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  • richardmitnick 9:10 am on July 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO VISTA, , The globular cluster 47 Tucanae   

    From ESO via Manu: “A Jumble of Exotic Stars” 


    Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

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

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

    10 January 2013
    Richard Hook
    ESO, La Silla, Paranal, E-ELT & Survey Telescopes Press Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    1
    This new infrared image from ESO’s VISTA telescope shows the globular cluster 47 Tucanae in striking detail. This cluster contains millions of stars, and there are many nestled at its core that are exotic and display unusual properties. Studying objects within clusters like 47 Tucanae may help us to understand how these oddballs form and interact. This image is very sharp and deep due to the size, sensitivity, and location of VISTA, which is sited at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile.

    Globular clusters are vast, spherical clouds of old stars bound together by gravity. They are found circling the cores of galaxies, as satellites orbit the Earth. These star clumps contain very little dust and gas — it is thought that most of it has been either blown from the cluster by winds and explosions from the stars within, or stripped away by interstellar gas interacting with the cluster. Any remaining material coalesced to form stars billions of years ago.

    These globular clusters spark a considerable amount of interest for astronomers — 47 Tucanae, otherwise known as NGC 104, is a huge, ancient globular cluster about 15 000 light-years away from us, and is known to contain many bizarre and interesting stars and systems.

    Located in the southern constellation of Tucana (The Toucan), 47 Tucanae orbits our Milky Way. At about 120 light-years across it is so large that, despite its distance, it looks about as big as the full Moon. Hosting millions of stars, it is one of the brightest and most massive globular clusters known and is visible to the naked eye [1]. In amongst the swirling mass of stars at its heart lie many intriguing systems, including X-ray sources, variable stars, vampire stars, unexpectedly bright “normal” stars known as blue stragglers (eso1243), and tiny objects known as millisecond pulsars, small dead stars that rotate astonishingly quickly [2].

    Red giants, stars that have exhausted the fuel in their cores and swollen in size, are scattered across this VISTA image and are easy to pick out, glowing a deep amber against the bright white-yellow background stars. The densely packed core is contrasted against the more sparse outer regions of the cluster, and in the background huge numbers of stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud are visible.

    This image was taken using ESO’s VISTA (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) as part of the VMC survey of the region of the Magellanic Clouds, two of the closest known galaxies to us. 47 Tucanae, although much closer than the Clouds, by chance lies in the the foreground of the Small Magellanic Cloud (eso1008), and was snapped during the survey.

    VISTA is the world’s largest telescope dedicated to mapping the sky. Located at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, this infrared telescope, with its large mirror, wide field of view and sensitive detectors, is revealing a new view of the southern sky. Using a combination of sharp infrared images — such as the VISTA image above — and visible-light observations allows astronomers to probe the contents and history of objects like 47 Tucanae in great detail.

    Notes

    [1] There are over 150 globular clusters orbiting our galaxy. 47 Tucanae is the second most massive after Omega Centauri (eso0844).

    [2] Millisecond pulsars are incredibly quickly rotating versions of regular pulsars, highly magnetised, rotating stellar remnants that emit bursts of radiation as they spin. There are 23 known millisecond pulsars in 47 Tucanae — more than in all other globular clusters bar one, Terzan 5 (eso0945).

    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

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  • richardmitnick 2:03 pm on May 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO VISTA, Small Magellanic Cloud,   

    From Universe Today: “Enjoy The Biggest Infrared Image Ever Taken Of The Small Magellanic Cloud Without All That Pesky Dust In The Way” 

    universe-today

    Universe Today

    4 May 2017
    Evan Gough

    1
    The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) galaxy. Credit: ESA/VISTA

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

    The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is one of the Milky Way’s nearest companions (along with the Large Magellanic Cloud.) It’s visible with the naked eye in the southern hemisphere. A new image from the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) has peered through the clouds that obscure it and given us our biggest image ever of the dwarf galaxy.

    The SMC contains several hundred million stars, is about 7,000 light years in diameter, and is about 200,000 light years away. It’s one of the most distant objects that we can see with the naked eye, and can only be seen from the southern hemisphere (and the lowest latitudes of the northern hemisphere.)

    The SMC is a great target for studying how stars form because it’s so close to Earth, relatively speaking. But the problem is, its detail is obscured by clouds of interstellar gas and dust. So an optical survey of the Cloud is difficult.

    But the ESO’s VISTA instrument is ideal for the task. VISTA is a near-infrared telescope, and infrared light is not blocked by the dust. VISTA was built at the ESO’s Paranal Observatory, in the Atacama Desert in Chile where it enjoys fantastic observing conditions. VISTA was designed to perform several surveys, including the Vista Magellanic Survey.

    The VISTA Magellanic Survey is focused on 3 main objectives:

    The study of stellar populations in the Magellanic Clouds
    The history of star formation in the Magellanic Clouds
    The three-dimensional structure of the Magellanic Clouds

    An international team led by Stefano Rubele of the University of Padova has studied this image, and their work has produced some surprising results. VISTA has shown us that most of the stars in this image are much younger than stars in other neighbouring galaxies. It’s also shown us that the SMC’s morphology is that of a warped disc. These are only early results, and there’s much more work to be done analyzing the VISTA image.

    4
    VISTA inside its enclosure at Paranal. VISTA has a 4.1 meter mirror, and its job is to survey large sections of the sky at once. In the background is the ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Image: G. Hüdepohl (atacamaphoto.com)/ESO

    The team presented their research in a paper titled “The VMC survey – XIV. First results on the look-back time star formation rate tomography of the Small Magellanic Cloud“, published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    As the authors say in their paper, the SMC is a great target for study because of its “rich population of star clusters, associations, stellar pulsators, primary distance indicators, and stars in shortlived evolutionary stages.” In a way, we’re fortunate to have the SMC so close. But studying the SMC was difficult, until the VISTA came online with its infrared capabilities.

