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  • richardmitnick 5:21 pm on February 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Radio Astronomy, Structures in the Interstellar Medium   

    From AAS NOVA: “Featured Image: Structures in the Interstellar Medium” 

    AASNOVA

    American Astronomical Society

    20 February 2017
    Susanna Kohler

    1

    This beautiful false-color image (which covers ~57 degrees2; click for the full view!) reveals structures in the hydrogen gas that makes up the diffuse atomic interstellar medium at intermediate latitudes in our galaxy. The image was created by representing three velocity channels with colors — red for gas moving at 7.59 km/s, green for 5.12 km/s, and blue for 2.64 km/s — and it shows the dramatically turbulent and filamentary structure of this gas. This image is one of many stunning, high-resolution observations that came out of the DRAO HI Intermediate Galactic Latitude Survey, a program that used the Synthesis Telescope at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia to map faint hydrogen emission at intermediate latitudes in the Milky Way.

    Synthesis Telescope at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in BC,CA
    Synthesis Telescope at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in BC,CA

    The findings from the program were recently published in a study led by Kevin Blagrave (Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Toronto); to find out more about what they learned, check out the paper below!
    Citation

    K. Blagrave et al 2017 ApJ 834 126. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/834/2/126

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 8:39 pm on February 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA Reveals the Structure of a Low-Mass Protostar System, , , , , Radio Astronomy, The protostar L1527 IRS also known as IRAS 04368+2557   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Reveals the Structure of a Low-Mass Protostar System” 

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

    08 February 2017
    Dr. Nami Sakai
    RIKEN Star and Planet Formation Laboratory, Japan
    Email: nami.sakai@riken.jp
    Tel: +81-(0)48-467-1411

    Nicolás Lira T.
    Press Coordinator
    Joint ALMA Observatory
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56 2 24 67 65 19
    Cell: +56 9 94 45 77 26
    Email: nicolas.lira@alma.cl

    Masaaki Hiramatsu
    Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
    Observatory
Tokyo, Japan

    Tel: +81 422 34 3630

    E-mail: hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

    Richard Hook
    Public Information Officer, ESO

    Garching bei München, Germany

    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655

    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    Charles E. Blue
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
    Tel: +1 434 296 0314
    Cell: +1 202 236 6324
    E-mail: cblue@nrao.edu

    1
    Artist’s impression of L1527

    2
    The protostar L1527 IRS, also known as IRAS 04368+2557, as seen by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (John Tobin)

    A team of astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe the almost edge-on system of the low-mass protostar L1527. This protostar is in a star forming region in the Taurus molecular cloud, about 450 light years away and has a spinning protoplanetary disk, almost edge-on to our view, embedded in a large envelope of molecules and dust. ALMA allowed the researchers to resolve for the first time the structure of this young stellar system.

    One of the big puzzles in astrophysics is how stars like the Sun manage to form from collapsing molecular clouds in star-forming regions of the Universe. The puzzle is known technically as the angular momentum problem in stellar formation. The problem essentially is that the gas in the star-forming cloud have some rotation, which gives each element of the gas an amount of angular momentum. As they collapse inward, eventually they reach a state where the gravitational pull of the nascent star is balanced by the centrifugal force, so that they will no longer collapse inward of a certain radius unless they can shed some of the angular momentum. This point is known as the centrifugal barrier.

    Now, using measurements taken by ALMA’s radio antennas, a group led by Nami Sakai of the RIKEN Star and Planet Formation Laboratory has found clues as to how the gas in the cloud can find their way to the surface of the forming star. To gain a better understanding of the process, Sakai and her group turned to the ALMA observatory, a network of 66 radio dishes located high in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The dishes are connected in a carefully choreographed configuration so that they can provide images on radio emissions from protostellar regions around the sky.

    3
    Integrated intensity distributions of CCH and SO, two important molecules, superposed on the 0.8 mm dust continuum map. The IRE traced by CCH is broadened inward of the radius of about 150 au.

    Previously, Sakai had discovered, from observations of molecules around the same protostar, that unlike the commonly held hypothesis, the transition from envelope to the inner disk—which later forms into planets—was not smooth but very complex. “As we looked at the observational data,” says Sakai, “we realized that the region near the centrifugal barrier—where particles can no longer infall—is quite complex, and we realized that analyzing the movements in this transition zone could be crucial for understanding how the envelope collapses.”

    The new observations show a broadening of the envelope in the transition zone between the inner disk and the outer envelope. Sakai compares it to a “traffic jam in the region just outside the centrifugal barrier, where the gas heats up as the result of a shock wave.” And he adds that “It became clear from the observations that a significant part of the angular momentum is lost by gas being cast in the vertical direction from the flattened protoplanetary disk that formed around the protostar.”

    This behavior accorded well with digital simulations the group had done using a purely ballistic model, where the particles behave like simple projectiles that do not need to be influenced by magnetic or other forces.

    Sakai plan to continue to use observations from the powerful ALMA array “to further refine the understanding of the dynamics of stellar formation and fully explain how matter collapses onto the forming star. This work could also help to better understand the evolution of our own Solar System.”

    Additional information

    The research was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society published by Oxford University Press as Sakai, Nami et al., Vertical Structure of the Transition Zone from Infalling Rotating Envelope to Disk in the Class 0 Protostar, IRAS04368+2557.

