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  • richardmitnick 11:12 am on July 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO VST   

    From ESO: “Huge New Survey to Shine Light on Dark Matter” 


    European Southern Observatory

    9 July 2015
    Koen Kuijken
    Leiden Observatory
    Leiden, The Netherlands
    Email: kuijken@strw.leidenuniv.nl

    Massimo Viola
    Leiden Observatory
    Leiden, The Netherlands
    Email: viola@strw.leidenuniv.nl

    Lars Lindberg Christensen
    Head of ESO ePOD
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6761
    Cell: +49 173 3872 621
    Email: lars@eso.org

    1

    The first results have been released from a major new dark matter survey of the southern skies using ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The VST KiDS survey will allow astronomers to make precise measurements of dark matter, the structure of galaxy halos, and the evolution of galaxies and clusters. The first KiDS results show how the characteristics of the observed galaxies are determined by the invisible vast clumps of dark matter surrounding them.

    Around 85% of the matter in the Universe is dark [1], and of a type not understood by physicists. Although it doesn’t shine or absorb light, astronomers can detect this dark matter through its effect on stars and galaxies, specifically from its gravitational pull. A major project using ESO’s powerful survey telescopes is now showing more clearly than ever before the relationships between this mysterious dark matter and the shining galaxies that we can observe directly [2].

    The project, known as the Kilo-Degree Survey (KiDS), uses imaging from the VLT Survey Telescope and its huge camera, OmegaCAM.

    ESO Omegacam on VST
    OmegaCAM

    Sited at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, this telescope is dedicated to surveying the night sky in visible light — and it is complemented by the infrared survey telescope VISTA. One of the major goals of the VST is to map out dark matter and to use these maps to understand the mysterious dark energy that is causing our Universe’s expansion to accelerate.

    The best way to work out where the dark matter lies is through gravitational lensing — the distortion of the Universe’s fabric by gravity, which deflects the light coming from distant galaxies far beyond the dark matter. By studying this effect it is possible to map out the places where gravity is strongest, and hence where the matter, including dark matter, resides.

    As part of the first cache of papers, the international KiDS team of researchers, led by Koen Kuijken at the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands [3], has used this approach to analyse images of over two million galaxies, typically 5.5 billion light-years away [4]. They studied the distortion of light emitted from these galaxies, which bends as it passes massive clumps of dark matter during its journey to Earth.

    The first results come from only 7% of the final survey area and concentrate on mapping the distribution of dark matter in groups of galaxies. Most galaxies live in groups — including our own Milky Way, which is part of the Local Group — and understanding how much dark matter they contain is a key test of the whole theory of how galaxies form in the cosmic web.

    2
    Local Group

    From the gravitational lensing effect, these groups turn out to contain around 30 times more dark than visible matter.

    “Interestingly, the brightest galaxy nearly always sits in the middle of the dark matter clump,” says Massimo Viola (Leiden Observatory, the Netherlands) lead author of one of the first KiDS papers.

    “This prediction of galaxy formation theory, in which galaxies continue to be sucked into groups and pile up in the centre, has never been demonstrated so clearly before by observations,” adds Koen Kuijken.

    The findings are just the start of a major programme to exploit the immense datasets coming from the survey telescopes and the data are now being made available to scientists worldwide through the ESO archive.

    The KiDS survey will help to further expand our understanding of dark matter. Being able to explain dark matter and its effects would represent a major breakthrough in physics.
    Notes

    [1] Astronomers have found that the total mass/energy content of the Universe is split in the proportions 68% dark energy, 27% dark matter and 5% “normal” matter. So the 85% figure relates to the fraction of “matter” that is dark.

    [2] Supercomputer calculations show how a Universe filled with dark matter will evolve: over time dark matter will clump into a huge cosmic web structure, and galaxies and stars form where gas is sucked into the densest concentrations of dark matter.

    [3] The international KiDS team of researchers includes scientists from the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Italy and Canada.

    [4] This work made use of the 3D map of galaxy groups, provided by the Galaxy And Mass Assembly project (GAMA), following extensive observations on the Anglo-Australian Telescope.

    Anglo Australian Telescope Exterior
    Anglo Australian Telescope Interior
    Anglo-Australian Telescope

    More information

    This research was presented in a series of papers submitted to several leading journals. A list can be found here.

