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  • richardmitnick 2:18 pm on March 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "SDSS J1430+1339: Storm Rages in Cosmic Teacup", , , , , NASA Chandra, Supermassive black hole SDSS 1430+1339, The Teacup's host galaxy was originally discovered in visible light images by citizen scientists in 2007 as part of the Galaxy Zoo project   

    From NASA Chandra: “SDSS J1430+1339: Storm Rages in Cosmic Teacup” 

    NASA Chandra Banner

    NASA/Chandra Telescope


    From NASA Chandra

    March 14, 2019

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    Composite

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    X-ray

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    Optical

    Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Cambridge/G. Lansbury et al; Optical: NASA/STScI/W. Keel et al.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Nicknamed the “Teacup” because of its shape, this quasar is causing an ongoing storm.

    The power source of the quasar is a supermassive black hole at the center of a distant galaxy.

    The handle-shaped feature is a bubble formed by one or more eruptions powered by the black hole.

    New data from Chandra and XMM-Newton provide new information about the history of these eruptions.

    Fancy a cup of cosmic tea? This one isn’t as calming as the ones on Earth. In a galaxy hosting a structure nicknamed the “Teacup,” a galactic storm is raging.

    The source of the cosmic squall is a supermassive black hole buried at the center of the galaxy, officially known as SDSS 1430+1339. As matter in the central regions of the galaxy is pulled toward the black hole, it is energized by the strong gravity and magnetic fields near the black hole. The infalling material produces more radiation than all the stars in the host galaxy. This kind of actively growing black hole is known as a quasar.

    Located about 1.1 billion light years from Earth, the Teacup’s host galaxy was originally discovered in visible light images by citizen scientists in 2007 as part of the Galaxy Zoo project, using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

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

    Since then, professional astronomers using space-based telescopes have gathered clues about the history of this galaxy with an eye toward forecasting how stormy it will be in the future. This new composite image contains X-ray data from Chandra (blue) along with an optical view from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (red and green).

    The “handle” of the Teacup is a ring of optical and X-ray light surrounding a giant bubble. This handle-shaped feature, which is located about 30,000 light-years from the supermassive black hole, was likely formed by one or more eruptions powered by the black hole. Radio emission — shown in a separate composite image with the optical data — also outlines this bubble, and a bubble about the same size on the other side of the black hole.

    Previously, optical telescope observations showed that atoms in the handle of the Teacup were ionized, that is, these particles became charged when some of their electrons were stripped off, presumably by the quasar’s strong radiation in the past. The amount of radiation required to ionize the atoms was compared with that inferred from optical observations of the quasar. This comparison suggested that the quasar’s radiation production had diminished by a factor of somewhere between 50 and 600 over the last 40,000 to 100,000 years. This inferred sharp decline led researchers to conclude that the quasar in the Teacup was fading or dying.

    New data from Chandra and ESA’s XMM-Newton mission are giving astronomers an improved understanding of the history of this galactic storm.

    ESA/XMM Newton

    The X-ray spectra (that is, the amount of X-rays over a range of energies) show that the quasar is heavily obscured by gas. This implies that the quasar is producing much more ionizing radiation than indicated by the estimates based on the optical data alone, and that rumors of the quasar’s death may have been exaggerated. Instead the quasar has dimmed by only a factor of 25 or less over the past 100,000 years.

    The Chandra data also show evidence for hotter gas within the bubble, which may imply that a wind of material is blowing away from the black hole. Such a wind, which was driven by radiation from the quasar, may have created the bubbles found in the Teacup.

    Astronomers have previously observed bubbles of various sizes in elliptical galaxies, galaxy groups and galaxy clusters that were generated by narrow jets containing particles traveling near the speed of light, that shoot away from the supermassive black holes. The energy of the jets dominates the power output of these black holes, rather than radiation.

    In these jet-driven systems, astronomers have found that the power required to generate the bubbles is proportional to their X-ray brightness. Surprisingly, the radiation-driven Teacup quasar follows this pattern. This suggests radiation-dominated quasar systems and their jet-dominated cousins can have similar effects on their galactic surroundings.

    A study describing these results was published in the March 20, 2018 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The authors are George Lansbury from the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, UK; Miranda E. Jarvis from the Max-Planck Institut für Astrophysik in Garching, Germany; Chris M. Harrison from the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany; David M. Alexander from Durham University in Durham, UK; Agnese Del Moro from the Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik in Garching, Germany; Alastair Edge from Durham University in Durham, UK; James R. Mullaney from The University of Sheffield in Sheffield, UK and Alasdair Thomson from the University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.

    See the full article here .


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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:08 pm on February 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NGC 3079: Galactic Bubbles Play Cosmic Pinball with Energetic Particles", , , , , NASA Chandra   

    From NASA Chandra: “NGC 3079: Galactic Bubbles Play Cosmic Pinball with Energetic Particles” 

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    From NASA Chandra

    2019-02-28

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    NGC 3079. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/University of Michigan/J-T Li et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    We all know bubbles from soapy baths or sodas. These bubbles of everyday experience on Earth are only a few inches across, and consist of a thin film of liquid enclosing a small volume of air or other gas. In space, however, there are very different bubbles — composed of a lighter gas inside a heavier one — and they can be huge.