    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

    NAOJ

     
  • richardmitnick 4:27 pm on January 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Milky-Way-Like Galaxies Seen in their Awkward Adolescent Years, , , Radio Astronomy   

    From NRAO: “Milky-Way-Like Galaxies Seen in their Awkward Adolescent Years” 

    NRAO Icon
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory

    NRAO Banner

    December 20, 2016
    Charles Blue
    NRAO Public Information Officer
    +1 434.296.0314;
    cblue@nrao.edu

    1
    Four Milky-Way-like progenitor galaxies as seen as they would have appeared 9 billion years ago. ALMA observations of carbon monoxide (red) is superimposed on images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The carbon monoxide would most likely be suffused throughout the young galaxies. Credit. ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) C. Papovich; A. Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF); NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope

    Spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way were not always the well-ordered, pinwheel-like structures we see in the universe today. Astronomers believe that about 8-10 billion years ago, progenitors of the Milky Way and similar spiral galaxies were smaller, less organized, but amazingly rich in star-forming material; so much so, that they would have been veritable star factories, churning out new stars faster than at any other point in their lifetimes. Now, astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have found evidence to support this view. By studying four very young versions of galaxies like the Milky Way as they were seen approximately 9 billion years ago, the astronomers discovered that each galaxy was incredibly rich in carbon monoxide gas, a well-known tracer of star-forming gas. “We used ALMA to detect adolescent versions of the Milky Way and found that such galaxies do indeed have much higher amounts of molecular gas, which would fuel rapid star formation,” said Casey Papovich, an astronomer at Texas A&M University in College Station and lead author on a paper appearing in Nature Astronomy. “I liken these galaxies to an adolescent human who consumes prodigious amounts of food to fuel their own growth during their teenage years.” Though the relative abundance of star-forming gas is extreme in these galaxies, they are not yet fully formed and rather small compared to the Milky Way as we see it today. The new ALMA data indicate that the vast majority of the mass in these galaxies is in cold molecular gas rather than in stars. These observations, the astronomers note, are helping build a complete picture of how matter in Milky-Way-size galaxies evolved and how our own galaxy formed.

    See the full article here .

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    The NRAO operates a complementary, state-of-the-art suite of radio telescope facilities for use by the scientific community, regardless of institutional or national affiliation: the Very Large Array (VLA), the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA)*.

    ALMA Array

    NRAO ALMA

    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA
    Green Bank Observatory radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA, formerly supported by NSF, but now on its own
    NRAO VLA
    NRAO VLA

    The NRAO is building two new major research facilities in partnership with the international community that will soon open new scientific frontiers: the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA). Access to ALMA observing time by the North American astronomical community will be through the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC).
    *The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) comprises ten radio telescopes spanning 5,351 miles. It’s the world’s largest, sharpest, dedicated telescope array. With an eye this sharp, you could be in Los Angeles and clearly read a street sign in New York City!

    Astronomers use the continent-sized VLBA to zoom in on objects that shine brightly in radio waves, long-wavelength light that’s well below infrared on the spectrum. They observe blazars, quasars, black holes, and stars in every stage of the stellar life cycle. They plot pulsars, exoplanets, and masers, and track asteroids and planets.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:05 pm on January 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Radio Astronomy   

    From Motherboard: “An Earth-Sized Telescope is About to ‘See’ a Black Hole For the First Time” 

    motherboard

    Motherboard

    January 13, 2017
    William Rauscher

    We were perched dizzyingly high in the Chilean Andes, ringed by a herd of sixty-six white giants. Through the broad windows of the low, nondescript building in which we stood, we could see massive white radio antennas outside against the Martian-red soil of the desolate Chajnantor Plateau, their dishes thrust towards a pure blue sky.

    This is the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, also known as ALMA—one of the world’s largest radio telescope arrays, an international partnership that spans four continents. In spring of 2017, ALMA, along with eight other telescopes around the world, will aim towards the center of the Milky Way, around 25,000 light years from Earth, in an attempt to capture the first-ever image of a black hole. This is part of a daring astronomy project called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).

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

    My partner Dave Robertson and I took turns huffing from a can of oxygen to stave off the altitude sickness that can come on at 16,500 feet. Our guide Danilo Vidal, an energetic Chilean who wore his dark hair in a ponytail, pointed to a grey metal door with a glass window. “If we open that door,” said Vidal, “everyone in science will hate us for the rest of our lives.” Confused by this cryptic statement, I took another hit from the oxygen and peered through the glass, into the heart of the experiment.

    Among a small forest of processors, I could see an eggshell-white box that resembled a dorm room refrigerator. Inside was the brand-new maser, an ultraprecise atomic clock that syncs up every antenna on-site, and then syncs ALMA itself to the Event Horizon Telescope’s global network, lending so much dish-space and processing power that it effectively doubles the entire network’s resolution.

    1
    Christophe Jacques of the NRAO inspects the wiring on ALMA’s new hydrogen maser atomic clock during installation. Image: Carlos Padilla/NRAO/AUI/NSF

    To keep equipment from overheating, the room is kept at an absurdly low temperature—very close to absolute zero. If we opened the door, Vidal explained, emergency systems would instantly shut down the maser to protect it, and ALMA’s beating heart would stop, ruining multiple international astronomy projects, including the EHT.

    Claudio Follert, an ALMA fiber-optic specialist in his mid-fifties, was there in 2014 when the maser first arrived—he told me it was a machine he had never seen before, carried in by strange men. The men were sent by the EHT, which is based out of MIT.

    The EHT is made possible by the maser’s astonishing precision—about one billion times more precise than the clock in your smartphone.

    Designed by an international team led by MIT scientist Shep Doeleman, the EHT is the first of its kind-a global telescope network that uses a technique called interferometry to synthesize astronomical data from multiple sources, each with its own maser—including ALMA in Chile, the Large Millimeter Telescope atop the Sierra Negra volcano in Mexico, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Virginia.

    Together, these telescopes create a super-telescope that is quite literally the size of the Earth, with enough resolution to photograph an orange on the Moon.

    With ALMA recently added to this Avengers-like team of radio telescopes, the network is ten times more sensitive. As a result, Doeleman’s group believes it has the firepower to penetrate the interstellar gases that cloak their targets: supermassive black holes. Drawn into orbit by the black holes’ gravity, these gases form gargantuan clouds that yield nothing to optical telescopes.

