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  • richardmitnick 11:24 am on April 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Event Horizon Telescope, , Radio Astronomy,   

    From U Arizona: “Virtual Telescope Expands to See Black Holes” 

    U Arizona bloc

    University of Arizona

    April 21, 2015
    Daniel Stolte

    The 10-meter South Pole Telescope, at the National Science Foundation’s Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, joined the global Event Horizon Telescope array in January. (Photo: Dan Marrone/UA)

    A team led by the UA has added Antarctica’s largest astronomical telescope to the Event Horizon Telescope — a virtual telescope as big as planet Earth — bringing the international EHT collaboration closer to taking detailed images of the very edge, or “event horizon,” of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

    The South Pole Telescope and the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment joined together in a “Very Long Baseline Interferometry” experiment for the first time in January. The two telescopes simultaneously observed two sources — the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, Sagittarius A*, and the black hole at the center of the distant galaxy Centaurus A — and combined their signals to synthesize a telescope 5,000 miles across. (Image: Dan Marrone/UA)

    Astronomers building an Earth-size virtual telescope capable of photographing the event horizon of the black hole at the center of our Milky Way have extended their instrument to the bottom of the Earth — the South Pole — thanks to recent efforts by a team led by Dan Marrone of the University of Arizona.

    Marrone, an assistant professor in the UA’s Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory, and several colleagues flew to the National Science Foundation’s Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in December to bring the South Pole Telescope, or SPT, into the largest virtual telescope ever built — the Event Horizon Telescope, or EHT. By combining telescopes across the Earth, the EHT will take the first detailed pictures of black holes.

    The EHT is an array of radio telescopes connected using a technique known as Very Long Baseline Interferometry, or VLBI. Larger telescopes can make sharper observations, and interferometry allows multiple telescopes to act like a single telescope as large as the separation — or “baseline” — between them.

    The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope sits atop the plateau of Chajnantor in the Chilean Andes, more than 16,000 feet high. The plane of our galaxy — the Milky Way — can be seen in the sky looking like a band of faint, glowing clouds. To the left of APEX is the central region of the Milky Way, where a supermassive black hole lurks at the core of our galaxy. (Photo: ESO/B. Tafreshi/TWAN/twanight.org)

    “Now that we’ve done VLBI with the SPT, the Event Horizon Telescope really does span the whole Earth, from the Submillimeter Telescope on Mount Graham in Arizona, to California, Hawaii, Chile, Mexico, Spain and the South Pole,” Marrone said. “The baselines to SPT give us two to three times more resolution than our past arrays, which is absolutely crucial to the goals of the EHT. To verify the existence of an event horizon, the ‘edge’ of a black hole, and more generally to test [Albert] Einstein’s theory of general relativity, we need a very detailed picture of a black hole. With the full EHT, we should be able to do this.”

    The prime EHT target is the Milky Way’s black hole, known as Sagittarius A* (pronounced “A-star”).

    Sagittarius A*

    Even though it is 4 million times more massive than the sun, it is tiny to the eyes of astronomers. Because it is smaller than Mercury’s orbit around the sun, yet almost 26,000 light-years away, studying its event horizon in detail is equivalent to standing in California and reading the date on a penny in New York.

    With its unprecedented resolution, more than 1,000 times better than the Hubble Space Telescope, the EHT will see swirling gas on its final plunge over the event horizon, never to regain contact with the rest of the universe.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    If the theory of general relativity is correct, the black hole itself will be invisible because not even light can escape its immense gravity.

    First postulated by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the existence of black holes has since been supported by decades’ worth of astronomical observations. Most if not all galaxies are now believed to harbor a supermassive black hole at their center, and smaller ones formed from dying stars should be scattered among their stars. The Milky Way is known to be home to about 25 smallish black holes ranging from five to 10 times the sun’s mass. But never has it been possible to directly observe and image one of these cosmic oddities.

    Weighing 280 tons and standing 75 feet tall, the SPT sits at an elevation of 9,300 feet on the polar plateau at Amundsen-Scott, which is located at the geographic South Pole. The University of Chicago built SPT with funding and logistical support from the NSF’s Division of Polar Programs. The division manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, which coordinates all U.S. research on the southernmost continent.

    The 10-meter SPT operates at millimeter wavelengths to make high-resolution images of cosmic microwave background radiation, the light left over from the Big Bang. Because of its location at the Earth’s axis and at high elevation where the polar air is largely free of water vapor, it can conduct long-term observations to explore some of the biggest questions in cosmology, such as the nature of dark energy and the process of inflation that is believed to have stretched the universe exponentially in a tiny fraction of the first second after the Big Bang.

    “We are thrilled that the SPT is part of the EHT,” said John Carlstrom, who leads the SPT collaboration. “The science, which addresses fundamental questions of space and time, is as exciting to us as peering back to the beginning of the universe.”

    To incorporate the SPT into the EHT, Marrone’s team constructed a special, single-pixel camera that can sense the microwaves hitting the telescope. The Academia Sinica Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan provided the atomic clock needed to precisely track the arrival time of the light. Comparing recordings made at telescopes all over the world allows the astronomers to synthesize the immense telescope. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Haystack Observatory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology provided equipment to record the microwaves at incredibly high speeds, generating nearly 200 terabytes per day.