    The galaxy NGC 3079, located about 67 million light years from Earth, contains two “superbubbles” unlike anything here on our planet. A pair of balloon-like regions stretch out on opposite sides of the center of the galaxy: one is 4,900 light years across and the other is only slightly smaller, with a diameter of about 3,600 light years. For context, one light year is about 6 trillion miles, or 9 trillion kilometers.

    The superbubbles in NGC 3079 give off light in the form of X-ray, optical and radio emission, making them detectable by NASA telescopes. In this composite image, X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory are shown in purple and optical data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope are shown in orange and blue. A labeled version of the X-ray image shows that the upper superbubble is clearly visible, along with hints of fainter emission from the lower superbubble.

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    NGC 3079: X-ray image (labeled)

    New observations from Chandra show that in NGC 3079 a cosmic particle accelerator is producing ultra-energetic particles in the rims of the superbubbles. These particles can be much more energetic than those created by Europe’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s most powerful human-made particle accelerator.

    The superbubbles in NGC 3079 provide evidence that they and structures like them may be the source of high-energy particles called “cosmic rays” that regularly bombard the Earth. Shock waves — akin to sonic booms caused by supersonic planes — associated with exploding stars can accelerate particles up to energies about 100 times larger than those generated in the LHC, but astronomers are uncertain about where even more energetic cosmic rays come from. This new result suggests superbubbles may be one source of these ultra-energetic cosmic rays.

    The outer regions of the bubbles generate shock waves as they expand and collide with surrounding gas. Scientists think charged particles scatter or bounce off tangled magnetic fields in these shock waves, much like balls rebounding off bumpers in a pinball machine. When the particles cross the shock front they are accelerated, as if they received a kick from a pinball machine’s flipper. These energetic particles can escape and some may eventually strike the Earth’s atmosphere in the form of cosmic rays.

    The amount of radio waves or X-rays at different wavelengths, or “spectra,” of one of the bubbles suggest that the source of the emission is electrons spiraling around magnetic field lines, and radiating by a process called synchrotron radiation. This is the first direct evidence of synchrotron radiation in high energy X-rays from a galaxy-sized superbubble, and it tells scientists about the maximum energies that the electrons have attained. It is not understood why synchrotron emission is detected from only one of the bubbles.

    The radio and X-ray spectra, along with the location of the X-ray emission along the rims of the bubbles, imply that the particles responsible for the X-ray emission must have been accelerated in the shock waves there, because they would have lost too much energy while being transported from the center of the galaxy.

    NGC 3079’s superbubbles are younger cousins of “Fermi bubbles,” first located in the Milky Way galaxy in 2010. Astronomers think such superbubbles may form when processes associated with matter falling into a supermassive black hole in the center of galaxy, which leads to the release of enormous amounts of energy in the form of particles and magnetic fields. Superbubbles may also be sculpted by winds flowing from a large number of young, massive stars.

    A paper describing these results was led by Jiangtao Li of the University of Michigan and appears in The Astrophysical Journal.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:56 pm on February 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Chandra, Where is the Universe Hiding its Missing Mass?   

    From NASA Chandra: “Where is the Universe Hiding its Missing Mass?” 

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    NASA/Chandra Telescope


    From NASA Chandra

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    Credit Illustration: Springel et al. (2005); Spectrum: NASA/CXC/CfA/Kovács et al.

    The Universe’s “missing mass” may have been found, according to a new study using Chandra data.

    About a third of the “normal” matter (ie, hydrogen, helium, and other elements) created shortly after the Big Bang is not seen in the present-day Universe.

    One idea is that this missing mass is today in filaments of warm and hot gas known as the WHIM.

    Researchers suggest evidence for the WHIM is seen in absorption features in X-rays collected from a quasar billions of light years away.

    New results from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped solve the Universe’s “missing mass” problem, as reported in our latest press release. Astronomers cannot account for about a third of the normal matter — that is, hydrogen, helium, and other elements — that were created in the first billion years or so after the Big Bang.

    Scientists have proposed that the missing mass could be hidden in gigantic strands or filaments of warm (temperature less than 100,000 Kelvin) and hot (temperature greater than 100,000 K) gas in intergalactic space. These filaments are known by astronomers as the “warm-hot intergalactic medium” or WHIM. They are invisible to optical light telescopes, but some of the warm gas in filaments has been detected in ultraviolet light. The main part of this graphic is from the Millenium simulation, which uses supercomputers to formulate how the key components of the Universe, including the WHIM, would have evolved over cosmic time.

    If these filaments exist, they could absorb certain types of light such as X-rays that pass through them. The inset in this graphic represents some of the X-ray data collected by Chandra from a distant, rapidly-growing supermassive black hole known as a quasar. The plot is a spectrum — the amount of X-rays over a range of wavelengths — from a new study of the quasar H1821+643 that is located about 3.4 billion light years from Earth.

    The latest result uses a new technique that both hones the search for the WHIM carefully and boosts the relatively weak absorption signature by combining different parts of the spectrum to find a valid signal. With this technique, researchers identified 17 possible filaments lying between the quasar and Earth, and obtained their distances.

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    Light Path (Credit: NASA/CXC/K. Williamson, Springel et al.)

