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  • richardmitnick 1:54 pm on December 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "These Are The Most Distant Astronomical Objects In The Known Universe", , , , , , , , , Gravitational Lensing, , , Our most distant “standard candle” for probing the Universe is SN UDS10Wil located 17 billion light-years (Gly), , , ,   

    From Ethan Siegel: “These Are The Most Distant Astronomical Objects In The Known Universe” 

    From Ethan Siegel
    Dec 30, 2019

    Astronomy’s enduring quest is to go farther, fainter, and more detailed than ever before. Here’s the edge of the cosmic frontier.

    1
    The distant galaxy MACS1149-JD1 is gravitationally lensed by a foreground cluster, allowing it to be imaged at high resolution and in multiple instruments, even without next-generation technology.

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    This galaxy’s light comes to us from 530 million years after the Big Bang, but the stars within it are at least 280 million years old. It is the second-most distant galaxy with a spectroscopically confirmed distance, placing it 30.7 billion light-years away from us. (ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NASA/ESA HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE, W. ZHENG (JHU), M. POSTMAN (STSCI), THE CLASH TEAM, HASHIMOTO ET AL.)

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Astronomers have always sought to push back the viewable distance frontiers.

    2
    Although there are magnified, ultra-distant, very red and even infrared galaxies in the eXtreme Deep Field, there are galaxies that are even more distant out there than what we’ve discovered in our deepest-to-date views. These galaxies will always remain visible to us, but we will never see them as they are today: 13.8 billion years after the Big Bang. (NASA, ESA, R. BOUWENS AND G. ILLINGWORTH (UC, SANTA CRUZ))

    More distant galaxies appear fainter, smaller, bluer, and less evolved overall.

    3
    Galaxies comparable to the present-day Milky Way are numerous, but younger galaxies that are Milky Way-like are inherently smaller, bluer, more chaotic, and richer in gas in general than the galaxies we see today. For the first galaxies of all, this ought to be taken to the extreme, and remains valid as far back as we’ve ever seen. The exceptions, when we encounter them, are both puzzling and rare. (NASA AND ESA)

    Milky Way NASA/JPL-Caltech /ESO R. Hurt. The bar is visible in this image

    Laniakea supercluster. From Nature The Laniakea supercluster of galaxies R. Brent Tully, Hélène Courtois, Yehuda Hoffman & Daniel Pomarède at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v513/n7516/full/nature13674.html. Milky Way is the red dot.

    Individual planets and stars are only known relatively nearby, as our tools cannot take us farther.

    Local Group. Andrew Z. Colvin 3 March 2011

    4
    A massive cluster (left) magnified a distant star known as Icarus more than 2,000 times, making it visible from Earth (lower right) even though it is 9 billion light years away, far too distant to be seen individually with current telescopes. It was not visible in 2011 (upper right). The brightening leads us to believe that this was a blue supergiant star, formally named MACS J1149 Lensed Star 1. (NASA, ESA, AND P. KELLY (UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA))

    As the 2010s end, here are our presently known most distant astronomical objects.

    4
    The ultra-distant supernova SN UDS10Wil, shown here, is the farthest type Ia supernova ever discovered, whose light arrives today from a position 17 billion light-years away.

    A white dwarf fed by a normal star reaches the critical mass and explodes as a type Ia supernova. Credit: NASA/CXC/M Weiss

    Type Ia supernovae are used as distance indicators because of their standard intrinsic brightnesses, and are some of our strongest evidence for the accelerated expansion best explained by dark energy.

    Standard Candles to measure age and distance of the universe from supernovae NASA

    (NASA, ESA, A. RIESS (STSCI AND JHU), AND D. JONES AND S. RODNEY (JHU))

    The farthest type Ia supernova, our most distant “standard candle” for probing the Universe, is SN UDS10Wil, located 17 billion light-years (Gly) away.

    4
    This illustration of superluminous supernova SN 1000+0216, the most distant supernova ever observed at a redshift of z=3.90, from when the Universe was just 1.6 billion years old, is the current record-holder for individual supernovae. Unlike SN UDS10Wil, this supernova is a Type II (core collapse) supernova, and may have formed via the pair instability mechanism, which would explain its extraordinarily large intrinsic brightness. (ADRIAN MALEC AND MARIE MARTIG (SWINBURNE UNIVERSITY))

    The most distant supernova of all, 2012’s superluminous SN 1000+0216, occurred 23 Gly away.

    6
    The most distant X-ray jet in the Universe, from quasar GB 1428, sends us light from when the Universe was a mere 1.25 billion years old: less than 10% its current age. This jet comes from electrons heating CMB photons, and is over 230,000 light-years in extent: approximately double the size of the Milky Way. (X-RAY: NASA/CXC/NRC/C.CHEUNG ET AL; OPTICAL: NASA/STSCI; RADIO: NSF/NRAO/VLA)

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky Expanded Very Large Array, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA, at an elevation of 6970 ft (2124 m)

    The most distant quasar jet, revealed by GB 1428+4217’s X-rays, is 25.4 Gly distant.

    7
    This image of ULAS J1120+0641, a very distant quasar powered by a black hole with a mass two billion times that of the Sun, was created from images taken from surveys made by both the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey.

    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point Observatory, near Sunspot NM, USA, Altitude2,788 meters (9,147 ft)


    UKIRT, located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i, USA as part of Mauna Kea Observatory,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    The quasar appears as a faint red dot close to the centre. This quasar was the most distant one known from 2011 until 2017, and is seen as it was just 745 million years after the Big Bang. It is the most distant quasar with a visual image available to be viewed by the public. (ESO/UKIDSS/SDSS)

    The first discovered object whose light exceeds 13 billion years in age, quasar ULAS J1120+0641, is 28.8 Gly away.

    9
    This artist’s concept shows the most distant quasar and the most distant supermassive black hole powering it. At a redshift of 7.54, ULAS J1342+0928 corresponds to a distance of some 29.32 billion light-years; it is the most distant quasar/supermassive black hole ever discovered. Its light arrives at our eyes today, in the radio part of the spectrum, because it was emitted just 686 million years after the Big Bang. (ROBIN DIENEL/CARNEGIE INSTITUTION FOR SCIENCE)

    However, quasar ULAS J1342+0928 is even farther at 29.32 Gly: our most distant black hole.

    10
    This illustration of the most distant gamma-ray burst ever detected, GRB 090423, is thought to be typical of most fast gamma-ray bursts. When one or two objects violently form a black hole, such as from a neutron star merger, a brief burst of gamma rays followed by an infrared afterglow (when we’re lucky) allows us to learn more about these events. The gamma rays from this event lasted just 10 seconds, but Nial Tanvir and his team found an infrared afterglow using the UKIRT telescope just 20 minutes after the burst, allowing them to determine a redshift (z=8.2) and distance (29.96 billion light-years) to great precision. (ESO/A. ROQUETTE)

    Gamma-ray bursts exceed even that; GRB 090423’s verified light comes from 29.96 Gly away in the distant Universe, while GRB 090429B might’ve been even farther.

    9
    Here, candidate galaxy UDFj-39546284 appears very faint and red, and from the colors it displays, it has an inferred redshift of 10, giving it an age below 500 million years and a distance greater than 31 billion light-years. Without spectroscopic confirmation, however, this and similar galaxies cannot reliably be said to have a known distance; more data is needed, as photometric redshifts are notoriously unreliable. (NASA, ESA, G. ILLINGWORTH (UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ), R. BOUWENS (UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ, AND LEIDEN UNIVERSITY) AND THE HUDF09 TEAM)

    Ultra-distant galaxy candidates abound, including SPT0615-JD, MACS0647-JD, and UDFj-39546284, all lacking spectroscopic confirmation.

    11
    The most distant galaxy ever discovered in the known Universe, GN-z11, has its light come to us from 13.4 billion years ago: when the Universe was only 3% its current age: 407 million years old. The distance from this galaxy to us, taking the expanding Universe into account, is an incredible 32.1 billion light-years. (NASA, ESA, AND G. BACON (STSCI))

    The most distant galaxy of all is GN-z11, located 32.1 Gly away.

    11
    The James Webb Space Telescope vs. Hubble in size (main) and vs. an array of other telescopes (inset) in terms of wavelength and sensitivity. It should be able to see the truly first galaxies, even the ones that no other observatory can see. Its power is truly unprecedented. (NASA / JWST SCIENCE TEAM)

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    With the 2020s promising revolutionary new observatories, these records may all soon fall.

