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  • richardmitnick 6:34 am on September 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ageing Star Blows Off Smoky Bubble, , , , , , , Radio Astronomy   

    From ALMA: “Ageing Star Blows Off Smoky Bubble” 

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

    20 September 2017

    Nicolás Lira
    Education and Public Outreach Coordinator
    Joint ALMA Observatory, Santiago – Chile
    Phone: +56 2 2467 6519
    Cell: +56 9 9445 7726
    nicolas.lira@alma.cl

    Richard Hook
    Public Information Officer, ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Phone: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    Francisco Rodríguez I.
    ESO Press Officer in Chile
    Santiago, Chile
    +56 2 24633019
    frrodrig@eso.org

    1
    Astronomers have used ALMA to capture a strikingly beautiful view of a delicate bubble of expelled material around the exotic red star U Antliae. These observations will help astronomers to better understand how stars evolve during the later stages of their life-cycles.

    In the faint southern constellation of Antlia (The Air Pump) the careful observer with binoculars will spot a very red star, which varies slightly in brightness from week to week. This very unusual star is called U Antliae and new observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) are revealing a remarkably thin spherical shell around it.

    2
    This image was created from ALMA data on the unusual red carbon star U Antliae and its surrounding shell of material. The colours show the motion of the glowing material in the shell along the line of sight to the Earth. Blue material lies between us and the central star, and is moving towards us. Red material around the edge is moving away from the star, but not towards the Earth.
    For clarity this view does not include the material on the far side of the star, which is receding from us in a symmetrical manner. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), F. Kerschbaum


    Astronomers have used ALMA to capture a strikingly beautiful view of a delicate bubble of expelled material around the exotic red star U Antliae. These observations will help astronomers to better understand how stars evolve during the later stages of their life-cycles.
    This short podcast takes a look at this important new result and what it means. Credit:ESO.
    Directed by: Nico Bartmann.
    Editing: Nico Bartmann.
    Web and technical support: Mathias André and Raquel Yumi Shida.
    Written by: Izumi Hansen and Richard Hook.
    Music: Colin Rayment & Stan Dart.
    Footage and photos: ESO, spaceengine.org, NASA, SDO, M.Kornmesser, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), F. Kerschbaum.
    Executive producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen.

    U Antliae [1] is a carbon star, an evolved, cool and luminous star of the asymptotic giant branch type. Around 2700 years ago, U Antliae went through a short period of rapid mass loss. During this period of only a few hundred years, the material making up the shell seen in the new ALMA data was ejected at high speed. Examination of this shell in further detail also shows some evidence of thin, wispy gas clouds known as filamentary substructures.

    This spectacular view was only made possible by the unique ability to create sharp images at multiple wavelengths that is provided by the ALMA radio telescope, located on the Chajnantor Plateau in Chile’s Atacama Desert, at 5,000 metres. ALMA can see much finer structure in the U Antliae shell than has previously been possible.

    The new ALMA data are not just a single image; ALMA produces a three-dimensional dataset (a data cube) with each slice being observed at a slightly different wavelength. Because of the Doppler Effect, this means that different slices of the data cube show images of gas moving at different speeds towards or away from the observer. This shell is also remarkable as it is very symmetrically round and also remarkably thin. By displaying the different velocities we can cut this cosmic bubble into virtual slices just as we do in computer tomography of a human body.

    Understanding the chemical composition of the shells and atmospheres of these stars, and how these shells form by mass loss, is important to properly understand how stars evolve in the early Universe and also how galaxies evolved. Shells such as the one around U Antliae show a rich variety of chemical compounds based on carbon and other elements. They also help to recycle matter, and contribute up to 70% of the dust between stars.
    Notes

    [1] The name U Antliae reflects the fact that it is the fourth star that changes its brightness to be found in the constellation of Antlia (The Air Pump). The naming of such variable stars followed a complicated sequence as more and more were found and is explained here.
    More information

    This research was presented in a paper entitled Rings and filaments. The remarkable detached CO shell of U Antliae, by F. Kerschbaum et al., to appear in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    The team is composed of F. Kerschbaum (University of Vienna, Austria), M. Maercker (Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden), M. Brunner (University of Vienna, Austria), M. Lindqvist (Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden), H. Olofsson (Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden), M. Mecina (University of Vienna, Austria), E. De Beck (Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden), M. A. T. Groenewegen (Koninklijke Sterrenwacht van België, Belgium), E. Lagadec (Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, CNRS, France), S. Mohamed (University of Cape Town, South Africa), C. Paladini (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium), S. Ramstedt (Uppsala University, Sweden), W. H. T. Vlemmings (Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden), and M. Wittkowski (ESO)

    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of ESO, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI).

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

    See the full article here .

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

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

    NRAO Small
    ESO 50 Large
    NAOJ

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    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO LaSilla
    ESO/Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

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

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

    ESO NTT
    ESO/NTT at Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

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

    ALMA Array
    ALMA on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 metres.

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO/E-ELT to be built at Cerro Armazones at 3,060 m.

    ESO APEX
    APEX Atacama Pathfinder 5,100 meters above sea level, at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert.

