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  • richardmitnick 10:42 am on February 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , ESO WFI at 2.2 meter MPG/ESO, MPG/ESO 2.2 meter telescope at Cerro La Silla, , , What remains of the stars-Past and future generations of stars in NGC 300"   

    From European Space Agency: “What remains of the stars-Past and future generations of stars in NGC 300” 

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    From European Space Agency

    ESA/XMM-Newton (X-rays); MPG/ESO (optical); NASA/Spitzer (infrared). Acknowledgement: S. Carpano, Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics

    ESA/XMM Newton

    MPG/ESO 2.2 meter telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope


    This swirling palette of colours portrays the life cycle of stars in a spiral galaxy known as NGC 300.

    Located some six million light-years away, NGC 300 is relatively nearby. It is one of the closest galaxies beyond the Local Group – the hub of galaxies to which our own Milky Way galaxy belongs. Due to its proximity, it is a favourite target for astronomers to study stellar processes in spiral galaxies.

    The population of stars in their prime is shown in this image in green hues, based on optical observations performed with the Wide Field Imager (WFI) on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at La Silla, Chile.

    ESO WFI LaSilla 2.2-m MPG/ESO telescope at La Silla, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

    Red colours indicate the glow of cosmic dust in the interstellar medium that pervades the galaxy: this information derives from infrared observations made with NASA’s Spitzer space telescope, and can be used to trace stellar nurseries and future stellar generations across NGC 300.

    A complementary perspective on this galaxy’s composition comes from data collected in X-rays by ESA’s XMM-Newton space observatory, shown in blue. These represent the end points of the stellar life cycle, including massive stars on the verge of blasting out as supernovas, remnants of supernova explosions, neutron stars, and black holes. Many of these X-ray sources are located in NGC 300, while others – especially towards the edges of the image – are foreground objects in our own Galaxy, or background galaxies even farther away.

    The sizeable blue blob immediately to the left of the galaxy’s centre is especially interesting, featuring two intriguing sources that are part of NGC 300 and shine brightly in X-rays.

    One of them, known as NGC 300 X-1, is in fact a binary system, consisting of a Wolf-Rayet star – an ageing hot, massive and luminous type star that drives strong winds into its surroundings – and a black hole, the compact remains of what was once another massive, hot star. As matter from the star flows towards the black hole, it is heated up to temperatures of millions of degrees or more, causing it to shine in X-rays.

    The other source, dubbed NGC 300 ULX1, was originally identified as a supernova explosion in 2010. However, later observations prompted astronomers to reconsider this interpretation, indicating that this source also conceals a binary system comprising a very massive star and a compact object – a neutron star or a black hole – feeding on material from its stellar companion.

    Data obtained in 2016 with ESA’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s NuSTAR observatories revealed regular variations in the X-ray signal of NGC 300 ULX1, suggesting that the compact object in this binary system is a highly magnetized, rapidly spinning neutron star, or pulsar.

    NASA/DTU/ASI NuSTAR X-ray telescope

    The large blue blob in the upper left corner is a much more distant object: a cluster of galaxies more than one billion light years away, whose X-ray glow is caused by the hot diffuse gas interspersed between the galaxies.

    Explore NGC 300 in ESASky

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 1:48 pm on December 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , GJ1132 an M-dwarf star, MPG/ESO 2.2 meter telescope at Cerro La Silla, Planet GJ 1132 b   

    From astrobites: “The Lowest Mass Planet with a Detected Atmosphere” 

    Astrobites bloc


    Title: Detection of the atmosphere of the 1.6 Earth mass exoplanet GJ 1132b
    Authors: John Southworth, Luigi Mancini, Nikku Madhusudhan, Paul Mollière, Simona Ciceri, and Thomas Henning
    First Author’s Institution: Keele University (UK)
    Status: Submitted, open access

    With more and more exoplanets being discovered that border on potential habitability in terms of their size and temperature, the need to measure their atmospheres to test that habitability becomes more imperative. Astronomers have been trying to measure exoplanet atmospheres for more than a decade with very mixed results. Almost all of these studies have focused on hot Jupiters (typically 1,000-2,000 K), with GJ 1214 b, a cooler, lower mass planet (~550 K and 6.6 Earth masses) being a notable exception (and also with mixed results). This new study, led by John Southworth of Keele University, marks one of the most ambitious attempts at measuring an exoplanet’s atmosphere: a planet with just 1.6 times the mass of Earth at a temperature of just 600 K.

