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  • richardmitnick 12:08 pm on May 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Gemini North captures ‘lucky’ shot of Jupiter in all its infrared glory", , , , , Gemini Observatory   

    From Gemini Observatory: “Gemini North captures ‘lucky’ shot of Jupiter in all its infrared glory” 


    Gemini Observatory
    From Gemini Observatory

    May 7, 2020

    Researchers using a technique known as “lucky imaging” with the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii’s Maunakea [below] have collected some of the highest resolution images of Jupiter ever obtained from the ground. These images are part of a multi-year joint observing program with the Hubble Space Telescope in support of NASA’s Juno mission. The Gemini images, when combined with the Hubble and Juno observations, reveal that lightning strikes, and some of the largest storm systems that create them, are formed in and around large convective cells over deep clouds of water ice and liquid. The new observations also confirm that dark spots in the famous Great Red Spot are actually gaps in the cloud cover and not due to cloud color variations.

    Three years of imaging observations using the international Gemini Observatory, a program of NSF’s NOIRLab, have probed deep into Jupiter’s cloud tops. The ultra-sharp Gemini infrared images complement optical and ultraviolet observations by Hubble and radio observations by the Juno spacecraft to reveal new secrets about the giant planet.

    “The Gemini data were critical because they allowed us to probe deeply into Jupiter’s clouds on a regular schedule,” said Michael Wong of UC Berkeley, who led the research team. “We used a very powerful technique called lucky imaging,” adds Wong. With lucky imaging, a large number of very short exposure images are obtained and only the sharpest images, when the Earth’s atmosphere is briefly stable, are used. The result in this case is some of the sharpest infrared (4.7 μm) images of Jupiter ever obtained from the ground. According to Wong, “These images rival the view from space.”

    Gemini North’s Near Infrared Imager (NIRI) allows astronomers to peer deep into Jupiter’s mighty storms, since the longer wavelength infrared light can pass through the thin haze but is obscured by thicker clouds high in Jupiter’s atmosphere. This creates a “jack-o-lantern”-like effect in the images where the warm, deep layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere glow through gaps in the planet’s thick cloud cover.

    The detailed, multiwavelength imaging of Jupiter by Gemini and Hubble has, over the past three years, proven crucial to contextualizing the observations by the Juno orbiter, and to understanding Jupiter’s wind patterns, atmospheric waves, and cyclones. The two telescopes, together with Juno, can observe Jupiter’s atmosphere as a system of winds, gases, heat, and weather phenomena, providing coverage and insight much like the network of weather satellites meteorologists use to observe Earth.

    1
    Figure 1. Jupiter seen with Gemini’s Lucky Imaging. This image showing the entire disk of Jupiter in infrared light (4.7 μm) was compiled from a mosaic of nine separate pointings observed by the international Gemini Observatory, a program of NSF’s NOIRLab on 29 May 2019. From a lucky imaging set of 38 exposures taken at each pointing, the research team selected the sharpest 10%, combining them to image one ninth of Jupiter’s disk. Stacks of exposures at the nine pointings were then combined to make one clear, global view of the planet. Even though it only takes a few seconds for Gemini to create each image in a lucky imaging set, completing all 38 exposures in a set can take minutes — long enough for features to rotate noticeably across the disk. In order to compare and combine the images, they are first mapped to their actual latitude and longitude on Jupiter, using the limb, or edge of the disk, as a reference. Once the mosaics are compiled into a full disk, the final images are some of the highest-resolution infrared views of Jupiter ever taken from the ground. Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA M.H. Wong (UC Berkeley) and team Acknowledgments: Mahdi Zamani.

    Mapping giant lightning storms

    On each of its close passes over Jupiter’s clouds, Juno detected radio signals created by powerful lightning flashes called sferics (short for atmospherics) and whistlers (so-called because of the whistle-like tone they cause on radio receivers). Whenever possible, Gemini and Hubble focused on Jupiter and obtained high-resolution, wide-area maps of the giant planet to augment the Juno observations.

    Juno’s instruments could determine the latitude and longitude coordinates of clusters of sferic and whistler signals. With Gemini and Hubble images at multiple wavelengths, researchers now can probe the cloud structure at these locations. By combining these three pieces of information the research team found that the lightning strikes, and some of the largest storm systems that create them, are formed in and around large convective cells over deep clouds of water ice and liquid.

    “Scientists track lightning because it is a marker of convection, the turbulent mixing process that transports Jupiter’s internal heat up to the visible cloud tops,” explained Wong. The largest concentration of lightning seen by Juno came from a swirling storm called a “filamentary cyclone.” Imaging from Gemini and Hubble shows details in the cyclone, revealing it to be a twisted collection of tall convective clouds with deep gaps offering glimpses to the water clouds far below.

    “Ongoing studies of lightning sources will help us understand how convection on Jupiter is different from or similar to convection in the Earth’s atmosphere,” Wong commented.

    2
    Figure 2. Sharp/Unsharp Lucky Imaging. These images of Jupiter were taken in infrared light (4.7 μm) using the international Gemini Observatory, a program of NSF’s NOIRLab, on 8 April 2019. Because the telescope must observe through the Earth’s atmosphere, any disturbances in the air such as wind or temperature changes will distort and blur the image (left). This greatly limits the resolution the telescope can achieve on a target when only one image is taken. However, during a single night of lucky imaging observations, the telescope takes hundreds of exposures of the target. Some will be blurred, but many exposures will be taken when the view to space is still and clear of disturbances (right). In these lucky images, much smaller, more complex details on Jupiter are revealed. The research team finds the sharpest of these exposures, and compiles them into a mosaic of the whole disk. Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA, M.H. Wong (UC Berkeley) and team Acknowledgments: Mahdi Zamani.

    Glowing features in the Great Red Spot

    While scanning the gas giant for gaps in cloud cover, Gemini spotted a telltale glow in the Great Red Spot, indicating a clear view down to deep, warmer atmospheric layers.

    “Similar features have been seen in the Great Red Spot before,” said team member Glenn Orton of JPL, “but visible-light observation couldn’t distinguish between darker cloud material, and thinner cloud cover over Jupiter’s warm interior, so their nature remained a mystery.”

    Now with the data from Gemini, this mystery is solved. Where visible light images from Hubble show a dark semicircle in the Great Red Spot, images taken by Gemini using infrared light reveal a bright arc lighting up the region. This infrared glow, from Jupiter’s internal heat, would have been blocked by thicker clouds, but can pass through Jupiter’s hazy atmosphere unobscured. By seeing these features as bright infrared hotspots, Gemini confirms that they are gaps in the clouds.

    “NIRI at Gemini North is the most effective way for the US and the international Gemini partnership investigators to get detailed maps of Jupiter at this wavelength,” explained Wong. Gemini achieved a 500-kilometer (300-mile) resolution on Jupiter. “At this resolution, the telescope could resolve the two headlights of a car in Miami, seen from New York City,” said Andrew Stephens, the Gemini astronomer who led the observations.[1]

    “These coordinated observations prove once again that ground-breaking astronomy is made possible by combining the capabilities of the Gemini telescopes with complimentary ground- and space-based facilities,” said Martin Still, an astronomy program director at the National Science Foundation, which is Gemini’s US funding agency. “The international Gemini Partnership provides open access to a powerful combination of large telescopes’ collecting area, flexible scheduling, and a broad selection of interchangeable instruments.”

