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  • richardmitnick 1:31 pm on April 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Led by - Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU), , NAOJ Subaru Telescope, PFS-Prime Focus Instrument, , Supplier - Academia Sinica- Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan, The Metrology Camera   

    From National Astronomical Observatory of Japan : “Next generation of telescope equipment begins arriving in Hawai`i” 

    NAOJ

    National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

    April 27, 2018

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    Summary of PFS, including the Metrology Camera.

    An instrument that will help astronomers study dark matter and galaxies in detail has begun to be assembled at NAOJ’s Subaru Telescope in Hawai`i.

    The Metrology Camera is the first of several sub-components currently under construction worldwide to be assembled at its final destination in order to create the Prime Focus Spectrograph (PFS). When the PFS is mounted on the telescope, it will be able to measure spectra of up to 2400 celestial objects in the night sky all at once. This is important because it will help astronomers understand how stars and galaxies are distributed, and how they move around us, affected by the presence of dark matter. Studying millions of stars and galaxies across large areas of sky will therefore help create a dark matter map of our Universe.

    The camera arrived in Hawai`i last Friday (April 20) from the Academia Sinica, Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan, the collaborators in the PFS project who developed it. After checks to make sure the Metrology Camera is not damaged during transportation, the camera will be shipped to the Subaru Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea for further tests in the telescope’s dome in May, and on the telescope in June and July. Other subcomponents will then follow, and the PFS will be completed.

    Led by the University of Tokyo Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU), the PFS project is an international collaboration to conduct an unprecedented census of the Universe, taking advantage of the Subaru Telescope to take a wide shot of the night sky with great depth. Combining data from the PFS and Hyper Suprime-Cam, astronomers hope to learn more about the nature of dark matter, dark energy, galaxy growth history, and challenge our understanding of the Universe and underlying physics.

    NAOJ Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam

    In the current schedule, the PFS is anticipated to start its experimental run at the Subaru Telescope in 2019, before starting a formal survey in 2021.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is an astronomical research organisation comprising several facilities in Japan, as well as an observatory in Hawaii. It was established in 1988 as an amalgamation of three existing research organizations – the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory of the University of Tokyo, International Latitude Observatory of Mizusawa, and a part of Research Institute of Atmospherics of Nagoya University.

    In the 2004 reform of national research organizations, NAOJ became a division of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

    NAOJ

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


    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array
    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array
    sft
    Solar Flare Telescope

    Nobeyama Radio Telescope - Copy
    Nobeyama Radio Observatory

    Nobeyama Solar Radio Telescope Array
    Nobeyama Radio Observatory: Solar

    Misuzawa Station Japan
    Mizusawa VERA Observatory

    NAOJ Okayama Astrophysical Observatory Telescope
    Okayama Astrophysical Observatory

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  • richardmitnick 6:37 am on April 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil, Burçin’s Galaxy - PGC 1000174, Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory Chile over 2500 m (8200 ft) high, , NAOJ Subaru Telescope, , ,   

    From Science Node: Women in STEM – “Burçin’s galaxy” Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil 

    Science Node bloc
    Science Node

    30 Mar, 2018
    Ellen Glover

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    Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil

    As a little girl growing up in Turkey, Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil loved the stars.


    Burçin’s galaxy, AKA PGC 1000714, is a unique, double-ringed, Hoag-type galaxy exhibiting features never observed before. Courtesy North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

    “How is it possible not to fall in love with stars?” wonders Mutlu-Pakdil. “I find it very difficult not to be curious about the Universe, about the Milky Way and how everything got together. I really want to learn more. I love my job because of that.”

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    Young or old? The object’s blue outer rings suggests it may have formed more recently than the center.

    Her job is at The University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory, one of the world’s premier astronomy facilities, where she works as a postdoctoral astrophysics research associate.

    U Arizona Steward Observatory at Kitt Peak, AZ, USA, altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft)

    Just a few years ago, while earning her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, Mutlu-Pakdil and her colleagues discovered PGC 1000174, a galaxy with qualities so rare they’ve never been observed anywhere else. For now, it’s known as Burçin’s Galaxy.

    The object was originally detected by Patrick Treuthardt, who was observing a different galaxy when he spotted it in the background. It piqued the astronomers’ attention because of an initial resemblance to Hoag’s Object. This rare galaxy is known for its yellow-orange center surrounded by a detached outer ring.

    “Our object looks very similar to Hoag’s Object. It has a very symmetric central body with a very symmetric outer ring,” explains Mutlu-Pakdil. “But my work showed that there is actually a second ring on this object. This makes it much more complex.”

    Through extensive imaging and analysis, Mutlu-Pakdil found that, unlike Hoag’s Object, this new galaxy has two rings with no visible materials attaching them, a phenomenon not seen before. It offered the first-ever observation and description of a double-ringed elliptical galaxy.

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    Eye on the universe. Sophisticated instruments like the 8.2 meter optical-infrared Subaru Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii allow astronomers to peer ever further into the stars–and into the origins of the universe.


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

    Since spotting the intriguing galaxy, Mutlu-Pakdil and her team have evaluated it in several ways. They initially observed it via the Irénéé du Pont two-meter telescope at the Las Campanas observatory in Chile. And they recently captured infrared images with the Magellan 6.5-meter telescope also at Las Campanas.


    Carnegie Las Campanas Dupont telescope, Atacama Desert, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) northeast of the city of La Serena,Chile

    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

    The optical images reveal that the components of Burçin’s Galaxy have different histories. Some parts of the galaxy are significantly older than others. The blue outer ring suggests a newer formation, while the red inner ring indicates the presence of older stars.

    Mutlu-Pakdil and her colleagues suspect that this galaxy was formed as some material accumulated into one massive object through gravitational attraction, AKA an accretion event.

    However, beyond that, PGC1000174’s unique qualities largely remain a mystery. There are about three trillion galaxies in our observable universe and more are being found all the time.

    “In such a vast universe, finding these rare objects is really important,” says Mutlu-Pakdil. “We are trying to create a complete picture of how the Universe works. These peculiar systems challenge our understanding. So far, we don’t have any theory that can explain the existence of this particular object, so we still have a lot to learn.”

    Challenging norms and changing lives

    In a way, Mutlu-Pakdil has been challenging the norms of science all her life.

    Though her parents weren’t educated beyond elementary school, they supported her desire to pursue her dreams of the stars.

    “When I was in college, I was the only female in my class, and I remember I felt so much like an outsider. I felt like I wasn’t fitting in,” she recalls of her time studying physics at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey.

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    Bilkent University

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    Astronomical ambassador. Mutlu-Pakdil believes in sharing her fascination for space and works to encourage students from all backgrounds to explore astronomy and other STEM fields.

    Throughout her education and career, Mutlu-Pakdil has experienced being a minority in an otherwise male-dominated field. It hasn’t slowed her down, but it has made her more passionate about promoting diversity in science and being a mentor to young people.

    “I realized, it is not about me, it is society that needs to change,” she says. “Now I really want to inspire people to do similar things. So kids from all backgrounds will be able to understand they can do science, too.”

    That’s why she serves as an ambassador for the American Astronomical Society and volunteers to mentor children in low-income neighborhoods to encourage them to pursue college and, hopefully, a career in STEM.

    She was also recently selected to be a 2018 TED Fellow and will present a TED talk about her discoveries and career on April 10.

    Through her work, Mutlu-Pakdil hopes to show people how important it is to learn about our universe. It behooves us all to take an interest in the night sky and the groundbreaking discoveries being made by astronomers like her around the world.

    “We are a part of this Universe, and we need to know what is going on in it. We have strong theories about how common galaxies form and evolve, but, for rare ones, we don’t have much information,” says Mutlu-Pakdil. “Those unique objects present the extreme cases, so they really give us a big picture for the Universe’s evolution — they stretch our understanding of everything.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
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    Science Node is an international weekly online publication that covers distributed computing and the research it enables.