    VISTA saw first light on December 11th, 2009. It’s time is devoted to systematic surveys of the sky. In its first five years, it has undertaken large surveys of the entire southern sky, and also studied small patches of the sky to discern extremely faint objects. The leading image in this article is from the Vista Magellanic Survey, a survey covering 184 square degrees of the sky, taking in both the Small Magellanic Cloud and the Large Magellanic Cloud, and their environment.

    Source: VISTA Peeks Through the Small Magellanic Cloud’s Dusty Veil [ On sciencesprings 5/3/17 https://sciencesprings.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/from-eso-vista-peeks-through-the-small-magellanic-clouds-dusty-veil/%5D

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 6:21 am on May 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO VISTA, SMC   

    From ESO: “VISTA Peeks Through the Small Magellanic Cloud’s Dusty Veil” 

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

    3 May 2017
    Maria-Rosa Cioni
    Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP)
    Potsdam, Germany
    Tel: +49 331 7499 651
    Email: mcioni@aip.de

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

    1
    The Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy is a striking feature of the southern sky even to the unaided eye. But visible-light telescopes cannot get a really clear view of what is in the galaxy because of obscuring clouds of interstellar dust. VISTA’s infrared capabilities have now allowed astronomers to see the myriad of stars in this neighbouring galaxy much more clearly than ever before. The result is this record-breaking image — the biggest infrared image ever taken of the Small Magellanic Cloud — with the whole frame filled with millions of stars.

    The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is a dwarf galaxy, the more petite twin of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC).

    Large Magellanic Cloud. Adrian Pingstone December 2003

    They are two of our closest galaxy neighbours in space — the SMC lies about 200 000 light-years away, just a twelfth of the distance to the more famous Andromeda Galaxy.

    Andromeda Galaxy Adam Evans

    Both are also rather peculiarly shaped, as a result of interactions with one another and with the Milky Way itself.

    Their relative proximity to Earth makes the Magellanic Clouds ideal candidates for studying how stars form and evolve. However, while the distribution and history of star formation in these dwarf galaxies were known to be complex, one of the biggest obstacles to obtaining clear observations of star formation in galaxies is interstellar dust. Enormous clouds of these tiny grains scatter and absorb some of the radiation emitted from the stars — especially visible light — limiting what can be seen by telescopes here on Earth. This is known as dust extinction.

    The SMC is full of dust, and the visible light emitted by its stars suffers significant extinction. Fortunately, not all electromagnetic radiation is equally affected by dust. Infrared radiation passes through interstellar dust much more easily than visible light, so by looking at the infrared light from a galaxy we can learn about the new stars forming within the clouds of dust and gas.

    VISTA, the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope, was designed to image infrared radiation. The VISTA Survey of the Magellanic Clouds (VMC) is focused on mapping the star formation history of the SMC and LMC, as well as mapping their three-dimensional structures. Millions of SMC stars have been imaged in the infrared thanks to the VMC, providing an unparalleled view almost unaffected by dust extinction.

    The whole frame of this massive image is filled with stars belonging to the Small Magellanic Cloud. It also includes thousands of background galaxies and several bright star clusters, including 47 Tucanae at the right of the picture, which lies much closer to the Earth than the SMC. The zoomable image will show you the SMC as you have never seen it before!

    The wealth of new information in this 1.6 gigapixel image (43 223 x 38 236 pixels) has been analysed by an international team led by Stefano Rubele of the University of Padova. They have used cutting-edge stellar models to yield some surprising results.

    The VMC has revealed that most of the stars within the SMC formed far more recently than those in larger neighbouring galaxies. This early result from the survey is just a taster of the new discoveries still to come, as the survey continues to fill in blind spots in our maps of the Magellanic Clouds.
    More information

    This research was presented in the paper The VMC survey – XIV. First results on the look-back time star formation rate tomography of the Small Magellanic Cloud, in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.


    This video takes a quick look at a remarkable new image from ESO’s VISTA survey telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The huge picture shows one of our neighbouring galaxies, the Small Magellanic Cloud, in remarkable detail and in infrared light.

    The video is available in 4K UHD.

    The ESOcast Light is a series of short videos bringing you the wonders of the Universe in bite-sized pieces. The ESOcast Light episodes will not be replacing the standard, longer ESOcasts, but complement them with current astronomy news and images in ESO press releases.
    Credit: ESO

    Editing: Herbert Zodet.
    Web and technical support: Mathias André and Raquel Yumi Shida.
    Written by: Hannah Dalgleish, Lauren Fuge and Richard Hook.
    Music: tonelabs (tonelabs.com).
    Footage and photos: VISTA VMC, N. Risinger (skysurvey.org), ESA/Hubble and Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgements: Davide De Martin.
    Directed by: Herbert Zodet.
    Executive producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen.


    The video sequence takes the viewer from a wide view of the southern skies deep into a small nearby galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud. The final close-up infrared views are from a very detailed huge image of the galaxy taken using ESO’s VISTA infrared survey telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. Millions of stars and many star clusters and much more distant galaxies are visible.
    Credit: ESO/VISTA VMC/N. Risinger (skysurvey.org). Music: Astral electronic.


    This view compares a huge new infrared image of the Small Magellanic Cloud from ESO’s VISTA telescope to a more traditional view in visible light. By observing at longer infrared wavelengths VISTA can penetrate the dust clouds of this small neighbouring galaxy and reveal the stars much more clearly. Credit: ESO/VISTA VMC/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Music: Astral electronic.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
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    Visit ESO in Social Media-

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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

     
  • richardmitnick 9:38 am on January 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO VISTA, Hidden Secrets of Orion’s Clouds   

    From ESO: “Hidden Secrets of Orion’s Clouds” 

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

    4 January 2017
    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    rhook@eso.org

    VISTA survey gives most detailed view of Orion A molecular cloud in the near-infrared.

    1
    This spectacular new image is one of the largest near-infrared high-resolution mosaics of the Orion A molecular cloud, the nearest known massive star factory, lying about 1350 light-years from Earth. It was taken using the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile and reveals many young stars and other objects normally buried deep inside the dusty clouds. Credit: ESO/VISION survey

    The new image from the VISION survey (VIenna Survey In Orion) is a montage of images taken in the near-infrared part of the spectrum [1] by the VISTA survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. It covers the whole of the Orion A molecular cloud, one of the two giant molecular clouds in the Orion molecular cloud complex (OMC). Orion A extends for approximately eight degrees to the south of the familiar part of Orion known as the sword [2].

