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  • richardmitnick 2:38 pm on January 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESO Paranal VLT, , , PHANGS-ALMA   

    From ALMA: “What 100,000 Star Factories in 74 Galaxies Tell Us about Star Formation across the Universe” 

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

    From ALMA

    9 January, 2019

    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

    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

    Calum Turner
    ESO Assistant Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Phone: +49 89 3200 6670
    Email: calum.turner@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

    1

    Galaxies come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some of the most significant differences among galaxies, however, relate to where and how they form new stars. Compelling research to explain these differences has been elusive, but that is about to change. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is conducting an unprecedented survey of nearby disk galaxies to study their stellar nurseries. With it, astronomers are beginning to unravel the complex and as-yet poorly understood relationship between star-forming clouds and their host galaxies.

    A vast, new research project with ALMA, known as PHANGS-ALMA (Physics at High Angular Resolution in Nearby GalaxieS), delves into this question with far greater power and precision than ever before by measuring the demographics and characteristics of a staggering 100,000 individual stellar nurseries spread throughout 74 galaxies.

    PHANGS-ALMA, an unprecedented and ongoing research campaign, has already amassed a total of 750 hours of observations and given astronomers a much clearer understanding of how the cycle of star formation changes, depending on the size, age, and internal dynamics of each individual galaxy. This campaign is ten- to one-hundred-times more powerful (depending on your parameters) than any prior survey of its kind.

    “Some galaxies are furiously bursting with new stars while others have long ago used up most of their fuel for star formation. The origin of this diversity may very likely lie in the properties of the stellar nurseries themselves,” said Erik Rosolowsky, an astronomer at the University of Alberta in Canada and a co-Principal Investigator of the PHANGS-ALMA research team.

    He presented initial findings of this research at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society being held this week in Seattle, Washington. Several papers based on this campaign have also been published in The Astrophysical Journal and the Astrophysical Journal Letters [Papers are listed below].

    “Previous observations with earlier generations of radio telescopes provide some crucial insights about the nature of cold, dense stellar nurseries,” Rosolowsky said. “These observations, however, lacked the sensitivity, fine-scale resolution, and power to study the entire breadth of stellar nurseries across the full population of local galaxies. This severely limited our ability to connect the behavior or properties of individual stellar nurseries to the properties of the galaxies that they live in.”

    For decades, astronomers have speculated that there are fundamental differences in the way disk galaxies of various sizes convert hydrogen into new stars. Some astronomers theorize that larger, and generally older galaxies, are not as efficient at stellar production as their smaller cousins. The most logical explanation would be that these big galaxies have less efficient stellar nurseries. But testing this idea with observations has been difficult.

    For the first time, ALMA is allowing astronomers to conduct the necessary wide-ranging census to determine how the large-scale properties (size, motion, etc.) of a galaxy influence the cycle of star formation on the scale of individual molecular clouds. These clouds are only about a few tens to a few hundreds of light-years across, which is phenomenally small on the scale of an entire galaxy, especially when seen from millions of light-years away.

    “Stars form more efficiently in some galaxies than others, but the dearth of high-resolution, cloud-scale observations meant our theories were weakly tested, which is why these ALMA observations are so critical,” said Adam Leroy, an astronomer at The Ohio State University and co-Principal Investigator on the PHANGS-ALMA team.

    Part of the mystery of star formation, the astronomers note, has to do with the interstellar medium – all the matter and energy that fills the space between the stars.

    Astronomers understand that there is an ongoing feedback loop in and around the stellar nurseries. Within these clouds, pockets of dense gas collapse and form stars, which disrupts the interstellar medium.

    “Indeed, comparing early PHANGS observations with the locations of newly formed stars shows that the newly formed stars quickly destroy their birth clouds,” said Rosolowsky. “The PHANGS team is studying how this disruption plays out in different types of galaxies, which may be a key factor in star-forming efficiency.”

    For this research, ALMA is observing molecules of carbon monoxide (CO) from all relatively massive, generally face-on spiral galaxies visible from the Southern Hemisphere. Molecules of CO naturally emit the millimeter-wavelength light that ALMA can detect. They are particularly effective at highlighting the location of star-forming clouds.

    “ALMA is a stunningly efficient machine to map carbon monoxide over large areas in nearby galaxies,” said Leroy. “It was able to perform this survey because of the combined power of the 12-meter dishes, which study fine-scale features, and the smaller, 7-meter dishes at the center of the array, which are sensitive to large-scale features, essentially filling in the gaps.”

    A companion survey, PHANGS-MUSE, is using the Very Large Telescope to obtain optical imaging of the first 19 galaxies observed by ALMA.

    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, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level,

    MUSE stands for the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer.

    ESO MUSE on the VLT on Yepun (UT4)

    Another survey, PHANGS-HST uses the Hubble Space Telescope to survey 38 of these galaxies to find their youngest stellar clusters.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Together, these three surveys give a startlingly complete picture of how well galaxies form stars by probing cold molecular gas, its motion, the location of ionized gas (regions where stars are already forming), and the galaxies’ complete stellar populations.

    “In astronomy, we have no ability to watch the cosmos change over time; the timescales simply dwarf human existence,” noted Rosolowsky. “We can’t watch one object forever, but we can observe hundreds of thousands of star-forming clouds in galaxies of different sizes and ages to infer how galactic evolution works. That is the real value of the PHANGS-ALMA campaign.”

    “We also look at thousands to tens of thousands of star-forming regions within each galaxy, catching them across their life cycle. This lets us build a picture of the birth and death of stellar nurseries across galaxies, something almost impossible before ALMA,” added Leroy.