    Faint radio signals from the black holes, on the other hand, slip through the gas clouds and are ultimately detected on Earth.

    Black holes are the folk legends of outer space. Since no light can escape them, they’re invisible to the eye, and we have no confirmation that they actually exist—only heaps of indirect evidence, particularly the gravitational wobbles in orbits of nearby stars, the behavior of interstellar gas clouds, and the gaseous jets that spew into space when an unseen source of extreme gravity appears to rip cosmic matter to shreds.

    Black holes challenge our most fundamental beliefs about reality. Visionary scientific minds, including the theoretical physicists Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, have devoted entire books to unpacking the hallucinatory scenarios thought to be induced by black holes’ gravitational forces—imagine the bottom of your body violently wrenched away from the top, physically stretching you like a Looney Tunes character, a scenario that Thorne’s Black Holes and Time Warps paints in stomach-churning detail.

    2
    An image from the heart of the Milky Way from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. The supermassive black hole is at the center. Image: NASA/CXC/MIT/F. Baganoff et al.

    NASA/Chandra Telescope
    NASA/Chandra Telescope

    Sag A*  NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory 23 July 2014, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way
    Sag A* NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory 23 July 2014, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way

    Black holes are thought to lurk at the centers of galaxies including our own. Prove the existence of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way, and you are one step closer to solving another mystery: the origin of humankind, and all life as we know it.

    “The black hole at the center of our galaxy has everything to do with our own origin,” said Violette Impellizzeri, an ALMA astronomer collaborating with Event Horizon Telescope. Supermassive black holes are thought to regulate the stars that surround them, influencing their formation and orbit. “Understanding how our galaxy was formed leads to our own origin directly,” she said.

    Scientists estimate the mass of Sagittarius A* to be four million times that of our Sun, yet its diameter is roughly equal to the distance from our sun to Mercury—not much, in cosmic terms. The resulting density produces gravity so strong that space and time distort around it, making it invisible.

    The current theory, espoused by Thorne, is that the distance from the center of a black hole, known as the singularity, to its edge, known as the event horizon, becomes so warped that it nears infinite length, and light simply runs out of energy as it tries to escape.

    It took Doeleman, the project leader at MIT, to decide that in order to see the unseeable, you would first have to create a new kind of vision. With ALMA as part of the giant EHT network, we can take a radio “photograph” of the matter that orbits Sagittarius A*—called the accretion disk—and finally see the black hole in shadow: its first-ever portrait.

    • Vidal and Follert, the guide and fiber-optic specialist, led us out onto the plateaus. There was work to do: one of the antennas was hobbled by a damaged radio receptor.

    It was blindingly bright and windy, not to mention dry—Chajnantor is located in Chile’s Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth, if you don’t count the poles. Completely inhospitable for human beings, Chajnantor is an ideal setting for a radio telescope: the elevation puts it closer to the stars, and the strikingly low water vapor keeps the cosmic signals pristine.

    For some, like ALMA’s crew, as well as Doeleman, the extreme environment is part of the attraction. “I just love getting to the telescopes,” he said. At 50, Doeleman is fresh-faced, with glasses and thinning hair that make him look every part the bookish scientist. His outgoing personality and entrepreneurial vigor reflect an explorer’s spirit more at home in the field than behind a desk.

    Doeleman regularly travels to each EHT site around the world, many of them located in extreme environments like the Andes or the Sierra Negra. “The adventure part is what motivates me—driving along dirt roads, up the sides of mountains, to install new instruments, doing observations that have never been done before. It’s a little bit like Jacques Cousteau—we’re not sitting in armchairs in our offices.”

    Outside on Chajnantor, I felt light-headed. I tried to keep my breathing steady: low oxygen can quickly wreck your mental faculties. On the plateau, Dave and I were dwarfed by ALMA’s antennas, which blocked out the desert sun. They felt powerful and eerie, like Easter Island statues. Even when standing directly beneath these behemoths, it wasn’t clear how they were controlled—the white dishes seemed to twist and pivot without warning.

    3
    Using a technique called interferometry, ALMA’s antennas can be configured to act as one giant antenna, and ALMA itself can be synced up with telescopes worldwide. Image: Dave Robertson

    An ALMA antenna is useless when one of its radio receptors is out of tune. We followed Follert up several steel ladders, boots clanging on metal, until we were in a low-ceilinged maintenance room inside one of the antennas. We helped him remove the damaged receptor, a long metal cylinder resembling a futuristic bazooka.

    Vidal drove us back down the mountain to the Operations Support Facility (OSF), ALMA’s headquarters, so we could see the lab where receptors are maintained.

    Per strict international regulations, Vidal was required to breathe through an oxygen tube as he drove, lest the high altitude cause him to lose consciousness behind the wheel.

    As we descended, Vidal radioed at regular intervals to identify our location. All around us the mountain slopes were red, rocky and barren—no wonder that NASA regularly deploys expeditions to this desert to replicate conditions on Mars.

    Located at 9,000 ft, the OSF is where ALMA’s staff call home: a total of 600 scientists working in shifts are based here, including engineers and technicians, from over 20 countries. The working conditions can be extreme. Staff hole up in weeklong shifts separated from friends and family, and endure the short and long-term health risks of high elevation, including a stroke or pulmonary edema, where fluid fills your lungs and you suffocate.

    It is thus maybe not surprising to find out that the entire staff are monitored regularly by medical personnel, and that emergency oxygen and a hyperbaric chamber are on-hand.

    They unwind by exercising and watching movies, although certain sci-fi flicks are frowned upon. “We need a break from space sometimes,” said Follert. Alcohol consumption on site is strictly forbidden—have even a tipple and you risk amplifying the physical effects of high elevation.