    2
    This collection of highlights is taken from a new infrared image of the Orion A molecular cloud from the VISTA telescope. Many curious structures are clearly seen, including the red jets from very young stars, dark clouds of dust and even tiny images of very distant galaxies. Credit: ESO/VISION survey


    Access mp4 video here .
    This video takes a quick look at a new image of one of the coolest bits of the night sky — the Orion Nebula. By observing in infrared light the VISTA survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile can see through the dust and this allowed astronomers to catalogue nearly 800 000 objects in this region, young stars, strange outflows and very distant galaxies.The video is available in 4K UHD. This is the first episode of the recently launched ESOCast Light series — short videos bringing you the wonders of the Universe in bite-sized pieces. Credit:ESO.
    Visual Design and Editing: Martin Kornmesser and Luis Calçada.
    Editing: Herbert Zodet.Web and technical support: Mathias André and Raquel Yumi Shida.
    Written by: Lars Lindberg Christensen and Oana Sandu.
    Music: Paulo Raimundo.
    Footage and photos: ESO, G. Hüdepohl (atacamaphoto.com), ESO/VISION survey/N. Risinger (skysurvey.org) and B. Tafreshi (twanight.org).
    Directed by: Herbert Zodet.
    Executive producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen.


    Access mp4 video here .
    This close-up video sequence gives a detailed look at a new image from the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. The image is compared with a visible light view of the region from the Digitized Sky Survey 2 (DSS). This new infrared VISTA image is part of the largest infrared high-resolution mosaic of Orion ever created and covers the Orion A molecular cloud, the nearest known massive star factory, lying about 1350 light-years from Earth. The new infrared images reveal many young stars and other objects normally buried deep in the dusty clouds. Credit: Credits: ESO/VISION survey/Digitized Sky Survey 2.
    Music: Johan B. Monell


    Access mp4 video here .
    This zoom sequence takes the viewer from a wide view of the Milky Way deep into a fascinating part of the famous constellation of Orion. By observing in near-infrared light the new picture from VISTA, a survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, reveals huge numbers of objects that are normally obscured by dust in visible light pictures of the region
    Credit: ESO/VISION survey/N. Risinger (skysurvey.org).
    Music: Johan B. Monell

    VISTA is the world’s largest dedicated survey telescope, and has a large field of view imaged with very sensitive infrared detectors, characteristics that made it ideal for obtaining the deep, high-quality infrared images required by this ambitious survey.

    The VISION survey has resulted in a catalogue containing almost 800 000 individually identified stars, young stellar objects and distant galaxies, This represents better depth and coverage than any other survey of this region to date [3].

    VISTA can see light that the human eye cannot, allowing astronomers to identify many otherwise hidden objects in the stellar nursery. Very young stars that cannot be seen in visible-light images are revealed when observed at longer infrared wavelengths, where the dust that shrouds them is more transparent.

    The new image represents a step towards a complete picture of the star formation processes in Orion A, for both low and high mass stars. The most spectacular object is the glorious Orion Nebula, also called Messier 42 [4] seen towards the left of the image. This region forms part of the sword of the famous bright constellation of Orion (The Hunter). The VISTA catalogue covers both familiar objects and new discoveries. These include five new young stellar object candidates and ten candidate galaxy clusters.

    Elsewhere in the image, we can look into Orion A’s dark molecular clouds and spot many hidden treasures, including discs of material that could give birth to new stars (pre-stellar discs), nebulosity associated with newly-born stars (Herbig-Haro objects), smaller star clusters and even galaxy clusters lying far beyond the Milky Way. The VISION survey allows the earliest evolutionary phases of young stars within nearby molecular clouds to be systematically studied.

    This impressively detailed image of Orion A establishes a new observational foundation for further studies of star and cluster formation and once again highlights the power of the VISTA telescope to image wide areas of sky quickly and deeply in the near-infrared part of the spectrum [5].
    Notes

    [1] The VISION survey covers approximately 18.3 square degrees at a scale of about one-third of an arcsecond per pixel.

    [2] The other giant molecular cloud in the Orion Molecular Cloud is Orion B, which lies east of Orion’s Belt.

    [3] The complete VISION survey includes an even larger region than is shown in this picture, which covers 39 578 x 23 069 pixels.

    [4] The Orion nebula was first described in the early seventeenth century although the identity of the discoverer is uncertain. The French comet-hunter Messier made an accurate sketch of its main features in the mid-eighteenth century and gave it the number 42 in his famous catalogue. He also allocated the number 43 to the smaller detached region just north of the main part of the nebula. Later William Herschel speculated that the nebula might be “the chaotic material of future suns” and astronomers have since discovered that the mist is indeed gas glowing in the fierce ultraviolet light from young hot stars that have recently formed there.

    [5] The successful VISION survey of Orion will be followed by a new, bigger public survey of other star-forming regions with VISTA, called VISIONS, which will start in April 2017.
    More information

    This research is presented in a paper entitled VISION – Vienna survey in Orion I. VISTA Orion A Survey, by S. Meingast et al., published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    The team is composed of: Stefan Meingast (University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria), João Alves (University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria), Diego Mardones (Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile) , Paula Teixeira (University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria), Marco Lombardi (University of Milan, Milan, Italy), Josefa Großschedl (University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria), Joana Ascenso (CENTRA, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal; Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal), Herve Bouy (Centro de Astrobiología, Madrid, Spain), Jan Forbrich (University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria), Alyssa Goodman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge MA, USA), Alvaro Hacar (University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria), Birgit Hasenberger (University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria), Jouni Kainulainen (Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), Karolina Kubiak (University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria), Charles Lada (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA), Elizabeth Lada (University of Florida, Gainesville, USA), André Moitinho (SIM/CENTRA, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal), Monika Petr-Gotzens (ESO, Garching, Germany), Lara Rodrigues (Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile) and Carlos G. Román-Zúñiga (UNAM, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico).