    Notes

    [1] This corresponds to an angular resolution of the Gemini infrared “lucky imaging” observations down to 0.13 arc-seconds.

    More information

    The results were published in the April 2020 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.

    Because of their value for ongoing and future research, Wong is making the processed Gemini and Hubble data available to other researchers through the Mikulski Archives for Space Telescopes (MAST) at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

    The publication team was composed of: Michael H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley), Amy A. Simon (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), Joshua W. Tollefson and Imke de Pater (University of California, Berkeley), Megan N. Barnett (University of Chicago), Andrew I. Hsu (University of California, Berkeley), Andrew W. Stephens (Gemini Observatory North), Glenn S. Orton (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology), Scott W. Fleming (Space Telescope Science Institute), Charles Goullaud (University of California, Berkeley), William Januszewski and Anthony Roman (Space Telescope Science Institute), Gordon L. Bjoraker (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), Sushil K. Atreya (University of Michigan), Alberto Adriani (Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali), and Leigh N. Fletcher (University of Leicester).

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NOAO Gemini North on MaunaKea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)


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


    Gemini’s mission is to advance our knowledge of the Universe by providing the international Gemini Community with forefront access to the entire sky.

    The Gemini Observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes. The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope is located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i (Gemini North) and the other telescope on Cerro Pachón in central Chile (Gemini South); together the twin telescopes provide full coverage over both hemispheres of the sky. The telescopes incorporate technologies that allow large, relatively thin mirrors, under active control, to collect and focus both visible and infrared radiation from space.

    The Gemini Observatory provides the astronomical communities in six partner countries with state-of-the-art astronomical facilities that allocate observing time in proportion to each country’s contribution. In addition to financial support, each country also contributes significant scientific and technical resources. The national research agencies that form the Gemini partnership include: the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the Canadian National Research Council (NRC), the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Cientifica y Tecnológica (CONICYT), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Argentinean Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva, and the Brazilian Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação. The observatory is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. The NSF also serves as the executive agency for the international partnership.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:50 pm on April 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Gemini Detects Most Energetic Wind from Distant Quasar", , , “We were shocked — this isn’t a new quasar but no one knew how amazing it was until the team got the Gemini spectra”, , , Gemini Observatory, The quasar SDSS J135246.37+423923.5   

    From Gemini Observatory: “Gemini Detects Most Energetic Wind from Distant Quasar” 


    Gemini Observatory
    From Gemini Observatory

    April 14, 2020

    Media Contact:

    Peter Michaud
    NewsTeam Manager
    NSF’s NOIRLab
    Gemini Observatory, Hilo HI
    Cell: +1 808-936-6643
    Email: pmichaud@gemini.edu

    Science Contacts:

    Karen Leighly
    Professor
    The University of Oklahoma
    Email: leighly@ou.edu

    Sarah Gallagher
    Associate Professor, Physics and Astronomy
    Western University
    Ontario, Canada
    Email: sgalla4@uwo.ca

    1
    The image at left shows an artist’s conception of the central portion of the galaxy that hosts the quasar SDSS J135246.37+423923.5 viewed at optical wavelengths. Thick winds obscure our view, and imprint signatures of the energetic outflow on the SDSS spectrum. The image at right shows the same artist’s view at infrared wavelengths, as seen by the Gemini GNIRS detector. The thick outflow is transparent at infrared wavelengths, giving us a clear line of sight to the quasar. The infrared spectrum yields the quasar redshift, and from that reference frame, we measured the record-breaking outflow velocity. Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/P. Marenfeld

    Gemini Near-Infrared Spectrograph on Gemini North, Mauna Kea, Hawaii USA

    The most energetic wind from a quasar has been revealed by a team of astronomers using observations from the international Gemini Observatory, a program of NSF’s NOIRLab.

    3

    This powerful outflow is moving into its host galaxy at almost 13% of the speed of light, and stems from a quasar known as SDSS J135246.37+423923.5 which lies roughly 10 billion light-years from Earth.

    “While high-velocity winds have previously been observed in quasars, these have been carrying only a relatively small amount of mass,” explains Sarah Gallagher, an astronomer at Western University (Canada) who led the Gemini observations. “The outflow from this quasar, in comparison, sweeps along a tremendous amount of mass at incredible speeds. This wind is crazy powerful, and we don’t know how the quasar can launch something so substantial”. [1]

    As well as measuring the outflow from SDSS J135246.37+423923.5, the team was also able to infer the mass of the supermassive black hole powering the quasar. This monstrous object is 8.6 billion times as massive as the Sun — about 2000 times the mass of the black hole in the center of our Milky Way and 50% more massive than the well-known black hole in the galaxy Messier 87.

    This result is published in The Astrophysical Journal and the quasar studied here now holds the record for the most energetic quasar wind measured to date, with a wind more energetic than those recently reported in a study of 13 quasars [2].

    Despite its mass and energetic outflow, the discovery of this powerhouse languished in a quasar survey for 15 years before the combination of Gemini data and the team’s innovative computer modeling method allowed it to be studied in detail.

    “We were shocked — this isn’t a new quasar, but no one knew how amazing it was until the team got the Gemini spectra,” explains Karen Leighly, an astronomer at the University of Oklahoma who was one of the scientific leads for this research. “These objects were too hard to study before our team developed our methodology and had the data we needed, and now it looks like they might be the most interesting kind of windy quasars to study.”

    Quasars — also known as quasi-stellar objects — are a type of extraordinarily luminous astrophysical object residing in the centres of massive galaxies [3]. Consisting of a supermassive black hole surrounded by a glowing disk of gas, quasars can outshine all the stars in their host galaxy and can drive winds powerful enough to influence entire galaxies [4].

    “Some quasar-driven winds have enough energy to sweep the material from a galaxy that is needed to form stars and thus quench star formation,” explains Hyunseop (Joseph) Choi, a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma and the first author of the scientific paper on this discovery. “We studied a particularly windy quasar, SDSS J135246.37+423923.5, whose outflow is so thick that it’s difficult to detect the signature of the quasar itself at visible wavelengths.”

    Despite the obstruction, the team was able to get a clear view of the quasar using the Gemini Near-Infrared Spectrograph (GNIRS) on Gemini North [below] to observe at infrared wavelengths. Using a combination of high-quality spectra from Gemini and a pioneering computer modeling approach, the astronomers uncovered the nature of the outflow from the object — which proved, remarkably, to be more energetic than any quasar outflow previously measured.

    The team’s discovery raises important questions, and also suggests there could be more of these quasars waiting to be found.

