these results was published in the April issue of Nature Astronomy.

    See the full article here .


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

     
  • richardmitnick 11:32 am on May 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO Paranal VLT,   

    From European Southern Observatory via Manu: “Stars Just Got Bigger” 


    Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

    The universe around us.
    Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    21 July 2010
    Paul Crowther
    University of Sheffield
    UK
    Tel: +44 114 222 4291
    Cell: +44 7946 638 474
    Email: Paul.Crowther@sheffield.ac.uk

    Olivier Schnurr
    Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam
    Potsdam, Germany
    Tel: +49 331 7499 353
    Email: oschnurr@aip.de

    Henri Boffin
    ESO, La Silla, Paranal and E-ELT Press Officer
    Garching, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6222
    Cell: +49 174 515 43 24
    Email: hboffin@eso.org

    1
    Using a combination of instruments on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers have discovered the most massive stars to date, one weighing at birth more than 300 times the mass of the Sun, or twice as much as the currently accepted limit of 150 solar masses. The existence of these monsters — millions of times more luminous than the Sun, losing weight through very powerful winds — may provide an answer to the question “how massive can stars be?”

    The sizes of stars (annotated)
    2

    A team of astronomers led by Paul Crowther, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Sheffield, has used ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), as well as archival data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, to study two young clusters of stars, NGC 3603 and RMC 136a in detail.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NGC 3603 is a cosmic factory where stars form frantically from the nebula’s extended clouds of gas and dust, located 22 000 light-years away from the Sun (eso1005). RMC 136a (more often known as R136) is another cluster of young, massive and hot stars, which is located inside the Tarantula Nebula, in one of our neighbouring galaxies, the Large Magellanic Cloud, 165 000 light-years away (eso0613).

    Tarantula Nebula. TRAPPIST national telescope at ESO La Silla

    Large Magellanic Cloud. Adrian Pingstone December 2003

    The team found several stars with surface temperatures over 40 000 degrees, more than seven times hotter than our Sun, and a few tens of times larger and several million times brighter. Comparisons with models imply that several of these stars were born with masses in excess of 150 solar masses. The star R136a1, found in the R136 cluster, is the most massive star ever found, with a current mass of about 265 solar masses and with a birthweight of as much as 320 times that of the Sun.

    In NGC 3603, the astronomers could also directly measure the masses of two stars that belong to a double star system [1], as a validation of the models used. The stars A1, B and C in this cluster have estimated masses at birth above or close to 150 solar masses.

    Very massive stars produce very powerful outflows. “Unlike humans, these stars are born heavy and lose weight as they age,” says Paul Crowther. “Being a little over a million years old, the most extreme star R136a1 is already ‘middle-aged’ and has undergone an intense weight loss programme, shedding a fifth of its initial mass over that time, or more than fifty solar masses.”

    If R136a1 replaced the Sun in our Solar System, it would outshine the Sun by as much as the Sun currently outshines the full Moon. “Its high mass would reduce the length of the Earth’s year to three weeks, and it would bathe the Earth in incredibly intense ultraviolet radiation, rendering life on our planet impossible,” says Raphael Hirschi from Keele University, who belongs to the team.

    These super heavyweight stars are extremely rare, forming solely within the densest star clusters. Distinguishing the individual stars — which has now been achieved for the first time — requires the exquisite resolving power of the VLT’s infrared instruments [2].

    The team also estimated the maximum possible mass for the stars within these clusters and the relative number of the most massive ones. “The smallest stars are limited to more than about eighty times more than Jupiter, below which they are ‘failed stars’ or brown dwarfs,” says team member Olivier Schnurr from the Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam. “Our new finding supports the previous view that there is also an upper limit to how big stars can get, although it raises the limit by a factor of two, to about 300 solar masses.”

    Within R136, only four stars weighed more than 150 solar masses at birth, yet they account for nearly half of the wind and radiation power of the entire cluster, comprising approximately 100 000 stars in total. R136a1 alone energises its surroundings by more than a factor of fifty compared to the Orion Nebula cluster, the closest region of massive star formation to Earth.