    For each filament the spectrum was shifted in wavelength to remove the effects of cosmic expansion, and then the spectra of all the filaments were added together so that the resulting spectrum has a much stronger signal from absorption by the WHIM than in the individual spectra.

    Indeed, the team did not find absorption in the individual spectra. But by adding them together, they turned a 5.5-day-long observation into the equivalent of almost 100 days’ worth (about 8 million seconds) of data. This revealed an absorption line from oxygen expected to be present in a gas with a temperature of about one million Kelvin.

    By extrapolating from these observations of oxygen to the full set of elements, and from the observed region to the local Universe, the researchers report they can account for the complete amount of missing matter.

    A paper describing these results was published in The Astrophysical Journal on February 13, 2019, and is available online at The Astrophysical Journal .pdf. The authors of the paper are Orsolya Kovács, Akos Bogdan, Randall Smith, Ralph Kraft, and William Forman all from the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian in Cambridge, Mass.

    See the full article here.
    See the Chandra press release written by Megan Watzke here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:37 pm on January 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , In this work we see a dimming of the X-rays from the neutron star and a prominent line from neutral iron in the X-ray spectrum—two signatures supporting the clumpy nature of stellar winds, NASA Chandra, , , Stellar winds are the fast-flowing material—composed of protons electrons and metal atoms—ejected from stars, The neutron star observed is part of a high-mass X-ray binary system-the compact incredibly dense neutron star paired with a massive ‘normal’ supergiant star, This material enriches the star’s surroundings with metals kinetic energy and ionizing radiation   

    From Pennsylvania State University: “Stellar winds, the source material for the universe, are clumpy” 

    Penn State Bloc

    From Pennsylvania State University

    24 January 2019

    Pragati Pradhan
    pup69@psu.edu
    (814) 865-6834

    Sam Sholtis (PIO)
    samsholtis@psu.edu
    (814) 865-1390

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    Illustration of a high-mass X-ray binary system made up of a compact, incredibly dense neutron star paired with a massive normal supergiant star. New data from NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory shows that the neutron star in the high-mass X-ray binary, OAO 1657-415, passed through a dense patch of stellar wind from its companion star, demonstrating the clumpy nature of stellar winds. Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope

    Data recorded by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory of a neutron star as it passed through a dense patch of stellar wind emanating from its massive companion star provide valuable insight about the structure and composition of stellar winds and about the environment of the neutron star itself. A paper describing the research, led by Penn State astronomers, appears January 15, 2019, in the journal, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    “Stellar winds are the fast-flowing material—composed of protons, electrons, and metal atoms—ejected from stars,” said Pragati Pradhan, a postdoctoral researcher in astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State and the lead author of the paper. “This material enriches the star’s surroundings with metals, kinetic energy, and ionizing radiation. It is the source material for star formation. Until the last decade, it was thought that stellar winds were homogenous, but these Chandra data provide direct evidence that stellar winds are populated with dense clumps.”

    The neutron star observed is part of a high-mass X-ray binary system—the compact, incredibly dense neutron star paired with a massive ‘normal’ supergiant star. Neutron stars in binary systems produce X-rays when material from the companion star falls toward the neutron star and is accelerated to high velocities. As a result of this acceleration, X-rays are produced that can inturn interact with the materials of the stellar wind to produce secondary X-rays of signature energies at various distances from the neutron star. Neutral—uncharged—iron atoms, for example, produce fluorescence X-rays with energies of 6.4 kilo-electron volts (keV), roughly 3000 times the energy of visible light. Astronomers use spectrometers, like the instrument on Chandra, to capture these X-rays and separate them based on their energy to learn about the compositions of stars.

    “Neutral iron atoms are a more common component of stars so we usually see a large peak at 6.4 keV in the data from our spectrometers when looking at X-rays from most neutron stars in a high-mass X-ray binary system,” said Pradhan. “When we looked at X-ray data from the high-mass X-ray binary system known as OAO 1657-415 we saw that this peak at 6.4 keV had an unusual feature. The peak had a broad extension down to 6.3 keV. This extension is referred to as a ‘Compton shoulder’ and indicates that the X-rays from neutral iron are being back scattered by dense matter surrounding the star. This is only the second high-mass X-ray binary system where such a feature has been detected.”

    The researchers also used the Chandra’s state-of-the-art engineering to identify a lower limit on the distance from the neutron star that the X-rays from neutral iron are formed. Their spectral analysis showed that neutral iron is ionized at least 2.5 light-seconds, a distance of approximately 750 million meters or nearly 500,000 miles, from the neutron star to produce X-rays.

    “In this work, we see a dimming of the X-rays from the neutron star and a prominent line from neutral iron in the X-ray spectrum—two signatures supporting the clumpy nature of stellar winds,” said Pradhan. “Furthermore, the detection of Compton shoulder has also allowed us to map the environment around this neutron star. We expect to be able to improve our understanding of these phenomenon with the upcoming launch of spacecrafts like Lynx and Athena, which will have improved X-ray spectral resolution.”

    For Pradhan’s post-doctoral work at Penn State under the supervision of Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics David Burrows, Associate Research Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics Jamie Kennea, and Research Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics Abe Falcone, she is majorly involved in writing algorithms for on-board detection of X-rays from transient astronomical events such as those seen from these high-mass X-ray binary systems for instruments that will be on the Athena spacecraft.

