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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, , 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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    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

    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 8:53 am on March 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NAOJ, ,   

    From NAOJ: “Unprecedentedly wide and sharp dark matter map” 

    NAOJ

    NAOJ

    March 2, 2018
    No writer credit

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    3D distribution of dark matter reconstructed via tomographic methods using the weak lensing technique combined with the redshift estimates of the background galaxies.

    A research team of multiple institutes, including the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and University of Tokyo, released an unprecedentedly wide and sharp dark matter map based on the newly obtained imaging data by Hyper Suprime-Cam on the Subaru Telescope.

    NAOJ Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam

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

    The dark matter distribution is estimated by the weak gravitational lensing technique. The team located the positions and lensing signals of the dark matter halos and found indications that the number of halos could be inconsistent with what the simplest cosmological model suggests. This could be a new clue to understanding why the expansion of the Universe is accelerating.

    These results were published in the HSC special issue of the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan (Miyazaki et al. 2018, A large sample of shear-selected clusters from the Hyper Suprime-Cam Subaru Strategic Program S16A Wide field mass maps, PASJ, 70, S27; Oguri et al. 2018 Two- and three-dimensional wide-field weak lensing mass maps from the Hyper Suprime-Cam Subaru Strategic Program S16A data, PASJ, 70, S26).

    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.

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

     
  • richardmitnick 3:39 pm on February 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , HINODE Captures Record Breaking Solar Magnetic Field, , NAOJ,   

    From NAOJ: “HINODE Captures Record Breaking Solar Magnetic Field” 

    NAOJ

    NAOJ

    JAXA/NASA HINODE spacecraft

    February 6, 2018

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    Snapshot of a sunspot observed by the Hinode spacecraft. (top) Visible light continuum image. (bottom) Magnetic field strength map. The color shows the field strength, from weak (cool colors) to strong (warm colors). Red indicates a location with a strength of more than 6,000 gauss (600 mT).

    Astronomers at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) using the HINODE spacecraft observed the strongest magnetic field ever directly measured on the surface of the Sun. Analyzing data for 5 days around the appearance of this record breaking magnetic field, the astronomers determined that it was generated as a result of gas outflow from one sunspot pushing against another sunspot.

    These results were published as Okamoto and Sakurai, Super-strong Magnetic Field in Sunspots, in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 852 (2018).

    From Hinode

    Institute of Space and Astronautical Science / Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (ISAS/JAXA)

    Astronomers at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) using the HINODE spacecraft observed the strongest magnetic field ever directly measured on the surface of the Sun. Analyzing data for 5 days around the appearance of this record breaking magnetic field, the astronomers determined that it was generated as a result of gas outflow from one sunspot pushing against another sunspot.

    Magnetism plays a critical role in various solar phenomena such as flares, mass ejections, flux ropes, and coronal heating. Sunspots are areas of concentrated magnetic fields. A sunspot usually consists of a circular dark core (the umbra) with a vertical magnetic field and radially-elongated fine threads (the penumbra) with a horizontal field. The penumbra harbors an outward flow of gas along the horizontal threads. The darkness of the umbrae is generally correlated with the magnetic field strength. Hence, the strongest magnetic field in each sunspot is located in the umbra in most cases.

    Joten Okamoto (NAOJ Fellow) and Takashi Sakurai (Professor Emeritus of NAOJ) were analyzing data of February 4, 2014 taken by the Solar Optical Telescope onboard HINODE, when they noticed the signature of strongly magnetized iron atoms in a sunspot (Figure 1). Surprisingly the data indicated a magnetic field strength of 6,250 gauss (*1). This is more than double the 3,000 gauss field found around most sunspots. Previously, magnetic fields this strong on the Sun had only been inferred indirectly. More surprisingly, the strongest field was not in the dark part of the umbra, as would be expected, but was actually located at a bright region between two umbrae.