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

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

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

     
  • richardmitnick 12:32 pm on March 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Double or Nothing: Astronomers Rethink Quasar Environment, NAOJ Subaru Telescope, , ,   

    From NAOJ: “Double or Nothing: Astronomers Rethink Quasar Environment” 

    NAOJ

    NAOJ

    March 12, 2018
    No writer credit

    Using Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) mounted on the Subaru Telescope, astronomers have identified nearly 200 “protoclusters,” the progenitors of galaxy clusters, in the early Universe, about 12 billion years ago, about ten times more than previously known.

    NAOJ Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam

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

    They also found that quasars don’t tend to reside in protoclusters; but if there is one quasar in a protocluster, there is likely a second nearby. This result raises doubts about the relation between protoclusters and quasars.

    In the Universe, galaxies are not distributed uniformly. There are some places, known as clusters, where dozens or hundreds of galaxies are found close together. Other galaxies are isolated. To determine how and why clusters formed, it is critical to investigate not only mature galaxy clusters as seen in the present Universe but also observe protoclusters, galaxy clusters in the process of forming.

    Because the speed of light is finite, observing distant objects allows us to look back in time. For example, the light from an object 1 billion light-years away was actually emitted 1 billion years ago and has spent the time since then traveling through space to reach us. By observing this light, astronomers can see an image of how the Universe looked when that light was emitted.

    Even when observing the distant (early) Universe, protoclusters are rare and difficult to discover. Only about 20 were previously known. Because distant protoclusters are difficult to observe directly, quasars are sometimes used as a proxy. When a large volume of gas falls towards the super massive black hole in the center of a galaxy, it collides with other gas and is heated to extreme temperatures. This hot gas shines brightly and is known as a quasar. The thought was that when many galaxies are close together, a merger, two galaxies colliding and melding together, would create instabilities and cause gas to fall into the super massive black hole in one of the galaxies, creating a quasar. However, this relationship was not confirmed observationally due to the rarity of both quasars and protoclusters.

    In order to understand protoclusters in the distant Universe a larger observational sample was needed. A team including astronomers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the University of Tokyo, the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, and other institutes is now conducting an unprecedented wide-field systematic survey of protoclusters using the Subaru Telescope’s very wide-field camera, Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC). By analyzing the data from this survey, the team has already identified nearly 200 regions where galaxies are gathering together to form protoclusters in the early Universe 12 billion years ago.

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    Figure 1: Galaxy distribution and close-ups of some protoclusters revealed by HSC. Higher- and lower-density regions are represented by redder and bluer colors, respectively. In the close-ups, white circles indicate the positions of distant galaxies. The red regions are expected to evolve into galaxy clusters. From the close-ups, we can see various morphologies of the overdense regions: some have another neighboring overdense region, or are elongated like a filament, while there are also isolated overdense regions. (Credit: NAOJ)

    The team also addressed the relationship between protoclusters and quasars. The team sampled 151 luminous quasars at the same epoch as the HSC protoclusters and to their surprise found that most of those quasars are not close to the overdense regions of galaxies. In fact, their most luminous quasars even avoid the densest regions of galaxies. These results suggest that quasars are not a good proxy for protoclusters and more importantly, mechanisms other than galactic mergers may be needed to explain quasar activity. Furthermore, since they did not find many galaxies near the brightest quasars, that could mean that hard radiation from a quasar suppresses galaxy formation in its vicinity.

    On the other hand, the team found two “pairs” of quasars residing in protoclusters. Quasars are rare and pairs of them are even rarer. The fact that both pairs were associated with protoclusters suggests that quasar activity is perhaps synchronous in protocluster environments. “We have succeeded in discovering a number of protoclusters in the distant Universe for the first time and have witnessed the diversity of the quasar environments thanks to our wide-and-deep observations with HSC,” says the team’s leader Nobunari Kashikawa (NAOJ).

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    Figure 2: The two quasar pairs and surrounding galaxies. Stars indicate quasars and bright (faint) galaxies at the same epoch are shown as circles (dots). The galaxy overdensity with respect to the average density is shown by the contour. The pair members are associated with high density regions of galaxies. (Credit: NAOJ)

    “HSC observations have enabled us to systematically study protoclusters for the first time.” says Jun Toshikawa, lead author of the a paper reporting the discovery of the HSC protoclusters, “The HSC protoclusters will steadily increase as the survey proceeds. Thousands of protoclusters located 12 billion light-years away will be found by the time the observations finish. With those new observations we will clarify the growth history of protoclusters.”

    These results were published on January 1, 2018 in the HSC special issue of the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan (Toshikawa et al. 2018, GOLDRUSH. III. A Systematic Search of Protoclusters at z~4 Based on the >100 deg2 Area, PASJ, 70, S12; Uchiyama et al. 2018, Luminous Quasars Do Not Live in the Most Overdense Regions of Galaxies at z~4, PASJ, 70, S32; Onoue et al. 2018, Enhancement of Galaxy Overdensity around Quasar Pairs at z<3.6 based on the Hyper Suprime-Cam Subaru Strategic Program Survey, PASJ, 70, S31). These projects are supported by Grants-In-Aid JP15H03645, JP15K17617, and JP15J02115.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition
    The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is an astronomical research organisation comprising several facilities in Japan, as well as an observatory in Hawaii. It was established in 1988 as an amalgamation of three existing research organizations – the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory of the University of Tokyo, International Latitude Observatory of Mizusawa, and a part of Research Institute of Atmospherics of Nagoya University.

    In the 2004 reform of national research organizations, NAOJ became a division of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

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


    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array
    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array
    sft
    Solar Flare Telescope

    Nobeyama Radio Telescope - Copy
    Nobeyama Radio Observatory

    Nobeyama Solar Radio Telescope Array
    Nobeyama Radio Observatory: Solar

    Misuzawa Station Japan
    Mizusawa VERA Observatory

    NAOJ Okayama Astrophysical Observatory Telescope
    Okayama Astrophysical Observatory

    The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is an astronomical research organisation comprising several facilities in Japan, as well as an observatory in Hawaii. It was established in 1988 as an amalgamation of three existing research organizations – the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory of the University of Tokyo, International Latitude Observatory of Mizusawa, and a part of Research Institute of Atmospherics of Nagoya University.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:07 pm on February 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Discoveries Fuel Fight Over Universe’s First Light, , NAOJ Subaru Telescope,   

    From Quanta: “Discoveries Fuel Fight Over Universe’s First Light” 

    Quanta Magazine
    Quanta Magazine

    1
    Light from the first galaxies clears the universe. ESO/L. Calçada.

    May 19, 2017 n[Just put up in social media.]
    Ashley Yeager

    Not long after the Big Bang, all went dark. The hydrogen gas that pervaded the early universe would have snuffed out the light of the universe’s first stars and galaxies. For hundreds of millions of years, even a galaxy’s worth of stars — or unthinkably bright beacons such as those created by supermassive black holes — would have been rendered all but invisible.

    Eventually this fog burned off as high-energy ultraviolet light broke the atoms apart in a process called reionization. But the questions of exactly how this happened — which celestial objects powered the process and how many of them were needed — have consumed astronomers for decades.

    Now, in a series of studies, researchers have looked further into the early universe than ever before. They’ve used galaxies and dark matter as a giant cosmic lens to see some of the earliest galaxies known, illuminating how these galaxies could have dissipated the cosmic fog. In addition, an international team of astronomers has found dozens of supermassive black holes — each with the mass of millions of suns — lighting up the early universe. Another team has found evidence that supermassive black holes existed hundreds of millions of years before anyone thought possible. The new discoveries should make clear just how much black holes contributed to the reionization of the universe, even as they’ve opened up questions as to how such supermassive black holes were able to form so early in the universe’s history.

    First Light

    In the first years after the Big Bang, the universe was too hot to allow atoms to form. Protons and electrons flew about, scattering any light. Then after about 380,000 years, these protons and electrons cooled enough to form hydrogen atoms, which coalesced into stars and galaxies over the next few hundreds of millions of years.