    12
    Our deepest galaxy surveys can reveal objects tens of billions of light years away, but there are more galaxies within the observable Universe we still have yet to reveal between the most distant galaxies and the cosmic microwave background [CMB], including the very first stars and galaxies of all.

    CMB per ESA/Planck

    It is possible that the coming generation of telescopes will break all of our current distance records. (SLOAN DIGITAL SKY SURVEY (SDSS))

    See the full article here .

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    “Starts With A Bang! is a blog/video blog about cosmology, physics, astronomy, and anything else I find interesting enough to write about. I am a firm believer that the highest good in life is learning, and the greatest evil is willful ignorance. The goal of everything on this site is to help inform you about our world, how we came to be here, and to understand how it all works. As I write these pages for you, I hope to not only explain to you what we know, think, and believe, but how we know it, and why we draw the conclusions we do. It is my hope that you find this interesting, informative, and accessible,” says Ethan

     
  • richardmitnick 2:27 pm on November 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Gravitational Lensing, , PSZ1 G311.65-18.48, Sunburst Arc   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope: “NASA’s Hubble Captures a Dozen Galaxy Doppelgangers” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope


    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    November 07, 2019

    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
    410-338-4514
    villard@stsci.edu

    Emil Rivera-Thorsen
    Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, Oslo, Norway
    +46 737 703 603
    emil.rivera-thorsen@astro.uio.no

    Håkon Dahle
    Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, Oslo, Norway
    +47 93266331
    hakon.dahle@astro.uio.no

    1
    Warped Space Creates Cool Kaleidoscope View of Faraway Galaxy

    The “funhouse mirror” has delighted carnival-goers for more than a century by twisting peoples’ images into wildly distorted shapes. Its prolific inventor, Charles Frances Ritchel, called it the “Ritchel’s Laugh-O-Graphs.” However, there was nothing funny – but instead practical – about warped images as far as Albert Einstein was concerned. In developing his general theory of relativity, Einstein imagined the universe as a grand funhouse mirror caused by wrinkles in the very fabric of space.

    This recent picture from Hubble shows a galaxy nicknamed the “Sunburst Arc” that has been split into a kaleidoscope illusion of no fewer than 12 images formed by a massive foreground cluster of galaxies 4.6 billion light-years away.

    This beautifully demonstrates Einstein’s prediction that gravity from massive objects in space should bend light in a manner analogous to a funhouse mirror. His idea of space warping was at last proven in 1919 by observations of a solar eclipse where the sun’s bending of space could be measured. A further prediction was that the warping would create a so-called “gravitational lens” that, besides distortion, would increase the apparent size and brightness of distant background objects.

    It wasn’t until 1979 that the first such gravitational lens was confirmed.

    An otherwise obscure galaxy split and amplified the light of a distant quasar located far behind it into a pair of images. Far more than a space-carnival novelty, gravitational lensing observations today are commonly used to find planets around other stars, zoom in on very distant galaxies, and map the distribution of otherwise invisible “dark matter” in the universe.

    2

    This NASA Hubble Space Telescope photo reveals a cosmic kaleidoscope of a remote galaxy, which has been split into multiple images by an effect called gravitational lensing.

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    Gravitational lensing means that the foreground galaxy cluster is so massive that its gravity distorts the fabric of space-time, bending and magnifying the light from the more distant galaxy behind it. This “funhouse mirror” effect not only stretches the background galaxy image, but also creates multiple images of the same galaxy.

    The lensing phenomenon produces at least 12 images of the background galaxy, distributed over four major arcs. Three of these arcs are visible in the top right of the image, while one counter arc is visible in the lower left — partially obscured by a bright foreground star within the Milky Way.

    The galaxy, nicknamed the Sunburst Arc, is almost 11 billion light-years from Earth and has been lensed into multiple images by a massive foreground cluster of galaxies 4.6 billion light-years away.

    Hubble uses these cosmic magnifying glasses to study objects that would otherwise be too faint and too small for even its extraordinarily sensitive instruments. The Sunburst Arc is no exception, despite being one of the brightest gravitationally lensed galaxies known.

    The lens makes images of the Sunburst Arc that are between 10 and 30 times brighter than the background galaxy would normally look. The magnification allows Hubble to view structures as small as 520 light-years across that would be too small to see without the turboboost from the lensing effect. The structures resemble star forming regions in nearby galaxies in the local universe, allowing astronomers to make a detailed study of the remote galaxy and its environment.

    Hubble’s observations show that the Sunburst Arc is similar to galaxies which existed at a much earlier time in the history of the universe, perhaps only 150 million years after the Big Bang.

    Science paper
    Gravitational lensing reveals ionizing ultraviolet photons escaping from a distant galaxy
    Science

    See the full article here .


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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 2:20 pm on October 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers use giant galaxy cluster as X-ray magnifying lens", , , , , Detection of a small star-forming dwarf galaxy, Gravitational Lensing, , The first super-energetic stages of star formation., This galaxy is similar to the very first galaxies that formed in the universe., This is the first time scientists have leveraged these massive gravitational giants to zoom in on extreme distant X-ray-emitting phenomena.   

    From MIT News: “Astronomers use giant galaxy cluster as X-ray magnifying lens” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    October 14, 2019
    Jennifer Chu

    1
    Researchers have for the first time used a massive cluster of galaxies as a huge magnifying lens to detect a small, star-forming dwarf galaxy.
    Image courtesy of the researchers.

    New lens technique spots tiny dwarf galaxy in the first, super-energetic stages of star formation.

    Astronomers at MIT and elsewhere have used a massive cluster of galaxies as an X-ray magnifying glass to peer back in time, to nearly 9.4 billion years ago. In the process, they spotted a tiny dwarf galaxy in its very first, high-energy stages of star formation.

    While galaxy clusters have been used to magnify objects at optical wavelengths, this is the first time scientists have leveraged these massive gravitational giants to zoom in on extreme, distant, X-ray-emitting phenomena.

    What they detected appears to be a blue speck of an infant galaxy, about 1/10,000 the size of our Milky Way, in the midst of churning out its first stars — supermassive, cosmically short-lived objects that emit high-energy X-rays, which the researchers detected in the form of a bright blue arc.

    “It’s this little blue smudge, meaning it’s a very small galaxy that contains a lot of super-hot, very massive young stars that formed recently,” says Matthew Bayliss, a research scientist in MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. “This galaxy is similar to the very first galaxies that formed in the universe … the kind of which no one has ever seen in X-ray in the distant universe before.”

    Bayliss says the detection of this single, distant galaxy is proof that scientists can use galaxy clusters as natural X-ray magnifiers, to pick out extreme, highly energetic phenomena in the universe’s early history.

    “With this technique, we could, in the future, zoom in on a distant galaxy and age-date different parts of it — to say, this part has stars that formed 200 million years ago, versus another part that formed 50 million years ago, and pick them apart in a way you cannot otherwise do,” says Bayliss, who will be moving on to the University of Cincinnati as an assistant professor of physics.

    He and his co-authors, including Michael McDonald, assistant professor of physics at MIT, have published their results today in the journal Nature Astronomy.

    A candle in the light

    Galaxy clusters are the most massive objects in the universe, composed of thousands of galaxies, all bound together by gravity as one enormous, powerful force. Galaxy clusters are so massive, and their gravitational pull is so strong, that they can distort the fabric of space-time, bending the universe and any surrounding light, much like an elephant would stretch and warp a trapeze net.

    Scientists have used galaxy clusters as cosmic magnifying glasses, with a technique known as gravitational lensing.

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA


    Radio galaxies gravitationally lensed by a very large foreground galaxy cluster Hubble

    The idea is that if scientists can approximate the mass of a galaxy cluster, they can estimate its gravitational effects on any surrounding light, as well as the angle at which a cluster may deflect that light.

    For instance, imagine if an observer, facing a galaxy cluster, were trying to detect an object, such as a single galaxy, behind that cluster. The light emitted by that object would travel straight toward the cluster, then bend around the cluster. It would continue traveling toward the observer, though at slightly different angles, appearing to the observer as mirrored images of the same object, which in the end can be combined as a single, “magnified” image.

    Scientists have used galaxy clusters to magnify objects at optical wavelengths, but never in the X-ray band of the electromagnetic spectrum, mainly because galaxy clusters themselves emit an enormous amount of X-rays. Scientists have thought that any X-rays coming from a background source would be impossible to discern from the cluster’s own glare.