    “We don’t know how many more of these extraordinary objects are in our quasar catalogs that we just don’t know about yet,” concludes Choi “Since automated software generally identifies quasars by strong emission lines or blue color — two properties our object lacks — there could be more of these quasars with tremendously powerful outflows hidden away in our surveys.”

    “This extraordinary discovery was made possible with the resources provided by the international Gemini Observatory; the discovery opens new windows and opportunities to explore the Universe further in the years to come,” said Martin Still, an astronomy program director at the National Science Foundation, which funds Gemini Observatory from the U.S. as part of an international collaboration. “The Gemini Observatory continues to advance our knowledge of the Universe by providing the international science community with forefront access to telescope instrumentation and facilities.”

    Notes

    [1] The colossal energy carried by the quasar outflow is a product of both the speed of the wind and the amount of mass it carries. An intuitive way to understand this is to compare a freight train and a champion sprinter — while both travel at roughly the same speed, the more massive freight train has far more momentum and energy.

    [2] This result is independent of the recent NASA/STScI press release on quasar winds which focused on strong winds in 13 other quasars. [ https://sciencesprings.wordpress.com/2020/03/19/from-nasa-esa-hubble-telescope-quasar-tsunamis-rip-across-galaxies/ ]

    [3] Quasars take their name from their first identification in the 1950’s at radio wavelengths. Quasar is a contraction of quasi-stellar radio source, a name chosen to reflect the starlike appearance of these radio sources when viewed at visible wavelengths.

    [4] The gas feeding a quasar surrenders energy in the form of light as it falls into the central black hole. This emitted light is both the origin of a quasar’s luminosity and the source of the energy that drives outflows.

    More information

    The team was composed of Hyunseop Choi (The University of Oklahoma, USA) Karen M. Leighly (The University of Oklahoma, USA), Donald M. Terndrup (The University of Oklahoma, USA and The Ohio State University, USA), Sarah C. Gallagher (Western University, Canada, and the Canadian Space Agency), and Gordon T. Richards (Drexel University, USA).

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    NOAO Gemini North on MaunaKea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)


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


    Gemini’s mission is to advance our knowledge of the Universe by providing the international Gemini Community with forefront access to the entire sky.

    The Gemini Observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes. The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope is located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i (Gemini North) and the other telescope on Cerro Pachón in central Chile (Gemini South); together the twin telescopes provide full coverage over both hemispheres of the sky. The telescopes incorporate technologies that allow large, relatively thin mirrors, under active control, to collect and focus both visible and infrared radiation from space.

    The Gemini Observatory provides the astronomical communities in six partner countries with state-of-the-art astronomical facilities that allocate observing time in proportion to each country’s contribution. In addition to financial support, each country also contributes significant scientific and technical resources. The national research agencies that form the Gemini partnership include: the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the Canadian National Research Council (NRC), the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Cientifica y Tecnológica (CONICYT), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Argentinean Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva, and the Brazilian Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação. The observatory is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. The NSF also serves as the executive agency for the international partnership.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:33 am on March 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Gemini Observatory, MAROON-X is a high-resolution (R~80000) optical (500-900nm) bench-mounted fiber-fed echelle spectrograph., MAROON-X is a new instrument recently constructed at the University of Chicago.   

    From Gemini Observatory: “MAROON-X” 


    Gemini Observatory
    From Gemini Observatory

    1
    MAROON-X. U Chicago

    Overview of Capabilities

    MAROON-X is a new instrument recently constructed at the University of Chicago which is expected to have the capability to detect Earth-size planets in the habitable zones of mid- to late-M dwarfs using the radial velocity method. At its core, the instrument is a high-resolution (R~80,000) optical (500-900nm), bench-mounted, fiber-fed echelle spectrograph designed to deliver 1 m/s radial velocity precision for M dwarfs down to and beyond V = 16. The capability planned for this instrument is well beyond the reach of any existing instrument. The anticipated uses for the instrument are to (1) conduct a radial velocity only survey for potentially habitable planets around nearby mid- to late-M dwarfs and (2) to confirm and measure the masses of low-mass planet candidates identified in the habitable zones of M dwarfs by ground- and space-based transit surveys. These later objects will be the best objects for future atmospheric studies of potentially habitable planets.

    The main constraint for the instrument is set by the desired wavelength coverage. The important wavelength range for the instrument is 700 — 900 nm because this is the region containing the maximum radial velocity information for mid to late M dwarfs. There is no gas cell useful for this region, so the instrument must be intrinsically stable to deliver the desired radial velocity precision. This means that the optical setup must be fixed and that the entire instrument must be in a vacuum tank and in a temperature stabilized enclosure. The instrument must also be fiber-fed to maintain illumination stability. A resolving power of approximately 80,000 is necessary. A similar setup can not be realized by making straightforward modifications to existing instruments – a new instrument must be built to achieve the radial velocity precision goal for the target stars.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    NOAO Gemini North on MaunaKea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)


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


    Gemini’s mission is to advance our knowledge of the Universe by providing the international Gemini Community with forefront access to the entire sky.

    The Gemini Observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes. The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope is located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i (Gemini North) and the other telescope on Cerro Pachón in central Chile (Gemini South); together the twin telescopes provide full coverage over both hemispheres of the sky. The telescopes incorporate technologies that allow large, relatively thin mirrors, under active control, to collect and focus both visible and infrared radiation from space.

    The Gemini Observatory provides the astronomical communities in six partner countries with state-of-the-art astronomical facilities that allocate observing time in proportion to each country’s contribution. In addition to financial support, each country also contributes significant scientific and technical resources. The national research agencies that form the Gemini partnership include: the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the Canadian National Research Council (NRC), the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Cientifica y Tecnológica (CONICYT), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Argentinean Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva, and the Brazilian Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação. The observatory is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. The NSF also serves as the executive agency for the international partnership.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:17 am on March 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Gemini Telescope Images “Minimoon” Orbiting Earth - in Color!", , , , , Gemini Observatory   

    From Gemini Observatory: “Gemini Telescope Images “Minimoon” Orbiting Earth – in Color!” 


    Gemini Observatory
    From Gemini Observatory

    February 27, 2020

    Peter Michaud
    Public Information Officer
    NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory
    Tel: +1 808 974-2510
    Cell: +1 808 936-6643
    Email: pmichaud@gemini.edu

    Grigori Fedorets
    Queen’s University Belfast
    Email: g.fedorets@qub.ac.uk

    1
    International Gemini Observatory image of 2020 CD3 (center, point source) obtained with the 8-meter Gemini North telescope [below] on Hawaii’s Maunakea. The image combines three images each obtained using different filters to produce this color composite. 2020 CD3 remains stationary in the image since it was being tracked by the telescope as it appears to move relative to the background stars, which appear trailed due to the object’s motion. Credit: The international Gemini Observatory/NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory/AURA

    Gemini Observatory Image Release

    Mysterious object could be natural or human-made, more observations needed to tell the full story.

