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  • richardmitnick 9:23 pm on May 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Continuous monitoring of the entire sky now possible, , Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation,   

    From Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation via Princeton: “Continuous monitoring of the entire sky now possible” 

    Princeton University
    Princeton University


    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    An extremely bright supernova, designated ASASSN-15lh Source: Stellarium

    Astronomy plays a central role in advancing our understanding of the universe, but human lives are very short compared to astronomical timescales. Looking for changes in the universe demands powerful technology to catch rare events. Much of astronomy is conducted by focusing large and sensitive telescopes on narrow regions of sky. This approach is very successful when you know where to look, but transient events are constantly occurring elsewhere in areas of the sky that are not observed. Until now.

    With funding from the Moore Foundation, The Ohio State University’s existing All-Sky Automated Search for Supernovae project will be expanded – doubling in size so that the entire night sky can be observed once a night, every night. Currently the All-Sky project, with initial funding from the National Science Foundation, observes the night’s sky on every clear night through two telescopes located in Chile and Hawaii. These telescopes help discover exploding stars and violent eruptions from black holes in the centers of galaxies. These transient events get reported rapidly to the astronomical community for further study. The All-Sky network has made important scientific contributions in its two years of operation. It has discovered many bright local supernovae, accounting for about 60 percent of the world’s discoveries over the two-year period. And, in the summer of 2015, the network found the most energetic supernova ever detected.

    Added capacity for the project will produce the first complete and unbiased all-sky census of local supernovae, leading to an improved understanding of which stars produce each of the known types of supernova explosions. It also has the capacity to find unknown types that have eluded less capable searches. Expanding the telescopes from two sites to four not only doubles the data acquisition rate to cover the whole nighttime sky every day, it also helps reduce weather-related gaps in the data. The two new telescopes will be placed in Texas and South Africa: along with the sites in Chile and Hawaii, this system will provide a strong hedge against being clouded out and missing an important event.

    In addition to doubling the size of the project, funding from the foundation will improve the system’s ability to share discoveries with the broader astronomy community. The typical path to astronomical discovery has a small number of researchers analyzing data from “their” telescope time and eventually publishing papers without others ever seeing the data. The All-Sky Survey will take a more collaborative path to discovery anchored by a public alert system and a publicly accessible database. The public alert system uses automated data analysis to rapidly identify phenomena of interest and alerts the astronomy community. Read more from The Ohio State University here.

    Sharing data across the entire astronomy community is an approach the foundation has been taking in this field. Recently, the foundation provided funding to make data from Pan-STARRS – the world’s largest digital sky survey to date – publicly available.

    Pan-STARRS1 located on Haleakala, Maui, HI, USA

    The images from the Pan-STARRS survey also serve as a reference for All-Sky Survey scientists and researchers, who now have a “before” image for almost every patch of the sky and can consult the Pan-STARRS image to see if something detected in the All-Sky Survey data is actually new or not.

    Complementing the abilities of the All-Sky Survey is another foundation-funded project at Princeton dubbed HATPI – “HAT” from the Hungarian Automated Telescope constructed and operated by the principal investigator Gaspar Bakos and covering a solid angle of PI steradians on the sky at all times – about the angle covered by an umbrella held over your head.

    Where the All-Sky Survey uses a smaller array of larger telescopes to make daily observations and is aimed at the discovery of events with a timescale of a few days, HATPI has a 30-second cadence through a hedgehog-like array of 63 telescopes on a single mount.


    HATPI will create very high precision measurements to detect the shadow of a planet crossing the (unseen) disk of nearby stars. It is also great for finding earth-threatening asteroids, all kinds of variable stars, exploding stars and possibly even the optical emission from a gravitational wave source. The telescope will be sited at Las Campanas Observatory in northern Chile.

    Carnegie Las Campanas Observaory in the southern Atacama Desert of Chile in the Atacama Region approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) northeast of the city of La Serena

    It will cover the whole sky every clear night and over the course of a year, it will record three-quarters of the entire sky. The Princeton team also aims to process the data in real time and make the results public without delay.