    So far, PHANGS-ALMA has studied about 100,000 Orion Nebula-like objects in the nearby universe. It is expected that the campaign will eventually observe around 300,000 star-forming regions.

    These results are being published in a series of papers in The Astrophysical Journal and the Astrophysical Journal Letters. Already accepted and published:

    “Cloud-scale Molecular Gas Properties in 15 Nearby Galaxies,” J. Sun, et al., 2018 June. 25, The Astrophysical Journal [http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/aac326]

    “Star Formation Efficiency per Free-fall Time in nearby Galaxies,” D. Utomo, et al., 2018 July 11, Astrophysical Journal Letters [http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/aacf8f/meta]

    “A 50 pc Scale View of Star Formation Efficiency across NGC 628,” K. Kreckel, et al., 2018 August 14, Astrophysical Journal Letters [http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/aad77d]

    IMAGES

    1
    Six ALMA-imaged galaxies out of a collection of the 74. The images were taken as part of the PHANGS-ALMA survey to study the properties of star-forming clouds in disk galaxies. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton

    2
    ALMA image of galaxy NGC 4321, also known as Messier 100, an intermediate spiral galaxy located about 55 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Coma Berenices. It is imaged as part of the PHANGS-ALMA survey to study the properties of star-forming clouds in disk galaxies. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton

    3
    ALMA image of NGC 628, also known as Messier 74, a spiral galaxy in the constellation Pisces, located approximately 32 million light-years from Earth. It is imaged as part of the PHANGS-ALMA survey to study the properties of star-forming clouds in disk galaxies. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton

    4
    Composite ALMA (orange) and Hubble (blue) image of NGC 628, also known as Messier 74, a spiral galaxy in the constellation Pisces, located approximately 32 million light-years from Earth. It is imaged as part of the PHANGS-ALMA survey to study the properties of star-forming clouds in disk galaxies. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); NASA/Hubble

    See the full 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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  • richardmitnick 10:01 am on December 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Binary star R Aquarii, , Dancing with the Enemy, ESO Paranal VLT, ESO’s R Aquarii Week, Mira variable, SPHERE planet-hunting instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope   

    From European Southern Observatory: “Dancing with the Enemy” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    12 December 2018
    Calum Turner
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6670
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: pio@eso.org

    1
    While testing a new subsystem on the SPHERE planet-hunting instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers were able to capture dramatic details of the turbulent stellar relationship in the binary star R Aquarii with unprecedented clarity — even compared to observations from Hubble.

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

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

    This spectacular image — the second installment in ESO’s R Aquarii Week [?] — shows intimate details of the dramatic stellar duo making up the binary star R Aquarii. Though most binary stars are bound in a graceful waltz by gravity, the relationship between the stars of R Aquarii is far less serene. Despite its diminutive size, the smaller of the two stars in this pair is steadily stripping material from its dying companion — a red giant.

    Years of observation have uncovered the peculiar story behind the binary star R Aquarii, visible at the heart of this image. The larger of the two stars, the red giant, is a type of star known as a Mira variable. At the end of their life, these stars start to pulsate, becoming 1000 times as bright as the Sun as their outer envelopes expand and are cast into the interstellar void.

    The death throes of this vast star are already dramatic, but the influence of the companion white dwarf star transforms this intriguing astronomical situation into a sinister cosmic spectacle. The white dwarf — which is smaller, denser and much hotter than the red giant — is flaying material from the outer layers of its larger companion. The jets of stellar material cast off by this dying giant and white dwarf pair can be seen here spewing outwards from R Aquarii.

    Occasionally, enough material collects on the surface of the white dwarf to trigger a thermonuclear nova explosion, a titanic event which throws a vast amount of material into space. The remnants of past nova events can be seen in the tenuous nebula of gas radiating from R Aquarii in this image.

    R Aquarii lies only 650 light-years from Earth — a near neighbour in astronomical terms — and is one of the closest symbiotic binary stars to Earth. As such, this intriguing binary has received particular attention from astronomers for decades. Capturing an image of the myriad features of R Aquarii was a perfect way for astronomers to test the capabilities of the Zurich IMaging POLarimeter (ZIMPOL), a component on board the planet-hunting instrument SPHERE. The results exceeded observations from space — the image shown here is even sharper than observations from the famous NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

    R Aquarii viewed by the Very Large Telescope and Hubble
    2
    While testing a new subsystem on the SPHERE planet-hunting instrument on ESO’s Very Large telescope, astronomers were able to capture dramatic details of the turbulent stellar relationship in the binary star R Aquarii with unprecedented clarity.

    However, SPHERE was not the only instrument used in this research — in a striking example of telescope teamwork, SPHERE observations from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) were complemented by images from the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope


    NASA/ESA Hubble WFC3

    The wide field of view and sensitivity of Hubble captured a large-scale image of R Aquarii, while high-resolution SPHERE/ZIMPOL observations revealed an unprecedentedly detailed view of the symbiotic binary at the centre of the scene.
    Astronomers were able to take advantage of data from the Hubble Space Telescope, which fortuitously observed R Aquarii just days before the VLT SPHERE observations of the binary. This fortunate timing, in the words of the team, “provided a unique opportunity for improving the ZIMPOL flux measurements and the instrument throughput calibration”.
    This image shows part of the wide-field observation from Hubble compared with the intricate details uncovered by the unparalleled observational capabilities of SPHERE and the VLT. Credit: ESO/Schmid et al./NASA/ESA

    SPHERE was developed over years of studies and construction to focus on one of the most challenging and exciting areas of astronomy: the search for exoplanets. By using a state-of-the-art adaptive optics system and specialised instruments such as ZIMPOL, SPHERE can achieve the challenging feat of directly imaging exoplanets. However, SPHERE’s capabilities are not limited to hunting for elusive exoplanets. The instrument can also be used to study a variety of astronomical sources — as can be seen from this spellbinding image of the stellar peculiarities of R Aquarii.