    Astronomers using the international Gemini Observatory, on Hawaii’s Maunakea, have imaged a very small object in orbit around the Earth, thought to be only a few meters across. According to Grigori Fedorets, the lead astronomer for the observations, the object could be a rare natural rocky object, or it could be something humans put into space decades ago — essentially space debris. “Either way this is a very compelling object and needs more data to determine what it is,” said Fedorets.

    The newly discovered orbiting object has been assigned the provisional designation 2020 CD3 by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center. If it is natural in origin, such as an asteroid, then it is only the second known rocky satellite of the Earth ever discovered in space other than the Moon. The other body, discovered in 2006, has since been ejected out of Earth orbit. 2020 CD3 was discovered on the night of 15 February 2020 by Kacper Wierzchos and Teddy Pruyne at the Catalina Sky Survey operating out of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson Arizona.

    The image, obtained on 24 February 2020, shows simply a tiny pinpoint of light against trailing stars. “The stars are trailing because this object is moving relative to the background stars and the 8-meter Gemini North telescope was tracking on this object,” said Fedorets, adding that it is challenging to follow moving objects like this with a big telescope like Gemini. John Blakeslee, Head of Science at the international Gemini Observatory comments, “Obtaining the images was a scramble for the Gemini team because the object is quickly becoming fainter as it moves away from Earth. It is expected to be ejected from Earth’s orbit altogether in April.”

    Fedorets, an astronomer at Queen’s University Belfast, and his team are “pulling out all of the stops” to obtain more data on the object to determine its nature. “Additional observations to refine its position will help us determine this mystery object’s orbit and its possible origin,” said Fedorets, adding that its reflectivity is also an important characteristic, as rocky bodies tend to have relatively low reflectivity compared to things like spent rocket boosters.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    NOAO Gemini North on MaunaKea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)


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


    Gemini’s mission is to advance our knowledge of the Universe by providing the international Gemini Community with forefront access to the entire sky.

    The Gemini Observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes. The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope is located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i (Gemini North) and the other telescope on Cerro Pachón in central Chile (Gemini South); together the twin telescopes provide full coverage over both hemispheres of the sky. The telescopes incorporate technologies that allow large, relatively thin mirrors, under active control, to collect and focus both visible and infrared radiation from space.

    The Gemini Observatory provides the astronomical communities in six partner countries with state-of-the-art astronomical facilities that allocate observing time in proportion to each country’s contribution. In addition to financial support, each country also contributes significant scientific and technical resources. The national research agencies that form the Gemini partnership include: the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the Canadian National Research Council (NRC), the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Cientifica y Tecnológica (CONICYT), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Argentinean Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva, and the Brazilian Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação. The observatory is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. The NSF also serves as the executive agency for the international partnership.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:38 pm on February 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Gemini South Telescope Captures Exquisite Planetary Nebula", , , , , Gemini Observatory, The striking planetary nebula CVMP 1   

    From Gemini Observatory: “Gemini South Telescope Captures Exquisite Planetary Nebula” 

    Gemini Observatory
    From Gemini Observatory

    February 20, 2020

    Peter Michaud
    NewsTeam Manager
    NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory
    Gemini Observatory, Hilo HI
    Desk: +1 808-974-2510
    Cell: +1 808-936-6643
    Email: pmichaud@gemini.edu

    1
    International Gemini Observatory composite color image of the planetary nebula CVMP 1 imaged by the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph on the Gemini South telescope [below] on Cerro Pachón in Chile. Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory/AURA

    Gemini Observatory GMOS on Gemini South

    Gemini Observatory Image Release

    The latest image from the International Gemini Observatory showcases the striking planetary nebula CVMP 1. This object is the result of the death throes of a giant star and is a glorious but relatively short-lived astronomical spectacle. As the progenitor star of this planetary nebula slowly cools, this celestial hourglass will run out of time and will slowly fade from view over many thousands of years.

    Located roughly 6500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Circinus (The Compass) this astronomical beauty formed during the final death throes of a massive star. CVMP 1 is a planetary nebula; it emerged when an old red giant star blew off its outer layers in the form of a tempestuous stellar wind [1]. As this cast-aside stellar atmosphere sped outwards into interstellar space, the hot, exposed core of the progenitor star began to energize the ejected gases and cause them to glow. This formed the beautiful hourglass shape captured in this observation from the International Gemini Observatory, a facility of NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory.

    Planetary nebulae like CVMP 1 are formed by only certain stars — those with a mass somewhere between 0.8 and 8 times that of our own Sun [2]. Less massive stars will gently fizzle out, transitioning into white dwarfs at the end of their long lives, whereas more massive stars live fast and die young, ending their lives in gargantuan explosions known as supernovae. For stars lying between these extremes, however, the final stretch of their lives results in a striking astronomical display such as the one seen in this image. Unfortunately, the spectacle provided by a planetary nebula is as brief as it is glorious; these objects typically persist for only 10,000 years — a tiny stretch of time compared to the lifespan of most stars, which lasts billions of years.

    These short-lived planetary nebulae come in myriad shapes and sizes, and several particularly striking forms are well known, such as the Helix Nebula which is captured in this image from 2003 which combined OIR Lab facilities at Kitt Peak National Observatory with the Hubble Space Telescope.

    2
    Helix Nebula

    Kitt Peak National Observatory of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 88 kilometers 55 mi west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona, Altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft)

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    The great diversity of shapes stems from the diversity of progenitor star systems, whose characteristics can greatly influence the ensuing planetary nebula. The presence of companion stars, orbiting planets, or even the rotation of the original red giant star can help determine the shape of a planetary nebula, but we don’t yet have a detailed understanding of the processes sculpting these beautiful astronomical fireworks displays.

    But CVMP 1 is intriguing for more than just its aesthetic value. Astronomers have found that the gases making up the hourglass are highly enriched with helium and nitrogen, and that CVMP 1 is one of the largest planetary nebulae known. These clues together suggest that CVMP 1 is highly evolved, making it an ideal object to help astronomers understand the later lives of planetary nebulae.

    Astronomical measurements have revealed the characteristics of CVMP 1’s central star. By measuring the light emitted from the gas in the planetary nebula, astronomers infer that the temperature of the central star is at least 130,000 degrees C (230,000 degrees F). Despite this scorching temperature, the star is doomed to steadily cool over thousands of years. Eventually, the light it emits will have too little energy to ionize gas in the planetary nebula, causing the striking hourglass shown in this image to fade from view.

    The International Gemini Observatory, comprises telescopes in the northern and southern hemispheres, which together can access the entire night sky. Similar to many large observatories, a small fraction of the observing time of the Gemini telescopes is set aside for the creation of color images that can share the beauty of the Universe with the public. Objects are chosen for their aesthetic appeal — such as this striking celestial hourglass.

    Notes

    [1] Despite their name, planetary nebulae have nothing to do with planets. This misnomer originates from the round, planet-like appearance of these objects when viewed through early telescopes. As telescopes improved, the striking beauty and stellar origin of planetary nebulae became more obvious, but their original name has persisted.[2] Which in turn implies that our own Sun will form a planetary nebula after burning through its hydrogen fuel, around 5 billion years from now.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    NOAO Gemini North on MaunaKea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)


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


    Gemini’s mission is to advance our knowledge of the Universe by providing the international Gemini Community with forefront access to the entire sky.