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    Figure 1. (left) Snapshot of the sunspot with the strongest magnetic field. (middle) Spectrum taken along the white line in the left panel. “1” indicates the location of the strongest magnetic field. “2” indicates the location of the umbra. (right) Simplified diagram of the splitting of the iron absorption line. A large distance in the splitting means a strong magnetic field. ( ©NAOJ/JAXA)

    HINODE continuously tracked the same sunspot with high spatial resolution for several days. This is impossible for ground-based telescopes because the Earth’s rotation causes the Sun to set and night to fall on the observatories. These continuous data showed that the strong field was always located at the boundary between the bright region and the umbra, and that the horizontal gas flows along the direction of the magnetic fields over the bright region turned down into the Sun when they reached the strong-field area (Figure 2). This indicates that the bright region with the strong field is a penumbra belonging to the southern umbra (S-pole). The horizontal gas flows from the southern umbra compressed the fields near the other umbra (N-pole) and enhanced the field strength to more than 6,000 gauss.

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    Figure 2. Schematic illustration of the formation mechanism of the strong field. The horizontal flows from the right (S-pole umbra) compress the magnetic field near the left umbra (N-pole) and the magnetic field is enhanced. (©NAOJ)

    Okamoto explains, “HINODE’s continuous high-resolution data allowed us to analyze the sunspots in detail to investigate the distribution and time evolution of the strong magnetic field and also the surrounding environment. Finally, the longtime mystery of the formation mechanism of a stronger field outside an umbra than in the umbra, has been solved.” These results were published as Joten Okamoto and Takashi Sakurai, “Super-strong Magnetic Field in Sunspots,” in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 852 (2018).

    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

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope interior
    Subaru

    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.

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

     
  • richardmitnick 3:16 pm on January 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Mapping of the Milky Way in radio, NAOJ, Nobeyama 45-m Radio Telescope,   

    From NAOJ: “FUGIN Project: Large-scale Exploration of the Invisible Milky Way – Making the Most Detailed Radio Map of the Milky Way” 

    NAOJ

    NAOJ

    January 25, 2018

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    Top: Three color (false color) radio map of the Milky Way (l=10-50 deg) obtained by the FUGIN Project. Red, green, and blue represent the radio intensities of 12CO, 13CO, and C18O, respectively. Second Line: Infrared image of the same region obtained by the Spitzer Space Telescope. Red, green, and blue represent the intensities of 24 micrometer, 8 micrometer, and 5.8 micrometer radio waves respectively. Top Zoom-In: Three color radio map of the Milky Way (l=12-22 deg) obtained by the FUGIN Project. The colors are the same as the top image. Lower-Left Zoom-In: Enlarged view of the W51 region. The colors are the same as the top image. Lower-Right Zoom-In: Enlarged view of the M17 region. The colors are the same as the top image.

    Astronomers have conducted a large-scale survey of the invisible Milky Way using the Nobeyama 45-m Radio Telescope.

    NAOJ Nobeyama 45m Radio Telescope,located near Minamimaki, Nagano, Japan

    When you look up on a clear dark night, you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye. If you shoot a photograph of the Milky Way, you will find some dark patches with fewer stars. In these areas, clouds of gas and dust in the Milky Way block the light from background stars. By observing the radio waves emitted by the gas in these clouds, astronomers can study the invisible portions of the Milky Way.

    A research group led by Tomofumi Umemoto (Assistant Professor at Nobeyama Radio Observatory), including members from the University of Tsukuba, Nagoya University, Joetsu University of Education, Kagoshima University, and other universities, used the 45-m telescope from 2014 to 2017 to create the most extensive and detailed radio maps of the Milky Way in human history. The team has completed maps covering an area as wide as 520 full moons with about 3 times the spatial resolution of previous maps. This map will enable us to study the structure of the interstellar medium at various scales: from the large-scale structure of the entire Milky Way to the small-scale structure of individual molecular cloud cores which are directly related to star formation. Thanks to the good spatial resolution of the 45-m telescope, the team discovered many filamentary structures which were not seen clearly in previous maps. These structures are thought to hold important clues to understand how stars are formed.

    This radio map will serve as a fundamental data set for future observational studies. We expect many discoveries by researchers around the world based on this map. This result appeared in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan in October 2017.