    More information

    This research was presented in the paper “SPHERE / ZIMPOL observations of the symbiotic system R Aqr. I. Imaging of the stellar binary and the innermost jet clouds” by H.M. Schmid et. al, which was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    The team was composed of H. M. Schmid (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland), A. Bazzon (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland), J. Milli (European Southern Observatory), R. Roelfsema (NOVA Optical Infrared Instrumentation Group at ASTRON, the Netherlands), N. Engler (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland) , D. Mouillet (Université Grenoble Alpes and CNRS, France), E. Lagadec (Université Côte d’Azur, France), E. Sissa (INAF and Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia “G. Galilei” Universitá di Padova, Italy), J.-F. Sauvage (Aix Marseille Univ, France), C. Ginski (Leiden Observatory and Anton Pannekoek Astronomical Institute, the Netherlands), A. Baruffolo (INAF), J.L. Beuzit (Université Grenoble Alpes and CNRS, France), A. Boccaletti (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, France), A. J. Bohn (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland), R. Claudi (INAF, Italy), A. Costille (Aix Marseille Univ, France), S. Desidera (INAF, Italy), K. Dohlen (Aix Marseille Univ, France), C. Dominik (Anton Pannekoek Astronomical Institute, the Netherlands), M. Feldt (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Germany), T. Fusco (ONERA, France), D. Gisler (Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysik, Germany), J.H. Girard (European Southern Observatory), R. Gratton (INAF, Italy), T. Henning (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Germany), N. Hubin (European Southern Observatory), F. Joos (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland), M. Kasper (European Southern Observatory), M. Langlois (Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon and Aix Marseille Univ, France), A. Pavlov (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Germany), J. Pragt (NOVA Optical Infrared Instrumentation Group at ASTRON, the Netherlands), P. Puget (Université Grenoble Alpes, France), S.P. Quanz (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland), B. Salasnich (INAF, Italy), R. Siebenmorgen (European Southern Observatory), M. Stute (Simcorp GmbH, Germany), M. Suarez (European Southern Observatory), J. Szulagyi (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland), C. Thalmann (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland), M. Turatto (INAF, Italy), S. Udry (Geneva Observatory, Switzerland), A. Vigan (Aix Marseille Univ, France), and F. Wildi (Geneva Observatory, Switzerland).

    See the full article here .


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

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

    ESO/HARPS at La Silla

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

    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 VLT 4 lasers on Yepun

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

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



    ESO/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. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 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 2:15 pm on November 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Coils of Apep is 2XMM J160050.7-514245, , , ESO Paranal VLT, ESO/VISIR on UT3 of the VLT   

    From European Southern Observatory: “Cosmic Serpent” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    19 November 2018
    Joseph Callingham
    Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON)
    Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
    +31 6 2929 7915
    callingham@astron.nl

    Calum Turner
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    +49 89 3200 6670
    pio@eso.org

    Coils of Apep
    1
    The VISIR instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope has captured this stunning image of a newly discovered massive triple star system. Nicknamed Apep after an ancient Egyptian deity, this may be the first ever gamma-ray burst progenitor found.

    ESO/VISIR on UT3 of the VLT

    This serpentine swirl, captured by the VISIR instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT)[see VLT below], has an explosive future ahead of it; it is a Wolf-Rayet star system, and a likely source of one of the most energetic phenomena in the Universe — a long-duration gamma-ray burst (GRB).

    “This is the first such system to be discovered in our own galaxy,” explains Joseph Callingham of the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON), lead author of the study [Nature Astronomy] reporting this system. “We never expected to find such a system in our own backyard” [1].


    ESOcast 185 Light: Cosmic Serpent

    The system, which comprises a nest of massive stars surrounded by a “pinwheel” of dust, is officially known only by unwieldy catalogue references like 2XMM J160050.7-514245. However, the astronomers chose to give this fascinating object a catchier moniker — “Apep”.

    Apep got its nickname for its sinuous shape, reminiscent of a snake coiled around the central stars. Its namesake was an ancient Egyptian deity, a gargantuan serpent embodying chaos — fitting for such a violent system. It was believed that Ra, the Sun god, would battle with Apep every night; prayer and worship ensured Ra’s victory and the return of the Sun.

    GRBs are among the most powerful explosions in the Universe. Lasting between a few thousandths of a second and a few hours, they can release as much energy as the Sun will output over its entire lifetime. Long-duration GRBs — those which last for longer than 2 seconds — are believed to be caused by the supernova explosions of rapidly-rotating Wolf-Rayet stars.

    Some of the most massive stars evolve into Wolf-Rayet stars towards the end of their lives. This stage is short-lived, and Wolf-Rayets survive in this state for only a few hundred thousand years — the blink of an eye in cosmological terms. In that time, they throw out huge amounts of material in the form of a powerful stellar wind, hurling matter outwards at millions of kilometres per hour; Apep’s stellar winds were measured to travel at an astonishing 12 million km/h.