    Pradhan and her team also have a follow-up campaign looking at the same high-mass X-ray binary with another NASA satellite—NuSTAR, which will cover a broader spectrum of X-rays from this source ranging in energies from ~ 3 to 70 keV—in May 2019.

    NASA NuSTAR X-ray telescope

    “We are excited about the upcoming NuSTAR observation too,” said Pradhan. “Such observations in hard X-rays will add another dimension to our understanding of the physics of this system and we will have an opportunity to estimate the magnetic field of the neutron star in OAO 1657-415, which is likely a million times stronger than strongest magnetic field on Earth.”

    In additions to Pradhan, the research team for this paper includes Gayathri Raman and Pradhan’s Ph.D. supervisor Biswajit Paul at the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, India.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 3:07 pm on January 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Cygnus A: Ricocheting Black Hole Jet Discovered by Chandra, NASA Chandra   

    From NASA Chandra: “Cygnus A: Ricocheting Black Hole Jet Discovered by Chandra” 

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    From NASA Chandra

    2019-01-08

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    Cygnus A. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Columbia Univ./A. Johnson et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI

    A ricocheting jet blasting from a giant black hole has been captured by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, as reported in our latest press release. In this composite image of Cygnus A, X-rays from Chandra (red, green, and blue that represent low, medium and high energy X-rays) are combined with an optical view from the Hubble Space Telescope of the galaxies and stars in the same field of view. Chandra’s data reveal the presence of powerful jets of particles and electromagnetic energy that have shot out from the black hole. The jet on the left has slammed into a wall of hot gas, then ricocheted to punch a hole in a cloud of energetic particles, before it collides with another part of the gas wall.

    A labeled version outlines the key features described above. The main figure shows the location of the supermassive black hole, the jets, the point that the jet on the left ricocheted off a wall of intergalactic gas (“hotspot E”), and the point where the jet then struck the intergalactic gas a second time (“hotspot D”). The inset contains a close-up view of the hotspots on the left and the hole punched by the rebounding jet, which surrounds hotspot E. The image in the inset combines X-rays from all three energy ranges to give the greatest sensitivity to show fine structures such as the hole.

    The hole is visible because the path of the rebounding jet between hotspots E and D is almost directly along the line of sight to Earth, as shown by the schematic figure depicting the view of Cygnus A from above. A similar rebounding of the jet likely occurred between hotspots A and B but the hole is not visible because the path is not along the Earth’s line of sight.

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    Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

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    Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

    Cygnus A is a large galaxy that sits in the middle of a cluster of galaxies about 760 million light years from Earth. A supermassive black hole at the center of Cygnus A is rapidly growing as it pulls material swirling around it into its gravitational grasp. During this process, some of this material is redirected away from the black hole in the form of narrow beams, or jets. Such jets can significantly affect how the galaxy and its surroundings evolve.

    In a deep observation that lasted 23 days, scientists used Chandra to create a highly detailed map of both the jets and the intergalactic gas, which they used to track the path of the jets from the black hole. The jet on the left expanded after ricocheting and created a hole in the surrounding cloud of particles that is between 50,000 and 100,000 light years deep and only 26,000 light years wide. For context, the Earth is located about 26,000 light years away from the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

    The scientists are working to determine what forms of energy — kinetic energy, heat or radiation — the jet carries. The composition of the jet and the types of energy determine how the jet behaves when it ricochets, such as the size of the hole it creates. Theoretical models of the jet and its interactions with surrounding gas are needed to make conclusions about the jet’s properties.

    Energy produced by jets from black holes can heat intergalactic gas in galaxy clusters and prevent it from cooling and forming large numbers of stars in a central galaxy like Cygnus A. Thus, studying Cygnus A can tell scientists more about how jets from black holes interact with their surroundings.

    These results were presented at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, WA, in a study led by Amalya Johnson of Columbia University in New York.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:40 pm on December 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Abell 2597, , , , Cosmic Fountain Powered by Giant Black Hole, , NASA Chandra   

    From NASA Chandra: “Cosmic Fountain Powered by Giant Black Hole” 

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    NASA/Chandra Telescope


    From NASA Chandra

    2018-12-10

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    Abell 2597
    Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/G. Tremblay et al; Radio:ALMA: ESO/NAOJ/NRAO/G.Tremblay et al, NRAO/AUI/NSF/B.Saxton; Optical: ESO/VLT

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

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo

    Before electrical power became available, water fountains worked by relying on gravity to channel water from a higher elevation to a lower one. This water could then be redirected to shoot out of the fountain and create a centerpiece for people to admire.

    In space, awesome gaseous fountains have been discovered in the centers of galaxy clusters. One such fountain is in the cluster Abell 2597. There, vast amounts of gas fall toward a supermassive black hole, where a combination of gravitational and electromagnetic forces sprays most of the gas away from the black hole in an ongoing cycle lasting tens of millions of years.

    Scientists used data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to find the first clear evidence for the simultaneous inward and outward flow of gas being driven by a supermassive black hole.