    “If you’re trying to see an X-ray source behind a cluster, it’s like trying to see a candle next to a really bright light,” Bayliss says. “So we knew this was a challenging measurement to make.”

    X-ray subtraction

    The researchers wondered: Could they subtract that bright light and see the candle behind it? In other words, could they remove the X-ray emissions coming from the galaxy cluster, to view the much fainter X-rays coming from an object, behind and magnified by the cluster?

    The team tested this idea with observations taken by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, one of the world’s most powerful X-ray space telescopes.

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope

    They looked in particular at Chandra’s measurements of the Phoenix cluster, a distant galaxy cluster located 5.7 billion light-years from Earth, which has been estimated to be about a quadrillion times as massive as the sun, with gravitational effects that should make it a powerful, natural magnifying lens.

    4
    New observations of the galaxy cluster SPT-CLJ2344-4243 at X-ray, ultraviolet, and optical wavelengths are helping astronomers better understand this extraordinary system. Chandra data (blue) reveal large cavities in the X-rays, which have been combined in this composite image with optical data from Hubble (red, green, and blue). Astronomers think these X-ray cavities were carved out of the surrounding gas by powerful jets of high-energy particles emanating from near a supermassive black hole in the central galaxy of the cluster. Massive filaments of gas and dust, which extend for 160,000 to 330,000 lights years, surround the X-ray cavities.

    “The idea is to take whatever your best X-ray telescope is — in this case, Chandra — and use a natural lens to magnify and effectively make Chandra bigger, so you can see more distant things,” Bayliss says.

    He and his colleagues analyzed observations of the Phoenix cluster, taken continuously by Chandra for over a month. They also looked at images of the cluster taken by two optical and infrared telescopes — the Hubble Space Telescope and the Magellan telescope in Chile.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Carnegie 6.5 meter Magellan Baade and Clay Telescopes located at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory, Chile. over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high

    With all these various views, the team developed a model to characterize the cluster’s optical effects, which allowed the researchers to precisely measure the X-ray emissions from the cluster itself, and subtract it from the data.

    They were left with two similar patterns of X-ray emissions around the cluster, which they determined were “lensed,” or gravitationally bent, by the cluster. When they traced the emissions backward in time, they found that they all originated from a single, distant source: a tiny dwarf galaxy from 9.4 billion years ago, when the universe itself was roughly 4.4 billion years old — about a third of its current age.

    “Previously, Chandra had seen only a handful of things at this distance,” Bayliss says. “In less than 10 percent of the time, we discovered this object, similarly far away. And gravitational lensing is what let us do it.”

    The combination of Chandra and the Phoenix cluster’s natural lensing power enabled the team to see the tiny galaxy hiding behind the cluster, magnified about 60 times. At this resolution, they were able to zoom in to discern two distinct clumps within the galaxy, one producing many more X-rays than the other.

    As X-rays are typically produced during extreme, short-lived phenomena, the researchers believe that the first X-ray-rich clump signals a part of the dwarf galaxy that has very recently formed supermassive stars, while the quieter region is an older region that contains more mature stars.

    “We’re catching this galaxy at a very useful stage, where it’s got these really young stars,” Bayliss says. “Every galaxy had to start out in this phase, but we don’t see a lot of these kinds of galaxies in our own neighborhood. Now we can go back in time, look in the distant universe, find galaxies in this early phase of their life, and start to study how star formation is different there.”

    This research was funded, in part, by NASA, and by the Space Telescope Science Institute.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 12:13 pm on May 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "CosmoGAN Neural Network to Study Dark Matter", , , , , , Gravitational Lensing, , New deep learning network,   

    From insideHPC: “CosmoGAN Neural Network to Study Dark Matter” 

    From insideHPC

    May 18, 2019
    Rich Brueckner

    As cosmologists and astrophysicists delve deeper into the darkest recesses of the universe, their need for increasingly powerful observational and computational tools has expanded exponentially. From facilities such as the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument to supercomputers like Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Cori system at NERSC, they are on a quest to collect, simulate, and analyze increasing amounts of data that can help explain the nature of things we can’t see, as well as those we can.

    Why opt for GANs instead of other types of generative models? Performance and precision, according to Mustafa.

    “From a deep learning perspective, there are other ways to learn how to generate convergence maps from images, but when we started this project GANs seemed to produce very high-resolution images compared to competing methods, while still being computationally and neural network size efficient,” he said.

    “We were looking for two things: to be accurate and to be fast,” added co-author Zaria Lukic, a research scientist in the Computational Cosmology Center at Berkeley Lab. “GANs offer hope of being nearly as accurate compared to full physics simulations.”

    The research team is particularly interested in constructing a surrogate model that would reduce the computational cost of running these simulations. In the Computational Astrophysics and Cosmology paper, they outline a number of advantages of GANs in the study of large physics simulations.

    “GANs are known to be very unstable during training, especially when you reach the very end of the training and the images start to look nice – that’s when the updates to the network can be really chaotic,” Mustafa said. “But because we have the summary statistics that we use in cosmology, we were able to evaluate the GANs at every step of the training, which helped us determine the generator we thought was the best. This procedure is not usually used in training GANs.”

    Using the CosmoGAN generator network, the team has been able to produce convergence maps that are described by – with high statistical confidence – the same summary statistics as the fully simulated maps. This very high level of agreement between convergence maps that are statistically indistinguishable from maps produced by physics-based generative models offers an important step toward building emulators out of deep neural networks.

    1
    Weak lensing convergence maps for the ΛCDM cosmological model. Randomly selected maps from validation dataset (top) and GAN-generated examples (bottom).

    Weak gravitational lensing NASA/ESA Hubble

    Lambda-Cold Dark Matter, Accelerated Expansion of the Universe, Big Bang-Inflation (timeline of the universe) Date 2010 Credit: Alex Mittelmann Cold creation


    NERSC Cray Cori II supercomputer at NERSC at LBNL, named after Gerty Cori, the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science

    LBNL/DESI spectroscopic instrument on the Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory starting in 2018

    NOAO/Mayall 4 m telescope at Kitt Peak, Arizona, USA, Altitude 2,120 m (6,960 ft)

    Toward this end, gravitational lensing is one of the most promising tools scientists have to extract this information by giving them the ability to probe both the geometry of the universe and the growth of cosmic structure.

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    Gravitational lensing distorts images of distant galaxies in a way that is determined by the amount of matter in the line of sight in a certain direction, and it provides a way of looking at a two-dimensional map of dark matter, according to Deborah Bard, Group Lead for the Data Science Engagement Group at NERSC.

    “Gravitational lensing is one of the best ways we have to study dark matter, which is important because it tells us a lot about the structure of the universe,” she said. “The majority of matter in the universe is dark matter, which we can’t see directly, so we have to use indirect methods to study how it is distributed.”

    But as experimental and theoretical datasets grow, along with the simulations needed to image and analyze this data, a new challenge has emerged: these simulations are increasingly – even prohibitively – computationally expensive. So computational cosmologists often resort to computationally cheaper surrogate models, which emulate expensive simulations. More recently, however, “advances in deep generative models based on neural networks opened the possibility of constructing more robust and less hand-engineered surrogate models for many types of simulators, including those in cosmology,” said Mustafa Mustafa, a machine learning engineer at NERSC and lead author on a new study that describes one such approach developed by a collaboration involving Berkeley Lab, Google Research, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

    A variety of deep generative models are being investigated for science applications, but the Berkeley Lab-led team is taking a unique tack: generative adversarial networks (GANs). In a paper published May 6, 2019 in Computational Astrophysics and Cosmology, they discuss their new deep learning network, dubbed CosmoGAN, and its ability to create high-fidelity, weak gravitational lensing convergence maps.

    “A convergence map is effectively a 2D map of the gravitational lensing that we see in the sky along the line of sight,” said Bard, a co-author on the Computational Astrophysics and Cosmology paper. “If you have a peak in a convergence map that corresponds to a peak in a large amount of matter along the line of sight, that means there is a huge amount of dark matter in that direction.”

    The Advantages of GANs

    “The huge advantage here was that the problem we were tackling was a physics problem that had associated metrics,” Bard said. “But with our approach, there are actual metrics that allow you to quantify how accurate your GAN is. To me that is what is really exciting about this – how these kinds of physics problems can influence machine learning methods.”

