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  • richardmitnick 3:13 pm on July 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ESO Paranal,   

    From ESO: “Paranal Observatory First Choice to Host World’s Largest Array of Gamma-ray Telescopes” 


    European Southern Observatory

    16 July 2015
    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    Temp 0

    On 15 and 16 July 2015, the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) Resource Board decided to enter into detailed contract negotiations for hosting the CTA’s southern hemisphere array within the grounds of the Paranal Observatory, one of ESO’s sites in Chile. Similar negotiations for a northern site on La Palma are also starting.

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    CTA Array

    The CTA project is an initiative to build the next generation of ground-based instruments designed for the detection of very high energy gamma-rays. Gamma rays are emitted by the hottest and most powerful objects in the Universe — such as supermassive black holes, supernovae and possibly remnants of the Big Bang. The array will provide valuable deeper insights into the high-energy Universe.

    Although gamma rays don’t make it to the Earth’s surface, the CTA’s mirrors and high-speed cameras will capture short-lived flashes of the characteristic eerie blue Cherenkov radiation that is produced when the gamma rays interact with the Earth’s atmosphere. Pinpointing the source of this radiation will allow each gamma ray to be traced back to its cosmic source.

    The CTA Resource Board is composed of representatives of ministries and funding agencies from Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Namibia, the Netherlands, Japan, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and the and the United Kingdom. After months of negotiations and careful consideration of extensive studies of the environmental conditions, simulations of the science performance and assessments of construction and operation costs the Board has decided to start contract negotiations with ESO. The Namibian and Mexican sites will be kept as viable alternatives.

    In order for the CTA to maximise its coverage of the night sky, the array will consist of about 100 telescopes on the Chile site in the southern hemisphere and about 20 telescopes at the northern site.

    The Chile site for the CTA is less than ten kilometres southeast of the location of the Very Large Telescope, within the grounds of ESO’s Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert. This is considered one of the driest and most isolated regions on Earth — an astronomical paradise. In addition to the ideal conditions for year-round observation, installing the CTA at the Paranal Observatory offers the CTA the opportunity to take advantage of the existing infrastructure (roads, accommodation, water, electricity, etc.) and access to established facilities and processes for the construction and operation of the telescope array.

    Currently in its pre-construction phase, determination of the array sites is a critical factor in the CTA construction project.

    More Information

    The CTA aims to build the world’s largest and most sensitive high-energy gamma-ray telescope array. Over 1000 scientists and engineers from five continents, 31 countries (Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Namibia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Ukraine) and over 170 research institutes participate in the CTA project. The CTA will serve as an open facility to a wide astrophysics community and provide a deep insight into the non-thermal, high-energy Universe. The CTA will detect high-energy radiation with unprecedented accuracy and approximately ten times the sensitivity of current instruments, providing novel insights into some of the most extreme and violent events in the Universe.

    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
    LaSilla

    ESO VLT Interferometer
    VLT

    ESO Vista Telescope
    VISTA

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    ESO E-ELT
    E-ELT

    ESO APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

     
  • richardmitnick 8:56 pm on April 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESO Paranal   

    From ESO: “Watching a Cannibal Galaxy Dine” 2009 


    European Southern Observatory

    20 November 2009
    Contacts

    Jouni Kainulainen
    MPIA
    Germany
    Tel: +49-6221-528427
    Email: jtkainul@mpia-hd.mpg.de

    Yuri Beletsky
    ESO
    Chile
    Tel: +56 55 43 5311
    Email: ybialets@eso.org

    João Alves
    Calar Alto Observatory
    Spain
    Tel: +34 950 632 501
    Email: jalves@caha.es

    A new technique using near-infrared images, obtained with ESO’s 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT), allows astronomers to see through the opaque dust lanes of the giant cannibal galaxy Centaurus A, unveiling its “last meal” in unprecedented detail — a smaller spiral galaxy, currently twisted and warped. This amazing image also shows thousands of star clusters, strewn like glittering gems, churning inside Centaurus A.

    can

    ESO NTT
    ESO/NTT

    Centaurus A (NGC 5128) is the nearest giant, elliptical galaxy, at a distance of about 11 million light-years. One of the most studied objects in the southern sky, by 1847 the unique appearance of this galaxy had already caught the attention of the famous British astronomer John Herschel, who catalogued the southern skies and made a comprehensive list of nebulae.