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    Visit ESO in Social Media-

    Facebook

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    YouTube

    ESO Bloc Icon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     
  • richardmitnick 7:57 am on July 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO VISTA, Monoceros R2   

    From ESO: Flashback “VISTA Reveals the Secret of the Unicorn”October 2010 

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

    6 October 2010
    Richard Hook
    ESO, Paranal, La Silla, E-ELT and Survey Telescopes Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    1
    A new infrared image from ESO’s VISTA survey telescope reveals an extraordinary landscape of glowing tendrils of gas, dark clouds and young stars within the constellation of Monoceros (the Unicorn). This star-forming region, known as Monoceros R2, is embedded within a huge dark cloud. The region is almost completely obscured by interstellar dust when viewed in visible light, but is spectacular in the infrared.

    An active stellar nursery lies hidden inside a massive dark cloud rich in molecules and dust in the constellation of Monoceros. Although it appears close in the sky to the more familiar Orion Nebula it is actually almost twice as far from Earth, at a distance of about 2700 light-years. In visible light a grouping of massive hot stars creates a beautiful collection of reflection nebulae where the bluish starlight is scattered from parts of the dark, foggy outer layers of the molecular cloud. However, most of the new-born massive stars remain hidden as the thick interstellar dust strongly absorbs their ultraviolet and visible light.

    In this gorgeous infrared image taken from ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile, the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA [1], eso0949) penetrates the dark curtain of cosmic dust and reveals in astonishing detail the folds, loops and filaments sculpted from the dusty interstellar matter by intense particle winds and the radiation emitted by hot young stars.

    “When I first saw this image I just said ‘Wow!’ I was amazed to see all the dust streamers so clearly around the Monoceros R2 cluster, as well as the jets from highly embedded young stellar objects. There is such a great wealth of exciting detail revealed in these VISTA images,” says Jim Emerson, of Queen Mary, University of London and leader of the VISTA consortium.

    With its huge field of view, large mirror and sensitive camera, VISTA is ideal for obtaining deep, high quality infrared images of large areas of the sky, such as the Monoceros R2 region. The width of VISTA’s field of view is equivalent to about 80 light-years at this distance. Since the dust is largely transparent at infrared wavelengths, many young stars that cannot be seen in visible-light images become apparent. The most massive of these stars are less than ten million years old.

    The new image was created from exposures taken in three different parts of the near-infrared spectrum. In molecular clouds like Monoceros R2, the low temperatures and relatively high densities allow molecules to form, such as hydrogen, which under certain conditions emit strongly in the near infrared. Many of the pink and red structures that appear in the VISTA image are probably the glows from molecular hydrogen in outflows from young stars.

    Monoceros R2 has a dense core, no more than two light-years in extent, which is packed with very massive young stars, as well as a cluster of bright infrared sources, which are typically new-born massive stars still surrounded by dusty discs. This region lies at the centre of the image, where a much higher concentration of stars is visible on close inspection and where the prominent reddish features probably indicate emission from molecular hydrogen.

    The rightmost of the bright clouds in the centre of the picture is NGC 2170, the brightest reflection nebula in this region. In visible light, the nebulae appear as bright, light blue islands in a dark ocean, while in the infrared frenetic factories are revealed in their interiors where hundreds of massive stars are coming into existence. NGC 2170 is faintly visible through a small telescope and was discovered by William Herschel from England in 1784.

    Stars form in a process that typically lasts few million years and which takes place inside large clouds of interstellar gas and dust, hundreds of light-years across. Because the interstellar dust is opaque to visible light, infrared and radio observations are crucial in the understanding of the earliest stages of the stellar evolution. By mapping the southern sky systematically, VISTA will gather some 300 gigabytes per night, providing a huge amount of information on those regions that will be studied in greater detail by the Very Large Telescope (VLT), the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and, in the future, by the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).
    Notes

    [1] With its 4.1-metre primary mirror, VISTA is the largest survey telescope in the world and is equipped with the largest infrared camera on any telescope, with 67 million pixels. It is dedicated to sky surveys, which began early in 2010. Located on a peak next to Cerro Paranal, the home of the ESO VLT in northern Chile, VISTA shares the same exceptional observing conditions. Due to the remarkable quality of the sky in this area of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest sites on Earth, Cerro Armazones, located only 20 km away from Cerro Paranal, has been recently selected as the site for the future E-ELT.

    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
    VLT

    ESO Vista Telescope
    VISTA

    ESO NTT
    NTT

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    ESO E-ELT
    E-ELT

    ESO APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

     
  • richardmitnick 10:55 am on June 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO VISTA, VISTA’s Zoo of Minor Planets   

    From ESO: “VISTA’s Zoo of Minor Planets” 

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

    30 June 2016
    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    1

    A team of European astronomers have used data from ESO’s VISTA survey telescope to catalogue a diverse population of minor planets — small bodies in the Solar System — at near-infrared wavelengths. Their study has resulted in a collection of measurements for nearly 40 000 objects, data that may help to answer key questions about the early Solar System.

    Around 700 000 small objects have so far been catalogued in the Solar System, from rocky asteroids, to icy comets. By studying these objects, astronomers hope to learn about how the Solar System formed and evolved and also gather important information about possible Earth impacts.

    The team examined a subset of the VISTA Hemisphere Survey that covered around 40% of the southern hemisphere of the sky. By carefully sifting through the vast amount of data from the survey, they were able to extract the position and brightness of almost 40 000 objects and colour information for around 35 000 of them. This is the first time that data from the survey have been analysed to reveal information about such a large sample of small Solar System bodies.

    The colour data in particular can be used to classify the objects by deriving information about their surface compositions. The rich “fauna” identified in the catalogue includes examples from all the known categories of objects of this kind: near-Earth asteroids; Mars Crossers; Hungaria asteroids; Main Belt asteroids; Cybele asteroids; Hilda asteroids; Trojans; comets; Kuiper Belt objects; and more.