    Ultimately such approaches could transform science that currently relies on detailed physics simulations that require billions of compute hours and occupy petabytes of disk space – but there is considerable work still to be done. Cosmology data (and scientific data in general) can require very high-resolution measurements, such as full-sky telescope images.

    “The 2D images considered for this project are valuable, but the actual physics simulations are 3D and can be time-varying ?and irregular, producing a rich, web-like structure of features,” said Wahid Bhmiji, a big data architect in the Data and Analytics Services group at NERSC and a co-author on the Computational Astrophysics and Cosmology paper. “In addition, the approach needs to be extended to explore new virtual universes rather than ones that have already been simulated – ultimately building a controllable CosmoGAN.”

    “The idea of doing controllable GANs is essentially the Holy Grail of the whole problem that we are working on: to be able to truly emulate the physical simulators we need to build surrogate models based on controllable GANs,” Mustafa added. “Right now we are trying to understand how to stabilize the training dynamics, given all the advances in the field that have happened in the last couple of years. Stabilizing the training is extremely important to actually be able to do what we want to do next.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 8:43 am on May 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A New Filter to Better Map the Dark Universe", , , “Lensing can magnify or demagnify things. It also distorts them along a certain axis so they are stretched in one direction.”, , , , Gravitational Lensing, , The researchers found that a certain lensing signature called shearing seems largely immune to the foreground “noise” effects that otherwise interfere with the CMB lensing data.,   

    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab: “A New Filter to Better Map the Dark Universe” 

    Berkeley Logo

    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

    May 8, 2019
    Glenn Roberts Jr.
    geroberts@lbl.gov
    (510) 486-5582

    1
    Just as a wine glass distorts an image, showing temperature fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background [CMB] in this photo illustration, large objects like galaxy clusters and galaxies can similarly distort this light to produce lensing effects. (Credit: Emmanuel Schaan and Simone Ferraro/Berkeley Lab)

    The earliest known light in our universe, known as the cosmic microwave background [CMB], was emitted about 380,000 years after the Big Bang.

    CMB per ESA/Planck


    ESA/Planck 2009 to 2013

    The patterning of this relic light holds many important clues to the development and distribution of large-scale structures such as galaxies and galaxy clusters.

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    Distortions in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), caused by a phenomenon known as lensing, can further illuminate the structure of the universe and can even tell us things about the mysterious, unseen universe – including dark energy, which makes up about 68 percent of the universe and accounts for its accelerating expansion, and dark matter, which accounts for about 27 percent of the universe.

    Set a stemmed wine glass on a surface, and you can see how lensing effects can simultaneously magnify, squeeze, and stretch the view of the surface beneath it. In lensing of the CMB, gravity effects from large objects like galaxies and galaxy clusters bend the CMB light in different ways. These lensing effects can be subtle (known as weak lensing) for distant and small galaxies, and computer programs can identify them because they disrupt the regular CMB patterning.

    Weak gravitational lensing NASA/ESA Hubble

    There are some known issues with the accuracy of lensing measurements, though, and particularly with temperature-based measurements of the CMB and associated lensing effects.

    While lensing can be a powerful tool for studying the invisible universe, and could even potentially help us sort out the properties of ghostly subatomic particles like neutrinos, the universe is an inherently messy place.

    And like bugs on a car’s windshield during a long drive, the gas and dust swirling in other galaxies, among other factors, can obscure our view and lead to faulty readings of the CMB lensing.

    There are some filtering tools that help researchers to limit or mask some of these effects, but these known obstructions continue to be a major problem in the many studies that rely on temperature-based measurements.

    The effects of this interference with temperature-based CMB studies can lead to erroneous lensing measurements, said Emmanuel Schaan, a postdoctoral researcher and Owen Chamberlain Postdoctoral Fellow in the Physics Division at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

    “You can be wrong and not know it,” Schaan said. “The existing methods don’t work perfectly – they are really limiting.”

    To address this problem, Schaan teamed up with Simone Ferraro, a Divisional Fellow in Berkeley Lab’s Physics Division, to develop a way to improve the clarity and accuracy of CMB lensing measurements by separately accounting for different types of lensing effects.

    “Lensing can magnify or demagnify things. It also distorts them along a certain axis so they are stretched in one direction,” Schaan said.

    The researchers found that a certain lensing signature called shearing, which causes this stretching in one direction, seems largely immune to the foreground “noise” effects that otherwise interfere with the CMB lensing data. The lensing effect known as magnification, meanwhile, is prone to errors introduced by foreground noise. Their study, published May 8 in the journal Physical Review Letters, notes a “dramatic reduction” in this error margin when focusing solely on shearing effects.

    3
    A set of cosmic microwave background images with no lensing effects (top row) and with exaggerated cosmic microwave background lensing effects (bottom row). (Credit: Wayne Hu and Takemi Okamoto/University of Chicago)

    The sources of the lensing, which are large objects that stand between us and the CMB light, are typically galaxy groups and clusters that have a roughly spherical profile in temperature maps, Ferraro noted, and the latest study found that the emission of various forms of light from these “foreground” objects only appears to mimic the magnification effects in lensing but not the shear effects.

    “So we said, ‘Let’s rely only on the shear and we’ll be immune to foreground effects,’” Ferraro said. “When you have many of these galaxies that are mostly spherical, and you average them, they only contaminate the magnification part of the measurement. For shear, all of the errors are basically gone.”

    He added, “It reduces the noise, allowing us to get better maps. And we’re more certain that these maps are correct,” even when the measurements involve very distant galaxies as foreground lensing objects.

    The new method could benefit a range of sky-surveying experiments, the study notes, including the POLARBEAR-2 and Simons Array experiments, which have Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley participants; the Advanced Atacama Cosmology Telescope (AdvACT) project; and the South Pole Telescope – 3G camera (SPT-3G). It could also aid the Simons Observatory and the proposed next-generation, multilocation CMB experiment known as CMB-S4 – Berkeley Lab scientists are involved in the planning for both of these efforts.

    POLARBEAR McGill Telescope located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile in the Antofagasta Region. The POLARBEAR experiment is mounted on the Huan Tran Telescope (HTT) at the James Ax Observatory in the Chajnantor Science Reserve.

    LBL The Simons Array in the Atacama in Chile, with the 6 meter Atacama Cosmology Telescope

    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL. The SPT collaboration is made up of over a dozen (mostly North American) institutions, including the University of Chicago, the University of California, Berkeley, Case Western Reserve University, Harvard/Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the University of Colorado Boulder, McGill University, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of California, Davis, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Argonne National Laboratory, and the National Institute for Standards and Technology. It is funded by the National Science Foundation.

    South Pole Telescope SPT-3G Camera

    The method could also enhance the science yield from future galaxy surveys like the Berkeley Lab-led Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) project under construction near Tucson, Arizona, and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) project under construction in Chile, through joint analyses of data from these sky surveys and the CMB lensing data.

    LBNL/DESI spectroscopic instrument on the Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory starting in 2018


    NOAO/Mayall 4 m telescope at Kitt Peak, Arizona, USA, Altitude 2,120 m (6,960 ft)


    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)

    LSST


    LSST Camera, built at SLAC



    LSST telescope, currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.


    LSST Data Journey, Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    Increasingly large datasets from astrophysics experiments have led to more coordination in comparing data across experiments to provide more meaningful results. “These days, the synergies between CMB and galaxy surveys are a big deal,” Ferraro said.

    4
    These images show different types of emissions that can interfere with CMB lensing measurements, as simulated by Neelima Sehgal and collaborators. From left to right: The cosmic infrared background, composed of intergalactic dust; radio point sources, or radio emission from other galaxies; the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect, a product of gas in other galaxies; and the thermal Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect, which also relates to gas in other galaxies. (Credit: Emmanuel Schaan and Simone Ferraro/Berkeley Lab)

    In this study, researchers relied on simulated full-sky CMB data. They used resources at Berkeley Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) to test their method on each of the four different foreground sources of noise, which include infrared, radiofrequency, thermal, and electron-interaction effects that can contaminate CMB lensing measurements.

    NERSC

    NERSC Cray Cori II supercomputer at NERSC at LBNL, named after Gerty Cori, the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science

    NERSC Hopper Cray XE6 supercomputer


    LBL NERSC Cray XC30 Edison supercomputer


    The Genepool system is a cluster dedicated to the DOE Joint Genome Institute’s computing needs. Denovo is a smaller test system for Genepool that is primarily used by NERSC staff to test new system configurations and software.