    These stellar winds have created the elaborate plumes surrounding the triple star system — which consists of a binary star system and a companion single star bound together by gravity. Though only two star-like objects are visible in the image, the lower source is in fact an unresolved binary Wolf-Rayet star. This binary is responsible for sculpting the serpentine swirls surrounding Apep, which are formed in the wake of the colliding stellar winds from the two Wolf-Rayet stars.

    Compared to the extraordinary speed of Apep’s winds, the dust pinwheel itself swirls outwards at a leisurely pace, “crawling” along at less than 2 million km/h. The wild discrepancy between the speed of Apep’s rapid stellar winds and that of the unhurried dust pinwheel is thought to result from one of the stars in the binary launching both a fast and a slow wind — in different directions.

    This would imply that the star is undergoing near-critical rotation — that is, rotating so fast that it is nearly ripping itself apart. A Wolf-Rayet star with such rapid rotation is believed to produce a long-duration GRB when its core collapses at the end of its life.

    Notes

    [1] Callingham, now at the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON), did part of this research while at the University of Sydney working with research team leader Peter Tuthill. In addition to observations from ESO telescopes, the team also used the Anglo-Australian Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory, Australia.


    AAO Anglo Australian Telescope near Siding Spring, New South Wales, Australia, Altitude 1,100 m (3,600 ft)

    Siding Spring Mountain with Anglo-Australian Telescope dome visible near centre of image at an altitude of 1,165 m (3,822 ft)

    The team was composed of: J. R. Callingham (ASTRON, Dwingeloo, the Netherlands), P. G. Tuthill (Sydney Institute for Astronomy [SIfA], University of Sydney, Australia), B. J. S. Pope (SIfA; Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics, New York University, USA; NASA Sagan Fellow), P. M. Williams (Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, UK), P. A. Crowther (Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Sheffield, UK), M. Edwards (SIfA), B. Norris (SIfA), and L. Kedziora-Chudczer (School of Physics, University of New South Wales, Australia).

    See the full article here .


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

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

    ESO/HARPS at La Silla

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

    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 VLT 4 lasers on Yepun

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

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



    ESO/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. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 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 8:54 pm on November 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ASKAP- CSIRO's Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope in remote Western Australia, , , , , ESO Paranal VLT, , , , If we can identify host galaxies of FRBs with ASKAP then we can use a telescope like ESO’s VLT to get optical spectra of those galaxies which can tell us their distances very precisely   

    From ESOblog: “Pinpointing the Hosts of Fast Radio Bursts” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From ESOblog

    1

    9 November 2018

    1
    2
    Interview with Elizabeth Mahony and Stuart Ryder

    First detected barely a decade ago, fast radio bursts (FRBs) are one of today’s big mysteries in astronomy, and Australia’s ASKAP telescope is the best facility in the world for detecting them.

    Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a radio telescope array located at Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in the Australian Mid West. ASKAP consists of 36 identical parabolic antennas, each 12 metres in diameter, working together as a single instrument with a total collecting area of approximately 4,000 square metres.

    A team of scientists recently used ESO’s Very Large Telescope to follow up on an ASKAP detection, to search for an FRB host galaxy to find out more about how, where and why they form. This investigation was possible thanks to a long-term partnership between ESO and Australia, and is an elegant example of the complementary nature of Australia’s radio telescopes and ESO’s optical telescopes. Project members Elizabeth Mahony and Stuart Ryder tell us more.

    Q. What are fast radio bursts and why should we be interested in them?

    Stuart (S): Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are bright bursts of radio emission that last for just a few milliseconds. Their energetic nature tells us that they must be caused by extreme events, but being so short-lived they are extremely difficult to detect. Pinpointing exactly where they come from is even more challenging, so we still know very little about the environments they form in and the triggers that cause them.

    Elizabeth (E): About 50 FRBs have been detected in the past, but just one has been pinpointed to a host galaxy, and that is the only one that has had repeated bursts. For all other detected FRBs we don’t know precisely where they came from, which makes it hard to understand them and their host galaxies.

    Q. Tell us more about your investigation.

    E: An FRB was spotted a year ago by CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope in remote Western Australia. This particular object, denoted FRB 171020, has the lowest “dispersion measure” detected to date — this measure tells us how much matter the radio emission has travelled through. The value suggests that the FRB must have taken place less than one billion light-years away, meaning that its light took one billion years to reach us. This sounds extremely distant but actually, it’s the closest FRB ever detected, making it easier for us to narrow down its location and search for its host galaxy. The ASKAP detection gave us a rough idea of the position of this FRB, so we could then search for its host galaxy.

    Q. How does ASKAP detect FRBs when they last just a few milliseconds?

    S: ASKAP is a radio telescope made up of 36 antennas that can each see 30 square degrees of sky — as a reference, the full Moon covers just 0.2 square degrees of sky! To search for FRBs we use ASKAP in an unusual configuration called “fly’s-eye mode” where each antenna points in a different direction. This maximises the amount of sky that is observed at once, drastically increasing the chances of catching an FRB when it happens.

    Q. Why is it interesting to identify the host galaxies of FRBs?

    S: All we know currently is that FRBs are the result of some sort of astronomical object undergoing a dramatic, though not necessarily destructive, outburst. If it emerges that FRBs originate only in certain types of galaxies, then this will offer us clues about what objects and environments can spark FRBs.

    E: In addition to this, if we can identify host galaxies of FRBs, we can use a telescope like ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to get optical spectra of those galaxies, which can tell us their distances very precisely. By comparing these physical distances with the measured dispersion values, we will be able to trace the distribution of matter between galaxies far more accurately than is currently possible. Once the distances to thousands of FRB host galaxies are known, we will be able to conduct 3D “tomography” of the intergalactic medium, that will help us understand more about how galaxies expel and accrete gas.