    Leiden MASCARA instrument, La Silla, located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    Leiden MASCARA cabinet at ESO Cerro la Silla located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    ESO Next Generation Transit Survey at Cerro Paranel, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    SPECULOOS four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes 2016 in the ESO Paranal Observatory, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO TAROT telescope at Paranal, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

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  • richardmitnick 4:50 am on September 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , CSIROblog, MPIFR/Effelsberg Radio Telescope, Radio Astronomy,   

    From CSIROblog: “German telescope wears Aussie tech” 

    CSIRO bloc

    CSIRO blog

    25 September 2017
    Helen Sim

    1
    We designed and built a sophisticated receiver for Germany’s Effelsberg telescope. No image credit.

    MPIFR/Effelsberg Radio Telescope, in the Ahrgebirge (part of the Eifel) in Bad Münstereifel, Germany

    German engineering is renowned. Our Parkes radio telescope was built by a German firm, MAN (Maschinenfabrik Augsburg–Nürnberg).

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    Now our astronomy technology is boosting the performance of Germany’s flagship radio telescope.

    We’ve provided a sophisticated radio receiver called a ‘phased array feed’ or ‘PAF’ for the Effelsberg telescope. At 100 m in diameter, Effelsberg is a tad bigger than Parkes and the biggest single-dish telescope in Europe.

    Although we designed PAFs for our new ASKAP telescope in Western Australia, which is an array of 36 dishes, it turns out they’re pretty handy for single dishes too.

    1

    Before we shipped the customised PAF to Germany we put it on the Parkes telescope for a few months to see how it performed on a big dish. The answer was, very well indeed.

    The PAF could detect one of the fundamental components of the Universe, atomic hydrogen, much further away than we usually can. And it let astronomers cut out a lot of pesky radio interference – unwanted radio signals arising from human activities.

    The tests were led by scientists from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Perth, Western Australia. One of them, Professor Lister Staveley-Smith, is leading a bid to fund a special cooled PAF to use on Parkes long-term. That cooled PAF would do some pretty cool science, like looking for signs of exotic matter called ‘positronium’.

    When the Parkes tests were over we took the PAF to the airport and sent it on its way to Effelsberg’s operator, the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy. In its new home it’ll be searching for fast radio bursts, the still-mysterious radio signals from the distant Universe.

    In other applications, phased-array feeds could also be used to observe Earth from space and for other kinds of imaging.

    You can see our PAF technology at the Adelaide Convention Centre from 25 to 29 September 2017, on the Australian Government stand at the International Astronautical Congress.

    See the full article here .

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    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

    The CSIRO blog is designed to entertain, inform and inspire by generally digging around in the work being done by our terrific scientists, and leaving the techie speak and jargon for the experts.

    We aim to bring you stories from across the vast breadth and depth of our organisation: from the wild sea voyages of our Research Vessel Investigator to the mind-blowing astronomy of our Space teams, right through all the different ways our scientists solve national challenges in areas as diverse as Health, Farming, Tech, Manufacturing, Energy, Oceans, and our Environment.

    If you have any questions about anything you find on our blog, we’d love to hear from you. You can reach us at socialmedia@csiro.au.

    And if you’d like to find out more about us, our science, or how to work with us, head over to CSIRO.au

     
  • richardmitnick 8:45 am on September 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , CSIROscope, Expect the unexpected from the big-data boom in radio astronomy, Radio Astronomy   

    From CSIROscope: “Expect the unexpected from the big-data boom in radio astronomy” 

    CSIRO bloc

    CSIROscope

    21 September 2017
    Ray Norris, Western Sydney University & CSIRO Honorary Fellow

    1
    Antennas of the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. CSIRO, Author provided

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    Radio astronomy is undergoing a major boost, with new technology gathering data on objects in our universe faster than astronomers can analyse.

    But once that data is scrutinised it could lead to some amazing new discoveries, as I explain in my review of the state of radio astronomy, published today in Nature Astronomy.

    Over the next few years, we will see the universe in a very different light, and we are likely to make completely unexpected discoveries.

    ___________________________________________________________________
    Read more: The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder finally hits the big-data highway
    ___________________________________________________________________

    Radio telescopes view the sky using radio waves and mainly see jets of electrons travelling at the speed of light, propelled by super-massive black holes. That gives a very different view to the one we see when observing a clear night sky using visible light, which mainly sees light from stars.

    Black holes were only found in science fiction before radio astronomers discovered them in quasars. It now seems that most galaxies, including our own Milky Way, have a super-massive black hole at their centre.

    From early discoveries

    Radio waves from space were detected by the American Karl Jansky in the 1930s. Since then, radio telescopes – such as the 64-metre dish at Parkes, in New South Wales – increased the number of known radio sources in the sky from one (in 1940) to a few hundred thousand.

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

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

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    A composite image of a radio galaxy with radio in red, optical in white and X-ray in blue. An X-ray jet emanates from the environs of a super-massive black hole at the centre, powering two diffuse lobes (shown in red) of radio emission, which dominate the appearance at radio wavelengths. Emil Lenc, Author provided [telescopes[s] not credited.

    Then, around the turn of the millennium, four projects driven by new technology suddenly increased the number of known radio sources from a few hundred thousand to about 2.5 million. They were the Westerbork Northern Sky Survey (WENSS, NRAO VLA Sky Survey (NVSS, Faint Images of the Radio Sky at Twenty-cm (FIRST and the Sydney University Molonglo Sky Survey (SUMSS in The Netherlands, United States and Australia.

    Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope, Netherlands

    U Sidney Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope (MOST), Hoskinstown, Australia

    For almost the next two decades there was no significant increase in this number, because nobody could significantly improve on what those four projects had done.