    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

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope interior
    Subaru

    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.

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

     
  • richardmitnick 1:39 pm on November 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NAOJ, Nobeyama Millimeter Array 2017, , Toyokawa 1957   

    From NAOJ: “Solar Minimum Surprisingly Constant – More than Half a Century of Observation yields New Discovery” 

    NAOJ

    NAOJ

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    Solar microwave observation telescopes in 1957 (top left) and today (bottom left). Fluctuations observed during 60 years of solar microwave monitoring (top right) and the solar microwave spectrum at each solar minimum (bottom right). The background is full solar disk images taken by the X-ray telescope aboard the Hinode satellite

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    Toyokawa 1957

    JAXA/NASA HINODE spacecraft

    Using more than half a century of observations, Japanese astronomers have discovered that the microwaves coming from the Sun at the minimums of the past five solar cycles have been the same each time, despite large differences in the maximums of the cycles.

    In Japan, continuous four-frequency solar microwave observations (1, 2, 3.75 and 9.4 GHz) began in 1957 at the Toyokawa Branch of the Research Institute of Atmospherics, Nagoya University. In 1994 the telescopes were relocated to NAOJ Nobeyama Campus, where they have continued observations up to the present.

    Nobeyama Millimeter Array, located near Minamimaki, Nagano at an elevation of 1350m

    A research group led by Masumi Shimojo (Assistant Professor at NAOJ Chile Observatory), including members from Nagoya University, Kyoto University, and Ibaraki University, analyzed the more than 60 years of solar microwave data from these telescopes. They found that microwave intensities and spectra at the minimums of the latest five cycles were the same every time. In contrast, during the periods of maximum solar activity, both the intensity and spectrum varied from cycle to cycle.

    Masumi Shimojo explains that, “Other than sunspot observations, uniform long-term observations are rare in solar astronomy. It is very meaningful to discover a trend extending beyond a single solar cycle. This is an important step in understanding the creation and amplification of solar magnetic fields, which generate sunspots and other solar activity.”

    The Sun goes through a cycle of active and quiet periods approximately once every 11 years. This “solar cycle” is often associated with the number of sunspots, but there are other types of solar activity as well. So simply counting the number of sunspots is insufficient to understand the solar activity conditions.

    Microwaves are another indicator of solar activity. Microwaves have the advantage that, unlike sunspots, they can be observed on cloudy days. Also, monitoring multiple frequencies of microwaves makes it possible to calculate the relative strength at each frequency (this is called the spectrum). This research was published in the The Astrophysical Journal on October 10, 2017.

    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.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:08 am on September 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NAOJ, Supersonic gas streams left over from the Big Bang drive massive black hole formation   

    From KAVLI IPMU: “Supersonic gas streams left over from the Big Bang drive massive black hole formation” 

    KavliFoundation

    The Kavli Foundation

    Kavli IPMU
    Kavli IMPU

    September 29, 2017

    Research contacts
    Shingo Hirano
    JSPS Overseas Research Fellow
    Department of Astronomy, University of Texas
    shirano@astro.as.utexas.edu

    Naoki Yoshida
    Principal Investigator
    Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, University of Tokyo
    naoki.yoshida@ipmu.jp

    Media Contact
    Motoko Kakubayashi
    Press Officer
    Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe,
    The University of Tokyo Institutes for Advanced Study,
    The University of Tokyo
    TEL: +81-04-7136-5980
    press@ipmu.jp

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    Figure 1: Projected density distributions of dark matter (background and top panel) and gas (bottom three panels) components when the massive star forms. No image credit.

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    Figure 2: Close up showing gas density distribution around a protostar (centre). The high-speed gas flowing from the top left of the image to the right compresses the central gas cloud, while the yellow to light-green areas show the development of strong turbulence. No image credit.

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    Figure 3: Evolution of the temperature and density structure during the protostellar accretion phase. The rapid accretion of a dense gas cloud (white contour) causes the brightening of the star, and photoionized regions are lauched (red). No image credit.