    Starlight from these galaxies would have been bright and energetic, with lots of it falling in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. As this light flew out into the universe, it ran into more hydrogen gas. These photons of light would break apart the hydrogen gas, contributing to reionization, but as they did so, the gas snuffed out the light.

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    To find these stars, astronomers have to look for the non-ultraviolet part of their light and extrapolate from there. But this non-ultraviolet light is relatively dim and hard to see without help.

    A team led by Rachael Livermore, an astrophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin, found just the help needed in the form of a giant cosmic lens.

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    These so-called gravitational lenses form when a galaxy cluster, filled with massive dark matter, bends space-time to focus and magnify any object on the other side of it. Livermore used this technique with images from the Hubble Space Telescope to spot extremely faint galaxies from as far back as 600 million years after the Big Bang — right in the thick of reionization.

    In a recent paper that appeared in The Astrophysical Journal, Livermore and colleagues also calculated that if you add galaxies like these to the previously known galaxies, then stars should be able to generate enough intense ultraviolet light to reionize the universe.

    Yet there’s a catch. Astronomers doing this work have to estimate how much of a star’s ultraviolet light escaped its home galaxy (which is full of light-blocking hydrogen gas) to go out into the wider universe and contribute to reionization writ large. That estimate — called the escape fraction — creates a huge uncertainty that Livermore is quick to acknowledge.

    In addition, not everyone believes Livermore’s results. Rychard Bouwens, an astrophysicist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, argues in a paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal that Livermore didn’t properly subtract the light from the galaxy clusters that make up the gravitational lens. As a result, he said, the distant galaxies aren’t as faint as Livermore and colleagues claim, and astronomers have not found enough galaxies to conclude that stars ionized the universe.

    Supremacy of Supermassive Black Holes

    If stars couldn’t get the job done, perhaps supermassive black holes could. Beastly in size, up to a billion times the mass of the sun, supermassive black holes devour matter. They tug it toward them and heat it up, a process that emits lots of light and creates luminous objects that we call quasars. Because quasars emit way more ionizing radiation than stars do, they could in theory reionize the universe.

    The trick is finding enough quasars to do it. In a paper posted to the scientific preprint site arxiv.org last month, astronomers working with the Subaru Telescope announced the discovery of 33 quasars that are about a 10th as bright as ones identified before.


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

    With such faint quasars, the astronomers should be able to calculate just how much ultraviolet light these supermassive black holes emit, said Michael Strauss, an astrophysicist at Princeton University and a member of the team. The researchers haven’t done the analysis yet, but they expect to publish the results in the coming months.

    The oldest of these quasars dates back to around a billion years after the Big Bang, which seems about how long it would take ordinary black holes to devour enough matter to bulk up to supermassive status.

    This is why another recent discovery [The Astrophysical Journal] is so puzzling. A team of researchers led by Richard Ellis, an astronomer at the European Southern Observatory, was observing a bright, star-forming galaxy seen as it was just 600 million years after the Big Bang.

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

    The galaxy’s spectrum — a catalog of light by wavelength — appeared to contain a signature of ionized nitrogen. It’s hard to ionize ordinary hydrogen, and even harder to ionize nitrogen. It requires more higher-energy ultraviolet light than stars emit. So another strong source of ionizing radiation, possibly a supermassive black hole, had to exist at this time, Ellis said.

    One supermassive black hole at the center of an early star-forming galaxy might be an outlier. It doesn’t mean there were enough of them around to reionize the universe. So Ellis has started to look at other early galaxies. His team now has tentative evidence that supermassive black holes sat at the centers of other massive, star-forming galaxies in the early universe. Studying these objects could help clarify what reionized the universe and illuminate how supermassive black holes formed at all. “That is a very exciting possibility,” Ellis said.

    All this work is beginning to converge on a relatively straightforward explanation for what reionized the universe. The first population of young, hot stars probably started the process, then drove it forward for hundreds of millions of years. Over time, these stars died; the stars that replaced them weren’t quite so bright and hot. But by this point in cosmic history, supermassive black holes had enough time to grow and could start to take over. Researchers such as Steve Finkelstein, an astrophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin, are using the latest observational data and simulations of early galactic activity to test out the details of this scenario, such as how much stars and black holes contribute to the process at different times.

    His work — and all work involving the universe’s first billion years — will get a boost in the coming years after the 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble’s successor, which has been explicitly designed to find the first objects in the universe. Its findings will probably provoke many more questions, too.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Formerly known as Simons Science News, Quanta Magazine is an editorially independent online publication launched by the Simons Foundation to enhance public understanding of science. Why Quanta? Albert Einstein called photons “quanta of light.” Our goal is to “illuminate science.” At Quanta Magazine, scientific accuracy is every bit as important as telling a good story. All of our articles are meticulously researched, reported, edited, copy-edited and fact-checked.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:03 am on October 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NAOJ Subaru Telescope   

    From NAOJ Subaru: “Minor Merger Kicks Supermassive Black Hole into High Gear” 

    NAOJ

    NAOJ

    October 30, 2017
    Press release
    No writer credit found

    The galaxy Messier 77 (M77) is famous for its super-active nucleus that releases enormous energy across the electromagnetic spectrum, ranging from x-ray to radio wavelengths. Yet, despite its highly active core, the galaxy looks like any normal quiet spiral. There’s no visual sign of what is causing its central region to radiate so extensively. It has long been a mystery why only the center of M77 is so active. Astronomers suspect a long-ago event involving a sinking black hole, which could have kicked the core into high gear.

    To test their ideas about why the central region of M77 beams massive amounts of radiation, a team of researchers at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the Open University of Japan used the Subaru Telescope to study M77. The unprecedented deep image of the galaxy reveals evidence of a hidden minor merger billions of years ago. The discovery gives crucial evidence for the minor merger origin of active galactic nuclei.

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    Figure 1: The deep image of Messier 77 taken with the Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) mounted at the Subaru Telescope. The picture is created by adding the color information from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (Note 1) to the monochromatic image acquired by the HSC. (Credit: NAOJ/SDSS/David Hogg/Michael Blanton. Image Processing: Ichi Tanaka)

    NAOJ Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam

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

    The Mystery of Seyfert Galaxies

    The galaxy Messier 77 (NGC 1068) is famous for harboring an active nucleus at its core that releases an enormous amount of energy. The existence of such active galaxies in the nearby universe was first noted by the American astronomer Carl Seyfert more than 70 years ago. Nowadays they are called the Seyfert galaxies (Note 2). Astronomers think that the source of such powerful activity is the gravitational energy released from superheated matter falling onto a supermassive black hole (SMBH) that resides in the center of the host galaxy. The estimated mass of such a SMBH for M77 is about 10 million times that of the Sun.

    It takes a massive amount of gas dumped on the galaxy’s central black hole to create such strong energies. That may sound like an easy task, but it’s actually very difficult. The gas in the galactic disk will circulate faster and faster as it spirals into the vicinity of the SMBH. Then, at some point the “centrifugal force” balances with the gravitational pull of the SMBH. That actually prevents the gas from falling into the center. The situation is similar to water draining out of a bathtub. Due to the centrifugal force, the rapidly rotating water will not drain out rapidly. So, how can the angular momentum be removed from the gas circling near an active galactic nucleus? Finding the answer to that question is one of the big challenges for researchers today.

    A Prediction Posed 18 Years Ago

    In 1999, Professor Yoshiaki Taniguchi (currently at the Open University of Japan), the team leader of the current Subaru study, published a paper about the driving mechanism of the active nucleus of Seyfert galaxies such as M 77. He pointed out that a past event – a “minor merger” where the host galaxy ate up its “satellite” galaxy (a small low-mass galaxy orbiting it) – would be the key to activating the Seyfert nucleus (Note 3).

    Usually, a minor merger event simply breaks up a low-mass satellite galaxy. The resulting debris is absorbed into the disk of the more massive host galaxy before it approaches the center. Therefore, it was not considered as the main driver of the nuclear activity. “However, the situation could be totally different if the satellite galaxy has a (smaller) SMBH in its center (Note 4),” Professor Taniguchi suggests, “because the black hole can never be broken apart. If it exists, it should eventually sink into the center of the host galaxy.”