    4
    Aerial picture of ALMA’s Operations Support Facility. Image: Carlos Padilla/NRAO/AUI/NSF

    The close teamwork at ALMA is absolutely essential for the life of the observatory. Detecting cosmic radio signals, including those sent from a black hole, requires constant cooperation across teams, who must obsessively calibrate, maintain and repair their instruments to fend off unwanted noise.

    ALMA and the other telescopes on the EHT will soon turn towards the center of the Milky Way to tune in to the black hole’s narrow radio frequency. The data that ALMA collects will be so large, it cannot be transferred online. Instead, physical hard drives will shipped by “sneakernet”: loaded into the belly of a 747 and flown directly to MIT.

    When ALMA’s data is correlated with the other telescopes later this year, Sagittarius A* should appear against the glowing gas of the accretion disk. Maybe.

    Actually, said Doeleman, “we don’t know what we’re going to see. Nature can be cruel. We may see something boring. But we’re not married to one outcome—we’re going to see nature the way nature is.”

    See the full article here .

    The full EHT:

    Event Horizon Telescope Array

    Event Horizon Telescope map

    The locations of the radio dishes that will be part of the Event Horizon Telescope array. Image credit: Event Horizon Telescope sites, via University of Arizona at https://www.as.arizona.edu/event-horizon-telescope.

    Arizona Radio Observatory
    Arizona Radio Observatory/Submillimeter-wave Astronomy (ARO/SMT)

    ESO/APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX)

    CARMA Array no longer in service
    Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA)

    Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)
    Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)

    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO)

    IRAM NOEMA interferometer
    Institut de Radioastronomie Millimetrique (IRAM) 30m

    James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
    James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano
    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano

    CfA Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO
    Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO

    Future Array/Telescopes

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array
    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array, Chile

    Plateau de Bure interferometer
    Plateau de Bure interferometer

    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL
    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL

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    The future is wonderful, the future is terrifying. We should know, we live there. Whether on the ground or on the web, Motherboard travels the world to uncover the tech and science stories that define what’s coming next for this quickly-evolving planet of ours.

    Motherboard is a multi-platform, multimedia publication, relying on longform reporting, in-depth blogging, and video and film production to ensure every story is presented in its most gripping and relatable format. Beyond that, we are dedicated to bringing our audience honest portraits of the futures we face, so you can be better informed in your decision-making today.

     
    • Jim Ruebush 1:51 pm on January 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting. I look forward to seeing results. The radio telescopes at Atacama are the subject of a blog post of mine a few years ago. http://bit.ly/2jpp7hl

      Only 2 miles from my home in Iowa is a radio telescope part of the VLBA. I’ve been fortunate to go up inside and stand in the dish. What fun.

      Keep up the good work and posts.

      Like

  • richardmitnick 12:06 pm on January 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ASKAP finally hits the big-data highway, , , , , Radio Astronomy, , , WALLABY - Widefield ASKAP L-band Legacy All-sky Blind surveY   

    From The Conversation for SKA: “The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder finally hits the big-data highway” 

    Conversation
    The Conversation

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia
    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    January 15, 2017
    Douglas Bock
    Director of Astronomy and Space Science, CSIRO

    Antony Schinckel
    ASKAP Director, CSIRO

    You know how long it takes to pack the car to go on holidays. But there’s a moment when you’re all in, everyone has their seatbelt on, you pull out of the drive and you’re off.

    Our ASKAP (Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder) telescope has just pulled out of the drive, so to speak, at its base in Western Australia at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO), about 315km northeast of Geraldton.

    ASKAP is made of 36 identical 12-metre wide dish antennas that all work together, 12 of which are currently in operation. Thirty ASKAP antennas have now been fitted with specialised phased array feeds, the rest will be installed later in 2017.

    Until now, we’d been taking data mainly to test how ASKAP performs. Having shown the telescope’s technical excellence it’s now off on its big trip, starting to make observations for the big science projects it’ll be doing for the next five years.

    And it’s taking lots of data. Its antennas are now churning out 5.2 terabytes of data per second (about 15 per cent of the internet’s current data rate).

    Once out of the telescope, the data is going through a new, almost automatic data-processing system we’ve developed.

    It’s like a bread-making machine: put in the data, make some choices, press the button and leave it overnight. In the morning you have a nice batch of freshly made images from the telescope.

    Go the WALLABIES

    The first project we’ve been taking data for is one of ASKAP’s largest surveys, WALLABY (Widefield ASKAP L-band Legacy All-sky Blind surveY).

    On board the survey are a happy band of 100-plus scientists – affectionately known as the WALLABIES – from many countries, led by one of our astronomers, Bärbel Koribalski, and Lister Staveley-Smith of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), University of Western Australia.

    They’re aiming to detect and measure neutral hydrogen gas in galaxies over three-quarters of the sky. To see the farthest of these galaxies they’ll be looking three billion years back into the universe’s past, with a redshift of 0.26.

    2
    Neutral hydrogen gas in one of the galaxies, IC 5201 in the southern constellation of Grus (The Crane), imaged in early observations for the WALLABY project. Matthew Whiting, Karen Lee-Waddell and Bärbel Koribalski (all CSIRO); WALLABY team, Author provided

    Neutral hydrogen – just lonely individual hydrogen atoms floating around – is the basic form of matter in the universe. Galaxies are made up of stars but also dark matter, dust and gas – mostly hydrogen. Some of the hydrogen turns into stars.

    Although the universe has been busy making stars for most of its 13.7-billion-year life, there’s still a fair bit of neutral hydrogen around. In the nearby (low-redshift) universe, most of it hangs out in galaxies. So mapping the neutral hydrogen is a useful way to map the galaxies, which isn’t always easy to do with just starlight.

    But as well as mapping where the galaxies are, we want to know how they live their lives, get on with their neighbours, grow and change over time.