    VISTA, the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy, is the world’s largest survey telescope, having a mirror some 4.1 metres in diameter. With its wide field of view and very sensitive detectors it is providing astronomers with a completely new view of the southern sky. Sky surveys are a powerful tool in these days of such large and sensitive detectors. They allow astronomers to quickly catalogue large numbers of celestial objects and perform statistical analyses on them. They are ideal for astronomers searching, as here, for moving nearby objects such as asteroids and comets.
    More Information

    This research was presented in a paper entitled Near-infrared colors of minor planets recovered from VISTA – VHS survey (MOVIS), by M. Popescu et al., that was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    The team consists of M. Popescu (Institut de Mécanique Céleste et de Calcul des Éphémérides (IMCCE) CNRS-UMR8028, Observatoire de Paris, Paris, France; Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy, Bucharest, Romania), J. Licandro, D. Morate, J. de León, R. Rebolo (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain; Departamento de Astrofísica, Universidad de La Laguna, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain), D. A. Nedelcu (Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy, Bucharest, Romania; Institut de Mécanique Céleste et de Calcul des Éphémérides (IMCCE) CNRS, Observatoire de Paris, Paris, France), R. G. McMahon (Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK and Kavli Institute for Cosmology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK), E. Gonzalez-Solares and M. Irwin (Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK).

    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
    VLT

    ESO Vista Telescope
    VISTA

    ESO NTT
    NTT

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    ESO E-ELT
    E-ELT

    ESO APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

     
  • richardmitnick 5:19 pm on January 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO VISTA, Flame Nebula - Great Images   

    From ESO: “VISTA: Pioneering New Survey Telescope Starts Work” Original Article from December 2009 – Fantastic Imagery 


    European Southern Observatory

    11 December 2009

    Contacts

    Prof. Jim Emerson
    Queen Mary, University of London
    UK
    Tel: +44 794 127 1548
    Email: j.p.emerson@qmul.ac.uk

    Richard Hook
    ESO Survey Telescopes PIO
    Tel: +49 151 1055 5780
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    Julia Maddock
    Science and Technology Facilities Council
    UK
    Tel: +44 1793 44 2094
    Email: julia.maddock@stfc.ac.uk

    Siân Halkyard
    Queen Mary, University of London
    UK
    Tel: +44 20 7882 7454
    Email: s.halkyard@qmul.ac.uk

    Temp 1
    Flame Nebula

    Temp 2
    Upper left: This VISTA close-up of the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024) shows the bright young stars at its core and the smoke-like tendrils of dust and gas in great detail. This extract covers a field about twelve arcminutes across.
    Lower left : Close to the Flame Nebula lies a bright reflection nebula called NGC 2023.
    arcminutes across.
    Upper right : Close to the edge of the VISTA image (not shown on the main image above) lies a strange object known as Herbig-Haro 92 (HH92). This curiosity is part of a string of glowing clumps and filaments created by material blown out in a jet from a very young star. The star itself is buried deep in dust at the lower left of this cutout and is not even visible in this near-infrared VISTA image. This very small extract covers a field about three arcminutes across.
    Lower right : The wide field of the VISTA camera includes another famous object — the Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33). In visible light the Horsehead is a dark and dusty silhouette set against a glowing background of glowing gas. In the VISTA infrared view the dust becomes largely transparent and the outline has an evocative wraithlike quality. This extract is about seven arcminutes across.
    Credit: ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

    A new telescope — VISTA (the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) — has just started work at ESO’s Paranal Observatory and has made its first release of pictures. VISTA is a survey telescope working at infrared wavelengths and is the world’s largest telescope dedicated to mapping the sky. Its large mirror, wide field of view and very sensitive detectors will reveal a completely new view of the southern sky. Spectacular new images of the Flame Nebula [above], the centre of our Milky Way galaxy and the Fornax Galaxy Cluster show that it is working extremely well.

    VISTA is the latest telescope to be added to ESO’s Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. It is housed on the peak adjacent to the one hosting the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) and shares the same exceptional observing conditions. VISTA’s main mirror is 4.1 metres across and is the most highly curved mirror of this size and quality ever made — its deviations from a perfect surface are less than a few thousandths of the thickness of a human hair — and its construction and polishing presented formidable challenges.

    VISTA was conceived and developed by a consortium of 18 universities in the United Kingdom [1] led by Queen Mary, University of London and became an in-kind contribution to ESO as part of the UK’s accession agreement. The telescope design and construction were project-managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre (STFC, UK ATC). Provisional acceptance of VISTA was formally granted by ESO at a ceremony at ESO’s Headquarters in Garching, Germany, attended by representatives of Queen Mary, University of London and STFC, on 10 December 2009 and the telescope will now be operated by ESO.

    “VISTA is a unique addition to ESO’s observatory on Cerro Paranal. It will play a pioneering role in surveying the southern sky at infrared wavelengths and will find many interesting targets for further study by the Very Large Telescope, ALMA and the future European Extremely Large Telescope,” says Tim de Zeeuw, the ESO Director General.

    At the heart of VISTA is a 3-tonne camera containing 16 special detectors sensitive to infrared light, with a combined total of 67 million pixels. Observing at wavelengths longer than those visible with the human eye allows VISTA to study objects that are otherwise impossible to see in visible light because they are either too cool, obscured by dust clouds or because they are so far away that their light has been stretched beyond the visible range by the expansion of the Universe. To avoid swamping the faint infrared radiation coming from space, the camera has to be cooled to -200 degrees Celsius and is sealed with the largest infrared-transparent window ever made. The VISTA camera was designed and built by a consortium including the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, the UK ATC and the University of Durham in the United Kingdom.

    Because VISTA is a large telescope that also has a large field of view it can both detect faint sources and also cover wide areas of sky quickly. Each VISTA image captures a section of sky covering about ten times the area of the full Moon and it will be able to detect and catalogue objects over the whole southern sky with a sensitivity that is forty times greater than that achieved with earlier infrared sky surveys such as the highly successful Two Micron All-Sky Survey. This jump in observational power — comparable to the step in sensitivity from the unaided eye to Galileo’s first telescope — will reveal vast numbers of new objects and allow the creation of far more complete inventories of rare and exotic objects in the southern sky.