    NERSC PDSF


    PDSF is a networked distributed computing cluster designed primarily to meet the detector simulation and data analysis requirements of physics, astrophysics and nuclear science collaborations.

    Future:

    Cray Shasta Perlmutter SC18 AMD Epyc Nvidia pre-exascale supeercomputer

    The study notes that cosmic infrared background noise, and noise from the interaction of CMB light particles (photons) with high-energy electrons have been the most problematic sources to address using standard filtering tools in CMB measurements. Some existing and future CMB experiments seek to lessen these effects by taking precise measurements of the polarization, or orientation, of the CMB light signature rather than its temperature.

    “We couldn’t have done this project without a computing cluster like NERSC,” Schaan said. NERSC has also proved useful in serving up other universe simulations to help prepare for upcoming experiments like DESI (see related article).

    The method developed by Schaan and Ferraro is already being implemented in the analysis of current experiments’ data. One possible application is to develop more detailed visualizations of dark matter filaments and nodes that appear to connect matter in the universe via a complex and changing cosmic web.

    The researchers reported a positive reception to their newly introduced method.

    “This was an outstanding problem that many people had thought about,” Ferraro said. “We’re happy to find elegant solutions.”

    NERSC is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

    See the full article here .

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    Bringing Science Solutions to the World

    In the world of science, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is synonymous with “excellence.” Thirteen Nobel prizes are associated with Berkeley Lab. Seventy Lab scientists are members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest honors for a scientist in the United States. Thirteen of our scientists have won the National Medal of Science, our nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research. Eighteen of our engineers have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and three of our scientists have been elected into the Institute of Medicine. In addition, Berkeley Lab has trained thousands of university science and engineering students who are advancing technological innovations across the nation and around the world.

    Berkeley Lab is a member of the national laboratory system supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Science. It is managed by the University of California (UC) and is charged with conducting unclassified research across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Located on a 202-acre site in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus that offers spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley Lab employs approximately 3,232 scientists, engineers and support staff. The Lab’s total costs for FY 2014 were $785 million. A recent study estimates the Laboratory’s overall economic impact through direct, indirect and induced spending on the nine counties that make up the San Francisco Bay Area to be nearly $700 million annually. The Lab was also responsible for creating 5,600 jobs locally and 12,000 nationally. The overall economic impact on the national economy is estimated at $1.6 billion a year. Technologies developed at Berkeley Lab have generated billions of dollars in revenues, and thousands of jobs. Savings as a result of Berkeley Lab developments in lighting and windows, and other energy-efficient technologies, have also been in the billions of dollars.

    Berkeley Lab was founded in 1931 by Ernest Orlando Lawrence, a UC Berkeley physicist who won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for his invention of the cyclotron, a circular particle accelerator that opened the door to high-energy physics. It was Lawrence’s belief that scientific research is best done through teams of individuals with different fields of expertise, working together. His teamwork concept is a Berkeley Lab legacy that continues today.

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

    University of California Seal

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  • richardmitnick 1:39 pm on November 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Gravitational Lensing,   

    From Symmetry: “Gravitational lenses” 

    Symmetry Mag
    From Symmetry

    11/13/18
    Jim Daley

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    1
    Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova [Could not pass this one up.]

    Predicted by Einstein and discovered in 1979, gravitational lensing helps astrophysicists understand the evolving shape of the universe.

    On March 29, 1979, high in the Quinlan Mountains in the Tohono O’odham Nation in southwestern Arizona, a team of astronomers at Kitt Peak National Observatory was scanning the night sky when they saw something curious in the constellation Ursa Major: two massive celestial objects called quasars with remarkably similar characteristics, burning unusually close to one another.

    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)

    The astronomers—Dennis Walsh, Bob Carswell and Ray Weymann—looked again on subsequent nights and checked whether the sight was an anomaly caused by interference from a neighboring object. It wasn’t. Spectroscopic analysis confirmed the twin images were actually both light from a single quasar 8.7 billion light-years from Earth. It appeared to telescopes on Kitt Peak to be two bodies because its light was distorted by a massive galaxy between the quasar and Earth. The team had made the first discovery of a gravitational lens.

    Since then, gravitational lenses have given us remarkable images of the cosmos and granted cosmologists a powerful means to unravel its mysteries.

    “Lensing is one of the primary tools we use to learn about the evolution of the universe,” says Mandeep Gill, an astrophysicist at Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), Stanford. By observing the gravitational lensing and redshift of galaxy clusters, he explains, cosmologists can determine both the matter content of the universe and the speed at which the universe is expanding.

    Gravitational lensing was predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity. General relativity posited that massive objects like the sun actually bend the fabric of spacetime around them. Like a billiard ball sinking into a stretched-out rubber sheet, a massive object creates a depression around it; it’s called a “gravity well.” Light passing through a gravity well bends with its curves.

    When an object is really immense—such as a galaxy or galaxy cluster—it can bend the path of passing light dramatically. Astronomers call this “strong lensing.”

    Strong lensing can have remarkable effects. A distant light source arranged in a straight line with a massive body and Earth—a configuration called a syzygy—can appear as a halo around the lensing body, an effect known as an “Einstein ring.” And light from one quasar in the constellation Pegasus bends so much by the time it reaches Earth that it looks like four quasars instead. Astronomers call this phenomenon a “quad lens,” and they’ve named the quasar in Pegasus “the Einstein Cross.”

    Most gravitational lensing events are not so dramatic. Any mass will curve the spacetime around it, causing slight distortions to passing light. While this weak lensing is not apparent from a single observation, taking an average from many light sources allows observers to detect weak lensing effects as well.

    Weak gravitational lensing NASA/ESA Hubble

    The overall distribution of matter in the universe has a lensing effect on light from distant galaxies, a phenomenon known as “cosmic shear.”

    “A cosmic shear measurement is incredibly meticulous as the effect is so small, but it holds a wealth of information about how the structure in the universe has evolved with time,” says Alexandra Amon, an observational cosmologist at KIPAC who specializes in weak lensing.

    Strong and weak gravitational lensing are both important tools in the study of dark matter and dark energy, the invisible stuff that together make up 96 percent of the universe. There is not enough visible mass in the universe to cause all of the gravitational lensing that astronomers see; scientists think most of it is caused by invisible dark matter.

    Fritz Zwicky discovered Dark Matter when observing the movement of the Coma Cluster.

    Fritz Zwicky from http:// palomarskies.blogspot.com

    Coma cluster via NASA/ESA Hubble

    But most of the real work was done by Vera Rubin a Woman in STEM

    Astronomer Vera Rubin at the Lowell Observatory in 1965, worked on Dark Matter (The Carnegie Institution for Science)


    Vera Rubin measuring spectra, worked on Dark Matter (Emilio Segre Visual Archives AIP SPL)


    Vera Rubin, with Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) image tube spectrograph attached to the Kitt Peak 84-inch telescope, 1970. https://home.dtm.ciw.edu

    And how all of that matter moves and changes over time is thought to be affected by a mysterious “force” (scientists aren’t really sure what it is) pushing our universe to expand at an accelerating pace: dark energy.

    Studying gravitational lensing can help astrophysicists track the universe’s growth.

    “Strong gravitational lensing can give you a lot of cosmology—from time delays,” Gill says. “From a very far away quasar, you can get multiple images that have followed different light paths. Because they’ve followed different paths, they will get to you at different times. And that time delay depends on the geometry of the universe.”

    The Dark Energy Survey is one of several experiments using gravitational lensing to study dark matter and dark energy. DES scientists are using the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile to perform a 5000-square-degree survey of the southern sky. Along with other measurements, DES is searching for weak lensing and cosmic shear effects of dark matter on distant objects.

    Dark Energy Survey


    Dark Energy Camera [DECam], built at FNAL


    NOAO/CTIO Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope which houses the DECam at Cerro Tololo, Chile, housing DECam at an altitude of 7200 feet

    The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, currently under construction in Chile, will also assess how dark matter is distributed in the universe by looking for gravitational lenses, among other things.

    “The LSST will see first light in the next couple of years,” Amon says. “As this telescope charts the southern sky every few nights, it’s going to bombard us with data—literally too much to handle—so a lot of the work right now is building pipelines that can analyze it.”