    The Gemini Observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes. The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope is located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i (Gemini North) and the other telescope on Cerro Pachón in central Chile (Gemini South); together the twin telescopes provide full coverage over both hemispheres of the sky. The telescopes incorporate technologies that allow large, relatively thin mirrors, under active control, to collect and focus both visible and infrared radiation from space.

    The Gemini Observatory provides the astronomical communities in six partner countries with state-of-the-art astronomical facilities that allocate observing time in proportion to each country’s contribution. In addition to financial support, each country also contributes significant scientific and technical resources. The national research agencies that form the Gemini partnership include: the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the Canadian National Research Council (NRC), the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Cientifica y Tecnológica (CONICYT), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Argentinean Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva, and the Brazilian Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação. The observatory is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. The NSF also serves as the executive agency for the international partnership.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:35 am on January 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Gemini Observatory, , , ,   

    From Science Node: “How does a planet form?” 

    Science Node bloc
    From Science Node

    15 Jan, 2020
    Jan Zverina

    New simulations of terrestrial planet formation raise questions about the ingredients of life.

    1
    Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

    NASA JPL


    Most of us are taught in grade school how planets come to be: dust particles clump together and over millions of years continue to collide until one is formed. This lengthy and complicated process was recently modeled using a novel approach with the help of the Comet [below] supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center.

    SDSC Triton HP supercomputer

    SDSC Gordon-Simons supercomputer

    SDSC Dell Comet supercomputer

    2
    Accumulations of dust, like this disk around a young star, may eventually become planets. A new study models this complicated process. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    The modeling enabled scientists at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) to implement a new software package, which in turn allowed them to create a simulation of planet formation that provides a new baseline for future studies of this mysterious field.

    “Specifically, we modeled the formation of terrestrial planets such as Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars,” said Kevin Walsh, SwRI researcher and lead author of the paper published in the Icarus Journal.

    “The problem of planet formation is to start with a huge amount of very small dust that interacts on super-short timescales (seconds or less), and the Comet-enabled simulations finish with the final big collisions between planets that continue for 100 million years or more.”

    What’s out there? And who?

    As Earthlings, these models give us insight into the key physics and timescales involved in our own solar system, according to the researchers. They also allow us to better understand how common planets such as ours could be in other solar systems. This may also mean that environments similar to Earth may exist.

    “One big consideration is these models traced the material in the solar system that we know is rich with water, and seeing what important mechanisms can bring those to Earth and where they would have done so.”

    3
    Two large rocky bodies collide. New simulation models give insight into key physics and timescales involved in the formation of our own solar system. Courtesy Gemini Observatory/AURA.

    Studying the formation and evolution of the solar system—events that happened over four billion years ago–helps shed light on the distribution of different material throughout the solar system, explained Walsh.

    “While some of these tracers of solar system history are slight differences in the molecular makeup of different rocks, other differences can be vast and include the distribution of water-rich asteroids. Knowing the history and compositions of these smaller bodies could one day help as more distant and ambitious space travel may require harvesting some of their materials for fuel.”

    How did Comet (the supercomputer) help?

    The number, sizes, and times of the physics of planet formation makes it impossible to model in a single code or simulation. As the researchers learned more about the formation process, they realized that where one starts these final models (i.e. how many asteroids or proto-planets and their locations in a solar system) is very important, and that past models to produce those initial conditions were most likely flawed.

    4
    Simulation of formation of terrestrial planets. Top row shows how eccentric each particle’s orbit is at the four times of 1, 2, 10 and 20 million years (where “eccentric” relates to the orbit’s elongation, where 0 is circular and 1 is a straight line). Black circles are particles that have grown to reach the mass of the Earth’s Moon. Bottom row shows the radius of each particle as a function of its distance from the Sun at the same four times. The black particles are again those that are as massive as the Moon, and the coloring of the particles relates to the mass (and radius). These glimpses show how the smaller particles are quickly gobbled up by the growing planets and that the planets stir and re-shape the orbits of the smaller bodies shown by their increases in eccentricity. Courtesy Kevin Walsh, Southwest Research Institute.

    “In this work we finally deployed a new piece of software that can model a much larger swath of this problem and start with the solar system full of 50 to 100-kilometer asteroids and build them all the way to planets and consider the complications of the gas disk around the sun and the effects of collisions blasting apart some of the material,” said Walsh.

    “We needed a supercomputer such as Comet to be able to crunch the huge amount of calculations required to complete the models and the power of this supercomputer allows us to dream up even bigger problems to attack in the future.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Science Node is an international weekly online publication that covers distributed computing and the research it enables.

    “We report on all aspects of distributed computing technology, such as grids and clouds. We also regularly feature articles on distributed computing-enabled research in a large variety of disciplines, including physics, biology, sociology, earth sciences, archaeology, medicine, disaster management, crime, and art. (Note that we do not cover stories that are purely about commercial technology.)

    In its current incarnation, Science Node is also an online destination where you can host a profile and blog, and find and disseminate announcements and information about events, deadlines, and jobs. In the near future it will also be a place where you can network with colleagues.

    You can read Science Node via our homepage, RSS, or email. For the complete iSGTW experience, sign up for an account or log in with OpenID and manage your email subscription from your account preferences. If you do not wish to access the website’s features, you can just subscribe to the weekly email.”

     
  • richardmitnick 2:07 pm on January 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , FRB 180916.J0158+65, , Gemini Observatory   

    From Gemini Observatory: “Fast Radio Burst Observations Deepen Astronomical Mystery” 

    Gemini Observatory
    From Gemini Observatory

    January 6, 2020

    Peter Michaud
    NewsTeam Manager
    NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory
    Gemini Observatory, Hilo HI
    Desk:: +1 808-974-2510
    Cell: +1 808-936-6643
    Email: pmichaud@gemini.edu

    Jason Hessels
    University of Amsterdam & ASTRON
    Email: j.w.t.hessels@uva.nl
    Phone: +31 610260062

    Shriharsh Tendulkar
    McGill University
    Email: shriharsh@physics.mcgill.ca

    Astronomers have pinpointed the origin of a repeating Fast Radio Burst to a nearby spiral galaxy, challenging theories on the unknown source of these pulses.

    1
    Image of the host galaxy of FRB 180916 (center) acquired on Hawaii’s Maunakea with the 8-meter Gemini North telescope of the international Gemini Observatory (a program of the NSF’s OIR Lab). Images acquired in SDSS g’, r’, and z’ filters are used for the blue, green, and red colors, respectively. The position of the FRB in the spiral arm of the galaxy is marked by a green circle. Credit: Gemini Observatory/NSF’s Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory/AURA

    Observations with the 8-meter Gemini North telescope [below], a program of the NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, have allowed astronomers to pinpoint the location of a Fast Radio Burst in a nearby galaxy — making it the closest known example to Earth and only the second repeating burst source to have its location pinpointed in the sky. The source of this burst of radio waves is located in an environment radically different from that seen in previous studies. This discovery challenges researchers’ assumptions on the origin of these already enigmatic extragalactic events.