    An international team of researchers has successfully used a super-computer simulation to recreate the formation of a massive black hole from supersonic gas streams left over from the Big Bang. Their study, published in this week’s Science, shows this black hole could be the source of the birth and development of the largest and oldest super-massive black holes recorded in our Universe.

    “This is significant progress. The origin of the monstrous black holes has been a long-standing mystery and now we have a solution to it,” said author and Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) Principal Investigator Naoki Yoshida.

    Recent discoveries of these super-massive black holes located 13 billion light years away, corresponding to when the universe was just five per cent of its present age, pose a serious challenge to the theory of black hole formation and evolution. The physical mechanisms that form black holes and drive their growth are poorly understood.

    Theoretical studies have suggested these black holes formed from remnants of the first generation of stars, or from a direct gravitational collapse of a massive primordial gas cloud. However, these theories either have difficulty in forming super-massive black holes fast enough, or require very particular conditions.

    Yoshida and JSPS Overseas Research Fellow Shingo Hirano, currently at the University of Texas at Austin, identified a promising physical process through which a massive black hole could form fast enough. The key was incorporating the effect of supersonic gas motions with respect to dark matter. The team’s super-computer simulations showed a massive clump of dark matter had formed when the universe was 100 million years old. Supersonic gas streams generated by the Big Bang were caught by dark matter to form a dense, turbulent gas cloud. Inside, a protostar started to form, and because the surrounding gas provided more than enough material for it to feed on, the star was able to grow extremely big in a short amount of time without releasing a lot of radiation.

    “Once reaching the mass of 34,000 times that of our Sun, the star collapsed by its own gravity, leaving a massive black hole. These massive black holes born in the early universe continued to grow and merge together to become a supermassive black hole,” said Yoshida.

    The number density of massive black holes is derived to be approximately one per a volume of three billion light-years on a side – remarkably close to the observed number density of supermassive black holes,” said Hirano.

    The result from this study will be important for future research into the growth of massive black holes. Especially with the increased number of black hole observations in the far universe that are expected to be made when NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is launched next year.

    This research was published in Science on September 28.

    Aterui, one of the supercomputers this work used, is operated by the Center for Computational Astrophysics (CfCA) of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ).

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    NAOJ ATERUI CRAY XC30 supercomputer

    See the full article here .

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    Kavli IPMU (Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe) is an international research institute with English as its official language. The goal of the institute is to discover the fundamental laws of nature and to understand the Universe from the synergistic perspectives of mathematics, astronomy, and theoretical and experimental physics. The Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU) was established in October 2007 under the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI) of the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan with the University of Tokyo as the host institution. IPMU was designated as the first research institute within the University of Tokyo Institutes for Advanced Study (UTIAS) in January 2011. It received an endowment from The Kavli Foundation and was renamed the “Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe” in April 2012. Kavli IPMU is located on the Kashiwa campus of the University of Tokyo, and more than half of its full-time scientific members come from outside Japan. http://www.ipmu.jp/
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    The Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work.

    The Foundation’s mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, professorships, and symposia in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics as well as prizes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:29 pm on September 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , First Detection of an Intermediate-Mass Black Hole Candidate in the Milky Way, NAOJ   

    From ALMA : “First Detection of an Intermediate-Mass Black Hole Candidate in the Milky Way” 

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


    ALMA

    September 28, 2017

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    An image of clouds accelerating due to gravitational scattering caused by the intermediate-mass black hole. Credit: Tomoharu Oka (Keio University)