    The sinking SMBH from the satellite galaxy would eventually create a disturbance in the rotating gas disk around the main galaxy’s SMBH. Then, the disturbed gas would eventually rush into the central SMBH while releasing enormous gravitational energy. “This must be the main ignition mechanism of the active Seyfert nuclei,” Taniguchi argued. “The idea can naturally explain the mystery about the morphology of the Seyfert galaxies,” said Professor Taniguchi, pointing out the advantage of the model of normal-looking galaxies also being very active at their cores. (Note 5).

    Probing the Theory Using the Subaru Telescope

    Recent advances in observational technique allow the detection of the extremely faint structure around galaxies, such as loops or debris that are likely made by dynamical interactions with satellite galaxies.. The outermost parts of galaxies are often considered as relatively “quiet” with a longer dynamical timescale than anywhere inside. Simulations show that the faint signature of a past minor merger can remain several billion years after the event. “Such a signature can be a key test for our minor merger hypothesis for Seyfert galaxies. Now it is time to revisit M77,” said Taniguchi.

    The team’s choice to look for ‘the past case’ was, of course, the Subaru Telescope and its powerful imaging camera, Hyper Suprime-Cam. The observing proposal was accepted and executed on Christmas night 2016. “The data was just amazing,” said Dr. Ichi Tanaka, the primary investigator of the project. “Luckily, we could also retrieve the other data that was taken in the past and just released from the Subaru Telescope’s data archive. Thus, the combined data we got finally is unprecedentedly deep.”

    Figure 2 shows the result. The team has identified several notable features outside the bright disk as seen in Figure 1, most of which were not known prior to the observation. There is a faint outer one-arm structure outside the disk to the west. The opposite part of the disk has a ripple-like structure which is clearly different from the spiral pattern. The detected signatures amazingly match to the result of a minor-merger simulation published by other research teams. What is more, the observing team discovered three extremely diffuse and large blobby structures farther outside of the disk. Intriguingly, it seems that two of these diffuse blobs actually constitute a gigantic loop around M77 with a diameter of 250,000 light years. These structures are compelling evidence that M77 ate up its satellite galaxy at least several billion years ago.

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    Figure 2: (Left) The newly-discovered, extremely diffuse structures around M77. The innermost color part of the picture shows the bright part of the galaxy (from SDSS: see the center of Figure 1). The middle part in red-brown is the contrast-enhanced expression of the faint one-arm structure (labeled as “Banana”) to the right, as well as the ripple structure (labeled as “Ripple”) to the left. All the fore/background objects unrelated to M77 are removed during the process. The outermost monochrome part shows the faint ultra-diffuse structures in yellow circles (labelled as “UDO-SE”, “UDO-NE”, “UDO-SW”). A deep look at them indicates the latter two (“UDO-NE”, “UDO-SW”) constitute a part of the large loop-like structure. (Credit: NAOJ)
    (Right) Artist’s impression of M77. The illustration in the right is created and copyrighted by Mr. Akihiro Ikeshita. (Credit: Akihiro Ikeshita)

    Subaru’s great photon-collecting power and the superb performance of the Hyper Suprime-Cam were crucial in the discovery of the extremely faint structures in M77. Their discovery reveals the normal-looking galaxy’s hidden violent past.. “Though people may sometimes make a lie, galaxies never do. The important thing is to listen to their small voices to understand the galaxies,” said Professor Taniguchi.

    The team will expand its study to more Seyfert galaxies using the Subaru Telescope. Dr. Masafumi Yagi, who leads the next phase of the project said, “We will discover more and more evidences of the satellite merger around Seyfert host galaxies. We expect that the project can provide a critical piece for the unified picture for the triggering mechanism for active galactic nuclei.”

    The result is going to be published in the Volume 69 Issue 6 of the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan (I. Tanaka, M.Yagi & Y. Taniguchi 2017, “Morphological evidence for a past minor merger in the Seyfert galaxy NGC 1068”). The research is financially supported by the Basic Research A grant JP16H02166 by the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research program.

    Note1: The color image by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey used for Figure 1 is under the copyright of David W. Hogg and Michael R. Blanton.

    Note 2: Seyfert galaxies are actually a subclass of the active galactic nuclei. There are even more powerful active galactic nuclei called quasar in the universe. Usually quasars are found much farther away than M77.

    Note 3: Satellite galaxies are common for large galaxies. For example, there are two bright satellite galaxies called Large and Small Magellanic Clouds associated with our Milky Way. The Andromeda galaxy, our nearest neighbor, also has two bright satellites called Messier 32 and NGC 205.

    Note 4: Astronomers believe that most galaxies have an SMBH in their central regions, with its mass mysteriously scaled to the mass of the host galaxy. It is also known that some satellite galaxies also have smaller SMBH. For example, Messier 32 (satellite of the Andromeda galaxy) is likely to have a SMBH much heavier than a million times the mass of our Sun. It is however not easy to directly prove the existence of the SMBH for satellite galaxies due to its light weight.

    Note 5: Y. Taniguchi 1999, ApJ, 524, 65, for the reference.

    The research team:

    Ichi Tanaka: Subaru Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
    Masafumi Yagi: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
    Yoshiaki Taniguchi: The Open University of Japan

    See the full article here .

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    The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is an astronomical research organisation comprising several facilities in Japan, as well as an observatory in Hawaii. It was established in 1988 as an amalgamation of three existing research organizations – the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory of the University of Tokyo, International Latitude Observatory of Mizusawa, and a part of Research Institute of Atmospherics of Nagoya University.

    In the 2004 reform of national research organizations, NAOJ became a division of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope interior
    Subaru

    ALMA Array
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    NAOJ Okayama Astrophysical Observatory Telescope
    Okayama Astrophysical Observatory

    The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is an astronomical research organisation comprising several facilities in Japan, as well as an observatory in Hawaii. It was established in 1988 as an amalgamation of three existing research organizations – the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory of the University of Tokyo, International Latitude Observatory of Mizusawa, and a part of Research Institute of Atmospherics of Nagoya University.

    In the 2004 reform of national research organizations, NAOJ became a division of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:26 pm on October 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NAOJ Cray XC30 ATERUI, NAOJ Subaru Telescope, , ,   

    From NOAJ Subaru: “Surface Helium Detonation Spells End for White Dwarf” 

    NAOJ

    NAOJ

    October 4, 2017
    No writer credit

    An international team of researchers has found evidence that the brightest stellar explosions in our Universe could be triggered by helium nuclear detonation near the surface of a white dwarf star. Using Hyper Suprime-Cam mounted on the Subaru Telescope, the team detected a type Ia supernova within a day after the explosion, and explained its behavior through a model calculated using the supercomputer ATERUI.

    NAOJ Cray XC30 ATERUI, installed in the NAOJ Mizusawa campus

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    Figure 1: A type Ia supernova detected within a day after exploding. Taken with Hyper Suprime-Cam mounted on the Subaru Telescope. Figure without the labels is linked here. (Credit: University of Tokyo/NAOJ)

    NAOJ Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam

    Some stars end their lives with a huge explosion called a supernova. The most famous supernovae are the result of a massive star exploding, but a white dwarf, the remnant of an intermediate mass star like our Sun, can also explode. This can occur if the white dwarf is part of a binary star system. The white dwarf accretes material from the companion star, then at some point, it might explode as a type Ia supernova.

    Because of the uniform and extremely high brightness (about 5 billion times brighter than the Sun) of type Ia supernovae, they are often used for distance measurements in astronomy. However, astronomers are still puzzled by how these explosions are ignited. Moreover, these explosions only occur about once every 100 years in any given galaxy, making them difficult to catch.