    Q. Why did you use the VLT to follow-up on this FRB?

    E: FRBs are so bright that they can be detected even if they are very far from Earth, coming from potentially quite dim host galaxies. This, combined with the fact that we don’t know what kind of galaxies host FRBs, means that we need to use the largest optical telescopes in the world to identify the correct host galaxy.

    Q. …and what did you find?

    E: With ASKAP we located FRB171020 to an area of sky measuring 50 arcminutes by 34 arcminutes (roughly two full Moons across), but this area contains hundreds of galaxies. The dispersion measure helped us narrow down this number to just 16 potential host galaxies. We then used the VLT’s X-shooter instrument to determine the distances to these 16 galaxies, and identified the closest one — nearby spiral ESO 601-G036 — as the most likely to be the host galaxy.

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

    ESO 601-G036 is 120 million light-years away, which is within the distance limit set by the dispersion measure. This is the first time that a host galaxy has been singled out for a non-repeating FRB. With this knowledge, we will be able to further investigate what kind of environments FRBs are formed in, and shed light on what causes these very energetic outbursts.

    S: We also saw a dim “smudge” next to ESO 601-G036, at the same distance. We expect that this is the remains of another galaxy merging with the larger ESO 601-G036 — a process that can be extremely violent and could potentially spark FRBs. It will be interesting to see if other FRB host galaxies show such signs of merger activity.

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    The area of sky selected for follow-up observation by the VLT, with potential host galaxies circled in red and ESO 601-G036 at the centre. At the bottom left is a more detailed picture of ESO 601-G036 from the VST Atlas survey. Credit: Elizabeth Mahony

    Q. When did ESO sign a strategic partnership with Australia and what does this partnership mean for the astronomical community?

    S: The Strategic Partnership between ESO and Australia was signed on 11 July 2017 in Canberra, during the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Astronomical Society of Australia. It gives the Australian astronomy community access to ESO’s La Silla and Paranal Observatories, as well as the opportunity to bid for instrumentation and industry contracts. It also secured the immediate future operations of the Anglo-Australian Telescope.


    AAO Anglo Australian Telescope near Siding Spring, New South Wales, Australia, Altitude 1,100 m (3,600 ft)

    Siding Spring Mountain with Anglo-Australian Telescope dome visible near centre of image at an altitude of 1,165 m (3,822 ft)

    The ten-year agreement lays a pathway for full Australian membership to ESO, which would then include access to ALMA [below] and the ELT [below].

    Q. How did the partnership allow you to make this discovery?

    S: While ASKAP is the world’s best facility for detecting FRBs, we need access to other telescopes to carry out the optical and infrared follow-up of their candidate host galaxies. Through this Strategic Partnership, we now have long-term certainty of access to such telescopes. Australia has really dominated the search for FRBs in the past, and is well-placed to feed a steady stream of FRB detections to ESO for rapid follow-up.

    Q. Do you think that the European-Australian collaboration will lead to more astronomical discoveries than either partner could achieve alone?

    E: Absolutely! ASKAP is now operating in a mode that will potentially allow us to not only detect more FRBs, but to then pinpoint their positions with a really high accuracy. That means we could work out not only exactly which galaxy an FRB occurred in, but even where within the galaxy it occurred. Do FRBs occur at the centre of galaxies, perhaps pointing to black holes as their source? Or do they prefer the outskirts of galaxies? Once we know that, we can use the unparalleled capability of the VLT’s MUSE instrument with the Laser Guide Star Facility to home in on the sites of FRBs, as well as to reveal intervening galaxies that the FRB signal passed through.

    ESO MUSE on the VLT on Yepun (UT4),

    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.

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

    ESO VLT 4 lasers on Yepun


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

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

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

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

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


    ESO 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 3:46 pm on October 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell and pulsars, , , ESO Paranal VLT, , , Reinhard Genzel of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, S0-2, , ,   

    From The New York Times: “Trolling the Monster in the Heart of the Milky Way” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    Oct. 30, 2018
    Dennis Overbye

    In a dark, dusty patch of sky in the constellation Sagittarius, a small star, known as S2 or, sometimes, S0-2, cruises on the edge of eternity. Every 16 years, it passes within a cosmic whisker of a mysterious dark object that weighs some 4 million suns, and that occupies the exact center of the Milky Way galaxy.

    Star S0-2 Keck/UCLA Galactic Center Group

    For the last two decades, two rival teams of astronomers, looking to test some of Albert Einstein’s weirdest predictions about the universe, have aimed their telescopes at the star, which lies 26,000 light-years away. In the process, they hope to confirm the existence of what astronomers strongly suspect lies just beyond: a monstrous black hole, an eater of stars and shaper of galaxies.

    For several months this year, the star streaked through its closest approach to the galactic center, producing new insights into the behavior of gravity in extreme environments, and offering clues to the nature of the invisible beast in the Milky Way’s basement.

    One of those teams, an international collaboration based in Germany and Chile, and led by Reinhard Genzel, of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, say they have found the strongest evidence yet that the dark entity is a supermassive black hole, the bottomless grave of 4.14 million suns.

    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

    ESO VLT 4 lasers on Yepun

    The evidence comes in the form of knots of gas that appear to orbit the galactic center. Dr. Genzel’s team found that the gas clouds circle every 45 minutes or so, completing a circuit of 150 million miles at roughly 30 percent of the speed of light. They are so close to the alleged black hole that if they were any closer they would fall in, according to classical Einsteinian physics.