    Professor Tomoharu Oka of the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science and Technology, Keio University and his research team carried out a detailed radio wave observations using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA; ALMA telescope) on the peculiar molecular cloud CO–0.40–0.22, which was discovered in the central region of the Milky Way. This peculiar molecular cloud lies about 200 light-years away from Sagittarius A* (star), the nucleus of the Milky Way, and inside it’s unusually broad velocity width, the researchers identified the possibility of an intermediate-mass black hole with a mass 100,000 times greater than the sun. From the observations, a point-like radio source CO–0.40–0.22* (star), as well as a highly dense and compact molecular cloud near the center of CO–0.40–0.22, were detected. The luminosity of the detected point-like radio source is 1/500 of Sagittarius A*, and it has a radiation spectrum that is distinctly different from that of thermal plasma or interstellar dust. Results of gravitational N-body simulations that placed a 100,000-solar mass point-like mass at the location of CO–0.40–0.22* showed that the distribution and motion of gas in the adjacent area could be reproduced very well. From these findings, it can be thought that the point-like radio source CO–0.40–0.22* is the intermediate-mass black hole that has been suggested to exist within the peculiar molecular cloud CO–0.40–0.22. This is the first detection of an intermediate-mass black hole candidate within the Milky Way galaxy in which we exist.

    The results of this research were published in the September 4 issue of the British scientific journal Nature Astronomy.

    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.

    NRAO Small
    ESO 50 Large
    NAOJ

     
  • richardmitnick 9:34 am on May 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , HL Tauri (also called HL Tau), NAOJ   

    From ALMA: “Universe Observed through Visual Acuity of 120,000/20 [vol.1] Astronomers Stunned by HL Tauri” 

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

    2017.05.09
    Interviewed and written by Toshihiro Nakamura
    Photographed by: Nozomu Toyoshima

    In 2014, astronomers were stunned by the ultra-high resolution image of HL Tauri (also called HL Tau) observed by ALMA, revealing a key element to unveil the formation process of a planetary system. What is so extraordinary about HL Tau that looks like a record floating in the night sky? For the answer, we interviewed with Professor Tetsuo Hasegawa at the NAOJ Chile Observatory.

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    First Impression was “Moved and Relieved”

    — That image taken in 2014 was widely featured by international media as a remarkable achievement of ALMA, and it also arouse much controversy among astronomers. What was your first impression when you saw the image?

    Hasegawa: This image shows a planet forming disk around a young star called HL Tau, clearly revealing narrow concentric rings separated by gaps. It was much more detailed and more beautiful than we expected. I was moved and relieved at the same time.

    — Relieved? What kind of feeling was it?

    Hasegawa: To make our budget request for ALMA, we explained our simulation to the government agency saying that ALMA is capable of taking more accurate astronomical images that have never been possible with existing radio telescopes, and also telling that ALMA will make great contributions to science. I was certain that ALMA would make it, but when I saw it in reality, honestly I was relieved (laugh).

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    Proposal Documents of ALMA Project Credit:Geoff Bryden et al. (2000) ApJ, all rights reserved.

    A Record-like Disk Reveals Formation of the Solar System

    — To begin with, what is the star HL Tau like?

    Hasegawa: It’s a young star approximately 450 light years from the Earth, merely a million years old.

    — Our solar system is about 4.6 billion years old, right?

    Hasegawa: Correct. In analogy, if we compare our 4.6 billion-year-old Sun to a 46-year-old man, HL Tau would be 0.01 years old, in other words only 4 days after birth.

    — It’s like a baby star, rather than young. Does this whole orange disk consists of a baby star?

    Hasegawa: No, the star is located at the center of this record-like disk. It is surrounded by gas and dust, which will grow into planets that orbit HL Tau. This clump of gas and dust is called “a protoplanetary disk”.

    — Are planets formed in gas and dust?

    Hasegawa: Right. Sun-like stars and planets like the Earth and Jupiter were formed in gas and dust floating in space. So, this image shows the very early stage of planet formation around a baby star.

    — Did our solar system used to have a similar shape?

    Hasegawa: If we could travel back to 4.6 billion years ago and see our solar system at the age of a million years, we would see a similar object like this.

    ALMA Makes Blurry Image Incredibly Clear

    — Is this the first image of a planet forming disk?

    Hasegawa: The first reception of radio signals from a protoplanetary disk was made by the Nobeyama 45-m Telescope in 1993.

    5
    Nobeyama 45-m Telescope. http://www.nao.ac.jp/en/project/nro.html

    And then later on, the(NMA) captured this first image of a protoplanetary disk.