    Understanding how high mass stars form is puzzling enough, due to their very short lives and powerful winds, so that the identification of such extreme cases as R136a1 raises the challenge to theorists still further. “Either they were born so big or smaller stars merged together to produce them,” explains Crowther.

    Stars between about 8 and 150 solar masses explode at the end of their short lives as supernovae, leaving behind exotic remnants, either neutron stars or black holes. Having now established the existence of stars weighing between 150 and 300 solar masses, the astronomers’ findings raise the prospect of the existence of exceptionally bright, “pair instability supernovae” that completely blow themselves apart, failing to leave behind any remnant and dispersing up to ten solar masses of iron into their surroundings. A few candidates for such explosions have already been proposed in recent years.

    Not only is R136a1 the most massive star ever found, but it also has the highest luminosity too, close to 10 million times greater than the Sun. “Owing to the rarity of these monsters, I think it is unlikely that this new record will be broken any time soon,” concludes Crowther.
    Notes

    [1] The star A1 in NGC 3603 is a double star, with an orbital period of 3.77 days. The two stars in the system have, respectively, 120 and 92 times the mass of the Sun, which means that they have formed as stars weighing, respectively, 148 and 106 solar masses.

    [2] The team used the SINFONI, ISAAC and MAD instruments, all attached to ESO’s Very Large Telescope at Paranal, Chile.

    ESO/SINFONI

    ESO ISAAC on the VLT

    ESO MAD on the VLT

    [3] (note added on 26 July 2010) The “bigger” in the title does not imply that these stars are the biggest observed. Such stars, called red supergiants, can have radii up to about a thousand solar radii, while R136a1, which is blue, is about 35 times as large as the Sun. However, R136a1 is the star with the greatest mass known to date.
    More information

    This work is presented in an article published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (“The R136 star cluster hosts several stars whose individual masses greatly exceed the accepted 150 Msun stellar mass limit”, by P. Crowther et al.).

    The team is composed of Paul A. Crowther, Richard J. Parker, and Simon P. Goodwin (University of Sheffield, UK), Olivier Schnurr (University of Sheffield and Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, Germany), Raphael Hirschi (Keele University, UK), and Norhasliza Yusof and Hasan Abu Kassim (University of Malaya, Malaysia).

    See the full article here .

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

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

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

    ESO 2.2 meter telescope at La Silla, 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 Platform at Cerro Paranal elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft)

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

    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/Vista 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, at an altitude 3,046 m (9,993 ft)

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

    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

    SPECULOOS four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes 2016 in the ESO Paranal Observatory, 2,635 metres (8,645 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

     
  • richardmitnick 2:42 pm on May 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO Paranal VLT, , , , The very distant galaxy MACS1149-JD1   

    From European Southern Observatory and ALMA Observatory: “ALMA and VLT Find Evidence for Stars Forming Just 250 Million Years After Big Bang” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    and

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

    From ALMA

    16 May 2018

    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

    Nicolas Laporte
    University College London
    London, United Kingdom
    Tel: +44 7452 807 591
    Email: n.laporte@ucl.ac.uk

    Richard Ellis
    University College London
    London, United Kingdom
    Tel: +44 7885 403 334
    Email: richard.ellis@ucl.ac.uk

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

    Charles E. Blue
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory Charlottesville, Virginia – USA
    Phone: +1 434 296 0314
    Cell phone: +1 202 236 6324
    Email: cblue@nrao.edu

    1
    Astronomers have used observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to determine that star formation in the very distant galaxy MACS1149-JD1 started at an unexpectedly early stage, only 250 million years after the Big Bang. This discovery also represents the most distant oxygen ever detected in the Universe and the most distant galaxy ever observed by ALMA or the VLT. The results will appear in the journal Nature on 17 May 2018.

    2
    This image shows the huge galaxy cluster MACS J1149.5+223, whose light took over 5 billion years to reach us. The huge mass of the cluster is bending the light from more distant objects. The light from these objects has been magnified and distorted due to gravitational lensing. The same effect is creating multiple images of the same distant objects.
    Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Rodney (John Hopkins University, USA) and the SN team; T. Treu (University of California Los Angeles, USA), P. Kelly (University of California Berkeley, USA) and the GLASS team; J. Lotz (STScI) and the Frontier Fields team; M. Postman (STScI) and the CLASH team; and Z. Levay (STScI)

    Frontier Fields

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    3
    This image shows the very distant galaxy MACS1149-JD1, seen as it was 13.3 billion years ago and observed with ALMA. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Hashimoto et al.