    Astrophysicists can’t imagine anything but a black hole that could be so massive, yet fit within such a tiny orbit.

    The results provide “strong support” that the dark thing in Sagittarius “is indeed a massive black hole,” Dr. Genzel’s group writes in a paper that will be published on Wednesday under the name of Gravity Collaboration, in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    “This is the closest yet we have come to see the immediate zone around a supermassive black hole with direct, spatially resolved techniques,” Dr. Genzel said in an email.

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    Reinhard Genzel runs the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Munich. He has been watching S2, in the constellation Sagittarius, hoping it will help confirm the existence of a supermassive black hole.Credit Ksenia Kuleshova for The New York Times.

    The work goes a long way toward demonstrating what astronomers have long believed, but are still at pains to prove rigorously: that a supermassive black hole lurks in the heart not only of the Milky Way, but of many observable galaxies. The hub of the stellar carousel is a place where space and time end, and into which stars can disappear forever.

    The new data also help to explain how such black holes can wreak havoc of a kind that is visible from across the universe. Astronomers have long observed spectacular quasars and violent jets of energy, thousands of light-years long, erupting from the centers of galaxies.

    Roger Blandford, the director of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University, said that there is now overwhelming evidence that supermassive black holes are powering such phenomena.

    “There is now a large burden of proof on claims to the contrary,” he wrote in an email. “The big questions involve figuring out how they work, including disk and jets. It’s a bit like knowing that the sun is a hot, gaseous sphere and trying to understand how the nuclear reactions work.”

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    Images of different galaxies — some of which have evocative names like the Black Eye Galaxy, bottom left, or the Sombrero Galaxy, second left — adorn a wall at the Max Planck Institute.Credit Ksenia Kuleshova for The New York Times.

    Sheperd Doeleman, a radio astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, called the work “a tour de force.” Dr. Doeleman studies the galactic center and hopes to produce an actual image of the black hole, using a planet-size instrument called the Event Horizon Telescope.

    Event Horizon Telescope Array

    Arizona Radio Observatory
    Arizona Radio Observatory/Submillimeter-wave Astronomy (ARO/SMT)

    ESO/APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment

    CARMA Array no longer in service
    Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA)

    Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)
    Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)

    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO)

    IRAM NOEMA interferometer
    Institut de Radioastronomie Millimetrique (IRAM) 30m

    James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
    James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano
    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano

    CfA Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO
    Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array
    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array, Chile

    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL
    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL

    NSF CfA Greenland telescope

    Greenland Telescope

    Future Array/Telescopes

    Plateau de Bure interferometer
    Plateau de Bure interferometer

    The study is also a major triumph for the European Southern Observatory, a multinational consortium with headquarters in Munich and observatories in Chile, which had made the study of S2 and the galactic black hole a major priority. The organization’s facilities include the Very Large Telescope [shown above], an array of four giant telescopes in Chile’s Atacama Desert (a futuristic setting featured in the James Bond film “Quantum of Solace”), and the world’s largest telescope, the Extremely Large Telescope, now under construction on a mountain nearby.

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

    Einstein’s bad dream

    Black holes — objects so dense that not even light can escape them — are a surprise consequence of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which ascribes the phenomenon we call gravity to a warping of the geometry of space and time. When too much matter or energy are concentrated in one place, according to the theory, space-time can jiggle, time can slow and matter can shrink and vanish into those cosmic sinkholes.

    Einstein didn’t like the idea of black holes, but the consensus today is that the universe is speckled with them. Many are the remains of dead stars; others are gigantic, with the masses of millions to billions of suns. Such massive objects seem to anchor the centers of virtually every galaxy, including our own. Presumably they are black holes, but astronomers are eager to know whether these entities fit the prescription given by Einstein’s theory.

    Andrea Ghez, astrophysicist and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who leads a team of scientists observing S2 for evidence of a supermassive black hole UCLA Galactic Center Group

    Although general relativity has been the law of the cosmos ever since Einstein devised it, most theorists think it eventually will have to be modified to explain various mysteries, such as what happens at the center of a black hole or at the beginning of time; why galaxies clump together, thanks to unidentified stuff called dark matter; and how, simultaneously, a force called dark energy is pushing these clumps of galaxies apart.

    Women in STEM – Vera Rubin

    Fritz Zwicky discovered Dark Matter when observing the movement of the Coma Cluster

    Coma cluster via NASA/ESA Hubble

    But most of the real work was done by Vera Rubin

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


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


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


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

    Dark Energy Survey


    Dark Energy Camera [DECam], built at FNAL


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

    The existence of smaller black holes was affirmed two years ago, when the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, detected ripples in space-time caused by the collision of a pair of black holes located a billion light-years away.


    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation


    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA

    Cornell SXS, the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project

    Gravitational waves. Credit: MPI for Gravitational Physics/W.Benger

    ESA/eLISA the future of gravitational wave research

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    Skymap showing how adding Virgo to LIGO helps in reducing the size of the source-likely region in the sky. (Credit: Giuseppe Greco (Virgo Urbino group)

    But those black holes were only 20 and 30 times the mass of the sun; how supermassive black holes behave is the subject of much curiosity among astronomers.

    “We already know Einstein’s theory of gravity is fraying around the edges,” said Andrea Ghez, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “What better places to look for discrepancies in it than a supermassive black hole?” Dr. Ghez is the leader of a separate team that, like Dr. Genzel’s, is probing the galactic center. “What I like about the galactic center is that you get to see extreme astrophysics,” she said.