    The Observations

    GJ 1132 is an M-dwarf star, the lowest mass and most abundant kind of star in the universe, and is one of the closest stars to the Sun known to host a planet at just 39 light-years away. While M-dwarfs are usually too faint for meaningful atmospheric follow-up, GJ 1132’s close proximity makes it a prime candidate for observing its planet’s atmosphere. Because the planet, GJ 1132 b, transits its star, its radius was previously measured to be just a bit larger than Earth’s (1.16 times larger).

    Planet transit. NASA/Ames
    Planet transit. NASA/Ames

    Its mass has also been measured to be 1.6 times more massive than Earth using the Doppler technique.

    The planetary transits allow for astronomers to measure its atmosphere. If the planet has an atmosphere that blocks light at only certain wavelengths, the planet will appear larger at those wavelengths. And so, the authors of this paper observed GJ 1132 b for 9 transits in several photometric bandpasses (grizJHK) from the optical to the near-infrared using the GROND instrument at the MPG 2.2m telescope at ESO La Silla, Chile, although some observations in the near-infrared bands were removed due to their low quality.

    MPG/ESO 2.2 meter telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile
    ESO 2.2 meter telescope with dome open
    MPG/ESO 2.2 meter telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile

    The measured radius of the planet in each bandpass is shown below in Figure 1.

    Figure 1: Transmission spectrum of GJ 1132 b. The solid circles are measurements of the planet’s radius in each bandpass from the GROND instrument in Chile. The two open circles are measurements from an earlier paper with another instrument. Looking at just the new data (solid points), the planet’s radius appears to be larger in the z-band (by 4 standard deviations), implying there is something in the atmosphere absorbing light in this region. (The HK-bands are a bit off, but within two standard deviations of the griJ-bands.)

    Six of the bandpasses show a consistent planetary radius, but one bandpass shows a much larger radius. This indicates that there is some molecule in the atmosphere that is absorbing in just this region of the spectrum. The z-band is of particular interest because this is the only band of the seven in which water strongly absorbs. The authors then used a computer model to estimate the interior and atmospheric composition of the planet.

    The Planet’s Composition

    The new planetary model changes the surface radius of the planet from the previously measured value of 1.16 Earth radii to 1.35 Earth radii, which significantly changes the density and therefore the inferred composition of the planet. An exact Earth duplicate (1/3 iron, 2/3 silicates) is ruled out in the data. However, a rocky planet with a higher percentage of silicates relative to iron is not ruled out, but neither is it very likely.

    The more favorable interpretation are those that include a large mass of water in the planet. This is consistent with the inferred presence of water vapor in the atmosphere from the z-band measurements. Because the modeling is driven almost exclusively by a single data point, the authors refrain from an exhaustive analysis of the planet’s atmospheric composition, but provide a more cursory analysis suggesting that 1-10% of the atmosphere is made up of water vapor.

    The Future

    Exoplanet atmospheric characterization is notoriously difficult from the ground. The authors suggest the gold standard instrument, the WFC3 camera on board the Hubble Space Telescope, be used to examine this planet more closely in the z-band. This could result in the confirmation of water in the atmosphere, the presence of an unknown absorber in the atmosphere, or even possibly find that this study’s z-band measurement was spurious. What is incredible though is that exoplanet atmospheric characterization, once the realm of only hot Jupiters, has made its way to down to nearly Earth-sized planets.

    See the full article here .

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    What do we do?

    Astrobites is a daily astrophysical literature journal written by graduate students in astronomy. Our goal is to present one interesting paper per day in a brief format that is accessible to undergraduate students in the physical sciences who are interested in active research.
    Why read Astrobites?

    Reading a technical paper from an unfamiliar subfield is intimidating. It may not be obvious how the techniques used by the researchers really work or what role the new research plays in answering the bigger questions motivating that field, not to mention the obscure jargon! For most people, it takes years for scientific papers to become meaningful.
    Our goal is to solve this problem, one paper at a time. In 5 minutes a day reading Astrobites, you should not only learn about one interesting piece of current work, but also get a peek at the broader picture of research in a new area of astronomy.

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