    Herschel could not know, however, that this beautiful and spectacular appearance is due to an opaque dust lane that covers the central part of the galaxy. This dust is thought to be the remains of a cosmic merger between a giant elliptical galaxy and a smaller spiral galaxy full of dust.

    Between 200 and 700 million years ago, this galaxy is indeed believed to have consumed a smaller spiral, gas-rich galaxy — the contents of which appear to be churning inside Centaurus A’s core, likely triggering new generations of stars.

    First glimpses of the “leftovers” of this meal were obtained thanks to observations with the ESA Infrared Space Observatory , which revealed a 16 500 light-year-wide structure, very similar to that of a small barred galaxy. More recently, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope resolved this structure into a parallelogram, which can be explained as the remnant of a gas-rich spiral galaxy falling into an elliptical galaxy and becoming twisted and warped in the process. Galaxy merging is the most common mechanism to explain the formation of such giant elliptical galaxies.

    ESA ISO spacecraft
    ESA/ISO spacecraft (decommissioned)

    NASA Spitzer Telescope
    NASA/Spitzer spacecraft

    The new SOFI images, obtained with the 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, allow astronomers to get an even sharper view of the structure of this galaxy, completely free of obscuring dust. The original images, obtained by observing in the near-infrared through three different filters (J, H, K) were combined using a new technique that removes the dark, screening effect of the dust, providing a clear view of the centre of this galaxy.

    ESO SOFI
    ESO SOFI infrared spectrograph

    What the astronomers found was surprising: “There is a clear ring of stars and clusters hidden behind the dust lanes, and our images provide an unprecedentedly detailed view toward it,” says Jouni Kainulainen, lead author of the paper reporting these results. “Further analysis of this structure will provide important clues on how the merging process occurred and what has been the role of star formation during it.”

    The research team is excited about the possibilities this new technique opens: “These are the first steps in the development of a new technique that has the potential to trace giant clouds of gas in other galaxies at high resolution and in a cost-effective way,” explains co-author João Alves. “Knowing how these giant clouds form and evolve is to understand how stars form in galaxies.”

    Looking forward to the new, planned telescopes, both on the ground and in space, “this technique is very complementary to the radio data ALMA will collect on nearby galaxies, and at the same time it poses interesting avenues of research for extragalactic stellar populations with the future European Extremely Large Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope, as dust is omnipresent in galaxies,” says co-author Yuri Beletsky.

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO E-ELT

    NASA Webb Telescope
    NASA/Webb

    Previous observations done with ISAAC on the VLT have revealed that a supermassive black hole lurks inside Centaurus A. Its mass is about 200 million times the mass of our Sun, or 50 times more massive than the one that lies at the centre of our Milky Way. In contrast to our own galaxy, the supermassive black hole in Centaurus A is continuously fed by material falling onto into it, making the giant galaxy a very active one. Centaurus A is in fact one of the brightest radio sources in the sky (hence the “A” in its name). Jets of high energy particles from the centre are also observed in radio and X-ray images.

    ESO ISAAC
    ESO ISAAC (since decommissioned)

    ESO VLT
    ESO VLT

    The new image of Centaurus A is a wonderful example of how frontier science can be combined with aesthetic aspects. Fine images of Centaurus A have been obtained in the past with ESO’s Very Large Telescope and with the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at La Silla and the FORS2 instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal.

    ESO Wide Field Imager 2.2m LaSilla
    ESO WFI on MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at LaSilla

    ESO 2.2 meter telescope
    MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope

    ESO LaSilla
    ESO LaSilla Observatory

    See the full article here.

    Another ESO image of Centaurus A
    centa
    ESO/WFI (Optical); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (Submillimetre); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)
    Colour composite image of Centaurus A, revealing the lobes and jets emanating from the active galaxy’s central black hole. This is a composite of images obtained with three instruments, operating at very different wavelengths. The 870-micron submillimetre data, from LABOCA on APEX, are shown in orange. X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory are shown in blue. Visible light data from the Wide Field Imager (WFI) on the MPG/ESO 2.2 m telescope located at La Silla, Chile, show the background stars and the galaxy’s characteristic dust lane in close to “true colour”.

    ESO APEX
    ESO APEX

    ESO LABOCA
    ESO LABOCA

    NASA Chandra Telescope
    NASA/Chandra spacecraft

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    ESO, European Southern Observatory, builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.


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