    Despite their name, supermassive black holes are among the most luminous objects in the universe. As matter crashes down into them, stupendous amounts of energy should be released, enough to produce quasars, the faint radio beacons from distant space that have dazzled and baffled astronomers since the early 1960s.

    Women in STEM – Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell, discovered pulsars with radio astronomy. Jocelyn Bell at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge University, taken for the Daily Herald newspaper in 1968. Denied the Nobel.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell 2009

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943 – ), still working from http://www. famousirishscientists.weebly.com

    Astronomers have long suspected that something similar could be happening at the center of the Milky Way, which is marked by a dim source of radio noise called Sagittarius A* (pronounced Sagittarius A-star).

    Sgr A* from ESO VLT


    SgrA* NASA/Chandra


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

    But the galactic center is veiled by dust, making it all but invisible to traditional astronomical ways of seeing.

    Seeing in the dark

    Reinhard Genzel grew up in Freiburg, Germany, a small city in the Black Forest. As a young man, he was one of the best javelin throwers in Germany, even training with the national team for the 1972 Munich Olympics. Now he is throwing deeper.

    He became interested in the dark doings of the galactic center back in the 1980s, as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, under physicist Charles Townes, a Nobel laureate and an inventor of lasers. “I think of myself as a younger son of his,” Dr. Genzel said in a recent phone conversation.

    In a series of pioneering observations in the early 1980s, using detectors that can see infrared radiation, or heat, through galactic dust, Dr. Townes, Dr. Genzel and their colleagues found that gas clouds were zipping around the center of the Milky Way so fast that the gravitational pull of about 4 million suns would be needed to keep it in orbit. But whatever was there, it emitted no starlight. Even the best telescopes, from 26,000 light years away, could make out no more than a blur.

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    An image of the central Milky Way, which contains Sagittarius A*, taken by the VISTA telescope at the E.S.O.’s Paranal Observatory, mounted on a peak just next to the Very Large Telescope.CreditEuropean Southern Observatory/VVV Survey/D. Minniti/Ignacio Toledo, Martin Kornmesser


    Part of ESO’s Paranal Observatory, the VLT Survey Telescope (VISTA) observes the brilliantly clear skies above the Atacama Desert of Chile. It is the largest survey telescope in the world in visible light.
    Credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    Two advances since then have helped shed some figurative light on whatever is going on in our galaxy’s core. One was the growing availability in the 1990s of infrared detectors, originally developed for military use. Another was the development of optical techniques that could drastically increase the ability of telescopes to see small details by compensating for atmospheric turbulence. (It’s this turbulence that blurs stars and makes them twinkle.)

    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.

    These keen eyes revealed hundreds of stars in the galaxy’s blurry core, all buzzing around in a circle about a tenth of a light year across. One of the stars, which Dr. Genzel calls S2 and Dr. Ghez calls S-02, is a young blue star that follows a very elongated orbit and passes within just 11 billion miles of the mouth of the putative black hole every 16 years.

    During these fraught passages, the star, yanked around an egg-shaped orbit at speeds of up to 5,000 miles per second, should experience the full strangeness of the universe according to Einstein. Intense gravity on the star’s surface should slow the vibration of light waves, stretching them and making the star appear redder than normal from Earth.

    This gravitational redshift, as it is known, was one of the first predictions of Einstein’s theory. The discovery of S2 offered astronomers a chance to observe the phenomenon in the wild — within the grip of gravity gone mad, near a supermassive black hole.

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    Left, calculations left out at the Max Planck Institute, viewed from above, right.Credit Ksenia Kuleshova for The New York Times

    In the wheelhouse of the galaxy

    To conduct that experiment, astronomers needed to know the star’s orbit to a high precision, which in turn required two decades of observations with the most powerful telescopes on Earth. “You need twenty years of data just to get a seat at this table,” said Dr. Ghez, who joined the fray in 1995.

    And so, the race into the dark was joined on two different continents. Dr. Ghez worked with the 10-meter Keck telescopes, located on Mauna Kea, on Hawaii’s Big Island.


    Keck Observatory, Maunakea, Hawaii, USA.4,207 m (13,802 ft), above sea level, showing also NASA’s IRTF and NAOJ Subaru


    UCO Keck Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics

    Dr. Genzel’s group benefited from the completion of the European Southern Observatory’s brand new Very Large Telescope [above] array in Chile.

    The European team was aided further by a new device, an interferometer named Gravity, that combined the light from the array’s four telescopes.

    ESO GRAVITY insrument on The VLTI, interferometric instrument operating in the K band, between 2.0 and 2.4 μm. It combines 4 telescope beams and is designed to peform both interferometric imaging and astrometry by phase referencing. Credit: MPE/GRAVITY team

    Designed by a large consortium led by Frank Eisenhauer of the Max Planck Institute, the instrument enabled the telescope array to achieve the resolution of a single mirror 130 meters in diameter. (The name originally was an acronym for a long phrase that included words such as “general,” “relativity,” and “interferometry,” Dr. Eisenhauer explained in an email.)

    “All of the sudden, we can see 1,000 times fainter than before,” said Dr. Genzel in 2016, when the instrument went into operation. In addition, they could track the movements of the star S2 from day to day.

    Meanwhile, Dr. Ghez was analyzing the changing spectra of light from the star, to determine changes in the star’s velocity. The two teams leapfrogged each other, enlisting bigger and more sophisticated telescopes, and nailing down the characteristics of S2. In 2012 Dr. Genzel and Dr. Ghez shared the Crafoord Prize in astronomy, an award nearly as prestigious as the Nobel. Events came to head this spring and summer, during a six-month period when S2 made its closest approach to the black hole.