    A group of new telescopes in Australia, The Netherlands, the United States, India and South Africa are about to unleash new technologies that will generate another surge in our knowledge of the radio sky.

    Leading them, in terms of numbers of sources, is ATNF Australia’s Evolutionary Map of the Universe (EMU) project, running on CSIRO’s new A$188-million Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope in Western Australia.

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

    For ASKAP, the new technology is CSIRO’s revolutionary phased array feed, which allows ASKAP to view enormous areas of the sky at once.

    SKA ASKAP Phased Array

    As a result, EMU alone will raise the number of radio sources to about 70 million, compared to the 2.5 million sources discovered so far by all radio telescopes in the world over the entire history of radio astronomy.

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    The graph shows two spikes in number of radio sources detected in major surveys over the years, from the birth of radio astronomy to the next-generation surveys. Ray Norris, Author provided.

    A change in radio astronomy

    This huge surge in humankind’s knowledge of the radio sky has several consequences.

    First, we expect to answer some of the major questions in astrophysics, such as understanding why super-massive black holes seem so common in the universe, how that regulates the growth and evolution of galaxies and how galaxies swarm together to form clusters.

    Second, it will change the way we do radio astronomy. At the moment, if I want to know what a galaxy looks like at radio wavelengths, chances are I’ll have to win time competitively on a major radio telescope to study my galaxy.

    But I’ll soon be able to go to the web and observe my galaxy in data already collected by EMU or one of the other mega-projects. So most radio astronomy will be done by a web search rather than by a new observation. The role of major radio telescopes will change from finding new objects to studying known objects in exquisite detail.

    Third, it will change the way that astronomers do their astronomy at other wavelengths. At the moment, only a small minority of galaxies have been studied at radio wavelengths.

    From now on, most galaxies being studied by the average astronomer will have excellent radio data. This adds a new tool that can routinely be used to uncover the physics of galaxies, opening wide the radio window on the universe.

    Fourth, having such large volumes of data changes the way we do science. For example, if I want to understand how the gravitational field of nearby galaxies bends light from distant galaxies, I currently find the best single example I can, and spend night after night on the telescope to study the process in detail.

    In future, I will be able to correlate the millions of background galaxies with the millions of foreground galaxies, using data downloaded from the web to understand the process in even greater detail.

    Fifth, and probably most importantly, history tells us that when we observe the universe in a new way, we tend to stumble across new objects or new phenomena that we didn’t even suspect were there. Pulsars, quasars, dark energy and dark matter were all found in this way.

    4
    Radio astronomy may reveal more about the supermassive black hole, typically found at the heart of many galaxies. ESO/L. Calçada/Artists impression, CC BY.

    New discoveries

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    See the full article here .

    [All of this is happening while in the U.S. the NSF is seeking to defund Radio Astronomy. They have already dropped the Greenbank Observatory which has some protection in a $2 million/yr 5 year contract with Uri Milner’s Breakthrough Listen project

    Breakthrough Listen Project

    1

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA



    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA


    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

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

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:21 am on September 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Radio Astronomy, SKA - A Primer   

    From CSIRO: “CSIRO and the Square Kilometre Array” a Primer 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    25 August 2017

    The Square Kilometre Array is a global science and engineering project to build the world’s largest radio telescope, and we’re helping to design it.

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    We’ve been involved in the Square Kilometre Array since its inception. Now, we’re working in partnership with industry, science organisations and governments both locally and internationally to design it.

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    An artist’s impression of the Square Kilometre Array’s antennas in Australia. ©SKA Organisation

    SKA one telescope image, South Africa

    What is the Square Kilometre Array?

    The Square Kilometre Array, or SKA, is a next-generation radio telescope that will be vastly more sensitive than the best present-day instruments. It will give astronomers remarkable insights into the formation of the early Universe, including the emergence of the first stars, galaxies and other structures.

    Consisting of thousands of antennas linked together by high bandwidth optical fibre, the SKA will require new technologies and progress in fundamental engineering. The telescope’s design and development is being led by the international SKA Organisation, a not-for-profit company that has its headquarters in Manchester, UK.

    In May 2012, the SKA Organisation announced that the SKA will be located across two main sites: the CSIRO-run Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory and surrounding Australian Radio-Quiet Zone (WA), and southern Africa.

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    CSIRO’s ASKAP antennas at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, March 2013. Neal Pritchard

    3
    Murchison Widefield Array, led by Curtin University

    SKA South Africa

    Developing new technologies for ASKAP

    We’re developing the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, or ASKAP, radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory. As well as carrying out cutting-edge science in its own right, ASKAP is allowing us to test new technologies for the SKA.

    Designing the future of radio astronomy

    We’re playing a key role in designing the SKA through several research and development consortia:

    We lead the largest consortium, SKA Dish Array, which is responsible for designing the SKA antenna dishes and receivers, and the development of specialised receivers called phased array feeds.
    We also lead the Infrastructure Australia Consortium, which is in charge of designing and costing critical SKA infrastructure at the Australian SKA site.
    We are a key partner in the Assembly, Integration and Verification Consortium, and involved in several other SKA consortia.

    Collaborating for the SKA

    Australia is one of 10 SKA Organisation member countries. Along with the Australian, New Zealand, and Western Australian Governments, CSIRO is a principal partner in Australia’s involvement in the SKA. We’re also working closely with industry to provide innovative, cost-effective solutions for both ASKAP and the SKA.

    We acknowledge the Wajarri Yamatji as the traditional owners of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory site.