    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 9:37 am on April 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO- ESOcast 74: “Mapping the Southern Skies” 


    European Southern Observatory

    ESOcast 74 looks at ESO’s pair of survey telescopes at Paranal: the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) and the VLT Survey Telescope (VST).

    Download available at YouTube

    Watch, enjoy, learn.

    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
    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 7:42 am on August 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “Triangulum Galaxy Snapped by VST” 


    European Southern Observatory

    6 August 2014

    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany

    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile has captured a beautifully detailed image of the galaxy Messier 33. This nearby spiral, the second closest large galaxy to our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is packed with bright star clusters, and clouds of gas and dust. The new picture is amongst the most detailed wide-field views of this object ever taken and shows the many glowing red gas clouds in the spiral arms with particular clarity.

    m33

    ESO VST telescope
    ESO/VST

    Messier 33, otherwise known as NGC 598, is located about three million light-years away in the small northern constellation of Triangulum (The Triangle). Often known as the Triangulum Galaxy it was observed by the French comet hunter Charles Messier in August 1764, who listed it as number 33 in his famous list of prominent nebulae and star clusters. However, he was not the first to record the spiral galaxy; it was probably first documented by the Sicilian astronomer Giovanni Battista Hodierna around 100 years earlier.

    Although the Triangulum Galaxy lies in the northern sky, it is just visible from the southern vantage point of ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. However, it does not rise very high in the sky. This image was taken by the VLT Survey Telescope (VST), a state-of-the-art 2.6-metre survey telescope with a field of view that is twice as broad as the full Moon. This picture was created from many individual exposures, including some taken through a filter passing just the light from glowing hydrogen, which make the red gas clouds in the galaxies spiral arms especially prominent.

    Among the many star formation regions in Messier 33’s spiral arms, the giant nebula NGC 604 stands out. With a diameter of nearly 1500 light-years, this is one of the largest nearby emission nebulae known. It stretches over an area 40 times the size of the visible portion of the much more famous — and much closer — Orion Nebula.

    ngc604
    NASA/ESA Hubble 2010-08-30

    The Triangulum Galaxy is the third-largest member of the Local Group of galaxies, which includes the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy, and about 50 other smaller galaxies. On an extremely clear, dark night, this galaxy is just visible with the unaided eye, and is considered to be the most distant celestial object visible without any optical help. Viewing conditions for the very patient are only set to improve in the long-term: the galaxy is approaching our own at a speed of about 100 000 kilometres per hour.

    local group
    Local Group

    andro
    The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. The image also shows Messier Objects 32 and 110, as well as NGC 206 (a bright star cloud in the Andromeda Galaxy) and the star Nu Andromedae. This image was taken using a hydrogen-alpha filter.Adam Evans

    A closer look at this beautiful new picture not only allows a very detailed inspection of the star-forming spiral arms of the galaxy, but also reveals the very rich scenery of the more distant galaxies scattered behind the myriad stars and glowing clouds of NGC 598.

    See the full article here.

    Another View of M33
    tri
    Alexander Meleg

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  • richardmitnick 9:26 am on January 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “Sneak Preview of Survey Telescope Treasure Trove” 


    European Southern Observatory

    22 January 2014
    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile has captured this richly detailed new image of the Lagoon Nebula. This giant cloud of gas and dust is creating intensely bright young stars, and is home to young stellar clusters. This image is a tiny part of just one of eleven public surveys of the sky now in progress using ESO telescopes. Together these are providing a vast legacy of publicly available data for the global astronomical community.

    lagoon

    vlt
    VLT Survey Telescope

    The Lagoon Nebula is an intriguing object located around 5000 light-years from us in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer). Also known as Messier 8, it is a giant cloud 100 light-years across, where new stars are forming within its plumes of gas and dust [1]. This new 16 000-pixel-wide image is from the VLT Survey Telescope (VST), one of two dedicated survey telescopes at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. A zoomable version of the image allows the viewers to explore the many nooks and crannies of this fascinating object.

    The VST was not pointed at the Lagoon deliberately, it simply was included as part of a huge imaging survey called VPHAS+ that covered a much larger region of the Milky Way. VPHAS+ is just one of three imaging surveys using visible light with the VST. These are complemented by six infrared surveys with the VISTA survey telescope.

    vista
    VISTA Survey Telescope

    The surveys are addressing many important questions in modern astronomy. These include the nature of dark energy, searching for brilliant quasars in the early Universe, probing the structure of the Milky Way and looking for unusual and hidden objects, studying the neighbouring Magellanic Clouds in great detail, and many other topics. History shows that surveys often find things that are unexpected and these surprises are crucial for the progress of astronomical research.