    An international team of researchers led by Ji-an Jiang, a graduate student of the University of Tokyo, and including researchers from the University of Tokyo, the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU), Kyoto University, and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), tried to solve this problem. To maximize the chances of finding a type Ia supernova in the very early stages, the team used Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) mounted on the Subaru Telescope, a combination which can capture an ultra-wide area of the sky at once. Also they developed a system to detect supernovae automatically in the heavy flood of data during the survey, which enabled real-time discoveries and timely follow-up observations.

    They discovered over 100 supernova candidates in one night with Subaru/Hyper Suprime-Cam, including several supernovae that had only exploded a few days earlier. In particular, they captured a peculiar type Ia supernova within a day of it exploding. Its brightness and color variation over time are different from any previously-discovered type Ia supernova. They hypothesized this object could be the result of a white dwarf with a helium layer on its surface. Igniting the helium layer would lead to a violent chain reaction and cause the entire star to explode. This peculiar behavior can be totally explained with numerical simulations calculated using the supercomputer ATERUI. “This is the first evidence that robustly supports a theoretically predicted stellar explosion mechanism!” said Jiang.

    This result is a step towards understand the beginning of type Ia supernovae. The team will continue to test their theory against other supernovae, by detecting more and more supernovae just after the explosion. The details of their study are to be published in Nature on October 5, 2017 (Jiang et al. 2017, A hybrid type la supernova with an early flash triggered by helium-shell detonation, Nature).

    See the full article here .

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    The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is an astronomical research organisation comprising several facilities in Japan, as well as an observatory in Hawaii. It was established in 1988 as an amalgamation of three existing research organizations – the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory of the University of Tokyo, International Latitude Observatory of Mizusawa, and a part of Research Institute of Atmospherics of Nagoya University.

    In the 2004 reform of national research organizations, NAOJ became a division of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope interior
    Subaru

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

    sft
    Solar Flare Telescope

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    Nobeyama Radio Observatory

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    Nobeyama Radio Observatory: Solar

    Misuzawa Station Japan
    Mizusawa VERA Observatory

    NAOJ Okayama Astrophysical Observatory Telescope
    Okayama Astrophysical Observatory

    The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is an astronomical research organisation comprising several facilities in Japan, as well as an observatory in Hawaii. It was established in 1988 as an amalgamation of three existing research organizations – the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory of the University of Tokyo, International Latitude Observatory of Mizusawa, and a part of Research Institute of Atmospherics of Nagoya University.

    In the 2004 reform of national research organizations, NAOJ became a division of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:17 pm on September 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Explosive Birth of Stars Swells Galactic Cores - ALMA spots transforming disk galaxies, NAOJ Subaru Telescope,   

    From ALMA: “Explosive Birth of Stars Swells Galactic Cores – ALMA spots transforming disk galaxies” 

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

    2017.09.11
    No writer credits

    1
    NAOJ

    Astronomers found that active star formation upswells galaxies, like yeast helps bread rise. Using three powerful telescopes on the ground and in orbit, they observed galaxies from 11 billion years ago and found explosive formation of stars in the cores of galaxies. This suggests that galaxies can change their own shape without interaction with other galaxies.

    Astronomers found that active star formation upswells galaxies, like yeast helps bread rise. Using three powerful telescopes on the ground and in orbit, they observed galaxies from 11 billion years ago and found explosive formation of stars in the cores of galaxies. This suggests that galaxies can change their own shape without interaction with other galaxies.

    “Massive elliptical galaxies are believed to be formed from collisions of disk galaxies,” said Ken-ichi Tadaki, the lead author of two research papers and a postdoctoral researcher at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). “But, it is uncertain whether all the elliptical galaxies have experienced galaxy collision. There may be an alternative path.”

    Aiming to understand galactic metamorphosis, the international team explored distant galaxies 11 billion light-years away. Because it takes time for the light from distant objects to reach us, by observing galaxies 11 billion light-years away, the team can see what the Universe looked like 11 billion years ago, 3 billion years after the Big Bang. This corresponds the peak epoch of galaxy formation; the foundations of most galaxies were formed in this epoch.

    Receiving faint light which has travelled 11 billion years is tough work. The team harnessed the power of three telescopes to anatomize the ancient galaxies. First, they used NAOJ’s 8.2-m Subaru Telescope in Hawai`i and picked out 25 galaxies in this epoch.


    NAOJ/Subaru Telescope at Mauna Kea Hawaii, USA

    Then they targeted the galaxies for observations with NASA/ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    The astronomers used HST to capture the light from stars which tells us the “current” (as of when the light was emitted, 11 billion years ago) shape of the galaxies, while ALMA observed submillimeter waves from cold clouds of gas and dust, where new stars are being formed. By combining the two, we know the shapes of the galaxies 11 billion years ago and how they are evolving.

    2
    Observation images of a galaxy 11 billion light-years away. Submillimeter waves detected with ALMA are shown in left, indicating the location of dense dust and gas where stars are being formed. Optical and infrared light seen with the Hubble Space Telescope are shown in the middle and right, respectively. A large galactic disk is seen in infrared, while three young star clusters are seen in optical light.
    Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, Tadaki et al.

    Thanks to their high resolution, HST and ALMA could illustrate the metamorphosis of the galaxies. With HST images the team found that a disk component dominates the galaxies. Meanwhile, the ALMA images show that there is a massive reservoir of gas and dust, the material of stars, so that stars are forming very actively. The star formation activity is so high that huge numbers of stars will be formed at the centers of the galaxies. This leads the astronomers to think that ultimately the galaxies will be dominated by the stellar bulge and become elliptical or lenticular galaxies.

    “Here, we obtained firm evidence that dense galactic cores can be formed without galaxy collisions. They can also be formed by intense star formation in the heart of the galaxy.” said Tadaki. The team used the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope to observe the target galaxies and confirmed that there are no indications of massive galaxy collisions.

    ESO/VLT at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    Almost 100 years ago, American astronomer Edwin Hubble invented the morphological classification scheme for galaxies. Since then, many astronomers have devoted considerable effort to understanding the origin of the variety in galaxy shapes. Utilizing the most advanced telescopes, modern astronomers have come one step closer to solving the mysteries of galaxies.

    3
    Evolution diagram of a galaxy. First the galaxy is dominated by the disk component (left) but active star formation occurs in the huge dust and gas cloud at the center of the galaxy (center). Then the galaxy is dominated by the stellar bulge and becomes an elliptical or lenticular galaxy. Credit: NAOJ

    Paper and research team
    These observation results were published as Tadaki et al. Bulge-forming Galaxies with an Extended Rotating Disk at z ~ 2 and Rotating Starburst Cores in Massive Galaxies at z = 2.5 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters in January and May 2017, respectively.

    The research team members are:
    Ken-ichi Tadaki (Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics [MPE]/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan [NAOJ]), Reinhard Genzel (MPE/University of California, Berkeley), Tadayuki Kodama (NAOJ/The Graduate University for Advanced Studies [SOKENDAI], Tohoku University), Stijn Wuyts (University of Bath), Emily Wisnioski (MPE), Natascha M. Foerster Schreiber (MPE), Andreas Burkert (MPE/Ludwig Maximilian University), Phillip Lang (MPE), Linda J. Tacconi (MPE), Dieter Lutz (MPE), Sirio Belli (MPE), Richard I. Davies (MPE), Bunyo Hatsukade (The University of Tokyo), Masao Hayashi (NAOJ), Rodrigo Herrera-Camus (MPE), Soh Ikarashi (University of Groningen), Shigeki Inoue (The University of Tokyo), Kotaro Kohno (The University of Tokyo), Yusei Koyama (NAOJ), J. Trevor Mendel (MPE / Ludwig Maximilian University), Kouichiro Nakanishi (NAOJ/SOKENDAI), Rhythm Shimakawa (SOEKNDAI/University of California), Tomoko L. Suzuki (SOEKNDAI/NAOJ), Yoichi Tamura (The University of Tokyo/Nagoya University), Ichi Tanaka (NAOJ), Hannah Uebler (MPE), Dave J. Wilman (MPE/ Ludwig Maximilian University), Erica J. Nelson (MPE), Magdalena Lippa (MPE)

    This research was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the German Academic Exchange Service under the Japan-German Research Cooperative Program.