    ESO MUSE on the VLT on Yepun (UT4),

    Cold gas falls toward the central black hole, like water entering the pump of a fountain. Some of this infalling gas (seen in the image as ALMA data in yellow) eventually reaches the vicinity of the black hole, where the black hole’s gravity causes the gas to swirl around with ever-increasing speeds, and the gas is heated to temperatures of millions of degrees. This swirling motion also creates strong electromagnetic forces that launch high-velocity jets of particles that shoot out of the galaxy.

    These jets push away huge amounts of hot gas detected by Chandra (purple) surrounding the black hole, creating enormous cavities that expand away from the center of the cluster. The expanding cavities also lift up clumps of warm and cold gas and carry them away from the black hole, as observed in the MUSE/VLT data (red).

    Eventually this gas slows down and the gravitational pull of material in the center of the galaxy causes the gas to rain back in on the black hole, repeating the entire process.

    A substantial fraction of the three billion solar masses of gas are pumped out by this fountain and form a filamentary nebula — or cosmic “spray” — that spans the innermost 100,000 light-years of the galaxy.

    These observations agree with predictions of models describing how matter falling towards black holes can generate powerful jets. Galaxy clusters like Abell 2597, containing thousands of galaxies, hot gas, and dark matter, are some of the largest structures in the entire Universe. Abell 2597 is located about 1.1 billion light years from Earth.

    A paper by Grant Tremblay (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) et al. describing these results appeared in the September 18, 2018 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:38 pm on December 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ASASSN-16oh, Astronomers have detected a bright X-ray outburst from a star in the Small Magellanic Cloud, , , , , Double Trouble: A White Dwarf Surprises Astronomers, NASA Chandra, Supersoft X-ray   

    From NASA Chandra: “Double Trouble: A White Dwarf Surprises Astronomers” 

    NASA Chandra Banner

    NASA/Chandra Telescope


    From NASA Chandra

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    Illustration of White Dwarf Accretion
    Credit: NASA/CXC/Texas Tech/T. Maccarone Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss

    Astronomers have detected a bright X-ray outburst from a star in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a nearby galaxy almost 200,000 light years from Earth. A combination of X-ray and optical data indicate that the source of this radiation is a white dwarf star that may be the fastest-growing white dwarf ever observed.

    In several billion years, our Sun will run out of most of its nuclear fuel and shrink down to a much smaller, fainter “white dwarf” star about the size of Earth. Because a mass equivalent to that of the Sun is packed into such a small volume, the gravity on the surface of a white dwarf is several hundred thousand times that of Earth.

    Unlike our Sun, most stars including white dwarfs, do not exist in isolation, but instead are part of pairs called “binary systems.” If the stars are close enough, the gravity of the white dwarf can pull matter away from its companion.

    A new study based on observations with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory has reported the discovery of distinctive X-ray emission from a binary system containing a white dwarf called ASASSN-16oh.

    ASAS-SN’s hardware. Off the shelf Mark Elphick-Los Cumbres Observatory

    NASA Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory

    The discovery involves the detection of low-energy — what astronomers refer to as “soft” — X-rays, produced by gas at temperatures of several hundred thousand degrees. In contrast, higher-energy X-rays reveal phenomena at temperatures of tens of millions of degrees. The X-ray emission from ASASSN-16oh is much brighter than the soft X-rays produced by the atmospheres of normal stars, placing it in the special category of a supersoft X-ray source.

    For years, astronomers have thought that supersoft X-ray emission from white dwarf stars is produced by nuclear fusion in a hot, dense layer of hydrogen and helium nuclei. This volatile material accumulated from the infall of matter from the companion star onto the surface of the white dwarf, and led to a nuclear fusion explosion much like a hydrogen bomb.

    However, ASASSN-16oh shows there is more to the story. This binary was first discovered by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASASSN), a collection of about 20 optical telescopes distributed around the globe to automatically survey the entire sky every night for supernovas and other transient events. Astronomers then used Chandra and Swift to detect the supersoft X-ray emission.

    “In the past, the supersoft sources have all been associated with nuclear fusion on the surface of white dwarfs,” said lead author Tom Maccarone, a professor in the Texas Tech Department of Physics & Astronomy who led the new paper that appears in the December 3rd issue of Nature Astronomy.

    If nuclear fusion is the cause of the supersoft X-rays from ASASSN-16oh then it should begin with an explosion and the emission should come from the entire surface of the white dwarf. However, the optical light does not increase quickly enough to be caused by an explosion and the Chandra data show that the emission is coming from a region smaller than the surface of the white dwarf. The source is also a hundred times fainter in optical light than white dwarfs known to be undergoing fusion on their surface. These observations, plus the lack of evidence for gas flowing away from the white dwarf, provide strong arguments against fusion having taken place on the white dwarf.

    Because none of the signs of nuclear fusion are present, the authors present a different scenario. As with the fusion explanation the white dwarf is pulling gas away from a companion star, a red giant. In a process called accretion, the gas is pulled onto a large disk surrounding the white dwarf and becomes hotter as it spirals toward the white dwarf, as shown in our illustration. The gas then falls onto the white dwarf, producing X-rays along a belt where the disk meets the star. The rate of inflow of matter through the disk varies by a large amount. When the material starts flowing more quickly, the X-ray brightness of the system becomes much higher.