    ESOcast 161 Light: Distant galaxy reveals very early star formation.


    Zooming in on the distant galaxy MACS1149, and beyond


    Computer simulation of star formation in MACS1149-JD1


    Zooming in on the distant galaxy MACS 1149-JD1

    An international team of astronomers used ALMA to observe a distant galaxy called MACS1149-JD1. They detected a very faint glow emitted by ionised oxygen in the galaxy. As this infrared light travelled across space, the expansion of the Universe stretched it to wavelengths more than ten times longer by the time it reached Earth and was detected by ALMA. The team inferred that the signal was emitted 13.3 billion years ago (or 500 million years after the Big Bang), making it the most distant oxygen ever detected by any telescope [1]. The presence of oxygen is a clear sign that there must have been even earlier generations of stars in this galaxy.

    “I was thrilled to see the signal of the distant oxygen in the ALMA data,” says Takuya Hashimoto, the lead author of the new paper and a researcher at both Osaka Sangyo University and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. “This detection pushes back the frontiers of the observable Universe.”

    3
    Microwave spectrum of oxygen ions in MACS1149-JD1 detected with ALMA. It was originally infrared light with a wavelength of 88 micrometers, and ALMA detected it as microwaves with an increased wavelength of 893 micrometers due to the expansion of the Universe. Credit: Hashimoto et al. – ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

    In addition to the glow from oxygen picked up by ALMA, a weaker signal of hydrogen emission was also detected by ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). The distance to the galaxy determined from this observation is consistent with the distance from the oxygen observation. This makes MACS1149-JD1 the most distant galaxy with a precise distance measurement and the most distant galaxy ever observed with ALMA or the VLT.

    “This galaxy is seen at a time when the Universe was only 500 million years old and yet it already has a population of mature stars,” explains Nicolas Laporte, a researcher at University College London (UCL) in the UK and second author of the new paper. “We are therefore able to use this galaxy to probe into an earlier, completely uncharted period of cosmic history.”

    For a period after the Big Bang there was no oxygen in the Universe; it was created by the fusion processes of the first stars and then released when these stars died. The detection of oxygen in MACS1149-JD1 indicates that these earlier generations of stars had been already formed and expelled oxygen by just 500 million years after the beginning of the Universe.

    But when did this earlier star formation occur? To find out, the team reconstructed the earlier history of MACS1149-JD1 using infrared data taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope. They found that the observed brightness of the galaxy is well-explained by a model where the onset of star formation corresponds to only 250 million years after the Universe began [2].

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    The maturity of the stars seen in MACS1149-JD1 raises the question of when the very first galaxies emerged from total darkness, an epoch astronomers romantically term “cosmic dawn”. By establishing the age of MACS1149-JD1, the team has effectively demonstrated that galaxies existed earlier than those we can currently directly detect.

    Richard Ellis, senior astronomer at UCL and co-author of the paper, concludes: “Determining when cosmic dawn occurred is akin to the Holy Grail of cosmology and galaxy formation. With these new observations of MACS1149-JD1 we are getting closer to directly witnessing the birth of starlight! Since we are all made of processed stellar material, this is really finding our own origins.”
    ESO Notes

    [1] ALMA has set the record for detecting the most distant oxygen several times. In 2016, Akio Inoue at Osaka Sangyo University and his colleagues used ALMA to find a signal of oxygen emitted 13.1 billion years ago. Several months later, Nicolas Laporte of University College London used ALMA to detect oxygen 13.2 billion years ago. Now, the two teams combined their efforts and achieved this new record, which corresponds to a redshift of 9.1.

    [2] This corresponds to a redshift of about 15.