    Nobeyama Millimeter Array [NMA], located near Minamimaki, Nagano at an elevation of 1350m

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    Radio spectrum from a gas disk Credit:Skrutskie et al. 1993 ApJ 409, 422, reproduced by permission of the AAS, all rights reserved.

    3
    Radio spectrum from a gas disk around GG Tau Credit:Kawabe et al. 1993, ApJ 404, 63, reproduced by permission of the AAS, all rights reserved.

    — It doesn’t look like an astronomical object at all.

    Hasegawa: A radio telescope has poor eyesight when compared with an optical telescope. In astronomical terms, we say, “low resolution”. The eyesight of a telescope increases in proportion to the aperture size, which means the eyesight improves with a larger size of lens or mirror for an optical telescope and with a larger size of antenna for a radio telescope. But, when we compare the eyesight between an optical and a radio telescope with the same size of aperture, the vision of a radio telescope is equivalent to only 1/10,000 of an optical telescope. Since the maximum extension of the NMA is up to 130 meters, it is only capable to take this level of blurred image. After this, various observations have been made and this is an image of HL Tau captured in 2002 by the NMA with higher resolution.

    4
    HL Tau observed with NMA Credit:Kitamura et al. 2002, ApJ, 581, 357, reproduced by permission of the AAS, all rights reserved.

    — Let’s see…hmm, this is just a line, isn’t it? It’s hard to believe this is the same object observed by ALMA this time.

    Hasegawa: I agree with you. We can hardly imagine how planets will be formed from this image.

    — But, by extending 66 antennas up to 16 km and combining received signals, we can make a virtual giant telescope ALMA that can clearly image this disk object in such details. Amazing!

    Hasegawa: ALMA was constructed in global partnership of East Asia, North America [NRAO], and the Member States of the European Southern Observatory [ESO]. The total amount funded by Japan was about 250 million US dollars, which accounts for 1/4 of the entire construction costs. To secure such enormous amount of money for construction of ALMA from the national budget, efforts were needed to reduce research budgets allocated to other science projects not limited to the field of astronomy. So, to gain wider-ranging understanding of scientists, we gave explanations like, “This blurry image is the limit of our observation of planet formation at this point. However, if ALMA was constructed, we would be able to see it with 100 times higher resolution and reveal the planet formation process leading to the origin of life, which will be a great contribution not only to astronomy but to the science community as a whole. Could you give us support for it? ”

    — This is why you were so relieved when you saw the first image.

    Hasegawa: Exactly.

    4
    ALMA Telescope constructed in Chile Credit: Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon
    Stem Education Coalition

    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.

    NRAO Small
    ESO 50 Large
    NAOJ

     
  • richardmitnick 9:06 am on May 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Masaaki Hiramatsu, Mysteries of the Universe vol.1, NAOJ   

    From ALMA: “Interview with ALMA Public Outreach Officer : Mysteries of the Universe vol.1 Can Life Exist on Other Planets?” 

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

    2017.05.09
    Interviewed and written by Toshihiro Nakamura
    Photographed by: Nozomu Toyoshima

    Many people are curious about the existence of extraterrestrial life. In fact, we have already started to obtain some evidences of it. With the advancement of astronomy, many planets were found beyond our solar system and ALMA observations have found organic molecules in planet forming regions. These findings all suggest the possible existence of planets with life like our earth.
    One of the scientific goals of ALMA is to explore building blocks of life. What is the likelihood of the existence of Earth-like planets and extraterrestrial life? To find the answer for simple questions like this and know more about the mechanism of the universe, we interviewed with ALMA EPO officer Masaaki Hiramatsu.

    Is there Many Planets with Life in the Universe?

    — How many stars and galaxies have been found in astronomy so far?

    Hiramatsu: Our Earth exists in the Milky Way Galaxy with roughly 100 billion stars. And it is assumed there are several hundreds of billion galaxies in the universe like ours.

    — That means the number of stars in the whole universe would be 100 billion times several hundreds of billion?