    “We’re delighted to have been able to provide the astronomical community with the VISTA telescope. The exceptional quality of the scientific data is a tribute to all the scientists and engineers who were involved in this exciting and challenging project,” adds Ian Robson, Head of the UK ATC.

    The first released image shows the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024), a spectacular star-forming cloud of gas and dust in the familiar constellation of Orion (the Hunter) and its surroundings. In visible light the core of the object is hidden behind thick clouds of dust, but the VISTA image, taken at infrared wavelengths, can penetrate the murk and reveal the cluster of hot young stars hidden within. The wide field of view of the VISTA camera also captures the glow of NGC 2023 and the ghostly form of the famous Horsehead Nebula.

    The second image is a mosaic of two VISTA views towards the centre of our Milky Way galaxy in the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer). Vast numbers of stars are revealed — this single picture shows about one million stars — and the majority are normally hidden behind thick dust clouds and only become visible at infrared wavelengths.

    For the final image, VISTA has stared far beyond our galaxy to take a family photograph of a cluster of galaxies in the constellation of Fornax (the Chemical Furnace). The wide field allows many galaxies to be captured in a single image including the striking barred-spiral NGC 1365 and the big elliptical galaxy NGC 1399.

    VISTA will spend almost all of its time mapping the southern sky in a systematic fashion. The telescope is embarking on six major sky surveys with different scientific goals over its first five years. One survey will cover the entire southern sky and others will be dedicated to smaller regions to be studied in greater detail. VISTA’s surveys will help our understanding of the nature, distribution and origin of known types of stars and galaxies, map the three-dimensional structure of our galaxy and the neighbouring Magellanic Clouds, and help determine the relation between the structure of the Universe and the mysterious dark energy and dark matter.

    The huge data volumes — typically 300 gigabytes per night or more than 100 terabytes per year — will flow back into the ESO digital archive and will be processed into images and catalogues at data centres in the United Kingdom at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh. All data will become public and be available to astronomers around the globe.

    Jim Emerson of Queen Mary, University of London and leader of the VISTA consortium, is looking forward to a rich harvest of science from the new telescope: “History has shown us some of the most exciting results that come out of projects like VISTA are the ones you least expect — and I’m personally very excited to see what these will be!”
    Notes

    [1] The VISTA Consortium is led by Queen Mary, University of London and consists of: Queen Mary, University of London; Queen’s University of Belfast; University of Birmingham; University of Cambridge; Cardiff University; University of Central Lancashire; University of Durham; The University of Edinburgh; University of Hertfordshire; Keele University; Leicester University; Liverpool John Moores University; University of Nottingham; University of Oxford; University of St Andrews; University of Southampton; University of Sussex and University College London.

    From the above references:
    Temp 4
    NGC 2023
    The magnificent reflection nebula NGC 2023 lies nearly 1500 light-years from Earth. It is located within the constellation of Orion (The Hunter), in a prestigious area of the sky close to the well-known Flame and Horsehead Nebulae. The entire structure of NGC 2023 is vast, at four light-years across. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope picture just takes in the southern part, with the subtle shades of colour closely resembling those of a sunset on Earth.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    NGC 2023 surrounds a massive young B-type star. These stars are large, bright and blue-white in colour, and have a high surface temperature, being several times hotter than the Sun. The energy emitted from NGC2023’s B-type star illuminates the nebula, resulting in its high surface brightness: good news for astronomers who wish to study it. The star itself lies outside the field of view, at the upper left, and its brilliant light is scattered by Hubble’s optical system, creating the bright flare across the left side of the picture, which is not a real feature of the nebula.

    Stars are forming from the material comprising NGC 2023. This Hubble image captures the billowing waves of gas, 5000 times denser than the interstellar medium. The unusual greenish clumps are thought to be Herbig–Haro objects. These peculiar features of star-forming regions are created when gas ejected at hundreds of kilometres per second from newly formed stars impacts the surrounding material. These shockwaves cause the gas to glow and result in the strange shapes seen here. Herbig–Haro objects typically only last for a few thousand years, which is the blink of eye in astronomical terms.
    This picture was created from multiple images taken with the Wide Field Camera of Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys [ACS].

    NASA Hubble ACS
    ACS

    Exposures through a blue filter (F475W) are coloured blue, exposures through a yellow filter (F625W) are coloured green and images through a near-infrared filter (F850LP) are shown as red. The total exposure times per filter are 800 s, 800 s and 1200 s, respectively, and the field of view spans 3.2 arcminutes.
    Date 25 July 2011

    It is also the site of star formation and one very bright young star has created a cavity in the surrounding cloud. Fierce ultraviolet radiation from the young star is causing the gas to fluoresce and the nearby dust is reflecting the intense bluish starlight. VISTA’s infrared vision reveals its wispy gas clouds in exquisite clarity. The field of view of this extract is about eight

    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 NTT
    NTT

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    ESO E-ELT
    E-ELT

    ESO APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

     
  • richardmitnick 12:05 am on December 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , AESOP, , , ESO VISTA   

    From AAO: “AESOP” 

    AAO Australian Astronomical Observatory

    Australian Astronomical Observatory

    1

    AESOP is the fibre positioner unit for the 4MOST instrument planned for the 4-metre European Southern Observatories VISTA telescope in Chile.

    4MOST 4-metre Multi-Object Spectroscopic Telescope
    4MOST 4-metre Multi-Object Spectroscopic Telescope

    ESO Vista Telescope
    ESO/VISTA telescope

    The 4MOST project, led by the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam (Germany), involves a number of European partners. The AAO component, AESOP, deploys 2400 optical fibres to required positions on the curved focal surface of the telescope. Each fibre can be deployed anywhere within a fixed patrol area. Field reconfigurations are achieved in an iterative closed-loop process with positional feedback from a metrology system. Optical fibres are connectorised at their exit from the positioner system, where they feed a fibre bundle terminated a series of optical spectrographs. The proposed design for AESOP is an evolution of the AAO’s tilting spine technology, first designed and implemented in the FMOS-Echidna instrument for the Subaru telescope.