    An unsolved mystery in astronomy has become even more puzzling. The source of Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) — sudden bursts of radio waves lasting a few thousandths of a second — has remained unknown since their discovery in 2007. Research published today in the scientific journal Nature, and presented at the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, has pinpointed the origin of an FRB to an unexpected environment in a nearby spiral galaxy. Observations with the Gemini North telescope of NSF’s Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (OIR Lab) on Maunakea in Hawai‘i, played a vital role in this discovery, which renders the nature of these extragalactic radio pulses even more enigmatic.

    The sources of FRBs and their nature are mysterious — many are one-off bursts but very few of them emit repeated flashes. The recently discovered FRB — identified by the unpoetic designation FRB 180916.J0158+65 — is one of only five sources with a precisely known location and only the second such source that shows repeated bursts. Such FRB’s are referred to as localized and can be associated with a particular distant galaxy, allowing astronomers to make additional observations that can provide insights into the origin of the radio pulse.

    “This object’s location is radically different from that of not only the previously located repeating FRB, but also all previously studied FRBs,” elaborates Kenzie Nimmo, PhD student at the University of Amsterdam and a fellow lead author of this paper. “This blurs the differences between repeating and non-repeating fast radio bursts. It may be that FRBs are produced in a large zoo of locations across the Universe and just require some specific conditions to be visible.”

    Pinpointing the location of FRB 180916.J0158+65 required observations at both radio and optical wavelengths. FRBs can only be detected with radio telescopes, so radio observations are fundamentally necessary to accurately determine the position of an FRB on the sky. This particular FRB was first discovered by the Canadian CHIME radio telescope array in 2018[1].

    CHIME Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment -A partnership between the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, McGill University, Yale and the National Research Council in British Columbia, at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, British Columbia, CA Altitude 545 m (1,788 ft)

    The new research used the European VLBI Network (EVN)[2] to precisely localize the source, but measuring the precise distance and local environment of the radio source was only possible with follow-up optical observations with the Gemini North telescope.

    Global mm-VLBI Array

    The international Gemini Observatory comprises telescopes in both the northern and southern hemispheres, which together can access the entire night sky.

    “We used the cameras and spectrographs on the Gemini North telescope to image the faint structures of the host galaxy where the FRB resides, measure its distance, and analyze its chemical composition,” explains Shriharsh Tendulkar, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University in Montreal, Canada who led the Gemini observations[3] and subsequent data analysis. “These observations showed that the FRB originates in a spiral arm of the galaxy, in a region which is rapidly forming stars.”

    However, the source of FRB 180916.J0158+65 — which lies roughly 500 million light-years from Earth — was unexpected and shows that FRB’s may not be linked to a particular type of galaxy or environment, deepening this astronomical mystery[4].

    “This is the closest FRB to Earth ever localised,” explains Benito Marcote, of the Joint Institute for VLBI European Research Infrastructure Consortium and a lead author of the Nature paper. “Surprisingly, it was found in an environment radically different from that of the previous four localised FRBs — an environment that challenges our ideas of what the source of these bursts could be.”

    The researchers hope that further studies will reveal the conditions that result in the production of these mysterious transient radio pulses, and address some of the many unanswered questions they pose. Corresponding author Jason Hessels of the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) and the University of Amsterdam states that “our aim is to precisely localize more FRBs and, ultimately, understand their origin.”

    “It’s a pleasure to see different observing facilities complement one another during challenging high-priority investigations such as this,” concludes Luc Simard, Gemini Board member and Director General of NRC-Herzberg, which hosts CHIME, as well as the Canadian Gemini Office. “We are particularly honored to have the opportunity to conduct astronomical observations on Maunakea in Hawai’i. This site’s exceptional observing conditions are vital to making astronomical discoveries such as this.”

    Chris Davis, National Science Foundation Program Officer for Gemini adds, “understanding the origin of FRBs will undoubtedly be an exciting challenge for astronomers in the 2020s; we’re confident that Gemini will play an important role, and it seems fitting that Gemini has made these important observations at the dawn of the new decade.”

    Notes

    [1] The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) collaboration operates an innovative radio telescope at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Canada. The CHIME telescope’s novel construction makes it particularly adept at discovering FRBs such as FRB 180916.J0158+65.

    [2] Radio observations were made using eight radio telescopes of the European Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (EVN) following the discovery of FRB 180916.J0158+65 by the CHIME/FRB Collaboration.

    [3] The Gemini observations were made between July and September of 2019 using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) on the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii’s Maunakea.

    [4] Prior to the observations announced today, the evidence hinted at the possibility that repeating and non-repeating FRBs were formed in very different environments. The only repeating FRB apart from FRB 180916.J0158+65 with a precisely determined location was found to inhabit a region of massive star formation inside a dwarf galaxy. Conversely, the three localized non-repeating FRBs were all found in massive galaxies and appear not to be associated with star-forming regions, leading to speculation that there were two separate types of FRB.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    NOAO Gemini North on MaunaKea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)


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


    Gemini’s mission is to advance our knowledge of the Universe by providing the international Gemini Community with forefront access to the entire sky.

    The Gemini Observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes. The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope is located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i (Gemini North) and the other telescope on Cerro Pachón in central Chile (Gemini South); together the twin telescopes provide full coverage over both hemispheres of the sky. The telescopes incorporate technologies that allow large, relatively thin mirrors, under active control, to collect and focus both visible and infrared radiation from space.

    The Gemini Observatory provides the astronomical communities in six partner countries with state-of-the-art astronomical facilities that allocate observing time in proportion to each country’s contribution. In addition to financial support, each country also contributes significant scientific and technical resources. The national research agencies that form the Gemini partnership include: the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the Canadian National Research Council (NRC), the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Cientifica y Tecnológica (CONICYT), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Argentinean Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva, and the Brazilian Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação. The observatory is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. The NSF also serves as the executive agency for the international partnership.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:18 pm on December 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Galactic Dance", , , , , Gemini Observatory, NGC 5394 and NGC 5395 also known collectively known as Arp 84 or the Heron Galaxy   

    From Gemini Observatory: “A Galactic Dance” 

    NOAO

    Gemini Observatory
    From Gemini Observatory

    1
    Image of the interacting galaxy pair NGC 5394/5 obtained with NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory’s Gemini North 8-meter telescope on Hawai’i’s Maunakea using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph in imaging mode. This four-color composite image has a total exposure time of 42 minutes. Credit: NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory/Gemini Observatory/AURA

    “Everything is determined by forces over which we have no control… Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” — Albert Einstein

    Galaxies lead a graceful existence on cosmic timescales. Over millions of years, they can engage in elaborate dances that produce some of Nature’s most exquisite and striking grand designs. Few are as captivating as the galactic duo known as NGC 5394/5, sometimes nicknamed the Heron Galaxy. This image, obtained by the Gemini Observatory of NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, captures a snapshot of this compelling interacting pair.