    Hiramatsu: Could be, in a simple calculation. I’d like to introduce you this very useful Window’s software (Mitaka). This software reproduces the galaxies and stars that have been found in astronomy in three dimensions with their positional information.

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    The universe around our solar system displayed with MitakaCredit:4D2U Project, NAOJ. All rights reserved.

    — Wow…amazing. This image makes me a little crazy (laugh). Among such an enormous number of stars in the universe, planets with life like the Earth have yet to be found. Is there any chance that it will be found in the future?

    Hiramatsu: We can’t say anything for sure because we only know about the life on earth. But, personally I won’t be surprised even if life is found somewhere in the universe with such a huge number of stars (indicating the screen shown by the application software).

    — What kind of life do you think does exist beyond the Earth? Like aliens that live in more advanced civilizations than ours?

    Hiramatsu: A word of “life” means a variety of forms of life. It ranges from a very simple life like microorganism, higher organism like plants and animals, and intellectual life like human beings. But, regardless of such differences, I have no doubt about the existence of life in large quantities.

    — Why do you think that way?

    Hiramatsu: Because there have been found an increasing number of potential planets that might have life. Extrasolar planets (planets outside our solar system) were found in 1995 for the first time, and since then many planets have been found around stars other than the Sun. It is said that about a half of stars shining in the night sky might have planets. Since a quite number of stars have multiple planets in their own system, I naturally think there might be a quite number of planets with life.

    Hiramatsu: Another discovery by astronomical observations so far is that the universe is filled with building blocks of life.

    — What materials could be the building blocks of life?

    Hiramatsu: For example, amino acids that compose proteins have been found from meteorites fallen on earth too, which suggests possible existence of amino acids outside the Earth.

    Also, in space beyond our solar system, there have been found organic molecules with bonds of carbon and oxygen which make up amino acids. ALMA already captured molecules required for the birth of life such as glycolaldehyde and methanol in planet forming regions. These discoveries are expected to be a key to reveal the origin of life.

    — You mean, simple life could be easily formed from such an abundance of ingredients for life?

    Hiramatsu: We have yet to know what is the probability of the birth of life as a consequence of organic molecules and amino acids bonding together. However, according to the research of life on the Earth, it is confirmed that life can survive in a very severe environment once it occurred.

    — Like what kind of environment would be?

    Hiramatsu: Environment with high temperature, high pressure or high radiation. For example, tardigrades also known as “water bears” thought to be “toughest creatures”. They are tiny animals of 1 mm in length. Reportedly they can withstand high temperature up to 150 degrees Celsius and cold temperature cooled to absolute zero, and high pressure up to 75,000 atmospheres in a state called “anhydrobiosis”. They survive extreme dehydration, high ultraviolet and radioactive rays, and even the vacuum of space for the period of around 10 days.

    — Invincible!! So, this example shows that life, once occurred, can survive severe environment if they are tough.

    Hiramatsu: This is only an assumption based on the research of life on the Earth. To know more about the probability of occurrence of life, further research will be needed in collaboration with other fields of study such as molecular biology.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon
    Stem Education Coalition

    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.

    NRAO Small
    ESO 50 Large
    NAOJ

     
  • richardmitnick 9:25 am on May 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Chariklo rings, , , NAOJ   

    From EarthSky: “Simulating the smallest ring world’ 

    1

    EarthSky

    April 30, 2017
    Deborah Byrd

    Chariklo is the smallest space body known to have rings. A new supercomputer simulation by Japanese researchers suggests a life expectancy for the rings of only 1 to 100 years.

    The Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York said on Friday (April 28, 2017) that Japanese researchers have modeled the two known rings around 10199 Chariklo, a possible dwarf planet orbiting the sun between the major planets Saturn and Uranus. They say it’s the first time an entire ring system has been simulated using realistic sizes for the ring particles while also taking into account collisions and gravitational interactions between the particles. They also created the visuals on this page, including the video above, which lets you dive into Chariklo’s ring system. Note that Chariklo itself is really potato-shaped and no doubt pocked with craters; the round, smooth shape in the video is for purposes of the simulation.