    When galaxies live together in big groups and clusters they steal gas from each other, a processes called accretion and stripping. Seeing how the hydrogen gas is disturbed or missing tells us what the galaxies have been up to.

    We can also use the hydrogen signal to work out a lot of a galaxy’s individual characteristics, such as its distance, how much gas it contains, its total mass, and how much dark matter it contains.

    This information is often used in combination with characteristics we learn from studying the light of the galaxy’s stars.

    Oh what big eyes you have ASKAP

    ASKAP sees large pieces of sky with a field of view of 30 square degrees. The WALLABY team will observe 1,200 of these fields. Each field contains about 500 galaxies detectable in neutral hydrogen, giving a total of 600,000 galaxies.

    3
    One of the first fields targeted by WALLABY, the NGC 7232 galaxy group. Ian Heywood (CSIRO); WALLABY team, Author provided

    This image (above) of the NGC 7232 galaxy group was made with just two nights’ worth of data.

    ASKAP has now made 150 hours of observations of this field, which has been found to contain 2,300 radio sources (the white dots), almost all of them galaxies.

    It has also observed a second field, one containing the Fornax cluster of galaxies, and started on two more fields over the Christmas and New Year period.

    Even more will be dug up by targeted searches. Simply detecting all the WALLABY galaxies will take more than two years, and interpreting the data even longer. ASKAP’s data will live in a huge archive that astronomers will sift through over many years with the help of supercomputers at the Pawsey Centre in Perth, Western Australia.

    ASKAP has nine other big survey projects planned, so this is just the beginning of the journey. It’s really a very exciting time for ASKAP and the more than 350 international scientists who’ll be working with it.

    Who knows where this Big Trip will take them, and what they’ll find along the way?

    See the full article here .

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    The Conversation US launched as a pilot project in October 2014. It is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.
    Our team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.
    Access to independent, high quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversation.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:04 pm on January 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , JIVE, , Radio astronomers score high marks in the competition for EU funding, Radio Astronomy, RadioNet   

    From JIVE via Jodrell Bank: “Radio astronomers score high marks in the competition for EU funding” 

    Jodrell Bank Lovell Telescope
    Lovell

    Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics

    1

    JIVE

    2

    RadioNet

    01/12/2017

    RadioNet, a consortium of 28 leading institutions for radio astronomical research from 13 countries, has been awarded 10 million Euro by the European Commission, to be used over the next four years. The speaker of the RadioNet consortium is Prof. J. Anton Zensus from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn (Germany).

    [THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT THIS FOR ME IS AT THIS SAME TIME, NSF IN THE U.S.A. IS CONSIDERING CUTTING FUNDING FOR VARIOUS AND SUNDRY RADIO ASTRONOMY ASSETS. ARE WE GONG TO AGAIN CEDE LEADERSHIP IN AN AREA OF THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES TO EUROPE? SOMEONE TELL ME SOMETHING TO BE HAPPY ABOUT WITH THE NSF.]

    RadioNet will provide support for various aspects of radio astronomical research in Europe; it will enable scientists from all over the world to use the radio telescopes and data archives of the consortium members for their research free of charge. The members will join forces to develop new radio receivers that can be used at many European radio observatories. RadioNet will foster the creation of new software necessary to process the enormous data flow expected from these new receivers and to ensure that they are of high quality and free from interferences.

    “RadioNet allows us not only to make more efficient use of the members’ radio telescopes; by combining the data from radio observatories all over Europe and world wide, we can achieve images with a resolving power that would normally require a telescope with a diameter of thousands of kilometres”, explains Prof. J. Anton Zensus, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) and speaker of the RadioNet consortium. He leads the research department for Radio Astronomy and Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) at the MPIfR, one of the key centres of expertise for VLBI in Europe. Amongst other things, VLBI allows astronomers to study the events in the immediate vicinity of the cores of active radio galaxies.

    One activity of RadioNet will be the joint development by several of the RadioNet partners of a new receiver system named BRAND (BRoad bAND), which completely covers the wide frequency range from 1.5 to 15 gigahertz. “For astronomers and observatories, using the new BRAND receiver will have several advantages: there will be less maintenance necessary and more available time for astronomical observations since all frequency bands between 1.5 and 15 Giga Hertz can be used simultaneously”, explains Walter Alef, who leads the BRAND project at the MPIfR. “By using BRAND the European telescope network will assume a worldwide leading role in VLBI observations.”

    One declared goal of the Bonn astronomers is to study the details of the central regions of our Milky Way and other galaxies. The underlying assumption is that supermassive black holes provide the central energy sources of such galaxies. In the context of the Event Horizon Telescope, the scientists even hope to image the immediate vicinity of the black hole in the centre of our Galaxy at short wavelengths.

    Event Horizon Telescope Array

    Event Horizon Telescope map

    The locations of the radio dishes that will be part of the Event Horizon Telescope array. Image credit: Event Horizon Telescope sites, via University of Arizona at https://www.as.arizona.edu/event-horizon-telescope.

    Arizona Radio Observatory
    Arizona Radio Observatory/Submillimeter-wave Astronomy (ARO/SMT)

    ESO/APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX)

    CARMA Array no longer in service
    Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA)

    Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)
    Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)

    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO)

    IRAM NOEMA interferometer
    Institut de Radioastronomie Millimetrique (IRAM) 30m

    James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
    James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano
    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano

    CfA Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO
    Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO

    Future Array/Telescopes

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array
    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array, Chile

    Plateau de Bure interferometer
    Plateau de Bure interferometer

    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL
    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL

    “Each of the partners of our consortium possesses world class technology and expertise. We want to focus all these resources and thus expand European leadership in the area of radio astronomy”, says Anton Zensus, “We regard it as an acknowledgement of our work and our expertise that we are entrusted with coordinating this important project.”