    More information

    ALMA Notes

    [1] The measured redshift of galaxy MACS1149-JD1 is z=9.11. A calculation based on the latest cosmological parameters measured with Planck (H0=67.3 km/s/Mpc, Ωm=0.315, Λ=0.685: Planck 2013 Results) yields the distance of 13.28 billion light-years. Please refer to “Expressing the distance to remote objects” for the details.

    [2] The galaxy GN-z11 is thought to be located 13.4 billion light-years away based on observations with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). But the precision of the distance measurement with HST low-resolution spectroscopy is significantly lower than that of ALMA’s measurement using a single emission line from atoms.

    These results are published in a paper entitled: “The onset of star formation 250 million years after the Big Bang”, by T. Hashimoto et al., to appear in the journal Nature on 17 May 2018.

    The research team members are: Takuya Hashimoto (Osaka Sangyo University/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Japan), Nicolas Laporte (University College London, United Kingdom), Ken Mawatari (Osaka Sangyo University, Japan), Richard S. Ellis (University College London, United Kingdom), Akio. K. Inoue (Osaka Sangyo University, Japan), Erik Zackrisson (Uppsala University, Sweden), Guido Roberts-Borsani (University College London, United Kingdom), Wei Zheng (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States), Yoichi Tamura (Nagoya University, Japan), Franz E. Bauer (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile), Thomas Fletcher (University College London, United Kingdom), Yuichi Harikane (The University of Tokyo, Japan), Bunyo Hatsukade (The University of Tokyo, Japan), Natsuki H. Hayatsu (The University of Tokyo, Japan; ESO, Garching, Germany), Yuichi Matsuda (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan/SOKENDAI, Japan), Hiroshi Matsuo (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan/SOKENDAI, Japan, Sapporo, Japan), Takashi Okamoto (Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan), Masami Ouchi (The University of Tokyo, Japan), Roser Pelló (Université de Toulouse, France), Claes-Erik Rydberg (Universität Heidelberg, Germany), Ikkoh Shimizu (Osaka University, Japan), Yoshiaki Taniguchi (The Open University of Japan, Chiba, Japan), Hideki Umehata (The University of Tokyo, Japan) and Naoki Yoshida (The University of Tokyo, Japan).

    See the full ESO article here .

    See the full ALMA article here .

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    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.

    ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

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    NAOJ

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

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

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

    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/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.

    ALMA Array
    ALMA on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 metres.

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

    ESO APEX
    APEX Atacama Pathfinder 5,100 meters above sea level, 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

    SPECULOOS four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes 2016 in the ESO Paranal Observatory, 2,635 metres (8,645 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

     
  • richardmitnick 4:19 pm on May 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO Paranal VLT, ESO telescopes find first confirmed carbon-rich asteroid in Kuiper Belt, , Exiled Asteroid Discovered in Outer Reaches of Solar System,   

    From European Southern Observatory: “Exiled Asteroid Discovered in Outer Reaches of Solar System” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    9 May 2018

    Tom Seccull
    Postgraduate Research Student — Queen’s University, Belfast
    Belfast, United Kingdom
    Tel: +44 2890 973091
    Email: tseccull01@qub.ac.uk

    Wesley C. Fraser
    Lecturer — Queen’s University, Belfast
    Belfast, United Kingdom
    Tel: +44 28 9097 1084
    Email: wes.fraser@qub.ac.uk

    Thomas H. Puzia
    Professor — Institute of Astrophysics, Pontificia Universidad Catolica
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56-2 2354 1645
    Email: tpuzia@astro.puc.cl

    Calum Turner
    ESO Assistant Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München Tel: +49 89 3200 6670
    Email: calum.turner@eso.org

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

    1

    ESO telescopes find first confirmed carbon-rich asteroid in Kuiper Belt.

    Kuiper Belt. Minor Planet Center

    The early days of our Solar System were a tempestuous time. Theoretical models of this period predict that after the gas giants formed they rampaged through the Solar System, ejecting small rocky bodies from the inner Solar System to far-flung orbits at great distances from the Sun [1]. In particular, these models suggest that the Kuiper Belt — a cold region beyond the orbit of Neptune — should contain a small fraction of rocky bodies from the inner Solar System, such as carbon-rich asteroids, referred to as carbonaceous asteroids [2].