    “To extend the EHT to the South Pole required improving our data capture systems to record data much more quickly than ever before,” said Laura Vertatschitsch of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. A new “digital back end,” developed by Vertatschitsch and colleagues, can process data four times faster than its predecessor, which doubles the sensitivity of each telescope.

    For their preliminary observations, Marrone’s team trained its instrument on two known black holes, Sagittarius A* in our galaxy, and another, located 10 million light-years away in a galaxy named Centaurus A.

    Centaurus A
    Colour composite image of Centaurus A, revealing the lobes and jets emanating from the active galaxy’s central black hole. This is a composite of images obtained with three instruments, operating at very different wavelengths. The 870-micron submillimetre data, from LABOCA on APEX, are shown in orange. X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory are shown in blue. Visible light data from the Wide Field Imager (WFI) on the MPG/ESO 2.2 m telescope located at La Silla, Chile, show the background stars and the galaxy’s characteristic dust lane in close to “true colour”.

    NASA Chandra Telescope

    ESO 2.2 meter telescope
    MPG/ESO 2.2 m telescope

    For this experiment, the SPT and the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment, or APEX, telescope in Chile observed together, despite being nearly 5,000 miles apart. These data constitute the highest- resolution observations ever made of Centaurus A (though the information from a single pair of telescopes cannot easily be converted to a picture).

    “VLBI is very technically challenging, and a whole system of components had to work perfectly at both SPT and APEX for us to detect our targets,” said Junhan Kim, a doctoral student at the UA who helped build and install the SPT EHT receiver. “Now that we know how to incorporate SPT, I cannot wait to see what we can learn from a telescope 10,000 miles across.”

    The next step will be to include the SPT in the annual EHT experiments that combine telescopes all over the world. Several new telescopes are prepared to join the EHT in the next year, meaning that the next experiment will be the largest both geographically and with regard to the number of telescopes involved. The expansion of the array is supported by the National Science Foundation Division of Astronomical Sciences through its new Mid-Scale Innovations Program, or MSIP.

    Shep Doeleman, who leads the EHT and the MSIP award, noted that “the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way’s center is always visible from the South Pole, so adding that station to the EHT is a major leap toward bringing an event horizon into focus.”

    This work was funded through NSF grants AST-1207752 to Marrone; AST-1207704 to Doeleman at MIT’s Haystack Observatory; and AST-1207730 to Carlstrom at the University of Chicago.

    An international research collaboration led by the University of Chicago manages the SPT. The NSF-funded Physics Frontier Center of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, the Kavli Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation provide partial support.

    The APEX telescope, located in Chile’s Atacama Desert, is a collaboration of the European Southern Observatory, the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy and the Onsala Space Observatory in Sweden.

    See the full article here.

    Collaborators in the EHT

    Arizona Radio Observatory (U. of Arizona)
    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
    Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
    Submillimeter Array
    University of Massachusetts – Amherst
    MIT Haystack Observatory
    NSF – The EHT project gratefully acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation
    Onsala Space Observatory
    Universidad de Concepción
    University of California – Berkeley (RAL)
    University of Chicago (South Pole Telescope)

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    U Arizona campus

    The University of Arizona (UA) is a place without limits-where teaching, research, service and innovation merge to improve lives in Arizona and beyond. We aren’t afraid to ask big questions, and find even better answers.

    In 1885, establishing Arizona’s first university in the middle of the Sonoran Desert was a bold move. But our founders were fearless, and we have never lost that spirit. To this day, we’re revolutionizing the fields of space sciences, optics, biosciences, medicine, arts and humanities, business, technology transfer and many others. Since it was founded, the UA has grown to cover more than 380 acres in central Tucson, a rich breeding ground for discovery.

    Where else in the world can you find an astronomical observatory mirror lab under a football stadium? An entire ecosystem under a glass dome? Visit our campus, just once, and you’ll quickly understand why the UA is a university unlike any other.

  • richardmitnick 9:29 am on April 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Radio Astronomy,   

    From SKA via ZDNET: “The computers that will help scientists step closer to the Big Bang” 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array



    March 20, 2015
    Nick Heath

    In the course of a day the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is expected to gather more data than passes across the internet.

    The SKA will be an array of 3,000 radio telescopes that will gather cosmic emissions in an attempt to see the universe a few hundred of million years after the Big Bang – farther back in time than any telescope has glimpsed.

    Handling the 14 exabytes of data that will be gathered by the dishes in South Africa and Australia will require processing power equal to several million of today’s fastest computers.

    A high-performance computing architecture with data transfer links that far exceed current state-of-the-art technology must be developed to gather, store and analyse the 13 billion year old data.

    To meet this computing challenge IBM and its partners at ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, are coming up with some novel machines, including what they claim is the world’s first water-cooled, 64-bit microserver.