    Astronomers expect LSST to find 100 times more galaxy-scale strong gravitational lens systems than are currently known.

    LSST


    LSST Camera, built at SLAC



    LSST telescope, currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

    “The ongoing lensing surveys—that is, the Kilo-Degree Survey, Hyper Suprime-Cam and Dark Energy Survey—are doing high-precision and high-quality analyses, but they are really training grounds compared to what we will be able to do with LSST,” Amon says. “We are stepping up from measuring the shapes of tens of millions of galaxies to a billion galaxies, building the largest, deepest map of the Southern sky over 10 years.”

    Surprisingly, these enormous studies of cosmic distortions may bring the make-up of our universe into focus.

    See the full article here .


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    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.


     
  • richardmitnick 12:52 pm on August 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Gravitational Lensing, ,   

    From Physics: “Viewpoint: Weak Lensing Becomes a High-Precision Survey Science” 

    Physics LogoAbout Physics

    Physics Logo 2

    From Physics

    August 27, 2018
    Anže Slosar, Physics Department
    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Analyzing its first year of data, the Dark Energy Survey has demonstrated that weak lensing can probe cosmological parameters with a precision comparable to cosmic microwave background observations.

    Weak gravitational lensing NASA/ESA Hubble

    Dark Energy Survey


    Dark Energy Camera [DECam], built at FNAL


    NOAO/CTIO Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope which houses the DECam at Cerro Tololo, Chile, housing DECam at an altitude of 7200 feet

    Over the last decades, scientists have built a paradigm cosmological model, based on the premises of general relativity, known as the ΛCDM model. This model has successfully explained many aspects of the Universe’s evolution from a homogeneous primeval soup to the inhomogeneous Universe of planets, stars, and galaxies that we see today. The ΛCDM model is, however, at odds with the minimal standard model of particle physics, which cannot explain the two main ingredients of ΛCDM cosmology: the cold dark matter (CDM) that represents approximately 85% of all matter in the Universe and the cosmological constant ( Λ), or dark energy, that drives the Universe’s accelerated expansion.

    Standard Model of Particle Physics from Symmetry Magazine

    Lambda-Cold Dark Matter, Accelerated Expansion of the Universe, Big Bang-Inflation (timeline of the universe) Date 2010 Credit: Alex Mittelmann Cold creation

    1
    Figure 1: The CCD imager of the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) used by the Dark Energy Survey. DECam is mounted on the Victor M. Blanco 4-m-aperture telescope in the Chilean Andes.
    R. Hahn/Fermilab

    One potential way to sort out the nature of dark matter and dark energy exploits an effect called weak gravitational lensing—a subtle bending of light induced by the presence of matter. Measurements of this effect, however, have proven challenging and so far have delivered less information than many physicists had hoped for. In a series of articles [1], the Dark Energy Survey (DES) now reports remarkable progress in the field. Analyzing data from its first year of operation, the DES has combined weak lensing and galaxy clustering observations to derive new constraints on cosmological parameters. The results suggest that we have reached an era in which weak gravitational lensing has become a systematic, high-precision technique for probing the Universe, on par with other well-established techniques, such as those based on observations of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) and on measurements of baryonic acoustic oscillations (BAO).

    2
    Figure 2: Constraints on cosmological parameters as determined by the DES (blue), Planck (green), and by the combination of DES and Planck (red). Within the measurements’ accuracy, the Planck and DES constraints are consistent with each other (Ωm is the matter density divided by the total energy density, and S8 is a parameter related to the amplitude of density fluctuations). For each color, the contour plots represent 68% and 95% confidence levels.

    Gravitational lensing is a consequence of the curvature of spacetime induced by mass.

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    As light travels toward Earth from distant galaxies, it passes through clumps of matter that distort the light’s path. If lensing is strong, this distortion can dramatically stretch the images of the galaxies into long arcs. But in most situations, lensing is weak and causes subtler deformations—think of the distortions of images printed on a T-shirt that’s slightly stretched. Galaxies in the same part of the sky, whose light travels a similar path to us, are subjected to similar stretching, making them appear “aligned”—an effect known as cosmic shear. By quantifying the alignment of “background” galaxies, weak-lensing measurements derive information on the “foreground” mass that causes the distortions. Since dark matter constitutes the majority of matter, weak gravitational lensing largely probes dark matter.

    The potential of the technique has been known for decades [2]. Initially, however, researchers didn’t realize how difficult it would be to measure the tiny signal due to weak lensing and to isolate it from myriad other effects that cause similar distortions. Most importantly, for ground-based observations, the light reaching the telescope goes through Earth’s atmosphere. Atmospheric conditions, optical imperfections of the telescope, or simply inadequate data reduction techniques can blur or distort the images of individual objects. If such effects are coherent across the telescope’s field of view, they can lead to subtle alignments that can be misinterpreted as consequences of weak lensing. Moreover, most galaxies are elliptical to start with, and these ellipticities can be aligned for astrophysical reasons unrelated to weak lensing.

    Despite these difficulties, several pioneering efforts established the feasibility of weak gravitational lensing. In 2000, several groups reported the first detections of cosmic shear [3]. These were followed by 15 years of important advances, such as those obtained using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey [4], the Kilo-Degree Survey [5], and the Hyper Suprime-Cam Subaru Strategic Survey [6].

    However, the new DES results mark an important milestone in terms of accuracy and breadth of analysis. Two main factors enabled these results. The first was the use of the Dark Energy Camera (DECam), a sensitive detector, custom-designed for weak-lensing measurements (Fig. 1), which was mounted on the 4-m-aperture Victor M. Blanco telescope in Chile, where DES has a generous allocation of observing time. The second factor was the size of the collaboration—more on the scale of a particle-physics collaboration than an astrophysics one. This resource allowed DES to dedicate unprecedented attention to data analysis. For example, two independent weak-lensing “pipelines” performed an important cross check of the results. [7]

    As reported in the latest crop of DES papers, the collaboration mapped out the dark matter in a patch of sky spanning 1321 deg2

    , or about 3% of the full sky. They performed this mapping using two independent approaches. The first provided a direct probe of dark matter by measuring the cosmic shear caused by foreground dark matter on 26 million background galaxies. The second approach entailed measuring the correlation between galaxy positions and cosmic shear and the cross correlation between galaxy positions. Comparing these correlations allowed the underlying dark matter distribution to be inferred. The two approaches led to the same results, providing a compelling consistency check on the weak-lensing dark matter map.

    The collaboration used the weak-lensing result to derive constraints on a number of cosmological parameters. In particular, they combined their data with data from other cosmological probes (such as CMB, BAO, and Type 1a supernovae) to derive the tightest constraints to date on the dark energy equation-of-state parameter (w), defined as the ratio of the pressure of the dark energy to its density. This parameter is related to the rate at which the density of dark energy evolves. The data indicate that w is equal to −1

    , within an experimental accuracy of a few percentage points. Such a value supports a picture in which dark energy is unchanging and equal to the inert energy of the vacuum—Einstein’s cosmological constant—rather than a more dynamical component, which many theorists had hoped for.

    One of the most important aspects of the DES reports is the comparison with the most recent CMB measurements from the Planck satellite mission [8]. The CMB is the radiation that was left over when light decoupled from matter around 380,000 years after the big bang, so Planck probes the Universe at high redshift ( z∼1100
    ). The DES data, on the other hand, concern much more recent times, at redshifts between 0.2 and 1.3. To check whether Planck and DES are consistent, the CMB-constrained parameters need to be extrapolated across cosmic history (from z∼1100 to z∼1) using the standard cosmological model. Within the experimental uncertainties, this extrapolation shows good agreement (Fig. 2), thus confirming the standard cosmological model’s predictive power across cosmic ages. While this success has to be cherished, everyone also silently hopes that experimenters will eventually find some breaches in the Λ

    CDM model, which could provide fresh hints as to what dark matter and dark energy are.

    The next few years will certainly be exciting for the field. DES already has five years of data in the bag and will soon release the analysis of their three-year results. Ultimately, DES will map 5000 deg2 , or one eighth of the full sky. The DES results are also very encouraging in view of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST)—a telescope derived from the early concept of a “dark matter telescope” proposed in 1996. LSST should become operational in 2022, and it will survey almost the entire southern sky. Within this context, we can be hopeful that weak-lensing measurements will provide important insights into the most pressing open questions of cosmology.