    See the full article here .

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    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.

    ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

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  • richardmitnick 10:03 am on March 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NAOJ Subaru Telescope, Subaru Telescope Detects the Shadow of a Gas Cloud in an Ancient Proto-supercluster   

    From NOAJ Subaru: “Subaru Telescope Detects the Shadow of a Gas Cloud in an Ancient Proto-supercluster” 

    NAOJ

    NAOJ

    March 28, 2017

    A team led by researchers from Osaka Sangyo University, with members from Tohoku University, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and others, has used the Suprime-Cam on the Subaru Telescope to create the most-extensive map of neutral hydrogen gas in the early universe (Figure 1). This cloud appears widely spread out across 160 million light-years in and around a structure called the proto-supercluster. It is the largest structure in the distant universe, and existed some 11.5 billion years ago. Such a huge gas cloud is extremely valuable for studying large-scale structure formation and the evolution of galaxies from gas in the early universe, and merits further investigation.

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    The distribution of galaxies in the proto-supercluster region 11.5 billion years ago (top left), and the Subaru Telescope Suprime-Cam image used in this work.


    NAOJ Subaru Hyper Suprime Camera

    Neutral hydrogen gas distribution is superposed on the Subaru image. The red color indicates denser regions of the neutral hydrogen gas. Cyan squares correspond to member galaxies in the proto-supercluster, while objects without cyan squares are foreground galaxies and stars. The distribution of neutral hydrogen gas does not align perfectly with the galaxies. (Credit: Osaka Sangyo University/NAOJ)

    “We are surprised because the dense gas structure is extended much more than expected in the proto-supercluster,” said Dr. Mawatari. “Wider field observations with narrow-band filters are needed to grasp full picture of this largest structure in the young Universe. This is exactly the type of strong research that can be done with Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) recently mounted at the Subaru Telescope. We intend to study the gas – galaxy relation in various proto-superclusters using the HSC.”

    Understanding Matter Distribution in the Universe

    Stars assembled to form galaxies, and galaxies are clustered to form larger structures such as clusters or superclusters. Matter in the current universe is structured in a hierarchical manner on scales of ~ 100 million light-years. However, we cannot observe inhomogeneous structure in any direction or distance over scales larger than that. One important issue in modern astronomy is to clarify how perfectly the large-scale uniformity and homogeneity in matter distribution is maintained. In addition, astronomers seek to investigate the properties of the seeds of large-scale structures (i.e., the initial matter fluctuations) that existed at the beginning of the universe. Thus, it is important to observe huge structures at various epochs (which translates to distances). The study of gaseous matter as well as galaxies is needed for an accurate and comprehensive understanding. This is because local superclusters are known to be rich in gas. Furthermore, it is clear that there are many newborn galaxies in ancient (or distant) clusters. A detailed comparison between the spatial distributions of galaxies and gas during the early epochs of the universe is very important to understand process of galaxy formation from the dim (low light-emitting) clumps of gas in the early universe.

    In order to investigate early, dim gas clouds, astronomers take advantage of the fact that light from bright distant objects gets dimmed by foreground gas (giving an effect like a “shadow picture”). Since neutral hydrogen in the gas cloud absorbs and dims light from background objects at a certain wavelength, we can see characteristic absorption feature in the spectrum of the background object. In many previous observations, researchers used quasars (which are very bright and distant) as background light sources. Because bright quasars are very rare, opportunities for such observations are limited. This allows astronomers to get information about the gas that lies only along the line of sight between a single QSO and Earth in a wide survey area. It has long been the goal to obtain “multi-dimensional” information of gas (e.g., spatially resolve the gas clouds) rather than the “one-dimensional” view currently available. This requires a new approach.

    Expanding the View

    To widen their view of these objects in the early universe, Dr. Ken Mawatari at Osaka Sangyo University and his colleagues recently developed a scheme to analyze the spatial distribution of the neutral hydrogen gas using imaging data of galaxies of the distant epoch (Figure 2).

    2
    Figure 2: Schematic pictures of an analysis scheme of previous work (left) and a new method (right). In the previous approach, basically a single background light source (quasar) can be used in a searched area. On the other hand, with the new scheme, it is easier to spatially resolve the neutral hydrogen gas density by using many normal galaxies in a searched area as background light sources. In the new scheme, absorption strength by the neutral hydrogen gas is estimated by measuring how much flux of the background galaxies becomes dimmed in the narrow-band image, not by using spectrum. By combining this scheme with the wide-area imaging ability of the Subaru Telescope, Mawatari, et al. made the most-extensive map of neutral hydrogen gas ever created. (Credit: Osaka Sangyo University/NAOJ)

    There are two major advantages to this approach. First, instead of rare quasars, the team uses numerous normal galaxies as background light sources to investigate gas distribution at various places in the search area. Second, they use imaging data taken with the narrow-band filter on Suprime-cam. It is fine-tuned so that light with certain wavelengths can be transmitted, to capture evidence of absorption by the neutral hydrogen gas (the shadow picture effect). Compared with the traditional scheme of observations based on spectroscopy of quasars, this new method enables Mawatari and his collaborators to obtain wide-area gas distribution information relatively quickly.

    The researchers applied their scheme to the Subaru Telescope Suprime-Cam imaging data taken in their previous large survey of galaxies. The fields investigated in this work include the SSA22 field, an ancestor of a supercluster of galaxies (proto-supercluster), where young galaxies are formed actively, in the universe 11.5 billion years ago in the early universe.

    New Maps of Neutral Hydrogen Distribution

    The researchers’ work resulted in very wide-area maps of the neutral hydrogen gas in the three fields studied (Figure 3).

    3
    Figure 3: Sky distribution of the neutral hydrogen gas in the three fields studied in this work. While in the normal fields (SXDS and GOODS-N) the neutral hydrogen gas density is consistent with the average density in the entire universe at 11.5 billion years ago, the neutral hydrogen gas density is higher than the average over the entire SSA22 proto-supercluster field. Contours correspond to the galaxies’ number density. Bold, solid thin, and dashed contours mean the average, high density, and low density regions, respectively. (Credit: Osaka Sangyo University/NAOJ)

    It appears that the neutral hydrogen gas absorption is significantly strong over the entire SSA22 proto-supercluster field compared with those in the normal fields (SXDS and GOODS-N). It is clearly confirmed that the proto-supercluster environment is rich in neutral hydrogen gas, which is the major building block of galaxies.

    The team’s work also revealed that gas distribution in the proto-supercluster region does not align with the galaxies’ distribution perfectly (see Figure 1 and Figure 3). While the proto-supercluster is rich in both galaxies and gas, there is no local-scale dependency of gas amount correlated with the density of galaxies inside the proto-supercluster. This result may mean that the neutral hydrogen gas not only is associated with the individual galaxies but also spreads out diffusely across intergalactic space only within the proto-supercluster. Since the neutral hydrogen gas excess in the SSA22 field is detected over the entire searched area, this overdense gas structure is actually extended more than 160 million light-years. In the traditional view of structure formation, matter density fluctuation is thought to be smaller and large-scale high-density structure was rarer in the early universe. The discovery that a gas structure that extends across more than 160 million light-years (which is roughly same as present-day superclusters in scale) already existed in the universe 11.5 billion years ago is a surprising result of this study.

    By investigating spatial distribution of the neutral hydrogen gas in a very large area, the researchers have provided a new window on the relation between gas and galaxies in the young universe. The SSA22 huge gas structure revealed by this work is considered a key object to test the standard theory of structure formation, and so further investigation is anticipated.

    This research will be published in the journal of the British Royal Astronomical Society (Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, publisher Oxford University Press) in its June, 2017 issue of the printed version (Mawatari et al. 2017, MNRAS, 467, 3951, “Imaging of diffuse HI absorption structure in the SSA22 protocluster region at z = 3.1”). This work is supported by JSPS Grant-in-Aid JP26287034 and JP16H06713.