    See the full article here .

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    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:14 am on August 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Radio Astronomy,   

    From astrobites: “Students on the Hunt for Black Holes” 

    Astrobites bloc

    Astrobites

    Aug 22, 2017
    Ana Torres Campos
    Crossposts, Personal Experiences

    Inside the Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano (LMT), at an altitude of 4500 meters above sea level, Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now can be heard in the background while a group of people cheer and shake hands after successfully concluding an observation run for one of the most important astronomical projects in the last years: The Event Horizon Telescope (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

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

    Future Array/Telescopes

    Plateau de Bure interferometer
    Plateau de Bure interferometer

    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL
    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL

    This project aims to obtain, for the first time ever, the image of the projected shadow of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, as well as the one in Messier 87.

    SGR A* NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory

    1
    Messier 87, sources of images posted in graphic.

    In this post I share my personal experience as a guest of the team responsible for the observations of the EHT that were taken with the LMT in April of this year.

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    Figure 1 The LMT control room onApril 11th, 2017 at the end of the EHT 2017 observing run. Left to right: Antonio Hernández, Sergio Dzib, Emir Moreno, Edgar Castillo, Gopal Narayanan, Katie Bouman and Sandra Bustamante. Credit: Ana Torres Campos.

    Why should you care about the Event Horizon Telescope?
    The New York Times and National Geographic, among others, have written articles about the EHT, so don’t be surprised if one of these days your relatives or friends ask you about the project. Its greatness lies in not only being the first opportunity to observe an unknown event, or proving Einstein’s general relativity at never- imagined scales, but in demonstrating that, in times of discord, a close collaboration among a large number of nations is essential for scientific advancement.

    The Event Horizon Telescope is a network of eight [with ALMA it is now nine] millimeter-wave radio observatories located on four continents and representing over 20 nations. These observatories work together as a single Earth-sized telescope using the Very Large Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) technique. One of these facilities is the LMT, a 32-meter single-dish millimeter-wavelength telescope led by the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE, Mexico) and the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass, U.S.A.). Each night, the LMT synchronized (with a precision higher than 10-12 seconds) with the other telescopes using a hydrogen maser and recorded approximately 30 Terabytes of data which were stored in Mark 6 data systems developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Haystack Observatory.

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    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Haystack Observatory.

    The observing run at the LMT

    The observing run was set to begin on April 4 with a 10-day window to accomplish five observing sessions. Some of the EHT team members got to the telescope site days before to check on the instruments (a 1.3-mm receiver, the backend system and the hydrogen maser) and get acclimated to the high altitude and time change (since the observations were to be performed at night time). My adventure began on May 31 when I met the EHT-LMT observing team, led by Dr. Gopal Narayanan (UMass researcher and the developer of the 1.3-mm receiver). I was really surprised that the crew consisted mainly of PhD students; Sandy, Aleks, and Michael are in their first years and Katie is a Computer Science PhD candidate. The first thing that came to mind was: how come young students are in charge of such an important task?! I got the answer to my question after spending a few days with them. Not only they are outstandingly capable but also they know how to work as a team.

    Since the observing sessions were to be ~17 hours long, the team split into two groups: Group 1 (David, Lindy, Aleks and Michael) began the observing session at 5:30 pm and ended at 2 am, and Group 2 (Edgar,Gopal, Katie and Sandy) started to observe at 1 am and finished at 10 am. This schedule allowed all of the team members to sleep for at least 6 hours, join with the Command Center (and the other observatories) at the 2:30 pm video conference for the go/no-go decision (given the weather conditions at the different sites), and having a one hour overlap in between observing groups’ shifts.

    5
    (Top) Left to Right: the 1.3-mm receiver, Sandra Bustamante, Aleksandar Popstefanija and Gopal Narayanan. (Bottom-Left) Sergio Dzib, Antonio Hernández and Gopal Narayanan, at the back stands the backend system with the Mark 6. (Bottom-Right) Gopal Narayanan checking the hydrogen maser.

    Both groups had an expert telescope operator (Edgar or David), but in one group was the backend system expert (Lindy) while in the other was the receiver expert (Gopal). This made the students a little nervous at first because if any problem arose then they would have had to face it alone before calling the expert (whom would very likely be sleeping at Base Camp).

    The first target of the observing run was a binary black hole called OJ 287.

    6
    http://www.as.up.krakow.pl/sz/oj287.html

    This object is scientifically interesting all on its own, but because it is a deeply studied object, it will instead be used to calibrate the observations of the project’s primary observing targets. These are Sagittarius A* (Sgt A*), the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, and the supermassive black hole in M87, the most important object of the first night since Sgt A* observations were planned for the following days.

    This object is scientifically interesting all on its own, but because it is a deeply studied object, it will instead be used to calibrate the observations of the project’s primary observing targets. These are Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, and the supermassive black hole in Messier 87, the most important object of the first night since Sgr A* observations were planned for the following days.

    7
    (Left) Members of the EHT project infront of the LMT. From left to right: Aleksandar Popstefanija, Michael Janssen, Sandra Bustamante, Lindy Blackburn, Katie Bouman, Gopal Narayanan and Edgar Castillo. (Middle) Lindy explains the data recording instructions to the students. (Right) Telescope operators David Sánchez and Edgar Castillo. Credit: Ana Torres Campos.