    This research is published in Physical Review D.
    References

    T. M. C. Abbot et al., “Dark Energy Survey year 1 results: Cosmological constraints from galaxy clustering and weak lensing,” Phys. Rev. D 98, 043526 (2018); J. Elvin-Poole et al., “Dark Energy Survey year 1 results: Galaxy clustering for combined probes,” 98, 042006 (2018); J. Prat et al., “Dark Energy Survey year 1 results: Galaxy-galaxy lensing,” 98, 042005 (2018); M. A. Troxel et al., “Dark Energy Survey Year 1 results: Cosmological constraints from cosmic shear,” 98, 043528 (2018).
    A. Albrecht et al., “Report of the Dark Energy Task Force,” arXiv:0609591.
    D. M. Wittman et al., “Detection of weak gravitational lensing distortions of distant galaxies by cosmic dark matter at large scales,” Nature 405, 143 (2000); D. J. Bacon et al., “Detection of weak gravitational lensing by large-scale structure,” Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 318, 625 (2000); N. Kaiser, G. Wilson, and G. A. Luppino, “Large-Scale Cosmic Shear Measurements,” arXiv:0003338; L. Van Waerbeke et al., “Detection of correlated galaxy ellipticities from CFHT data: First evidence for gravitational lensing by large-scale structures,” Astron. Astrophys. 358, No. 30, 2000.
    H. Lin et al., “The SDSS Co-add: Cosmic shear measurement,” Astrophys. J. 761, 15 (2012).
    F. Köhlinger et al., “KiDS-450: the tomographic weak lensing power spectrum and constraints on cosmological parameters,” Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 471, 4412 (2017).
    R. Mandelbaum et al., “The first-year shear catalog of the Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam Subaru Strategic Program Survey,” Publ. Astron. Soc. Jpn. 70, S25 (2017).
    It’s worth mentioning that the data analysis used “blinding,” a protocol in which the people carrying out the analysis cannot see the final results, so as to eliminate possible biases towards specific results..
    N. Aghanim et al. (Planck Collaboration), “Planck 2018 results. VI. Cosmological parameters,” arXiv:1807.06209.

    See the full article here .

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    Physicists are drowning in a flood of research papers in their own fields and coping with an even larger deluge in other areas of physics. How can an active researcher stay informed about the most important developments in physics? Physics highlights a selection of papers from the Physical Review journals. In consultation with expert scientists, the editors choose these papers for their importance and/or intrinsic interest. To highlight these papers, Physics features three kinds of articles: Viewpoints are commentaries written by active researchers, who are asked to explain the results to physicists in other subfields. Focus stories are written by professional science writers in a journalistic style and are intended to be accessible to students and non-experts. Synopses are brief editor-written summaries. Physics provides a much-needed guide to the best in physics, and we welcome your comments (physics@aps.org).

     
  • richardmitnick 1:35 pm on June 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Gravitational Lensing, , The nearby galaxy ESO 325-G004   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope and ESO VLT: “Most Precise Test of Einstein’s General Relativity Outside Milky Way” 

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    and

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    ESO VLT Platform at Cerro Paranal elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft)

    6.21.18

    Thomas Collett
    University of Portsmouth
    Portsmouth, UK
    Tel: +44 239 284 5146
    Email: thomas.collett@port.ac.uk

    Bob Nichol
    University of Portsmouth
    Portsmouth, UK
    Tel: +44 239 284 3117
    Email: bob.nichol@port.ac.uk

    Mathias Jäger
    ESA/Hubble, Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 176 62397500
    Email: mjaeger@partner.eso.org

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

    1

    An international team of astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope has made the most precise test of general relativity yet outside our Milky Way. The nearby galaxy ESO 325-G004 acts as a strong gravitational lens, distorting light from a distant galaxy behind it to create an Einstein ring around its centre. By comparing the mass of ESO 325-G004 with the curvature of space around it, the astronomers found that gravity on these astronomical length-scales behaves as predicted by general relativity. This rules out some alternative theories of gravity.

    Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), a team led by Thomas Collett (University of Portsmouth, UK), was able to perform the most precise test of general relativity outside the Milky Way to date.

    The theory of general relativity predicts that objects deform spacetime, causing any light that passes by to be deflected and resulting in a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. This effect is only noticeable for very massive objects. A few hundred strong gravitational lenses are known, but most are too distant to precisely measure their mass. However, the elliptical galaxy ESO 325-G004 is amongst the closest lenses at just 450 million light-years from Earth.

    Using the MUSE instrument on the VLT the team calculated the mass of ESO 325-G004 by measuring the movement of stars within it.

    ESO MUSE on the VLT

    Using Hubble the scientists were able to observe an Einstein ring resulting from light from a distant galaxy being distorted by the intervening ESO 325-G004. Studying the ring allowed the astronomers to measure how light, and therefore spacetime, is being distorted by the huge mass of ESO 325-G004.

    Collett comments: “We know the mass of the foreground galaxy from MUSE and we measured the amount of gravitational lensing we see from Hubble. We then compared these two ways to measure the strength of gravity — and the result was just what general relativity predicts, with an uncertainty of only nine percent. This is the most precise test of general relativity outside the Milky Way to date. And this using just one galaxy!”
    General relativity has been tested with exquisite accuracy on Solar System scales, and the motions of stars around the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way are under detailed study, but previously there had been no precise tests on larger astronomical scales. Testing the long range properties of gravity is vital to validate our current cosmological model.

    These findings may have important implications for models of gravity alternative to general relativity. These alternative theories predict that the effects of gravity on the curvature of spacetime are “scale dependent”. This means that gravity should behave differently across astronomical length-scales from the way it behaves on the smaller scales of the Solar System. Collett and his team found that this is unlikely to be true unless these differences only occur on length scales larger than 6000 light-years.

    “The Universe is an amazing place providing such lenses which we can use as our laboratories,” adds team member Bob Nichol (University of Portsmouth). “It is so satisfying to use the best telescopes in the world to challenge Einstein, only to find out how right he was.”

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

    More information

    This research was presented in a paper entitled A precise extragalactic test of General Relativity by Collett et al., to appear in the journal Science.

    The team is composed of T. E. Collett (Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK), L. J. Oldham (Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK), R. Smith (Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, Durham University, Durham, UK), M. W. Auger (Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK), K. B. Westfall (Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK; University of California Observatories – Lick Observatory, Santa Cruz, USA), D. Bacon (Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK), R. C. Nichol (Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK), K. L. Masters (Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK), K. Koyama (Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK), R. van den Bosch (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Königstuhl, Heidelberg, Germany).

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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”.

    See the full NASA/ESA Hubble article here .
    See the full ESO/VLT article here .


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  • richardmitnick 10:57 am on April 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A blue supergiant star, , , , , Gravitational Lensing, Gravity as a Natural Cosmic Lens, Looking for Dark Matter, , The star Icarus MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1   

    From Hubble: “Hubble Uncovers the Farthest Star Ever Seen” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Apr 2, 2018

    Ann Jenkins
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4488
    jenkins@stsci.edu

    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4514
    villard@stsci.edu

    Patrick Kelly
    University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    510-859-8370
    plkelly@umn.edu

    1
    Cosmic Quirk Boosts Far-Off Star’s Faint Glow

    Through a quirk of nature called “gravitational lensing,” a natural lens in space amplified a very distant star’s light.

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    Astronomers using Hubble took advantage of this phenomenon to pinpoint the faraway star and set a new distance record for the farthest individual star ever seen. They also used the distant star to test one theory of dark matter, and to probe the make-up of a galaxy cluster. The team dubbed the star “Icarus,” after the Greek mythological character who flew too near the Sun on wings of feathers and wax that melted. Its official name is MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1.

    More than halfway across the universe, an enormous blue star nicknamed Icarus is the farthest individual star ever seen. Normally, it would be much too faint to view, even with the world’s largest telescopes. But through a quirk of nature that tremendously amplifies the star’s feeble glow, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope were able to pinpoint this faraway star and set a new distance record. They also used Icarus to test one theory of dark matter, and to probe the make-up of a foreground galaxy cluster.

    The star, harbored in a very distant spiral galaxy, is so far away that its light has taken 9 billion years to reach Earth. It appears to us as it did when the universe was about 30 percent of its current age.

    The discovery of Icarus through gravitational lensing has initiated a new way for astronomers to study individual stars in distant galaxies. These observations provide a rare, detailed look at how stars evolve, especially the most luminous stars.