    NAOJ Subaru FMOS
    FMOS on the NAOJ Subaru telescope

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope
    NAOJ Subaru HiCIAO Camera
    NAOJ Subaru telescope

    See the full article here .

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    AAO Anglo Australian Telescope Exterior
    AAO Anglo Australian Telescope Interior
    Anglo-Australian telescope

    The Australian Astronomical Observatory, a division of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, operates the Anglo-Australian and UK Schmidt telescopes on behalf of the astronomical community of Australia. To this end the Observatory is part of and is funded by the Australian Government. Its function is to provide world-class observing facilities for Australian optical astronomers.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:07 am on November 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO VISTA   

    From ESO: “The Birth of Monsters – Vista pinpoints earliest giant galaxies” 


    European Southern Observatory

    18 November 2015
    Karina I. Caputi
    Kapteyn Astronomical Institute – University of Groningen
    The Netherlands
    Email: karina@astro.rug.nl

    Henry J. McCracken
    Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris
    France
    Email: hjmcc@iap.fr

    Bo Milvang-Jensen
    Dark Cosmology Center – University of Copenhagen
    Denmark
    Email: milvang@dark-cosmology.dk

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

    1
    ESO’s VISTA survey telescope has spied a horde of previously hidden massive galaxies that existed when the Universe was in its infancy. By discovering and studying more of these galaxies than ever before, astronomers have, for the first time, found out exactly when such monster galaxies first appeared.

    Just counting the number of galaxies in a patch of sky provides a way to test astronomers’ theories of galaxy formation and evolution. However, such a simple task becomes increasingly hard as astronomers attempt to count the more distant and fainter galaxies. It is further complicated by the fact that the brightest and easiest galaxies to observe — the most massive galaxies in the Universe — are rarer the further astronomers peer into the Universe’s past, whilst the more numerous less bright galaxies are even more difficult to find.

    A team of astronomers, led by Karina Caputi of the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute at the University of Groningen, has now unearthed many distant galaxies that had escaped earlier scrutiny. They used images from the UltraVISTA survey, one of six projects using VISTA to survey the sky at near-infrared wavelengths, and made a census of faint galaxies when the age of the Universe was between just 0.75 and 2.1 billion years old.

    UltraVISTA has been imaging the same patch of sky, nearly four times the size of a full Moon, since December 2009. This is the largest patch of sky ever imaged to these depths at infrared wavelengths. The team combined these UltraVISTA observations with those from the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope, which probes the cosmos at even longer, mid-infrared wavelengths [1].

    NASA Spitzer Telescope
    NASA/Spitzer

    “We uncovered 574 new massive galaxies — the largest sample of such hidden galaxies in the early Universe ever assembled,” explains Karina Caputi. “Studying them allows us to answer a simple but important question: when did the first massive galaxies appear?”

    Imaging the cosmos at near-infrared wavelengths allowed the astronomers to see objects that are both obscured by dust, and extremely distant [2], created when the Universe was just an infant.

    The team discovered an explosion in the numbers of these galaxies in a very short amount of time. A large fraction of the massive galaxies [3] we now see around us in the nearby Universe were already formed just three billion years after the Big Bang.

    “We found no evidence of these massive galaxies earlier than around one billion years after the Big Bang, so we’re confident that this is when the first massive galaxies must have formed,” concludes Henry Joy McCracken, a co-author on the paper [4].

    In addition, the astronomers found that massive galaxies were more plentiful than had been thought. Galaxies that were previously hidden make up half of the total number of massive galaxies present when the Universe was between 1.1 and 1.5 billion years old [5]. These new results, however, contradict current models of how galaxies evolved in the early Universe, which do not predict any monster galaxies at these early times.

    To complicate things further, if massive galaxies are unexpectedly dustier in the early Universe than astronomers predict then even UltraVISTA wouldn’t be able to detect them. If this is indeed the case, the currently-held picture of how galaxies formed in the early Universe may also require a complete overhaul.

    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) will also search for these game-changing dusty galaxies. If they are found they will also serve as targets for ESO’s 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), which will enable detailed observations of some of the first ever galaxies.
    Notes

    [1] ESO’s VISTA telescope observed in the near-infrared wavelength range 0.88–2.15 μm while Spitzer performed observations in the mid-infrared at 3.6 and 4.5 μm.

    [2] The expansion of space means that the more distant a galaxy is, the faster it appears to be speeding away from an observer on Earth. This stretching causes the light from these distant objects to be shifted into redder parts of the spectrum, meaning that observations in the near-to-mid infrared are necessary to capture the light from these galaxies.

    [3] In this context, “massive” means more than 50 billion times the mass of the Sun. The total mass of the stars in the Milky Way is also close to this figure.

    [4] The team found no evidence of massive galaxies beyond a redshift of 6, equivalent to times less than 0.9 billion years after the Big Bang.

    [5] This is equivalent to redshifts between z=5 and z=4.
    More information

    This research was presented in a paper entitled Spitzer Bright, UltraVISTA Faint Sources in COSMOS: The Contribution to the Overall Population of Massive Galaxies at z = 3-7, by K. Caputi et al., which appeared in the Astrophysical Journal.

    The team is composed of Karina I. Caputi (Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, Netherlands), Olivier Ilbert (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, Aix-Marseille University, France), Clotilde Laigle (Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, France), Henry J. McCracken (Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, France), Olivier Le Fèvre (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, Aix-Marseille University, France), Johan Fynbo (Dark Cosmology Centre, Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark), Bo Milvang-Jensen (Dark Cosmology Centre), Peter Capak (NASA/JPL Spitzer Science Centre, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA), Mara Salvato (Max-Planck Institute for Extragalactic Physics, Garching, Germany) and Yoshiaki Taniguchi (Research Center for Space and Cosmic Evolution, Ehime University, Japan).