    “The transfer of mass is happening at a higher rate than in any system we’ve caught in the past,” added Maccarone.

    If the white dwarf keeps gaining mass it may reach a mass limit and destroy itself in a Type Ia supernova explosion, a type of event used to discover that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. The team’s analysis suggests that the white dwarf is already unusually massive so ASASSN-16oh may be relatively close — in astronomical terms — to exploding as a supernova.

    “Our result contradicts a decades-long consensus about how supersoft X-ray emission from white dwarfs is produced,” said co-author Thomas Nelson from the University of Pittsburgh. “We now know that the X-ray emission can be made in two different ways: by nuclear fusion or by the accretion of matter from a companion.”

    Also involved in the study were scientists from Texas A&M University, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Southampton, University of the Free State in the Republic of South Africa, the South African Astronomical Observatory, Michigan State University, State University of New Jersey, Warsaw University Observatory, Ohio State University and the University of Warwick.

    See the full article here .


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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:20 am on November 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Abell 1033: To Boldly Go into Colliding Galaxy Clusters, , , , , NASA Chandra   

    From NASA Chandra: “Abell 1033: To Boldly Go into Colliding Galaxy Clusters” 

    NASA Chandra Banner

    NASA/Chandra Telescope


    From NASA Chandra

    November 15, 2018


    Composite

    2
    X-ray

    32
    Optical

    4
    Radio
    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/Leiden Univ./F. de Gasperin et al; Optical: SDSS; Radio: LOFAR/ASTRON, NCRA/TIFR/GMRT

    A new composite image of the galaxy cluster Abell 1033 bears a striking resemblance to the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek.

    4
    USS Enterprise NCC 1701 Credit: Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

    X-rays from Chandra (purple), radio emission from LOFAR (blue), and SDSS optical data were combined in this image.

    Abell 1033 is a merger of two galaxy clusters, the largest structures in the Universe held together by gravity.

    Pareidolia is the phenomenon where people see familiar shapes and patterns in otherwise random data.

    Hidden in a distant galaxy cluster collision are wisps of gas resembling the starship Enterprise — an iconic spaceship from the “Star Trek” franchise.

    Galaxy clusters — cosmic structures containing hundreds or even thousands of galaxies — are the largest objects in the Universe held together by gravity. Multi-million-degree gas fills the space in between the individual galaxies. The mass of the hot gas is about six times greater than that of all the galaxies combined. This superheated gas is invisible to optical telescopes, but shines brightly in X-rays, so an X-ray telescope like NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is required to study it.

    By combining X-rays with other types of light, such as radio waves, a more complete picture of these important cosmic objects can be obtained. A new composite image of the galaxy cluster Abell 1033, including X-rays from Chandra (purple) and radio emission from the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) network in the Netherlands (blue), does just that. Optical emission from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey is also shown. The galaxy cluster is located about 1.6 billion light years from Earth.

    ASTRON LOFAR Radio Antenna Bank, Netherlands

    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point Observatory, near Sunspot NM, USA, Altitude 2,788 meters (9,147 ft)

    Using X-ray and radio data, scientists have determined that Abell 1033 is actually two galaxy clusters in the process of colliding. This extraordinarily energetic event, happening from the top to the bottom in the image, has produced turbulence and shock waves, similar to sonic booms produced by a plane moving faster than the speed of sound.

    In Abell 1033, the collision has interacted with another energetic cosmic process — the production of jets of high-speed particles by matter spiraling into a supermassive black hole, in this case one located in a galaxy in one of the clusters. These jets are revealed by radio emission to the left and right sides of the image. The radio emission is produced by electrons spiraling around magnetic field lines, a process called synchrotron emission.

    The electrons in the jets are traveling at very close to the speed of light. As the galaxy and its black hole moved toward the lower part of the image, the jet on the right slowed down as it crashed into hot gas in the other galaxy cluster. The jet on the left did not slow down because it encountered much less hot gas, giving a warped appearance for the jets, rather than the straight line that is typically seen.

    This image of Abell 1033 also provides an example of “pareidolia”, a psychological phenomenon where familiar shapes and patterns are seen in otherwise random data. In Abell 1033, the structures in the data create an uncanny resemblance to many of the depictions of the fictional Starship Enterprise from Star Trek.

    In terms of astrophysical research, a detailed study of the image shows that the energy of the electrons in the “saucer section” and neck of the starship-shaped radio emission in Abell 1033 is higher than that found in the stardrive section towards the lower left (see labels). This suggests that the electrons have been reenergized, presumably when the jets interact with turbulence or shock waves in the hot gas. The energetic electrons producing the radio emission will normally lose substantial amounts of energy over tens to hundreds of millions of years as they radiate. The radio emission would then become undetectable. However, the vastly extended radio emission observed in Abell 1033, extending over about 500,000 light years, implies that energetic electrons are present in larger quantities and with higher energies than previously thought. One idea is that the electrons have been given a further boost in energy by extra bouts of shocks and turbulence.

    Other sources of radio emission in the image besides the starship-shaped object are the shorter jets from another galaxy (labeled “short jets”) and a “radio phoenix” consisting of a cloud of electrons that faded in radio emission but was then reenergized when shock waves compressed the cloud. This caused the cloud to once again shine at radio frequencies, as we reported back in 2015.