    The existence of our Universe is dependent upon interactions — from the tiniest subatomic particles to the largest clusters of galaxies. At galactic scales, interactions can take millions of years to unfold, a process seen in this image of two galaxies released today by the Gemini Observatory. The new image captures the slow and intimate dance of a pair of galaxies some 160 million light-years distant and reveals the sparkle of subsequent star formation fueled by the pair’s interactions.

    The two galaxies, astronomers have concluded, have already “collided” at least once. However, galactic collisions can be a lengthy process of successive gravitational encounters, which over time can morph the galaxies into exotic, yet unrecognizable forms. These galaxies, as in all galactic collisions, are engaged in a ghostly dance as the distances between the stars in each galaxy preclude actual stellar collisions and their overall shapes are deformed only by each galaxy’s gravity.

    One byproduct of the turbulence caused by the interaction is the coalescence of hydrogen gas into regions of star formation. In this image, these stellar nurseries are revealed in the form of the reddish clumps scattered in a ring-like fashion in the larger galaxy (and a few in the smaller galaxy). Also visible is a dusty ring that is seen in silhouette against the backdrop of the larger galaxy. A similar ring structure is seen in this previous image from the Gemini Observatory, likely the result of another interacting galactic pair.

    A well-known target for amateur astronomers, the light from NGC 5394/5 first piqued humanity’s interest when it was observed by William Herschel in 1787. Herschel used his giant 20-foot-long telescope to discover the two galaxies in the same year that he discovered two moons of Uranus. Many stargazers today imagine the two galaxies as a Heron. In this interpretation, the larger galaxy is the bird’s body and the smaller one is its head — with its beak preying upon a fish-like background galaxy!

    NGC 5394 and NGC 5395, also known collectively known as Arp 84 or the Heron Galaxy, are interacting spiral galaxies 160 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Canes Venatici. The larger galaxy, NGC 5395 (on the left), is 140,000 light-years across and the smaller one, NGC 5394, is 90,000 light-years across.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    NOAO Gemini North on MaunaKea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)


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


    Gemini’s mission is to advance our knowledge of the Universe by providing the international Gemini Community with forefront access to the entire sky.

    The Gemini Observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes. The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope is located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i (Gemini North) and the other telescope on Cerro Pachón in central Chile (Gemini South); together the twin telescopes provide full coverage over both hemispheres of the sky. The telescopes incorporate technologies that allow large, relatively thin mirrors, under active control, to collect and focus both visible and infrared radiation from space.

    The Gemini Observatory provides the astronomical communities in six partner countries with state-of-the-art astronomical facilities that allocate observing time in proportion to each country’s contribution. In addition to financial support, each country also contributes significant scientific and technical resources. The national research agencies that form the Gemini partnership include: the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the Canadian National Research Council (NRC), the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Cientifica y Tecnológica (CONICYT), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Argentinean Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva, and the Brazilian Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação. The observatory is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. The NSF also serves as the executive agency for the international partnership.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:17 pm on December 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Gemini Observatory, Gemini Planet Imager on Gemini South   

    From Gemini Observatory: “The exoplanet Beta Pictoris b. And yet it moves” 

    NOAO

    Gemini Observatory
    From Gemini Observatory

    December 5, 2019
    Franck Marchis

    1
    This artist’s view shows the planet orbiting the young star Beta Pictoris. This exoplanet is the first to have its rotation rate measured. Its eight-hour day corresponds to an equatorial rotation speed of 100 000 kilometres/hour — much faster than any planet in the Solar System.

    Eric Nielsen, formerly a post-doc at the SETI Institute and now a researcher at Stanford University, led a study of the planet beta Pictoris b that combined direct observation of the planet recorded with the Gemini Planet Imager with additional data from space and ground-based observations.

    NOAO Gemini Planet Imager on Gemini South

    The team estimated the mass of this distant planet to be eight to sixteen times that of Jupiter and found that it likely has an elliptical orbit. A video shows the motion of the planet around its star, something that was inconceivable fifteen years ago.

    Since it was installed on the Gemini-South telescope in 2013, GPI has been continually observing beta Pictoris, studying its debris disk, atmosphere, and orbit, and searching for additional planets in the system. What makes beta Pictoris b special in the family of directly imaged exoplanets is that it is close enough to its star to complete an orbit in just twenty-five years, which means astronomers are less than a decade from observing a full beta Pic b year since its discovery in 2003. The orientation of the planet’s orbit with respect to Earth is more edge on than other imaged planets—in fact, it just misses passing directly in front of its star.

    Seeing the exoplanet β Pic b from Franck Marchis on Vimeo.

    A new paper [AJ) from the GPIES team determined the planet’s orbit based on a decade and a half of images, as well as radial velocity measurements of both star and planet, and space-based astrometry, which measures the star’s reflex motion. Since the amount the star moves in response to the planet depends on the planet’s mass, this combination of different techniques has been key to learning about the mass of beta Pic b, a rarity among directly imaged planets. This movie shows the combination of all GPI images of beta Pic b from 2013 until 2018, including the gap between 2016 and 2018 when the planet’s orbit took it too close to the star to be detected.

    GPI will shortly move to Gemini-North, from which beta Pic is unfortunately not visible; here it will instead search for planets not visible from Gemini-South. Other instruments, including VLT/SPHERE, will continue to monitor the orbit of beta Pic b in coming years.

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

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo,

    Many surprises about this system will no doubt be uncovered in the near future. For instance, a recent paper led by Anne-Marie Lagrange showed evidence for a second planet in the system, beta Pic c, based on radial velocity measurements of the star. This planet is expected to have a mass (and thus a brightness) similar to beta Pic b, but be about four times closer to the star. Future observations, especially with upgraded instruments in the southern hemisphere such as the ELT, may be sensitive enough to image this second planet as well, which is expected to be in a similar edge-on orbit as beta Pic b.

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

    What a feast it will be for astronomers when they can study and understand more of these multiple systems by directly imaging their planets!

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    NOAO Gemini North on MaunaKea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)


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


    Gemini’s mission is to advance our knowledge of the Universe by providing the international Gemini Community with forefront access to the entire sky.

    The Gemini Observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes. The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope is located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i (Gemini North) and the other telescope on Cerro Pachón in central Chile (Gemini South); together the twin telescopes provide full coverage over both hemispheres of the sky. The telescopes incorporate technologies that allow large, relatively thin mirrors, under active control, to collect and focus both visible and infrared radiation from space.