    These researchers’ work is published in the peer-reviewed March 2017 edition of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    Chariklo is a tiny world.

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    An artist’s rendering of the minor planet 10199 Chariklo, with rings.
    Observations at many sites in South America, including ESO’s La Silla Observatory, have made the surprise discovery that the remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings. This is the smallest object by far found to have rings and only the fifth body in the Solar System — after the much larger planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — to have this feature. The origin of these rings remains a mystery, but they may be the result of a collision that created a disc of debris. This artist’s impression shows a close-up of what the rings might look like.
    ESO/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org)

    Its estimated size about 200 miles (334 km) by about 140 miles (226 km) by about 100 miles (172 km). Our solar system’s major outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune) all are known to have rings. These planets’ rings are composed of particles estimated to range from inches to several feet (centimeters to meters) in size. Chariklo’s gravitational attraction is small relative to the major planets, so its rings – which were discovered in 2014 – are likely only temporary.

    Although Chariklo is small, and although its gravity is relatively weak, its rings are as opaque as those around Saturn and Uranus. Thus, the researchers said, Chariklo offered an ideal chance to model a complete ring system.

    The team said their simulation revealed information about the size and density of the particles in the rings. They found that Chariklo’s inner ring should be unstable without help. So – the researchers said – the ring particles must be much smaller than previously thought. Or it means that an undiscovered shepherd satellite around Chariklo is stabilizing the ring.

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    Visualization constructed from simulation of Chariklo’s double ring. Note that Chariklo itself is really potato-shaped and no doubt pocked with craters; the round, smooth shape here is for purposes of the simulation. Image via Shugo Michikoshi, Eiichiro Kokubo, Hirotaka Nakayama, 4D2U Project, NAOJ/ CFCA.

    The researchers – Shugo Michikoshi (Kyoto Women’s University/University of Tsukuba) and Eiichiro Kokubo (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, or NAOJ) modeled Chariklo’s rings using the supercomputer ATERUI*1 at NAOJ. They calculated the motions of 345 million ring particles with the realistic size of a few meters taking into account the collisions and mutual gravitational attractions between the particles.

    Chariklo is the largest member of a class known as the Centaurs, orbiting between Saturn and Uranus in the outer solar system. These bodies are categorized like asteroids, but, whereas most asteroids lie in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter – closer to the sun – Centaurs may have come from the Kuiper Belt, which is visualized as extending from the orbit of the outermost major planet Neptune to approximately 50 Earth-sun units (AU) from our sun. Centaurs have unstable orbits that cross the giant planets’ orbit. Chariklo’s orbit gazes that of Uranus. Because their orbits are frequently perturbed, Centaurs like Chariklo are expected to only remain in their orbits only for millions of years, in contrast to our Earth and the other major planets which have been orbiting for billions of years around our sun.

    The new computer visualization suggests that the density of Chariklo’s ring particles must be less than half the density of Chariklo itself. And they show a striped pattern forming in the inner ring due to interactions between the particles. They use the term “self-gravity wakes” for this pattern (see the image below). These self-gravity wakes accelerate the break-up of the ring, the researchers said.

    But perhaps the most surprising result of the new study is a recalculated life expectancy for Chariklo’s rings. The study suggests the rings may be able to reamin around Chariklo for only one to 100 years! That’s much shorter than previous estimates, and it’s less than an eye-blink in astronomical terms.

    So what we are seeing with Chariklo and its ring system is likely a very temporary and dynamic situation. Things in space tend to happen on a vastly-longer timescales than we humans are used to, but sometimes things do happen on human timescales. Chariklo’s rings may be an example!

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    Simulation of Chariklo’s ring system. The researchers said they used a ring particle density equal to half of Chariklo’s density, in order to maintain the rings’ overall structure. In the close-up view (right) complicated, elongated structures are visible. These structures are called self-gravity wakes. The numbers along the axes indicate distances in km. Image via Shugo Michikoshi / CFCA.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

     
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