    The team who made this study will use observations with Chandra and LOFAR to look for further examples of colliding galaxy clusters with warped radio emission, to further their understanding of these energetic objects.

    A paper describing this result was published in the October 4th, 2017 issue of Science Advances. The authors of the paper are Francesco de Gasperin, Huib Intema, Timothy Shimwell (Leiden University, the Netherlands), Gianfranco Brunetti (Institute of Radio Astronomy, Italy), Marcus Bruggen (University of Hamburg, Germany), Torsten Enblin (Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Germany), Reinout van Weeren (Leiden), Annalisa Bonafede (Hamburg), and Huub Rottgering (Leiden).

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:20 pm on November 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Demonstrated that there is an upper limit – now called the Chandrasekhar limit – to the mass of a white dwarf star, NASA Chandra,   

    From COSMOS Magazine: “Science history: The astrophysicist who defined how stars behave” Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar 

    Cosmos Magazine bloc

    From COSMOS Magazine

    07 November 2018
    Jeff Glorfeld

    1
    Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar meets the press in 1983, shortly after winning the Nobel Prize. Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images

    Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar was so influential, NASA honoured him by naming an orbiting observatory after him.

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope

    The NASA webpage devoted to astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar says he “was known to the world as Chandra. The word chandra means ‘moon’ or ‘luminous’ in Sanskrit.”

    Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar was born on October 19, 1910, in Lahore, Pakistan, which at the time was part of British India. NASA says that he was “one of the foremost astrophysicists of the 20th century. He was one of the first scientists to couple the study of physics with the study of astronomy.”

    The Encyclopaedia Britannica adds that, with William A. Fowler, he won the 1983 Nobel Prize for physics, “for key discoveries that led to the currently accepted theory on the later evolutionary stages of massive stars”.

    According to an entry on the website of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, early in his career, between 1931 and 1935, he demonstrated that there is an upper limit – now called the Chandrasekhar limit – to the mass of a white dwarf star.

    “This discovery is basic to much of modern astrophysics, since it shows that stars much more massive than the Sun must either explode or form black holes,” the article explains.

    When he first proposed his theory, however, it was opposed by many, including Albert Einstein, “who refused to believe that Chandrasekhar’s findings could result in a star collapsing down to a point”.

    Writing for the Nobel Prize committee, Chandra described how he approached a project.

    “My scientific work has followed a certain pattern, motivated, principally, by a quest after perspectives,” he wrote.

    “In practice, this quest has consisted in my choosing (after some trials and tribulations) a certain area which appears amenable to cultivation and compatible with my taste, abilities, and temperament. And when, after some years of study, I feel that I have accumulated a sufficient body of knowledge and achieved a view of my own, I have the urge to present my point of view, ab initio, in a coherent account with order, form, and structure.

    “There have been seven such periods in my life: stellar structure, including the theory of white dwarfs (1929-1939); stellar dynamics, including the theory of Brownian motion (1938-1943); the theory of radiative transfer, including the theory of stellar atmospheres and the quantum theory of the negative ion of hydrogen and the theory of planetary atmospheres, including the theory of the illumination and the polarisation of the sunlit sky (1943-1950); hydrodynamic and hydromagnetic stability, including the theory of the Rayleigh-Benard convection (1952-1961); the equilibrium and the stability of ellipsoidal figures of equilibrium, partly in collaboration with Norman R. Lebovitz (1961-1968); the general theory of relativity and relativistic astrophysics (1962-1971); and the mathematical theory of black holes (1974- 1983).”

    In 1999, four years after his death on August 21, 1995, NASA launched an x-ray observatory named Chandra, in his honour. The observatory studies the universe in the x-ray portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 10:37 am on November 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , From ESO and ALMA: "ALMA and MUSE Detect Galactic Fountain-Galaxy-Scale Fountain Seen in Full Glory", , NASA Chandra,   

    From ESO and ALMA: “ALMA and MUSE Detect Galactic Fountain-Galaxy-Scale Fountain Seen in Full Glory” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

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

    From ALMA

    6 November 2018
    ESO Contacts

    Grant Tremblay
    Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
    Cambridge, USA
    Tel: +1 207 504 4862
    Email: grant.tremblay@cfa.harvard.edu

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    LERMA, Paris Observatory
    Paris, France
    Email: francoise.combes@obspm.fr

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    1
    Composite image of the Abell 2597 galaxy cluster showing the fountain-like flow of gas powered by the supermassive black hole in the central galaxy. The yellow is ALMA data of the cold gas. The red is data from MUSE on the Very Large Telescope Yepun UT4 showing the hot hydrogen gas in the same region. The extend purple is the extended hot, ionized gas as imaged by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Tremblay et al.; NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton; NASA/Chandra; ESO/VLT

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope

    2
    ALMA image of cold molecular gas in Abell 2597. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), G. Tremblay et al.

    3
    Animation of the MUSE H-alpha data showing the different velocities of material in the “galactic fountain.” Credit: ESO; G. Tremblay et al.