    Training and knowledge transfer of researchers and engineers, as well as the common use of resources, are important aspects of the RadioNet project in order to ensure the leading role of European research institutions in global observatories such as the “Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array” (ALMA) or the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

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

    SKA Square Kilometer Array
    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia
    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    Prof. Zensus is confident that the success of the RadioNet cooperation will eventually make it self-sustainable.

    The official start of RadioNet activities for the next four years is celebrated today. January 12th, 2017, in a kick off meeting at the Harnack House of the Max Planck Society in Berlin.

    ————————————–

    RadioNet is a consortium of 28 partner institutions from the following 13 countries: Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and South Africa and South Korea.

    See the full article here .

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    Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics comprises research activities in astronomy and astrophysics at The University of Manchester, the world leading facilities of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, the e-MERLIN/VLBI National Facility and the Project Development Office of the Square Kilometre Array.

    Jodrell Bank e-Merlin

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

     
  • richardmitnick 1:00 pm on January 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NSF On the block, Radio Astronomy   

    From Nature: “Legendary radio telescope hangs in the balance” 

    Nature Mag
    Nature

    10 January 2017
    Alexandra Witze

    US National Science Foundation looks to slash funding for Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory.

    Grapevine, Texas

    NAIC/Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico, USA
    NAIC/Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico, USA

    Researchers hope that there is a way to stop the iconic Arecibo Observatory from closing down.

    It is the radio telescope that hunts killer asteroids, probes distant cosmic blasts and decades ago sent Earth’s most powerful message to the stars. Yet the storied Arecibo Observatory, an enormous aluminium dish nestled in a Puerto Rican sinkhole, might soon find itself out of the science game.

    The US National Science Foundation (NSF), which owns the observatory, wants to offload the facility to free up money for newer ones. In the coming weeks, it will ask for ideas about how Arecibo might be managed if the NSF reduces its current US$8.2-million annual contribution. By May, the agency plans to release a final environmental-impact statement, a federally mandated analysis of the effects of various scenarios — from continuing to run Arecibo to mothballing or even demolishing its iconic dish. Soon after that, the NSF will decide which path to take.

    Arecibo advocates are not going to let the telescope die without a fight. On 4 January, they pressed their case at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Grapevine, Texas — arguing that Arecibo is putting out some of the best science it has ever done, and that the NSF is moving too quickly to divest itself of an astronomical treasure.

    “Arecibo definitely has a future,” says Francisco Cordova, the observatory’s director. “Though it will be a different future.”

    Arecibo is playing a key part in illuminating the mystery of fast radio bursts, which are emerging as a completely new class of celestial phenomenon. And at the astronomy meeting, observatory scientists revealed a previously unknown contributor to the Universe’s cosmic microwave background glow — cold electrons — plus a pair of pulsars that has surprisingly erratic radio emissions.

    “It is still a state-of-the-art observatory,” says Nicholas White, senior vice-president for science at the Universities Space Research Association in Columbia, Maryland, which helps to manage Arecibo for the NSF.

    NSF officials agree. But they say they need money for new projects such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which is under construction in Chile (see ‘On the block’). A 2012 review of the NSF’s astronomy portfolio recommended cutting support for some of its smaller and older facilities. Although Arecibo was not among them, the report recommended that the NSF evaluate the facility’s status later in the decade.

    nsf-on-the-block
    SOAR, Southern Astrophysical Research; WIYN, Wisconsin–Indiana–Yale–National Optical Astronomy Observatory.
    CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO MAKE IT READABLE

    Some of the observatories targeted in the review have found potential partners: New Mexico State University in Las Cruces is leading an effort to take over the Dunn Solar Telescope in Sunspot, New Mexico. Others remain in limbo, including the 100-metre radio telescope in Green Bank, West, where university partners have offered limited help.

    In October, the NSF released a draft environmental impact statement for Arecibo that outlines how various management options would affect everything from endangered plants to local tourism. The NSF would prefer to find collaborators to shoulder most of the cost of operating the observatory for science purposes. But the draft statement includes the possibility of shuttering the facility, and even details which explosive would be needed to dismantle the 305-metre-wide dish.

    NSF officials included this bleak option to satisfy federal rules that require them to describe the environmental impact of all possible outcomes. “We specifically leaned towards making things look a bit more drastic,” says James Ulvestad, head of the NSF’s astronomy division.

    Gravitational-wave astronomers are among those who are unhappy about the idea of Arecibo going offline. The international NANOGrav consortium uses about 850 hours of Arecibo time each year to discern how ripples in space-time affect radio pulsars. Between Arecibo and Green Bank, the team is just now reaching the sensitivity at which it should be able to detect gravitational waves. “We’re so close,” says Xavier Siemens, an astrophysicist at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. “Losing Arecibo would mean losing US leadership in the field.”

    Arecibo also has a unique role in stimulating public interest in science, says Edgard Rivera-Valentín, a planetary radar specialist at the observatory. Like many Puerto Ricans, he first visited Arecibo as a child, on a family trip. “It just blew me away,” he says. “I knew pretty much then that I wanted to do astronomy.”

    The NSF pays for roughly two-thirds of Arecibo’s $12-million annual budget. Half of that comes from its astronomy division and half from its atmospheric and geospace sciences division, which uses Arecibo to study Earth’s ionosphere. The remainder comes from NASA, which tracks near-Earth asteroids from Arecibo and would probably keep doing so if other collaborators stepped in to make up for NSF cutbacks.

    Arecibo’s current operating contract ends in March 2018. After that, new approaches to make ends meet could include charging scientists hourly rates to use the observatory, instead of having them apply for time through federal agencies. “This is where the rubber hits the road,” says White.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:48 am on December 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Radio Astronomy, Witnessing the birth of today’s stars   

    From EarthSky: “Witnessing the birth of today’s stars” 

    1

    EarthSky

    December 27, 2016
    Deborah Byrd

    Dust shrouds the era of distant galaxies, in which most of today’s stars were born 10 billion years ago. Astronomers used radio telescopes to pierce the dust.