    Along with the observations came the uncomfortable situations that nobody talks about but that every observational astronomer has suffered from: power failure, difficulty to perfectly focus the telescope, and coffee shortage, the last one being the most stressful of them all. The good thing was that the exceptional skills of the telescope staff (including the operators) managed to quickly fix these inconveniences and halfway through the observing run reinforcement arrived: Antonio (a PhD student at IRyA/Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier) and Sergio (a postdoc at MPIFRA). Nevertheless, tiredness increased every day, but the 24-hour interactions among the team members helped them feel relaxed, increasing the moments of laughter and jokes.

    In my personal opinion, one of the keys to the EHT success is the excellent communication between the project team members, based not only on frequent videoconferences, emails and chats on Slack, but also a very well organized web or “wiki” where you can find the manuals of the instruments, tutorials on the observing run procedures, and even contact telephone numbers.

    What I learned from the EHT-LMT team
    1. An observing run will only be successful if the team works efficiently.
    2. It is necessary to be capable of occupying different roles on a team.
    3. Being assertive when listening and giving instructions will save you time.
    4. Relaxing and fun moments will improve the job performance of the team.
    Finally, I would like to thank Gopal, Katie, Michael, Sandy, Lindy, Aleks, David, Edgar, Antonio, Michael and Sergio for sharing with me such an incredible experience and to the LMT site and Base Camp crew for the outstanding job they do.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    What do we do?

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

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

     
  • richardmitnick 8:06 am on August 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Radio Astronomy,   

    From CSIRO blog: “Ernie Dingo visits our outback astronomy observatory – in his beloved backyard” 

    CSIRO bloc

    CSIRO blog

    22 August 2017
    Annabelle Young

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    1
    Mr Ernie Dingo and Ms Leonie Boddington, our Aboriginal Liaison Officer, under one of the ASKAP antennas at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory. No image credit.

    We searched far and wide for a place in Australia to build a world class radio astronomy observatory.

    The location had to be remote and far from man-made radio interference, to ensure quietness for these instruments to detect radio waves travelling from billions of light years away. It also needed to be somewhere relatively accessible for construction and observatory management.

    We found the perfect spot in the Murchison area of Western Australia, 700 kilometres northeast of Perth and in traditional Wajarri Yamatji country.

    It’s now home to our new Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope (ASKAP) and the Murchison Widefield Array telescope (MWA) led by Curtin University. It’s also a future site for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – the world’s largest and most ambitious international radio astronomy project ever realised.

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

    3
    ASKAP will capture radio images of the sky in more detail and faster than ever before. No image credit.

    4
    MWA, led by Curtin University

    Wajarri Yamatji Elder and Australian TV personality Ernie Dingo was passing by recently, so we invited him in for a tour and a chat about the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO), situated on his ancestral and beloved homeland.

    “This is where I come from, my home soil and I’m really glad the MRO is here to allow scientific visitors on Wajarri Yamatji ground. We are proud of our corner of the world, there are lots of secrets in the mid-west and it’s wonderful that this land has been adopted by scientists to unlock the secrets of the Universe.”

    Telescopes at the MRO will provide astronomers with the capability to answer fundamental questions about our Universe, such as the nature of cosmic magnetism and the evolution and formation of galaxies.

    Ernie is excited by the potential the facility brings to the local and global community; “It will inspire young people and further this part of the world. The antennas have a relatively small impact on the land, which is good from my point of view,” he said.

    Many partners have come together to create an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) for the MRO to operate, and to ensure educational, social and economic benefits flow to the Wajarri Yamatji.

    The ILUA includes a cadetship program that runs for the life of the telescopes and our staff visit the remote Pia Community School as part of a mentoring program. We’ve co-created resources on Wajarri culture and the MRO. A new ILUA for the SKA will expand on these benefits.

    ASKAP’s 36 individual dish antennas spread out across a six kilometre area. In contrast to the rustic colours of the Australian outback, they’re bright white but Ernie says they fit in the landscape, like part of the furniture!

    “This is wildflower country and they’re like beautiful giant white wildflowers growing up out of the earth”.

    4
    Lechenaultia macrantha or Wreath Flower found near the MRO.

    On his visit Ernie finds bushfood growing under the telescope and although he recognises the site is generally closed to visitors for radio quiet purposes.

    “I hope the scientists get a chance to stop and smell the flowers – there’s plenty of bush food out here and it’s the only place in the world where the wreath flower grows.”

    CSIRO acknowledges the Wajarri Yamatji as the traditional custodians of the MRO site and gratefully acknowledge the important role the Wajarri Yamatji have played in enabling Australia to secure the rights to co-host the SKA.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

    The CSIRO blog is designed to entertain, inform and inspire by generally digging around in the work being done by our terrific scientists, and leaving the techie speak and jargon for the experts.

    We aim to bring you stories from across the vast breadth and depth of our organisation: from the wild sea voyages of our Research Vessel Investigator to the mind-blowing astronomy of our Space teams, right through all the different ways our scientists solve national challenges in areas as diverse as Health, Farming, Tech, Manufacturing, Energy, Oceans, and our Environment.

    If you have any questions about anything you find on our blog, we’d love to hear from you. You can reach us at socialmedia@csiro.au.

    And if you’d like to find out more about us, our science, or how to work with us, head over to CSIRO.au

     
  • richardmitnick 7:48 pm on August 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Hairy stars’ may be roaming our galaxy, Radio Astronomy   

    From CSIRO blog: “‘Hairy stars’ may be roaming our galaxy” 

    CSIRO bloc

    CSIRO blog

    10th July 2017
    Helen Sim

    1
    The Helix Nebula, imaged with the European Southern Observatory’s VISTA telescope. ESO/VISTA/J. Emerson. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit.