    Now, a recent paper [see below] has presented evidence for the first reliably-observed carbonaceous asteroid in the Kuiper Belt, providing strong support for these theoretical models of our Solar System’s troubled youth. After painstaking measurements from multiple instruments at ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), a small team of astronomers led by Tom Seccull of Queen’s University Belfast in the UK was able to measure the composition of the anomalous Kuiper Belt Object 2004 EW95, and thus determine that it is a carbonaceous asteroid. This suggests that it originally formed in the inner Solar System and must have since migrated outwards [3].

    The peculiar nature of 2004 EW95 first came to light during routine observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope by Wesley Fraser, an astronomer from Queen’s University Belfast who was also a member of the team behind this discovery.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    The asteroid’s reflectance spectrum — the specific pattern of wavelengths of light reflected from an object — was different to that of similar small Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), which typically have uninteresting, featureless spectra that reveal little information about their composition.

    “The reflectance spectrum of 2004 EW95 was clearly distinct from the other observed outer Solar System objects,” explains lead author Seccull. “It looked enough of a weirdo for us to take a closer look.”

    The team observed 2004 EW95 with the X-Shooter and FORS2 instruments on the VLT. The sensitivity of these spectrographs allowed the team to obtain more detailed measurements of the pattern of light reflected from the asteroid and thus infer its composition.

    ESO X-shooter on VLT at Cerro Paranal, Chile

    ESO FORS2 VLT

    However, even with the impressive light-collecting power of the VLT, 2004 EW95 was still difficult to observe. Though the object is 300 kilometres across, it is currently a colossal four billion kilometres from Earth, making gathering data from its dark, carbon-rich surface a demanding scientific challenge.

    “It’s like observing a giant mountain of coal against the pitch-black canvas of the night sky,” says co-author Thomas Puzia from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

    “Not only is 2004 EW95 moving, it’s also very faint,” adds Seccull. “We had to use a pretty advanced data processing technique to get as much out of the data as possible.”

    Two features of the object’s spectra were particularly eye-catching and corresponded to the presence of ferric oxides and phyllosilicates. The presence of these materials had never before been confirmed in a KBO, and they strongly suggest that 2004 EW95 formed in the inner Solar System.

    Seccull concludes: “Given 2004 EW95’s present-day abode in the icy outer reaches of the Solar System, this implies that it has been flung out into its present orbit by a migratory planet in the early days of the Solar System.”

    “While there have been previous reports of other ‘atypical’ Kuiper Belt Object spectra, none were confirmed to this level of quality,” comments Olivier Hainaut, an ESO astronomer who was not part of the team. “The discovery of a carbonaceous asteroid in the Kuiper Belt is a key verification of one of the fundamental predictions of dynamical models of the early Solar System.”
    Notes

    [1] Current dynamical models of the evolution of the early Solar System, such as the grand tack hypothesis and the Nice model, predict that the giant planets migrated first inward and then outward, disrupting and scattering objects from the inner Solar System. As a consequence, a small percentage of rocky asteroids are expected to have been ejected into orbits in the Oort Cloud and Kuiper belt.

    [2] Carbonaceous asteroids are those containing the element carbon or its various compounds. Carbonaceous — or C-type — asteroids can be identified by their dark surfaces, caused by the presence of carbon molecules.

    [3] Other inner Solar System objects have previously been detected in the outer reaches of the Solar System, but this is the first carbonaceous asteroid to be found far from home in the Kuiper Belt.

    More information

    This research was presented in a paper entitled 2004 EW95: A Phyllosilicate-bearing Carbonaceous Asteroid in the Kuiper Belt by T. Seccull et al., which appeared in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    The team was composed of Tom Seccull (Astrophysics Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, UK), Wesley C. Fraser (Astrophysics Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, UK) , Thomas H. Puzia (Institute of Astrophysics, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile), Michael E. Brown (Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, USA) and Frederik Schönebeck (Astronomisches Rechen-Institut, Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Germany).

    See the full article here .

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

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

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

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    ALMA on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 metres.

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

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    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

    SPECULOOS four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes 2016 in the ESO Paranal Observatory, 2,635 metres (8,645 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

     
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