    1
    Radio/Optical combination images of distant galaxies as seen with NSF’s Very Large Array and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Their distances from Earth are indicated in the top set of images. Images via K. Trisupatsilp, NRAO/ AUI/ NSF/ NASA.

    Due to the finite speed of light, looking outward in space is the same as looking back in time. So it would seem simple to peer back to the birth of the first stars, just by looking very far away. There was an era of rapid star formation, early in the history of our universe, 10 billion years ago. The first stars – and, in fact, since most stars are very long-lived – most stars still around today were born then. But the early birthplaces of most modern stars are shrouded in dust. Now astronomers say they’ve gotten their first clear look this distant time and place in our universe, during the era when most of today’s stars were born, using radio telescopes. Their paper was published in the peer-reviewed Astrophysical Journal.

    Astronomer Wiphu Rujopakam of the University of Tokyo and Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, who is lead author of new research paper, explained:

    “We knew that galaxies [10 billion years ago] were forming stars prolifically, but we didn’t know what those galaxies looked like, because they are shrouded in so much dust that almost no visible light escapes them.”

    And that’s why, for example, the Hubble Deep Fields – very long exposures in visible light which allowed astronomers to look extremely far away in space and back in time – don’t reveal everything about that distant era.

    Unlike visible light, radio waves can penetrate this dust. But powerful radio telescopes are needed to do it. These astronomers used the recently upgraded and renamed Very Large Array or VLA, a radio telescope located on the Plains of San Agustin, some 50 miles (80 km) west of Socorro, New Mexico.

    NRAO/VLA, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA
    NRAO/VLA, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA

    They also used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array or ALMA in northern Chile, which officially went online as recently as 2013.

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

    The astronomers chose to peer at the small area of sky previously observed in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field.

    Hubble Ultra Deep Field
    Hubble Ultra Deep Field

    The astronomers say the new observations have answered longstanding questions about mechanisms responsible for star formation in those early galaxies. In the galaxies they studied, for example, they found star formation most frequently occured throughout the galaxies. That’s in contrast to closer, younger galaxies exhibiting high rates for star formation today. In those relatively nearby galaxies, most star formation takes place in much-smaller regions of the galaxies.

    The new radio images obtained in this recent study were the most sensitive ever made by the Very Large Array. Astronomer Preshanth Jagannathan of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), a co-author on the study, said:

    “If you took your cellphone, which transmits a weak radio signal, and put it at more than twice the distance to Pluto, near the outer edge of the solar system, its signal would be roughly as strong as what we detected from these galaxies.”

    Bottom line: Astronomers have used radio telescopes to obtain a first-ever look at the distant galaxies where most of today’s stars were born, 10 billion years ago.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 6:29 am on December 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA's Fermi Finds Record-breaking Binary in Galaxy Next Door, Radio Astronomy   

    From NASA Goddard: “NASA’s Fermi Finds Record-breaking Binary in Galaxy Next Door” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    Sept. 29, 2016
    Francis Reddy
    francis.j.reddy@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    Using data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and other facilities, an international team of scientists has found the first gamma-ray binary in another galaxy and the most luminous one ever seen.

    NASA/Fermi Telescope
    NASA/Fermi Telescope

    The dual-star system, dubbed LMC P3, contains a massive star and a crushed stellar core that interact to produce a cyclic flood of gamma rays, the highest-energy form of light.

    “Fermi has detected only five of these systems in our own galaxy, so finding one so luminous and distant is quite exciting,” said lead researcher Robin Corbet at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Gamma-ray binaries are prized because the gamma-ray output changes significantly during each orbit and sometimes over longer time scales. This variation lets us study many of the emission processes common to other gamma-ray sources in unique detail.”

    These rare systems contain either a neutron star or a black hole and radiate most of their energy in the form of gamma rays. Remarkably, LMC P3 is the most luminous such system known in gamma rays, X-rays, radio waves and visible light, and it’s only the second one discovered with Fermi.


    Dive into the Large Magellanic Cloud and see a visualization of LMC P3, an extraordinary gamma-ray binary system discovered by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
    Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger, producer
    Access mp4 video here .

    A paper describing the discovery will appear in the Oct. 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal and is now available online.

    LMC P3 lies within the expanding debris of a supernova explosion located in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small nearby galaxy about 163,000 light-years away.

    Large Magellanic Cloud. Adrian Pingstone  December 2003
    Large Magellanic Cloud. Adrian Pingstone December 2003

    In 2012, scientists using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory found a strong X-ray source within the supernova remnant and showed that it was orbiting a hot, young star many times the sun’s mass.

    NASA/Chandra Telescope
    NASA/Chandra Telescope

    The researchers concluded the compact object was either a neutron star or a black hole and classified the system as a high-mass X-ray binary (HMXB).

    In 2015, Corbet’s team began looking for new gamma-ray binaries in Fermi data by searching for the periodic changes characteristic of these systems. The scientists discovered a 10.3-day cyclic change centered near one of several gamma-ray point sources recently identified in the LMC. One of them, called P3, was not linked to objects seen at any other wavelengths but was located near the HMXB. Were they the same object?

    1
    Observations from Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (magenta line) show that gamma rays from LMC P3 rise and fall over the course of 10.3 days. The companion is thought to be a neutron star. Illustrations across the top show how the changing position of the neutron star relates to the gamma-ray cycle.
    Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    NASA/Fermi LAT
    NASA/Fermi LAT

    To find out, Corbet’s team observed the binary in X-rays using NASA’s Swift satellite, at radio wavelengths with the Australia Telescope Compact Array [ATCA] near Narrabri and in visible light using the 4.1-meter Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope on Cerro Pachón in Chile and the 1.9-meter telescope at the South African Astronomical Observatory [SAAO]near Cape Town.