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

    Astronomers working with our Compact Array telescope are beginning to suspect more and more stars of hiding a secret.

    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

    We hadn’t noticed until now, but these stars may be ‘hairy’ – surrounded by a ‘mane’ of gas tendrils.

    Astro-sleuth Mark Walker (Manly Astrophysics) and his team came to the some-stars-are-hairy idea after using the Compact Array to study radio waves from distant, powerful galactic bodies called quasars.

    Quasars emit radio waves, but by the time they reach us on Earth, they have different properties — dimming and brightening rapidly. It seems something in space is making quasars twinkle. Quasar twinkling was first seen 30 years ago but until now its cause was a mystery.

    Mark and the team were observing a quasar near a bright, hot star called Spica, which lies in the constellation Virgo, and saw that it, too twinkled.

    Looking back at two other cases of quasar twinkling, observed with the Compact Array and other telescopes, the team found that they too occurred near hot stars: Vega (in the constellation Lyra) and Alhakim (in the constellation Centaurus).

    1
    Credit: M. Walker (artwork), CSIRO (photo.)

    The chance of this happening at random is just one in ten million, the researchers say.

    So how are these hot stars linked to the quasars’ twinkling?

    By looking at the twinkling pattern, the astronomers were able to work out that the twinkling is caused by long, thin streams of gas radiating outward from the star.

    We already know one star that looks like this! It’s in the Helix Nebula, in the constellation Aquarius (as in the feature image).

    Here, a star is surrounded by globules of hydrogen gas, each about as big as our solar system. The ‘hair’ is created when UV radiation from the star blasts gas off the globules, creating long, thin streams.

    3
    Globules of hydrogen gas in the Helix Nebula, imaged with the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: C. R. O’Dell (Vanderbilt University), K. Handron (Rice University), NASA. Used with permission.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    While the star in the Helix is old, younger stars might have these streams too, the researchers say.

    Their findings have been published in The Astrophysical Journal.

    Find out how our Australia Telescope Compact Array telescope is used by astronomers to study the structure and evolution of our Universe.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

    The CSIRO blog is designed to entertain, inform and inspire by generally digging around in the work being done by our terrific scientists, and leaving the techie speak and jargon for the experts.

    We aim to bring you stories from across the vast breadth and depth of our organisation: from the wild sea voyages of our Research Vessel Investigator to the mind-blowing astronomy of our Space teams, right through all the different ways our scientists solve national challenges in areas as diverse as Health, Farming, Tech, Manufacturing, Energy, Oceans, and our Environment.

    If you have any questions about anything you find on our blog, we’d love to hear from you. You can reach us at socialmedia@csiro.au.

    And if you’d like to find out more about us, our science, or how to work with us, head over to CSIRO.au

     
  • richardmitnick 10:28 am on August 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Radio Astronomy, , When Satellites Confuse SETI   

    From METI: “When Satellites Confuse SETI” 

    1

    METI International

    8.2.17
    Morris Jones

    SETI astronomers sometimes pick up strange signals.

    SETI Institute

    They don’t look like the regular type of radio transmissions we get from stars and other natural things in space. When this happens, they pay attention. These signals could be transmissions from extraterrestrials.

    There are protocols for dealing with a potential extraterrestrial discovery. You perform follow-up observations of the same source, or the same area of space. You ask other observatories to perform their own observations. You also avoid saying too much in public until you know the real source of the signal.

    SETI observations have gone down this path many times, and in all cases, no evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence was found. Sometimes, signals have come from aircraft. But an increasing source of strange signals comes from our own fleet of satellites.

    Recently, the red dwarf star Ross 128 was the subject of one such incident.

    1
    Image from Aaron Hamilton. http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-article/491700c65734d

    Astronomers from the famous Arecibo radio telescope picked up weird transmissions from the directions of this star, even though they were not actively conducting a SETI search.

    NAIC/Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico, USA

    They alerted other astronomers and even published news of these investigations on a Web page. The media got hold of the story and published it. Much hype was made about the potential discovery, despite the fact that the astronomers had downplayed the likelihood of extraterrestrial involvement. But that doesn’t sound so juicy to journalists hunting for a big story.

    It was quickly shown that extraterrestrials were not beaming messages into space from Ross 128. But something else was certainly transmitting. The most likely cause, it seems, was a satellite orbiting the Earth. It just happened to be passing over the telescope’s field of view when these observations were taken.

    There’s a tremendous amount of artificial radio transmissions on Earth and in space. That’s how we sustain our information society. But the widespread use of radio waves causes problems for radio astronomers, SETI or otherwise. In the future, astronomers may need to go deeper into space, perhaps to the far side of the Moon, to escape the radio noise of Earth.

    That’s a luxury SETI astronomers can’t afford right now. All they can do is check any strange signals carefully, and accept that there will probably be more interference from satellites in the future.

    SETI/Allen Telescope Array situated at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, 290 miles (470 km) northeast of San Francisco, California, USA

    This also means that discipline needs to be practiced in reaching wild conclusions too quickly. Look before you leap. Check before you talk. In 2016, there was a torrent of publicity over a strange signal received by the RATAN-600 radio telescope, which was suspected of being an extraterrestrial transmission.