    See the full article here .

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    The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is an astronomical research organisation comprising several facilities in Japan, as well as an observatory in Hawaii. It was established in 1988 as an amalgamation of three existing research organizations – the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory of the University of Tokyo, International Latitude Observatory of Mizusawa, and a part of Research Institute of Atmospherics of Nagoya University.

    In the 2004 reform of national research organizations, NAOJ became a division of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope interior
    Subaru

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    sft
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    Nobeyama Radio Telescope - Copy
    Nobeyama Radio Observatory

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    Nobeyama Radio Observatory: Solar

    Misuzawa Station Japan
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    NAOJ Okayama Astrophysical Observatory Telescope
    Okayama Astrophysical Observatory

    The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is an astronomical research organisation comprising several facilities in Japan, as well as an observatory in Hawaii. It was established in 1988 as an amalgamation of three existing research organizations – the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory of the University of Tokyo, International Latitude Observatory of Mizusawa, and a part of Research Institute of Atmospherics of Nagoya University.

    In the 2004 reform of national research organizations, NAOJ became a division of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:55 pm on February 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: NAOJ Subaru Telescope, Saturn's rings   

    From NAOJ: “Saturn’s Rings Viewed in the Mid-infrared Show Bright Cassini Division” 

    NAOJ

    NAOJ

    1
    Figure 1: A three-color composite of the mid-infrared images of Saturn on January 23, 2008 captured with COMICS on the Subaru Telescope. The Cassini Division and the C ring appear bright. Color differences reflect the temperatures; the warmer part is blue, the cooler part is red. (Credit: NAOJ)

    A team of researchers has succeeded in measuring the brightnesses and temperatures of Saturn’s rings using the mid-infrared images taken by the Subaru Telescope in 2008. The images are the highest resolution ground-based views ever made. They reveal that, at that time, the Cassini Division and the C ring were brighter than the other rings in the mid-infrared light and that the brightness contrast appeared to be the inverse of that seen in the visible light (Figure 1). The data give important insights into the nature of Saturn’s rings.

    The beautiful appearance of Saturn and its rings has always fascinated people. The rings consist of countless numbers of ice particles orbiting above Saturn’s equator. However, their detailed origin and nature remain unknown. Spacecraft- and ground-based telescopes have tackled that mystery with many observations at various wavelengths and methods. The international Cassini mission led by NASA has been observing Saturn and its rings for more than 10 years, and has released a huge number of beautiful images.

    Subaru Views Saturn

    The Subaru Telescope also has observed Saturn several times over the years. Dr. Hideaki Fujiwara, Subaru Public Information Officer/Scientist, analyzed data taken in January 2008 using the Cooled Mid-Infrared Camera and Spectrometer (COMICS) on the telescope to produce a beautiful image of Saturn for public information purposes. During the analysis, he noticed that the appearance of Saturn’s rings in the mid-infrared part of the spectrum was totally different from what is seen in the visible light.

    Saturn’s main rings consist of the C, B, and A rings, each with different populations of particles. The Cassini Division separates the B and A rings. The 2008 image shows that the Cassini Division and the C ring are brighter in the mid-infrared wavelengths than the B and A rings appear to be (Figure 1). This brightness contrast is the inverse of how they appear in the visible light, where the B and A rings are always brighter than the Cassini Division and the C ring (Figure 2).

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    Figure 2: Comparison of the images of Saturn’s rings in the 2008 view in the mid-infrared (left) and the visible light (right). The visible light image was taken on March 16, 2008 with the 105-cm Murikabushi telescope at Ishigakijima Astronomical Observatory. The radial brightness contrast of Saturn’s rings is the inverse between the two wavelength ranges. (Credit: NAOJ)

    “Thermal emission” from ring particles is observed in the mid-infrared, where warmer particles are brighter. The team measured the temperatures of the rings from the images, which revealed that the Cassini Division and the C ring are warmer than the B and A rings. The team concluded that this was because the particles in the Cassini Division and C ring are more easily heated by solar light due to their sparser populations and darker surfaces.

    On the other hand, in the visible light, observers see sunlight being reflected by the ring particles. Therefore, the B and A rings, with their dense populations of particles, always seem bright in the visible wavelengths, while the Cassini Division and the C ring appear faint. The difference in the emission process explains the inverse brightnesses of Saturn’s rings between the mid-infrared and the visible-light views.

    Changing Angles Change the Brightnesses

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    Figure 3: Comparison of the mid-infrared images of Saturn’s rings on April 30, 2005 (top) and January 23, 2008 (bottom). Although both of the images were taken in the mid-infrared, the radial contrast of Saturn’s rings is the inverse of each other. (Credit: NAOJ)

    The team concluded that the “inversion” of the brightness of Saturn’s rings between 2005 and 2008 was caused by the seasonal change in the ring opening angle to the Sun and Earth. Since the rotation axis of Saturn inclines compared to its orbital plane around the Sun, the ring opening angle to the Sun changes over a 15-year cycle. This makes a seasonal variation in the solar heating of the ring particles. The change in the opening angle viewed from the Earth affects the apparent filling factor of the particles in the rings. These two variations – the temperature and the observed filling factor of the particles – led to the change in the mid-infrared appearance of Saturn’s rings.

    The data taken with the Subaru Telescope revealed that the Cassini Division and the C ring are sometimes bright in the mid-infrared though they are always faint in visible light. “I am so happy that the public information activities of the Subaru Telescope, of which I am in charge, led to this scientific finding,” said Dr. Fujiwara. “We are going to observe Saturn again in May 2017 and hope to investigate the nature of Saturn’s rings further by taking advantages of observations with space missions and ground-based telescopes.”

    This research is published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 599, A29 and posted on-line on February 23, 2017 (Fujiwara et al., 2017, Seasonal variation of the radial brightness contrast of Saturn’s rings viewed in mid-infrared by Subaru/COMICS). This work is supported JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers JP23103002 and JP26800110.

    The research team:

    Hideaki Fujiwara: Subaru Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, USA
    Ryuji Morishima: University of California, Los Angeles/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, USA
    Takuya Fujiyoshi: Subaru Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, USA
    Takuya Yamashita: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Japan

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is an astronomical research organisation comprising several facilities in Japan, as well as an observatory in Hawaii. It was established in 1988 as an amalgamation of three existing research organizations – the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory of the University of Tokyo, International Latitude Observatory of Mizusawa, and a part of Research Institute of Atmospherics of Nagoya University.

    In the 2004 reform of national research organizations, NAOJ became a division of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope interior
    Subaru

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    sft
    Solar Flare Telescope

    Nobeyama Radio Telescope - Copy
    Nobeyama Radio Observatory

    Nobeyama Solar Radio Telescope Array
    Nobeyama Radio Observatory: Solar

    Misuzawa Station Japan
    Mizusawa VERA Observatory

    NAOJ Okayama Astrophysical Observatory Telescope
    Okayama Astrophysical Observatory

    The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is an astronomical research organisation comprising several facilities in Japan, as well as an observatory in Hawaii. It was established in 1988 as an amalgamation of three existing research organizations – the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory of the University of Tokyo, International Latitude Observatory of Mizusawa, and a part of Research Institute of Atmospherics of Nagoya University.

    In the 2004 reform of national research organizations, NAOJ became a division of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:44 am on January 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , MMT telescope, NAOJ Subaru Telescope,   

    From Subaru: “Tracing the Cosmic Web with Star-forming Galaxies in the Distant Universe” 

    NAOJ

    NAOJ

    January 30, 2017
    No writer credit

    A research group led by Hiroshima University has revealed a picture of the increasing fraction of massive star-forming galaxies in the distant universe. Massive star-forming galaxies in the distant universe, about 5 billion years ago, trace large-scale structure in the universe. In the nearby universe, about 3 billion years ago, massive star-forming galaxies are not apparent. This change in the way star-forming galaxies trace the matter distribution is consistent with the picture of galaxy evolution established by other independent studies.