    NASA/SWIFT Telescope
    NASA/SWIFT Telescope

    CSIRO ATCA at the Paul Wild Observatory, about 25 km west of the town of Narrabri in rural NSW about 500 km north-west of Sydney, AU
    CSIRO ATCA at the Paul Wild Observatory, about 25 km west of the town of Narrabri in rural NSW about 500 km north-west of Sydney, AU

    NOAO/ Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR)telescope situated on Cerro Pachón - IV Región - Chile, at 2,700 meters (8,775 feet)
    NOAO/ Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR)telescope situated on Cerro Pachón – IV Región – Chile, at 2,700 meters (8,775 feet)

    SAAO 1.9 meterTelescope, at the SAAO observation station 15Kms from the small Karoo town of Sutherland in the Northern Cape, a 4-hour drive from Cape Town.
    SAAO 1.9 meterTelescope, at the SAAO observation station 15Kms from the small Karoo town of Sutherland in the Northern Cape, a 4-hour drive from Cape Town.

    The Swift observations clearly reveal the same 10.3-day emission cycle seen in gamma rays by Fermi. They also indicate that the brightest X-ray emission occurs opposite the gamma-ray peak, so when one reaches maximum the other is at minimum. Radio data exhibit the same period and out-of-phase relationship with the gamma-ray peak, confirming that LMC P3 is indeed the same system investigated by Chandra.

    The Swift observations clearly reveal the same 10.3-day emission cycle seen in gamma rays by Fermi. They also indicate that the brightest X-ray emission occurs opposite the gamma-ray peak, so when one reaches maximum the other is at minimum. Radio data exhibit the same period and out-of-phase relationship with the gamma-ray peak, confirming that LMC P3 is indeed the same system investigated by Chandra.

    3
    LMC P3 (circled) is located in a supernova remnant called DEM L241 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy about 163,000 light-years away. The system is the first gamma-ray binary discovered in another galaxy and is the most luminous known in gamma rays, X-rays, radio waves and visible light.

    Both objects form when a massive star runs out of fuel, collapses under its own weight and explodes as a supernova. The star’s crushed core may become a neutron star, with the mass of half a million Earths squeezed into a ball no larger than Washington, D.C. Or it may be further compacted into a black hole, with a gravitational field so strong not even light can escape it.

    The surface of the star at the heart of LMC P3 has a temperature exceeding 60,000 degrees Fahrenheit (33,000 degrees Celsius), or more than six times hotter than the sun’s. The star is so luminous that pressure from the light it emits actually drives material from the surface, creating particle outflows with speeds of several million miles an hour.

    In gamma-ray binaries, the compact companion is thought to produce a “wind” of its own, one consisting of electrons accelerated to near the speed of light. The interacting outflows produce X-rays and radio waves throughout the orbit, but these emissions are detected most strongly when the compact companion travels along the part of its orbit closest to Earth.

    Through a different mechanism, the electron wind also emits gamma rays. When light from the star collides with high-energy electrons, it receives a boost to gamma-ray levels. Called inverse Compton scattering, this process produces more gamma rays when the compact companion passes near the star on the far side of its orbit as seen from our perspective.

    Prior to Fermi’s launch, gamma-ray binaries were expected to be more numerous than they’ve turned out to be. Hundreds of HMXBs are cataloged, and these systems are thought to have originated as gamma-ray binaries following the supernova that formed the compact object.

    “It is certainly a surprise to detect a gamma-ray binary in another galaxy before we find more of them in our own,” said Guillaume Dubus, a team member at the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics of Grenoble in France. “One possibility is that the gamma-ray binaries Fermi has found are rare cases where a supernova formed a neutron star with exceptionally rapid spin, which would enhance how it produces accelerated particles and gamma rays.”

    NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy and with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the United States.

    See the full article here.

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    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    NASA Goddard campus
    NASA/Goddard Campus
    NASA image

     
  • richardmitnick 9:17 pm on December 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Radio Astronomy, , SKA passes key engineering milestone towards final design   

    From SKA: “SKA passes key engineering milestone towards final design” 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA

    14 December 2016
    No writer credit

    The SKA has passed a key milestone in its engineering process with the positive conclusion of the System Preliminary Design Review (PDR). This review paves the way for the continuation of the engineering design work towards detailed design and Critical Design Review (CDR) before approval of construction.

    Last week at the SKA Headquarters, external experts in the management of large-scale projects from the European Space Agency, The US National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the international ALMA Observatory and the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics among others gathered to review and assess the maturity of the SKA’s system design. The system design is an engineering process that aims to define the architecture, components and interfaces of the SKA system (the telescope as a whole, from receiver to antenna to data transport, processing, storage and distribution) as per its requirements. The objectives of the system PDR were to ensure that the preliminary design of the SKA was mature enough and that the remaining gaps and risks in the design were identified to enable the project to start detailed design work.

    The reviewers approved the system design, noting the huge amount of work carried out so far by the SKA Office and engineering consortia, as well as the maturity of the architectural design.

    “We’re very pleased. Passing this important engineering milestone concludes what has been a busy year for the SKA on the engineering front, and everyone has worked hard to reach this point. This successful review will give confidence to industry and stakeholders that we are on the right path.” said Luca Stringhetti, the Project Engineer for SKA Organisation.

    See the full article here .

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    SKA Banner

    SKA CSIRO  Pathfinder Telescope
    SKA ASKAP Pathefinder Telescope

    SKA Meerkat telescope
    SKA Meerkat Telescope

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array
    SKA Murchison Wide Field Array

    About SKA

    The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

    The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.

    Already supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – SKA Organisation has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.

     
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