    2
    RATAN-600 (short for Radio Astronomical Telescope of the Academy of Sciences) is a radio telescope located near the village of Zelenchukskaya in the Caucasus Mountains, in Russia, at an altitude of 970 meters.

    Follow-up observations dispelled any chance of this, and it seems that once again, astronomers were tricked by a satellite. In this case, there was clearly too much talk before the signal had been properly investigated.

    These two incidents serve as lessons for SETI practitioners, the media and the public. Any strange signal detected by a SETI project is probably not from extraterrestrials. The most likely cause will probably be a satellite launched by humans from Earth. We all need to avoid leaping to wild conclusions without firm evidence. Getting that evidence takes time, and patience will be needed.

    We would all love to find evidence that humanity is not alone in the universe. It’s one of the most significant questions confronting science. But science shouldn’t run on emotions. It needs caution and deduction. SETI is mostly a well-run pursuit. But journalists and the public should still be cautious of any claims they encounter.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The primary objectives and purposes of METI International are to:

    Conduct scientific research and educational programs in Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

    Promote international cooperation and collaboration in METI, SETI, and astrobiology.

    Understand and communicate the societal implications and relevance of searching for life beyond Earth, even before detection of extraterrestrial life.

    Foster multidisciplinary research on the design and transmission of interstellar messages, building a global community of scholars from the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts.

    Research and communicate to the public the many factors that influence the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe, with a special emphasis on the last three terms of the Drake Equation: (1) the fraction of life-bearing worlds on which intelligence evolves, (2) the fraction of intelligence-bearing worlds with civilizations having the capacity and motivation for interstellar communication, and (3) the longevity of such civilizations.

    Offer programs to the public and to the scholarly community that foster increased awareness of the challenges facing our civilization’s longevity, while encouraging individual and community activities that support the sustainability of human culture on multigenerational timescales, which is essential for long-term METI and SETI research.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:49 pm on August 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Radio Astronomy, , ,   

    From Symmetry: “Tuning in for science” 

    Symmetry Mag

    Symmetry

    08/01/17
    By Mike Perricone

    1
    Square Kilometer Array

    The sprawling Square Kilometer Array radio telescope hunts signals from one of the quietest places on earth.

    SKA South Africa

    When you think of radios, you probably think of noise. But the primary requirement for building the world’s largest radio telescope is keeping things almost perfectly quiet.

    Radio signals are constantly streaming to Earth from a variety of sources in outer space. Radio telescopes are powerful instruments that can peer into the cosmos—through clouds and dust—to identify those signals, picking them up like a signal from a radio station. To do it, they need to be relatively free from interference emitted by cell phones, TVs, radios and their kin.

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

    That’s one reason the Square Kilometer Array is under construction in the Great Karoo, 400,000 square kilometers of arid, sparsely populated South African plain, along with a component in the Outback of Western Australia. The Great Karoo is also a prime location because of its high altitude—radio waves can be absorbed by atmospheric moisture at lower altitudes. SKA currently covers some 1320 square kilometers of the landscape.

    Even in the Great Karoo, scientists need careful filtering of environmental noise. Effects from different levels of radio frequency interference (RFI) can range from “blinding” to actually damaging the instruments. Through South Africa’s Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act, SKA is working toward “radio protection,” which would dedicate segments of the bandwidth for radio astronomy while accommodating other private and commercial RF service requirements in the region.

    “Interference affects observational data and makes it hard and expensive to remove or filter out the introduced noise,” says Bernard Duah Asabere, Chief Scientist of the Ghana team of the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (African VLBI Network, or AVN), one of the SKA collaboration groups in eight other African nations participating in the project.

    2
    The Ghanaian and South African governments on Thursday announced the combination of ‘first light’ science observations, which confirm the successful conversion of the Ghana communications antenna from a redundant telecoms instrument into a functioning Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) radio telescope.

    Ghana is the first partner country of the African Very Large Baseline Interferometer (VLBI) Network (AVN) to complete the conversion of a communications antenna into a functioning radio telescope.

    SKA “will tackle some of the fundamental questions of our time, ranging from the birth of the universe to the origins of life,” says SKA Director-General Philip Diamond. Among the targets: dark energy, Einstein’s theory of gravity and gravitational waves, and the prevalence of the molecular building blocks of life across the cosmos.

    SKA-South Africa can detect radio spectrum frequencies from 350 megahertz to 14 gigahertz. Its partner Australian component will observe the lower-frequency scale, from 50 to 350 megahertz. Visible light, for comparison, has frequencies ranging from 400 to 800 million megahertz. SKA scientists will process radiofrequency waves to form a picture of their source.

    A precursor instrument to SKA called MeerKat (named for the squirrel-sized critters indigenous to the area), is under construction in the Karoo.

    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA

    This array of 16 dishes in South Africa achieved first light on June 19, 2016. MeerKAT focused on 0.01 percent of the sky for 7.5 hours and saw 1300 galaxies—nearly double the number previously known in that segment of the cosmos.

    Since then, MeerKAT met another milestone with 32 integrated antennas. MeerKat will also reach its full array of 64 dishes early next year, making it one of the world’s premier radio telescopes. MeerKAT will eventually be integrated into SKA Phase 1, where an additional 133 dishes will be built. That will bring the total number of antennas for SKA Phase I in South Africa to 197 by 2023. So far, 32 dishes are fully integrated and are being commissioned for science operations.