    Our portfolio of work in astronomy is aimed at creating new opportunities for the astronomical community by enabling the development of new technologies and by making the data accessible to astronomers and enthusiasts alike. Human life is short compared to astronomical timescales, but systems of telescopes, detectors and software can reveal changes in the cosmos even when they are very rare, giving us insight into the full range of nature’s events.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Princeton University Campus

    About Princeton: Overview

    Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

    As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

    Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. The University’s generous financial aid program ensures that talented students from all economic backgrounds can afford a Princeton education.

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  • richardmitnick 7:40 am on May 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation,   

    From LBL ALS and the Moore Foundation: “Beyond the Lab: Alessandra Lanzara” 

    Berkeley Logo

    Berkeley Lab

    LBL Advanced Light Source
    LBL Advanced Light Source

    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    Alessandra Lanzara

    May 19, 2016
    Aditi Risbud

    Alessandra Lanzara, Ph.D., is a grantee in the foundation’s Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems initiative and directs the Lanzara Research Group at the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

    Her group studies how electrons and atoms interact with intense, ultra-short optical pulses of light–a cutting-edge technique called angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, or ARPES. This experimental tool gives scientists a glimpse into the secret lives of electrons and atoms, and could one day allow us to alter their properties using just a flash of light.

    In this installment of Beyond the Lab, Alessandra discusses her work unraveling the behavior of quantum materials, and the connections between experimental physics and archaeology.

    What inspired you to become a scientist?

    It all started during a school field trip to an amusement park. My teacher organized this trip as a fun way to learn about fundamental physics in our everyday life. While initially I was excited about being able to spend an entire school day at the amusement park, by the end of the day I was actually more enthusiastic about the physics underlying the roller coasters! This was a defining moment, when I realized that I wanted to become a physicist.

    Looking back, however, I believe that the seed was already planted, and my parents have inspired me throughout all my childhood. I recall endless hours spent with my dad inventing a “new motor” or designing a “new car”. Enthusiasm for discovery and invention, thinking without creating any artificial barriers–these are probably the most beautiful presents that my parents have given me.

    What areas in science are you most interested in solving?

    I am fascinated by the rich and mysterious properties of quantum materials, materials where quantum mechanics plays a key role in determining their unconventional behavior.

    My interest spans from understanding their equilibrium properties, by uncovering how electrons move and how they interact within each other and with other excitations; to using ultrashort and intense pulses of light to manipulate quantum materials behavior and to induce new regimes that do not exist in equilibrium.

    Just like understanding of semiconductors led to the silicon revolution, understanding quantum materials will mark new revolutions in technology leading to a new era of computing.

    How do your colleagues help you achieve your goals?

    I have been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by amazing people that are a constant inspiration for me: from my Ph.D. advisor, an unconventional thinker driven by a passion for science, to my colleagues here at Berkeley who continuously push me to always try something more, to design the next harder experiment, and to challenge even what we think is known.

    Working with dedicated, bright students and post-docs, and sharing–and confronting– ideas, is an inspiring and beautiful process that leads to new unexplored paths and eventually, new discoveries.

    What are your greatest challenges as a researcher?

    As an experimental scientist, I often feel that my biggest limitation is the lack of sophisticated experimental tools that can further deepen and eventually uncover the mysterious force that drives new properties in materials. Often times, an experiment shows us the tip of an iceberg, but the lack of more sophisticated tools limits our complete mapping of the iceberg.

    I like to compare science to archaeology, one of my passions. When archaeologists were digging in search of the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, they discovered several small and unique pieces that were just the tip of what turned to be an amazing and sophisticated civilization. Only more advanced tools and investments have allowed us to finally uncover a treasure that was hidden under our eyes for thousands of years, revealing one of the most rich and fascinating civilizations of the past.

    What gets you going every day, and how do you stay motivated?

    The mystery of the unknown and the passion for discovering natural truths. The unique feeling that follows from the discovery of something, even if it is just a tiny, tiny piece of a huge and still unsolved puzzle, keeps me motivated and enthusiastic about science.

    Watch Alessandra and her colleagues at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory discuss the potential of angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy here.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    A U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory Operated by the University of California

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