    As well as the nine imaging surveys with VISTA and the VST there are also two additional surveys that are in progress using other ESO telescopes. One, the Gaia-ESO Survey, is using the Very Large Telescope at Paranal to map the properties of more than 100 000 stars in the Milky Way, and another (PESSTO) is following up on transient objects such as supernovae using the New Technology Telescope at La Silla.

    ESO NTT
    NTT

    Some of these surveys began back in 2010, and some much more recently, but data from all of them are now being made public and are accessible to astronomers around the world through ESO’s archive.

    Although they are still in progress, the surveys are already allowing astronomers to make many discoveries. Just a few of these new results include new star clusters found in the VVV survey (eso1128, eso1141), the best map yet of the central parts of our Milky Way (eso1242, eso1339), a very deep view of the infrared sky (eso1213) and, very recently, some of the most distant quasars discovered so far (from the VISTA VIKING survey).

    The ESO Public Surveys will continue for many years, and their astronomical legacy value will stretch many decades into the future.

    See the full article,with notes, here.

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  • richardmitnick 8:04 am on September 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “Young Stars Cooking in the Prawn Nebula” 


    European Southern Observatory

    18 September 2013
    Contacts

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

    The glowing jumble of gas clouds visible in this new image make up a huge stellar nursery nicknamed the Prawn Nebula. Taken using the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, this may well be the sharpest picture ever taken of this object. It shows clumps of hot new-born stars nestled in among the clouds that make up the nebula.

    prawn
    IC4628 A.K.A. PRAWN nebula

    VST
    VST

    Located around 6000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion), the nebula formally known as IC 4628 is a huge region filled with gas and clumps of dark dust. These gas clouds are star-forming regions, producing brilliant hot young stars. In visible light, these stars appear as a blue-white colour, but they also emit intense radiation in other parts of the spectrum — most notably in the ultraviolet.

    It is this ultraviolet light from the stars that causes the gas clouds to glow. This radiation strips electrons from hydrogen atoms, which then later recombine and release energy in the form of light. Each chemical element emits light at characteristic colours when this process occurs, and for hydrogen the predominant colour is red. IC 4628 is an example of an HII region.

    This image was taken by the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. The VST is the largest telescope in the world designed for surveying the sky in visible light. It is a state-of-the-art 2.6-metre telescope built around the OmegaCAM camera that contains 32 CCD detectors that together create 268-megapixel images. This new 24 000-pixel-broad image is a mosaic of two such images and is one of the largest single images released by ESO so far.

    See the full article, complete with notes and other graphics here.

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  • richardmitnick 3:20 pm on December 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: "..Inauguration of VLT Survey Telescope", A.K.A. VST 

    “The latest telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile — the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) — was inaugurated today at the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) Observatory of Capodimonte, in Naples, Italy. The ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Naples, Luigi De Magistris, the INAF President, Giovanni Bignami, the ESO representatives Bruno Leibundgut and Roberto Tamai, and the main promoter of the telescope, Massimo Capaccioli of the University of Naples Federico II and INAF.

    The VST is a state-of-the-art 2.6-metre telescope, with the huge 268-megapixel camera OmegaCAM at its heart. It is designed to map the sky both quickly and with very fine image quality. The VST is a joint venture between ESO and INAF and OmegaCam has been provided by the OmegaCam consortium [1]. This new telescope is the largest telescope in the world exclusively dedicated to surveying the sky at visible wavelengths (eso1119).

    ESO VST telescope
    VST

    vst camera
    OmegaCam on the VST

    The occasion of the inauguration has been marked by the release of a dramatic picture of the Carina Nebula taken with the new telescope.”

    carina

    The full and very exciting article is here.

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    THE BASIC TOOLS OF E.S.O.
    i1
    Paranal Platform The VLT

    ESO NTT

    NTT – New Technology Telescope


    La Silla


    ALMA Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

    i2
    The European Extremely Large Telescope
    VISTAVISTA (the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy)


    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope (APEX)

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


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