    “It was exciting in the middle of April when a signal emerged and we started getting information,” Dr. Ghez said.

    On July 26, Dr. Genzel and Dr. Eisenhauer held a news conference in Munich to announce that they had measured the long-sought gravitational redshift. As Dr. Eisenhauer marked off their measurements, which matched a curve of expected results, the room burst into applause.

    “The road is wide open to black hole physics,” Dr. Eisenhauer proclaimed.

    In an email a month later, Dr. Genzel explained that detecting the gravitational redshift was only the first step: “I am usually a fairly sober, and sometimes pessimistic person. But you may sense my excitement as I write these sentences, because of these wonderful results. As a scientist (and I am 66 years old) one rarely if ever has phases this productive. Carpe Diem!”

    In early October, Dr. Ghez, who had waited to observe one more phase of the star’s trip, said her team soon would publish their own results.

    A monster in the basement

    In the meantime, Dr. Genzel was continuing to harvest what he called “this gift from nature.”

    The big break came when his team detected evidence of hot spots, or “flares,” in the tiny blur of heat marking the location of the suspected black hole. A black hole with the mass of 4 million suns should have a mouth, or event horizon, about 16 million miles across — too small for even the Gravity instrument to resolve from Earth.

    The hot spots were also too small to make out. But they rendered the central blur lopsided, with more heat on one side of the blur than the other. As a result, Dr. Genzel’s team saw the center of that blur of energy shift, or wobble, relative to the position of S2, as the hot spot went around it.

    As a result, said Dr. Genzel, “We see a little loop on the sky.” Later he added, “This is the first time we can study these important magnetic structures in a spatially resolved manner just like in a physics laboratory.”

    He speculated that the hot spots might be produced by shock waves in magnetic fields, much as solar flares erupt from the sun. But this might be an overly simplistic model, the authors cautioned in their paper. The effects of relativity turn the neighborhood around the black hole into a hall of mirrors, Dr. Genzel said: “Our statements currently are still fuzzy. We will have to learn better to reconstruct reality once we better understand exactly these mirages.”

    The star has finished its show for this year. Dr. Genzel hopes to gather more data from the star next year, as it orbits more distantly from the black hole. Additional observations in the coming years may clarify the star’s orbit, and perhaps answer other questions, such as whether the black hole was spinning, dragging space-time with it like dough in a mixer.

    But it may be hard for Dr. Genzel to beat what he has already accomplished, he said by email. For now, shrink-wrapping 4 million suns worth of mass into a volume just 45 minutes around was a pretty good feat “for a small boy from the countryside.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 10:23 am on October 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESO Paranal VLT, NGC 2467   

    From European Southern Observatory: “The Pirate of the Southern Skies” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    24 October 2018

    Calum Turner
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6670
    Email: pio@eso.org

    1
    This vivid picture of an active star forming region — NGC 2467, otherwise known as the Skull and Crossbones nebula — is as sinister as it is beautiful. This image of dust, gas and bright young stars, gravitationally bound into the form of a grinning skull, was captured with the FORS instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). Whilst ESO’s telescopes are usually used for the collection of science data, their immense resolving power makes them ideal for capturing images such as this — which are beautiful for their own sake. Credit: ESO

    FORS2, an instrument mounted on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, has observed the active star-forming region NGC 2467 — sometimes referred to as the Skull and Crossbones Nebula. The image was captured as part of the ESO Cosmic Gems Programme, which makes use of the rare occasions when observing conditions are not suitable for gathering scientific data. Instead of sitting idle, the ESO Cosmic Gems Programme allows ESO’s telescopes to be used to capture visually stunning images of the southern skies.

    ESO FORS2 VLT mounted on Unit Telescope 1 (Antu)

    It is easy to see the motivation for the nickname Skull and Crossbones. This young, bright formation distinctly resembles an ominous hollow face, of which only the gaping mouth is visible here. NGC 2467 skulks in the constellation Puppis, which translates rather unromantically as The Poop Deck.

    This nebulous collection of stellar clusters is the birthplace of many stars, where an excess of hydrogen gas provided the raw material for stellar creation. It is not, in fact, a single nebula, and its constituent stellar cluster are moving at different velocities. It is only a fortuitous alignment along the line of sight from the Earth that makes the stars and gas form a humanoid face. This luminous image might not tell astronomers anything new, but it provides us all with a glimpse into the churning southern skies, bright with wonders invisible to the human eye.

    Puppis is one of three nautically named constellations that sail the southern skies, and which used to make up the single, giant Argo Navis constellation, named after the ship of the mythical Jason and the Argonauts. Argo Navis has since been divided into three: Carina (the keel), Vela (the sails) and Puppis, where this nebula finds its home. Whilst a heroic figure, Jason is most famous for his theft of the golden fleece, so NGC 2467 rests not only in the midst of a vast celestial ship, but amongst thieves — an appropriate abode for this piratical nebula.

    This image was created as part of the ESO Cosmic Gems programme, an outreach initiative to produce images of interesting, intriguing or visually attractive objects using ESO telescopes, for the purposes of education and public outreach. The programme makes use of telescope time that cannot be used for science observations. All data collected may also be suitable for scientific purposes, and are made available to astronomers through ESO’s science archive.

    See the full article here .


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

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

    ESO 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 VLT 4 lasers on Yepun

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

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



    ESO/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. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 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 2:23 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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    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 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 .


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  • 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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    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 1:53 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
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    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
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    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.

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    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”.

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

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    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

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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

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