    Links

    Research Paper in the Astrophysical Journal
    Photos of VISTA
    VISTA Public Surveys

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 6:59 am on October 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ESO VISTA   

    From ESO: “VISTA Discovers New Component of Milky Way” 


    European Southern Observatory

    28 October 2015
    stvan Dékány
    Instituto Milenio de Astrofí­sica, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
    Santiago, Chile
    Email: idekany@astro.puc.cl

    Dante Minniti
    Universidad Andres Bello
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56 2 2661 8732
    Email: dante@astrofisica.cl

    Daniel Majaess
    Saint Mary’s University, Mount Saint Vincent University
    Halifax, Canada
    Email: dmajaess@ap.smu.ca

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

    1

    Astronomers using the VISTA telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory have discovered a previously unknown component of the Milky Way. By mapping out the locations of a class of stars that vary in brightness called Cepheids, a disc of young stars buried behind thick dust clouds in the central bulge has been found.

    The Vista Variables in the Vía Láctea Survey (VVV) [1] ESO public survey is using the VISTA telescope at the Paranal Observatory to take multiple images at different times of the central parts of the galaxy at infrared wavelengths [2]. It is discovering huge numbers of new objects, including variable stars, clusters and exploding stars (eso1101, eso1128, eso1141).

    A team of astronomers, led by Istvan Dékány of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, has now used data from this survey, taken between 2010 and 2014, to make a remarkable discovery — a previously unknown component of our home galaxy, the Milky Way.

    “The central bulge of the Milky Way is thought to consist of vast numbers of old stars. But the VISTA data has revealed something new — and very young by astronomical standards!” says Istvan Dékány, lead author of the new study.

    Analysing data from the survey, the astronomers found 655 candidate variable stars of a type called Cepheids. These stars expand and contract periodically, taking anything from a few days to months to complete a cycle and changing significantly in brightness as they do so.

    The time taken for a Cepheid to brighten and fade again is longer for those that are brighter and shorter for the dimmer ones. This remarkably precise relationship, which was discovered in 1908 by American astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt, makes the study of Cepheids one of the most effective ways to measure the distances to, and map the positions of, distant objects in the Milky Way and beyond.

    But there is a catch — Cepheids are not all the same — they come in two main classes, one much younger than the other. Out of their sample of 655 the team identified 35 stars as belonging to a sub-group called classical Cepheids — young bright stars, very different from the usual, much more elderly, residents of the central bulge of the Milky Way.

    The team gathered information on the brightness, pulsation period, and deduced the distances of these 35 classical Cepheids. Their pulsation periods, which are closely linked to their age, revealed their surprising youth.

    “All of the 35 classical Cepheids discovered are less than 100 million years old. The youngest Cepheid may even be only around 25 million years old, although we cannot exclude the possible presence of even younger and brighter Cepheids,” explains the study’s second author Dante Minniti, of the Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago, Chile.

    The ages of these classical Cepheids provide solid evidence that there has been a previously unconfirmed, continuous supply of newly formed stars into the central region of the Milky Way over the last 100 million years. But, this wasn’t to be the only remarkable discovery from the survey’s dataset.

    Mapping the Cepheids that they discovered, the team traced an entirely new feature in the Milky Way — a thin disc of young stars across the galactic bulge. This new component to our home galaxy had remained unknown and invisible to previous surveys as it was buried behind thick clouds of dust. Its discovery demonstrates the unique power of VISTA, which was designed to study the Milky Way’s deep structures by wide-field, high-resolution imaging at infrared wavelengths.

    “This study is a powerful demonstration of the unmatched capabilities of the VISTA telescope for probing extremely obscured galactic regions that cannot be reached by any other current or planned surveys,” remarks Dékány.

    “This part of the galaxy was completely unknown until our VVV survey found it!” adds Minniti.

    Further investigations are now needed to assess whether these Cepheids were born close to where they are now, or whether they originate from further out. Understanding their fundamental properties, interactions, and evolution is key in the quest to understand the evolution of the Milky Way, and the process of galaxy evolution as a whole.


    download mp4 video here.


    download mp4 video here.

    Notes

    [1] The VVV survey is observing the central parts of our galaxy in five near-infrared bands. The total area of this survey is 520 square degrees and contains at least 355 open and 33 globular clusters. The VVV is multi-epoch in nature in order to detect a large number of variable objects and will provide more than 100 carefully spaced observations at different times for each part of the sky covered. A catalogue with about a billion point sources including about a million variable objects is expected. These will be used to create a three-dimensional map of the bulge of the Milky Way galaxy.

    [2] The dust clouds in interstellar space absorb and scatter visible light very effectively and make them opaque. But at longer wavelengths, such as those observed by VISTA, the clouds are much more transparent, allowing the regions beyond the dust to be probed.

    More information

    This research was presented in a paper entitled The VVV Survey reveals classical Cepheids tracing a young and thin stellar disk across the Galaxy’s bulge, by I. Dékány et al., in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    The team is composed of I. Dékány (Instituto Milenio de Astrofísica, Santiago, Chile; Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile), D. Minniti (Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago, Chile; Instituto Milenio de Astrofísica MAS and Basal CATA, Santiago, Chile; and Vatican Observatory, Vatican City State), D. Majaess (Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada) , M. Zoccali (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile; Instituto Milenio de Astrofísica, Santiago, Chile), G. Hajdu (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile; Instituto Milenio de Astrofísica, Santiago, Chile), J. Alonso-García (Universidad de Antofagasta, Antofagasta, Chile; Instituto Milenio de Astrofísica, Santiago, Chile), M. Catelan (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile; Instituto Milenio de Astrofísica, Santiago, Chile), W. Gieren (Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile; Instituto Milenio de Astrofísica, Santiago, Chile) and J. Borissova (Universidad de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile; Instituto Milenio de Astrofísica, Santiago, Chile).

    Research Paper

    VVV Survey webpages

    Photos of VISTA

    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

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    E-ELT

    ESO APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

     
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