    “This is the first time we’re seeing a magnified, individual star,” explained former University of California at Berkeley postdoc and study leader Patrick Kelly now of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. “You can see individual galaxies out there, but this star is at least 100 times farther away than the next individual star we can study, except for supernova explosions.”

    Gravity as a Natural Cosmic Lens

    The cosmic quirk that makes this star visible is a phenomenon called “gravitational lensing.” Gravity from a foreground, massive cluster of galaxies acts as a natural lens in space, bending and amplifying light. Sometimes light from a single background object appears as multiple images. The light can be highly magnified, making extremely faint and distant objects bright enough to see.

    In the case of Icarus, a natural “magnifying glass” is created by a galaxy cluster called MACS J1149+2223. Located about 5 billion light-years from Earth, this massive cluster of galaxies sits between the Earth and the galaxy that contains the distant star. By combining the strength of this gravitational lens with Hubble’s exquisite resolution and sensitivity, astronomers can see and study Icarus.

    The team — including Jose Diego of the Instituto de Física de Cantabria, Spain, and Steven Rodney of the University of South Carolina, Columbia — dubbed the star “Icarus,“ after the Greek mythological character who flew too near the Sun on wings of feathers and wax that melted. (Its official name is MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1.) Much like Icarus, the background star had only fleeting glory as seen from Earth: It momentarily skyrocketed to 2,000 times its true brightness when temporarily magnified.

    Models suggest that the tremendous brightening was probably from the gravitational amplification of a star, similar in mass to the Sun, in the foreground galaxy cluster when the star moved in front of Icarus. The star’s light is usually magnified by about 600 times due to the foreground cluster’s mass.

    Characterizing Icarus

    The team had been using Hubble to monitor a supernova in the far-distant spiral galaxy when, in 2016, they spotted a new point of light not far from the magnified supernova. From the position of the new source, they inferred that it should be much more highly magnified than the supernova.

    When they analyzed the colors of the light coming from this object, they discovered it was a blue supergiant star. This type of star is much larger, more massive, hotter, and possibly hundreds of thousands of times intrinsically brighter than our Sun. But at this distance, it would still be too far away to see without the amplification of gravitational lensing, even for Hubble.

    How did Kelly and his team know Icarus was not another supernova? “The source isn’t getting hotter; it’s not exploding. The light is just being magnified,” said Kelly. “And that’s what you expect from gravitational lensing.”

    Looking for Dark Matter

    Detecting the amplification of a single, pinpoint background star provided a unique opportunity to test the nature of dark matter in the cluster. Dark matter is an invisible material that makes up most of the universe’s mass.

    By probing what’s floating around in the foreground cluster, scientists were able to test one theory that dark matter might be made up mostly of a huge number of primordial black holes formed in the birth of the universe with masses tens of times larger than the Sun. The results of this unique test disfavor that hypothesis, because light fluctuations from the background star, monitored with Hubble for 13 years, would have looked different if there were a swarm of intervening black holes.

    When NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is launched, astronomers expect to find many more stars like Icarus.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    Webb’s extraordinary sensitivity will allow measurement of even more details, including whether these distant stars are rotating. Such magnified stars may even be found to be fairly common.

    The science paper by P. Kelly et al. Extreme magnification of an individual star at redshift 1.5 by a galaxy-cluster lens(Nature Astronomy)
    The science paper by S. Rodney et al. Two peculiar fast transients in a strongly lensed host galaxy (Nature Astronomy)
    The science paper by P. Kelly et al An individual star at redshift 1.5 extremely magnified by agalaxy-cluster lens

    The international team of astronomers in this study consists of P. Kelly (University of Minnesota, USA); J. Diego (IFAC, Instituto de F ísica de Cantabria, Spain); S. Rodney (University of South Carolina, USA); N. Kaiser (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, USA); T. Broadhurst (University of Basque Country, Spain and IKERBASQUE of the Basque Foundation for Science, Spain); A. Zitrin (Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel); T. Treu (University of California, Los Angeles, USA); P. Pérez-González (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain); T. Morishita (University of California, Los Angeles, USA; Tohoku University, Japan) M. Jauzac (Durham University, U.K.; University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa); J. Selsing (University of Copenhagen, Denmark); M. Oguri (University of Tokyo, Japan); L. Pueyo (Space Telescope Science Institute, USA); T. W. Ross (University of California, Berkeley, USA); A. V. Filippenko (University of California, Berkeley, USA); N. Smith (University of Arizona, USA); J. Hjorth (University of Copenhagen, Denmark); S. B. Cenko (Goddard Space Flight Center, USA; University of Maryland, USA); Xin Wang (University of California, Los Angeles, USA); D. A. Howell (Las Cumbres Observatory, USA; University of California, Santa Barbara, USA); J. Richard (Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, France); B. L. Frye (University of Arizona, USA); S. W. Jha (The State University of New Jersey, USA); R.J. Foley (University of California, Santa Cruz); C. Norman (the Johns Hopkins University, USA); M. Bradac (University of California, Davis, USA); WeiKang Zheng (University of California, Berkeley, USA); G. Brammer (Space Telescope Science Institute, USA); A. M. Benito (Universidade de São Paulo); A. Cava (University of Geneva, Switzerland); L. Christensen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark); S. D de Mink (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands); Or Gaur (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA; American Museum of Natural History, USA; NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow); C. Grillo (Universitá degli Studi di Milano, Italy); R. Kawamata (University of Tokyo, Japan); J. Kneib (Observatoire de Sauverny, Switzerland); T. Matheson (National Optical Astronomical Observatory, USA); C. McCully (Las Cubres Observatory, USA; University of California, Santa Barbara); M. Nonino (Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste, Italy); I. Perez-Fournon (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain; Universidad de La Laguna, Spain); A. G. Reiss (The Johns Hopkins University, USA; Space Telescope Science Institute, USA); P. Rosati (Universitá degli Studi di Ferrara, Italy); K. Borello Schmidt (Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam, Germany); K. Sharon (University of Michigan, USA); and B. J. Weiner (University of Arizona, USA)

    See the full NASA Hubblesite article here .
    See the full ESA HST article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 3:55 pm on March 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Gravitational Lensing, Measuring White Dwarf Masses with Gravitational Lensing   

    From CfA: “Measuring White Dwarf Masses with Gravitational Lensing” 

    Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics


    Center For Astrophysics

    3.16.18

    Measuring the mass of a celestial body is one of the most challenging tasks in observational astronomy. The most successful method uses binary systems because the orbital parameters of the system depend on the two masses. In the case of black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs, the end states of stellar evolution, many are isolated objects, and most of them are also very faint. As a result, astronomers still do not know the distribution of their masses. They are of great interest, however, because they participate in dramatic events like the accretion of material and emission of energetic radiation, or in mergers that can result in gravitational waves, gamma-ray bursts, or Type Ia supernovae, all of which depend on an object’s mass.

    CfA astronomers Alexander Harding, Rosanne Di Stefano, and Claire Baker and three colleagues propose a new method for determining the masses of isolated compact objects: gravitational lensing.

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    The path of a light beam will be bent by the presence of mass, an effect calculated by General Relativity. A massive body will act like a lens to distort the image of an object seen behind it when the two are close to being aligned along our line-of-sight, and the specifics of the image distortions will depend on the body’s mass. The astronomers describe the prospects for predicting lensing events generated by nearby compact objects as their motions take them across the field of background stars.

    The team estimates that the nearby population of compact objects contains about 250 neutron stars, 5 black holes, and about 35,000 white dwarf stars suitable for this study. Knowing the general motions of the white dwarfs across the sky, they obtain a statistical estimate of about 30-50 lensing events per decade that could be spotted by Hubble, ESA’s Gaia mission, or NASA’s new JWST telescope. The next step in this effort is to use ongoing stellar surveys like that of Gaia to refine the bodies’ positions and motions to be able to predict specifically which objects to monitor for lensing.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    ESA/GAIA satellite

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    Science paper:
    Predicting gravitational lensing by stellar remnants , MNRAS

    See the full article here .

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    The Center for Astrophysics combines the resources and research facilities of the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory under a single director to pursue studies of those basic physical processes that determine the nature and evolution of the universe. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution, founded in 1890. The Harvard College Observatory (HCO), founded in 1839, is a research institution of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, and provides facilities and substantial other support for teaching activities of the Department of Astronomy.

     
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