    ESO MUSE on the VLT on Yepun (UT4),

    ESO MUSE on VLT Yepun UT4

    A mere one billion light-years away in the nearby galaxy cluster known as Abell 2597, there lies a gargantuan galactic fountain. A massive black hole at the heart of a distant galaxy has been observed pumping a vast spout of cold molecular gas into space, which then rains back onto the black hole as an intergalactic deluge .The in- and outflow of such a vast cosmic fountain has never before been observed in combination, and has its origin in the innermost 100 000 light-years of the brightest galaxy in the Abell 2597 cluster.

    “This is possibly the first system in which we find clear evidence for both cold molecular gas inflow toward the black hole and outflow or uplift from the jets that the black hole launches,” explained Grant Tremblay of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and former ESO Fellow, who led this study. “The supermassive black hole at the centre of this giant galaxy acts like a mechanical pump in a fountain.”

    Tremblay and his team used ALMA to track the position and motion of molecules of carbon monoxide within the nebula. These cold molecules, with temperatures as low as minus 250–260°C, were found to be falling inwards to the black hole. The team also used data from the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope to track warmer gas — which is being launched out of the black hole in the form of jets.

    “The unique aspect here is a very detailed coupled analysis of the source using data from ALMA and MUSE,” Tremblay explained. “The two facilities make for an incredibly powerful combination.”

    Together these two sets of data form a complete picture of the process; cold gas falls towards the black hole, igniting the black hole and causing it to launch fast-moving jets of incandescent plasma into the void. These jets then spout from the black hole in a spectacular galactic fountain. With no hope of escaping the galaxy’s gravitational clutches, the plasma cools off, slows down, and eventually rains back down on the black hole, where the cycle begins anew.

    In an earlier study by the same authors published in the journal Nature, the researchers were able to verify the interconnection between the black hole and the galactic fountain by observing the region across a range of wavelengths, or portions of the spectrum. By studying the location and motion of molecules of carbon monoxide (CO) with ALMA, which shine brightly in millimeter-wavelength light, the researchers could measure the motion of the gas as it falls in toward the black hole.

    The ALMA and MUSE data were combined with a new, ultra-deep observation of the cluster by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, revealing the hot phase of this fountain in exquisite detail, noted the researchers.

    This unprecedented observation could shed light on the life cycle of galaxies. The team speculates that this process may be not only common, but also essential to understanding galaxy formation. While the inflow and outflow of cold molecular gas have both previously been detected, this is the first time both have been detected within one system, and hence the first evidence that the two make up part of the same vast process.

    Abell 2597 is found in the constellation Aquarius, and is named for its inclusion in the Abell catalogue of rich clusters of galaxies. The catalogue also includes such clusters as the Fornax cluster, the Hercules cluster, and Pandora’s cluster.

    More information

    This research was presented in a paper entitled “A Galaxy-Scale Fountain of Cold Molecular Gas Pumped by a Black Hole”, which appeared in The Astrophysical Journal.

    The team was composed of G. R. Tremblay (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA; Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Yale University, New Haven, USA), F. Combes (LERMA, Observatoire de Paris, Sorbonne University, Paris, France), J. B. R. Oonk (ASTRON, Dwingeloo, the Netherlands; Leiden Observatory, the Netherlands), H. R. Russell (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University, UK), M. A. McDonald (Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA), M. Gaspari (Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University, USA), B. Husemann (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Heidelberg, Germany), P. E. J. Nulsen (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA; ICRAR, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia), B. R. McNamara (Physics & Astronomy Department, Waterloo University, Canada), S. L. Hamer (CRAL, Observatoire de Lyon, Université Lyon, France), C. P. O’Dea (Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada; School of Physics & Astronomy, Rochester Institute of Technology, USA), S. A. Baum (School of Physics & Astronomy, Rochester Institute of Technology, USA; Faculty of Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada), T. A. Davis (School of Physics & Astronomy, Cardiff University, UK), M. Donahue (Physics and Astronomy Department, Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA), G. M. Voit (Physics and Astronomy Department, Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA), A. C. Edge (Department of Physics, Durham University, UK), E. L. Blanton (Astronomy Department and Institute for Astrophysical Research, Boston University, USA), M. N. Bremer (H. W. Wills Physics Laboratory, University of Bristol, UK), E. Bulbul (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA), T. E. Clarke (Naval Research Laboratory Remote Sensing Division, Washington, DC, USA), L. P. David (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA), L. O. V. Edwards (Physics Department, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, USA), D. Eggerman (Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Yale University, New Haven, USA), A. C. Fabian (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University, UK), W. Forman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA), C. Jones (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA), N. Kerman (Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Yale University, New Haven, USA), R. P. Kraft (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA), Y. Li (Center for Computational Astrophysics, Flatiron Institute, New York, USA; Department of Astronomy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA), M. Powell (Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Yale University, New Haven, USA), S. W. Randall (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA), P. Salomé (LERMA, Observatoire de Paris, Sorbonne University, Paris, France), A. Simionescu (Institute of Space and Astronautical Science [ISAS], Kanagawa, Japan), Y. Su (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA), M. Sun (Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Alabama in Huntsville, USA), C. M. Urry (Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Yale University, New Haven, USA), A. N. Vantyghem (Physics & Astronomy Department, Waterloo University, Canada), B. J. Wilkes (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA) and J. A. ZuHone (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA).

    See the full ESO article here .
    See the full ALMA article here .


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