    The Gemini Observatory provides the astronomical communities in six partner countries with state-of-the-art astronomical facilities that allocate observing time in proportion to each country’s contribution. In addition to financial support, each country also contributes significant scientific and technical resources. The national research agencies that form the Gemini partnership include: the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the Canadian National Research Council (NRC), the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Cientifica y Tecnológica (CONICYT), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Argentinean Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva, and the Brazilian Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação. The observatory is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. The NSF also serves as the executive agency for the international partnership.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:56 am on September 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Record-Breaking Protocluster Takes Fast-track", , , , , Gemini Observatory, Puzzling protocluster z660D   

    From Gemini Observatory: “Record-Breaking Protocluster Takes Fast-track” 

    NOAO

    Gemini Observatory
    From Gemini Observatory

    September 26, 2019

    Science Contacts:

    Yuichi Harikane
    JSPS fellow
    National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Mitaka, Japan
    Email: yuichi.harikane”at”nao.ac.jp
    Desk: +81 80 6914 7660

    Chien-Hsiu Lee
    Assistant Scientist
    National Optical Astronomy Observatory, Tucson, AZ
    Email: lee”at”noao.edu
    Desk: (520) 318-8386

    Media Contacts:

    Peter Michaud
    Public Information and Outreach Manager
    Gemini Observatory, Hilo, Hawaiʻi
    Email: pmichaud”at”gemini.edu
    Desk: (808) 974-2510
    Cell: (808) 936-6643

    Alyssa Grace
    Public Information and Outreach Assistant
    Gemini Observatory, Hilo, Hawaiʻi
    Email: agrace”at”gemini.edu
    Desk: (808) 974-2531

    Hideaki Fujiwara
    Public Information Officer/Scientist
    Subaru Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Hilo, Hawaiʻi
    Email: hideaki”at”naoj.org
    Desk: (808) 934-5922

    The discovery of the most distant large-scale cluster of galaxies in the very young Universe has astronomers puzzling over how it formed so rapidly.

    1
    The red objects are zoomed-in figures of the 12 galaxies found in the most distant protocluster. Six of these galaxies were found by Gemini Observatory. Credit: NAOJ/Harikane et al.

    Crucial observations by a collaboration of telescopes including Gemini Observatory, Subaru Telescope, and W. M. Keck Observatory, all on Hawaii’s Maunakea, have helped an international team of astronomers to discover the most distant cosmic collection of galaxies caught in the act of forming in the early Universe.


    NOAO Gemini North on MaunaKea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)


    NAOJ/Subaru Telescope at Mauna Kea Hawaii, USA,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level


    Keck Observatory, operated by Caltech and the University of California, Maunakea Hawaii USA, 4,207 m (13,802 ft)

    Known as z660D, this puzzling protocluster — a large and scattered collection of young gas-rich galaxies — is feverishly creating stars some 13 billion light years away. It is the most distant large-scale structure of galaxies ever detected. Full details are published in the 30 September 2019 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

    “This discovery suggests that large-scale structures already existed when our Universe was only about 800 million years old,” explained lead author Yuichi Harikane from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. “That’s just 6% of the Universe’s current age of 13.8 billion years. In addition to its impressive age, this protocluster is in the fast lane to formation.”

    “As we continue to find rare and essential objects like this protocluster of galaxies in the early history of our universe, collaboration of major facilities often becomes necessary,” added Chris Davis of the National Science Foundation, which provides support for the international Gemini Observatory. “Big telescopes can bring something unique to the table. In Gemini’s case, optical spectroscopy has always been a great strength and a powerful tool for discovery.”

    The study began with a wide-field search for protocluster candidates using the wide-field Hyper Suprime-Cam imager on the 8-meter Subaru telescope on Maunakea, Hawai‘i.

    NAOJ Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam

    “During the survey the team encountered z660D, where galaxies are 15 times more concentrated than average,” said Chien-Hsiu Lee of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) who participated in the imaging survey. The team then used the sensitive Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) on the 8-meter Gemini North telescope also on Maunakea to capture the chemical fingerprints of half of the individual galaxies in the protocluster.

    GEMINI/North GMOS

    These data, coupled with similar spectroscopic data from the neighboring Keck Observatory and the Magellan Telescope in Chile, confirmed that z660D was unmistakably the most distant protocluster ever detected, lying 13.0 billion light years away.

    Las Campanas Clay Magellan telescope, located at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory, Chile, approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) northeast of the city of La Serena, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high

    Low-Dispersion Survey Spectrograph 3 (LDSS-3), mounted on the Magellan Clay telescope in Chile

    “Confirmations by Gemini led to Keck follow-up for fainter galaxies in z66OD,” said Harikane. “With Gemini data we confirmed the first six galaxies in the protocluster were indeed present, instead of just being foreground objects and we found the most surprising aspect about this protocluster, the location of its Himiko.”

    One of the 12 galaxies in z66OD is a “Himiko” object — an enormous protogalaxy with a huge gas halo caught at the moment of its formation. Masami Ouchi, a team member at National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the University of Tokyo, discovered the first object of this type in 2009 and named it after a legendary queen in ancient Japan.

    “It is reasonable to find a giant and massive object like Himiko in a protocluster which is also thought to be massive,” Ouchi said. But what is surprising is that the Himiko in z660D does not lie near the center of the galaxy distribution. “Strangely enough, it lies on the edge, 500 million light years away from the cluster’s center. Deciphering the reason will be key to understanding its role in the formation of the protocluster.”

    The galaxies in z66OD appear to be powered by prodigious bursts of star formation. Indeed, the team’s further studies of the galaxies with the Subaru telescope, United Kingdom Infra-Red Telescope, and Spitzer Space Telescope revealed surprisingly active star formation in the z66OD protocluster. The number of stars forming per year in the protocluster is a startling five times larger than that in other galaxy groupings with similar masses that have been observed in the early Universe. Each galaxy is an efficient star factory, probably due to the large amount of gas (the principal ingredient of stars) that the very massive z660D system provides.

    Equally curious is that while previous observations have suggested that protoclusters this early in the universe should contain a massive dusty galaxy, z660D does not appear to have one. “Although we haven’t found such a galaxy in z66OD yet,” commented Seiji Fujimoto, team member at Waseda University, Japan, “future observations, for example with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, should reveal more of the structure of z66OD.”

    Until then, objects like z660D pose a formidable challenge to astronomers trying to understand the formation of some of the largest structures in the Universe.

    See the full article here .


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    NOAO Gemini North on MaunaKea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)


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


    Gemini’s mission is to advance our knowledge of the Universe by providing the international Gemini Community with forefront access to the entire sky.

    The Gemini Observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes. The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope is located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i (Gemini North) and the other telescope on Cerro Pachón in central Chile (Gemini South); together the twin telescopes provide full coverage over both hemispheres of the sky. The telescopes incorporate technologies that allow large, relatively thin mirrors, under active control, to collect and focus both visible and infrared radiation from space.

    The Gemini Observatory provides the astronomical communities in six partner countries with state-of-the-art astronomical facilities that allocate observing time in proportion to each country’s contribution. In addition to financial support, each country also contributes significant scientific and technical resources. The national research agencies that form the Gemini partnership include: the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the Canadian National Research Council (NRC), the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Cientifica y Tecnológica (CONICYT), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Argentinean Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva, and the Brazilian Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação. The observatory is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. The NSF also serves as the executive agency for the international partnership.

     
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