    1
    Figure 1: A close-up view of the cluster of galaxies observed. The image is a compotie of the i-band data (in red) from the Hyper Suprime-Cam at the Subaru Telescope and R-band (in green) and V-band (in blue) images from the Mayall 4-m telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory of National Optical Astronomy Observatory. Contour lines show the mass distribution. Red and blue circles show galaxies that stopped star formation and galaxies with star formation, respectively. The research team was able to study the evolution of the large scale structure in the Universe by comparing the mass distribution in the Universe and the distribution of the galaxies. (Credit: Hiroshima University/NAOJ)

    Galaxies in the universe trace patterns on very large scales; there are large empty regions (called “voids”) and dense regions where the galaxies exist. This distribution is called the cosmic web. The most massive concentrations of galaxies are clusters. The formation of the cosmic web is governed by the action of gravity on the invisible mysterious “dark matter” that exists throughout the universe. The normal baryonic material one can see falls into the dark matter halos and forms galaxies. The action of gravity over about 14-billion-year history of the universe makes the halos cluster together. The location of galaxies or clusters in this enormous cosmic web tests our understanding of the way structure forms in the universe.

    Increasingly, deeper and more extensive observations with telescopes like Subaru Telescope provide a clearer picture of the way galaxies evolve within the cosmic web. Of course, one cannot see the dark matter directly. However, one can use the galaxies that are seen to trace the dark matter. It is also possible to use the way the gravity of clusters of galaxies distort more distant background galaxies, weak gravitational lensing, as another tracer.

    The Hiroshima group combined these two tracers: galaxies and their weak lensing signal to map the changing role of massive star-forming galaxies as the universe evolves.

    Weak lensing is a phenomenon that provides a powerful technique for mapping the changing contribution of star-forming galaxies as tracers of the cosmic web. The cluster of galaxies and surrounding dark matter halo act as a gravitational lens. The lens bends the light passing through from more distant galaxies and distorts the images of them. The distortions of the appearance of the background galaxies provide a two-dimensional image of the foreground dark matter distribution that acts as a huge lens. The excellent imaging of the Subaru Telescope covering large regions of the sky provides exactly the data needed to construct maps of this weak lensing.

    Dr. Yousuke Utsumi, a member of Hyper Suprime-Cam building team and a project assistant professor at Hiroshima University, conducted a 1-hour observation of a 4-deg2 patch of sky in the direction of the constellation Cancer. Figure 1 shows a close-up view of a cluster of galaxies with the weak lensing map tracing the matter distribution. The highest peaks in the maps correspond the foreground massive clusters of galaxies that lie 5 billion light-years away.

    To map the three-dimensional distribution of the foreground galaxies, spectrographs on large telescopes like the 6.5-meter MMT disperse the light with a grating.

    MMT Telescope at the summit of Mount Hopkins near Tucson, Arizona, USA
    MMT Telescope at the summit of Mount Hopkins near Tucson, Arizona, USA

    The expansion of the universe shifts the light to the red and by measuring this shift one measures the distances to the galaxies. Using spectroscopy places the galaxies in the cosmic web. The observations locate star-forming galaxies and those that are no longer forming stars.

    Collaborators led by Dr. Margaret Geller (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) conducted spectroscopic measurements for galaxies. The Hectospec instrument on the MMT enables measurements of redshifts for 250 galaxies at a time. The survey contains measurements for 12,000 galaxies.

    The MMT redshift survey provides the map for the way all types of galaxies might contribute to the weak lensing map. Because the MMT survey provides distances to the galaxies, slices of the map at different distances corresponding to different epochs in the history of the universe can also be made and compared with the lensing map.

    The MMT survey provides a predicted map of the cosmic web based on the positions of galaxies in three-dimensional space. Research team compared this map with the weak lensing map to discover the similarities. Figure 2 shows that both the highest peak and the largest empty regions are similar in the two maps. In other words, the matter distribution traced by the foreground galaxies and the distribution traced by the Subaru weak lensing map are similar. There are two complementary views of the cosmic web in this patch of the universe.

    2
    Figure 2: Distribution of mass (left) and galaxies (right) in the corresponding area. The conspicuous feature in the galaxy distribution also is visible in the left side, mass distribution, while the areas with no structure in the right also has no feature in the left. (Credit: Hiroshima University/NAOJ)

    If they slice up the three-dimensional map in different redshift or time slices, they can examine the way the correspondence between these maps and the weak lensing map changes for different slices (Figure 3). Remarkably, the distribution of star-forming galaxies around a cluster of galaxies in the more distant universe (5 billion years ago) corresponds much more closely with the weak lensing map than a slice of the more nearby universe (3 billion years ago). In other words, the contribution of star-forming galaxies to the cosmic web is more prominent in the distant universe. These maps are the first demonstration of this effect in the weak lensing signal (Figure 4).

    3
    Figure 3: The distribution of galaxies with respect to the distance. The panels show the three-dimensional distribution of the galaxies, viewed from the observer on Earth. Red points represent quiescent galaxies and blue points are star-forming galaxies. Boxes in the cone are 3 and 5 billion light-years from the observer. The maps next to the enclosed areas show the corresponding distribution of galaxies. (Credit: Hiroshima University/NAOJ)

    4
    Figure 4: Close-ups of the cluster of galaxies at 3 billion light years (top) and 5 billion light years (bottom). These panels show the distribution of mass (left), quiescent galaxies (middle), and star forming galaxies (right), respectively. Three billion years ago, it is hard to see any similarity between the star-forming galaxies and the mass distribution, but there is much greater similarity in the maps of 5 billion years ago. (Credit: Hiroshima University/NAOJ)

    The research team provides a new window on galaxy evolution by comparing the three-dimensional galaxy distribution mapped with a redshift survey including star-forming galaxies to a weak lensing map based on Subaru imaging.

    “It turns out that the contribution of star-forming galaxies as tracers of the mass distribution in the distant universe is not negligible,” said Dr. Utsumi. “The HSC weak lensing map should contain signals from more distant galaxies in the 8 billion-year-old universe. Deeper redshift surveys combined with similar weak lensing maps should reveal an even greater contribution of star-forming galaxies as tracers of the matter distribution in this higher redshift range. Using the next generation spectrograph for the Subaru Telescope, Prime Focus Spectrograph (PFS), we hope to extend our maps to the interesting era.”

    naoj-subaru-prime-focus-sectrograph
    NAOJ Subaru Prime Focus Spectrograph

    This research is published in the Astrophysical Journal in its December 14, 2016 on-line version and December 20, 2016 in the printed version, Volume 833, Number 2. The title of the paper is A weak lensing view of the downsizing of star-forming galaxies by Y. Utsumi et al., which is also available in preprint from arXiv:1606.07439v2. This work is supported by a JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (B) (JP26800103) and a MEXT Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas (JP24103003).

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is an astronomical research organisation comprising several facilities in Japan, as well as an observatory in Hawaii. It was established in 1988 as an amalgamation of three existing research organizations – the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory of the University of Tokyo, International Latitude Observatory of Mizusawa, and a part of Research Institute of Atmospherics of Nagoya University.

    In the 2004 reform of national research organizations, NAOJ became a division of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope interior
    Subaru

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    sft
    Solar Flare Telescope

    Nobeyama Radio Telescope - Copy
    Nobeyama Radio Observatory

    Nobeyama Solar Radio Telescope Array
    Nobeyama Radio Observatory: Solar

    Misuzawa Station Japan
    Mizusawa VERA Observatory

    NAOJ Okayama Astrophysical Observatory Telescope
    Okayama Astrophysical Observatory

    The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is an astronomical research organisation comprising several facilities in Japan, as well as an observatory in Hawaii. It was established in 1988 as an amalgamation of three existing research organizations – the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory of the University of Tokyo, International Latitude Observatory of Mizusawa, and a part of Research Institute of Atmospherics of Nagoya University.

    In the 2004 reform of national research organizations, NAOJ became a division of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

     
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