    On completion of SKA 2 by 2030, the detection area of the receiver dishes will exceed 1 square kilometer, or about 11,000 square feet. Its huge size will make it 50 times more sensitive than any other radio telescope. It is expected to operate for 50 years.

    SKA is managed by a 10-nation consortium, including the UK, China, India and Australia as well as South Africa, and receives support from another 10 countries, including the US. The project is headquartered at Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK.

    The full SKA will use radio dishes across Africa and Australia, and collaboration members say it will have a farther reach and more detailed images than any existing radio telescope.

    Murchison Widefield Array,SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)

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

    In preparation for the SKA, South Africa and its partner countries developed AVN to establish a network of radiotelescopes across the African continent. One of its projects is the refurbishing of redundant 30-meter-class antennas, or building new ones across the partner countries, to operate as networked radio telescopes.

    4
    Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory in Gauteng.

    The first project of its kind is the AVN Ghana project, where an idle 32-meter diameter dish has been refurbished and revamped with a dual receiver system at 5 and 6.7 gigahertz central frequencies for use as a radio telescope. The dish was previously owned and operated by the government and the company Vodafone Ghana as a telecommunications facility. Now it will explore celestial objects such as extragalactic nebulae, pulsars and other RF sources in space, such as molecular clouds, called masers.

    Asabere’s group will be able to tap into areas of SKA’s enormous database (several supercomputers’ worth) over the Internet. So will groups in Botswana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia. SKA is also offering extensive outreach in participating countries and has already awarded 931 scholarships, fellowships and grants.

    Other efforts in Ghana include introducing astronomy in the school curricula, training students in astronomy and related technologies, doing outreach in schools and universities, receiving visiting students at the telescope site and hosting programs such as the West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers taking place this week.

    Asabere, who achieved his advanced degrees in Sweden (Chalmers University of Technology) and South Africa (University of Johannesburg), would like to see more students trained in Ghana, and would like get more researchers on board. He also hopes for the construction of the needed infrastructure, more local and foreign partnerships and strong governmental backing.

    “I would like the opportunity to practice my profession on my own soil,” he says.

    That day might not be far beyond the horizon. The Leverhulme-Royal Society Trust and Newton Fund in the UK are co-funding extensive human capital development programs in the SKA-AVN partner countries. A seven-member Ghanaian team, for example, has undergone training in South Africa and has been instructed in all aspects of the project, including the operation of the telescope.

    Several PhD students and one MSc student from Ghana have received SKA-SA grants to pursue further education in astronomy and engineering. The Royal Society has awarded funding in collaboration with Leeds University to train two PhDs and 60 young aspiring scientists in the field of astrophysics.

    Based on the success of the Leverhulme-Royal Society program, a joint UK-South Africa Newton Fund intervention (DARA—the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy) has since been initiated in other partner countries to grow high technology skills that could lead to broader economic development in Africa.

    As SKA seeks answers to complex questions over the next five decades, there should be plenty of opportunities for science throughout the Southern Hemisphere. Though it lives in one of the quietest places, SKA hopes to be heard loud and clear.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.


     
  • richardmitnick 7:40 am on July 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Astron, , , , , Lofar Ireland, Radio Astronomy   

    From Astron: “LOFAR Ireland officially launched” 

    ASTRON bloc

    Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy

    ASTRON LOFAR Map

    ASTRON LOFAR Radio Antenna Bank

    New antenna station further increases sensitivity of the world’s largest radio telescope

    On 27 July 2017, the newly built Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) station in Ireland will be officially opened.

    1
    Astron Lofar Ireland Section

    This extends the largest radio telescope in the world, connecting to its central core of antennas in the north of the Netherlands, now forming a network of two thousand kilometres across. Astronomers can now study the history of the universe in even more detail. The station will be opened by the Irish Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan.

    The international LOFAR telescope (ILT) is a European network of radio antennas, connected by a high-speed fibre optic network. With the data of thousands of antennas together, now including the Irish antennas, powerful computers create a virtual dish with a diameter of two thousand kilometres. The telescope thus gets has an even sharper and more sensitive vision.

    More detail

    Rene Vermeulen, Director of the ILT, is very excited about this new collaboration. “Thanks to the new LOFAR station in Ireland, we can observe the universe in even more detail. For example, we can look more closely at objects near and far, from our Sun to black holes, magnetic fields, and the emergence of galaxies in the early Universe. These are important areas of research for astronomers in the Netherlands and other ILT partner countries.”

    The Irish LOFAR team is led by Professor Peter Gallagher (Trinity College Dublin), an expert on Solar astrophysics. Vermeulen: “Studying the Sun, including solar flares, is an important branch of astronomical research. In this and other areas Irish researchers bring important reinforcement to our partnership.”

    Successful tests

    LOFAR was designed and built by ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. Earlier this month, a team from ASTRON conducted the final delivery tests of the Irish station on the Birr castle estate. The antennas, which conduct measurements at the lowest frequencies that can be observed from the earth, perform according to specification. The fibre optic network has already been successfully connected to the supercomputer in the computing centre in Groningen, which combines the data of the thousands of antennas.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASTRON-Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope
    Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT)

    ASTRON was founded in 1949, as the Foundation for Radio radiation from the Sun and Milky Way (SRZM). Its original charge was to develop and operate radio telescopes, the first being systems using surplus wartime radar dishes. The organisation has grown from twenty employees in the early 1960’s to about 180 staff members today.

     
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