    The prototype microserver, on show at the CeBIT technology fair in Hannover in Germany, is roughly the size of a smartphone, between four and 10 times smaller than traditional rack mounted servers.



    The researchers are planning to pack 128 of the microserver boards, using the newest T4240 chips, into a 2U rack unit with 1536 cores and 3072 threads, with up to 6TB of DRAM.

    The microservers have been developed under a €35.9m project called Dome, which is run by IBM and Astron to try to solve the exascale computing challenges posed by the SKA.

    When it goes live in 2024, the SKA will be the world’s most sensitive radio telescope, collecting a deluge of radio signals from deep space and storing one petabyte of data each day.

    “With the SKA we will be able to fill big gaps in our knowledge of the universe,” says Albert-Jan Boonstra, the scientific director of ASTRON.”We’ll be able to map the so-called ‘dark ages,’ the epoch of reionization, when the stars and galaxies formed.”

    See the full article here.

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    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.

  • richardmitnick 7:44 am on March 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Nobeyama Solar Radio Observatory, Radio Astronomy   

    From NAOJ: “Aerial Photo Showing the History of the Nobeyama Solar Radio Observatory” 



    Mar 31, 2015
    Text by: Susumu Kawashima (NAOJ Chile Observatory)
    Translation by: Ramsey Lundock (NAOJ)


    In fiscal year 2014, Nobeyama Solar Radio Observatory was removed from NAOJ’s organization. Borrowing Shinshu University Faculty of Agriculture’s Nobeyama highlands site, it constructed and improved radio instrument arrays dedicated to studying the Sun for over 40 years following the completion of the Solar Radio Interferometer in 1970. Operations continued every day without a break, offering the world continuous observational data. The Solar-Terrestrial Environment Laboratory, Nagoya University, with the support of an international consortium, will continue to operate the currently active Radioheliograph; and NAOJ will continue to operate the Radio Polarimeters.

    The Progression of Nobeyama’s Solar Radio Observation Instruments

    The first 160 MHz Solar Radio Interferometer observed radio waves originating from midlevel elevations in the corona extending around the Sun. It is composed of 11 antennas deployed east-to-west (longest baseline 2.3 kilometers) and 6 antennas deployed north-to-south. Four of the east-west antennas and 2 of the north-south antennas are pictured. (They have orange mounts and 6 m diameter silver mesh parabolic dishes.) The two 70-600 MHz Radiospectrographs, which use antennas of this same shape (6 m and 8 m diameters) to observe time dependent changes in the spectrum (radio intensity frequency distribution), stand in-between the east-west antennas. After those, in response to the scientific need to observe solar flares with higher spatial and time resolution, the correlator type 17 GHz Solar Radio Interferometer (14 antennas at the left edge of the picture, 1-dimensional east-west, 1.2 meter diameters) started operation in 1978, observing radio waves originating from the chromosphere and lower corona. There were many handmade pieces, but the performance was epoch-making. That experiment led to the construction of the radioheliograph (the T shaped array in the center of the picture, 84 antennas, 80 centimeter diameters) which started observations in 1992. In addition, you can see the 17 GHz, 35 GHz and 80 GHz Polarimeter antennas in the bottom part of the picture.

    See the full article here.

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

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

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope interior

    ALMA Array

    Solar Flare Telescope

    Nobeyama Radio Telescope - Copy
    Nobeyama Radio Observatory

    Nobeyama Solar Radio Telescope Array
    Nobeyama Radio Observatory: Solar

    Misuzawa Station Japan
    Mizusawa VERA Observatory

    NAOJ Okayama Astrophysical Observatory Telescope
    Okayama Astrophysical Observatory

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

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

  • richardmitnick 5:29 am on March 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Radio Astronomy   

    From ASTRON: “Candi2 – LOFAR Discovers a Pulsar in a Targeted Search of the 3C196 EOR Field” 

    ASTRON bloc

    Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy


    Submitter: Vlad Kondratiev, Ger de Bruyn, Jason Hessels, Vibor Jelic, Michiel Brentjens, Cees Bassa, and Vishambhar Pandey
    Description: PSR J0815+4611, or “Candi2″ is the 13th pulsar (a “baker’s dozen”) discovered with LOFAR, and it’s the first found in a targeted search.

    It was first identified by Ger de Bruyn in the deep EOR observations of the 3C196 field as a point source with very high polarisation fraction (∼50%) and steep spectrum (index < -2.5). It was named "Candi2" following after Ger's first "Candi" – the famous discovery of the 2.3-ms pulsar J0218+4232 detected in WSRT imaging data through its steep spectrum and high fractional polarisation (Navarro, de Bruyn, Frail et al. 1995, ApJ, 455, 55).

    We performed the follow-up 1-h HBA observation with the full core tied-array beam. We searched the dedispersed data for periodic and single-pulse signals and to our excitement we found the pulsar! It’s a long-period pulsar with the period P = 434 ms and dispersion measure of 11.28 pc/cm^3; the latter corresponds to a distance of only about 400 pc. From the beamformed data we derived a rotation measure of +3.35 rad/m^2, a high fraction of linear polarisation (>50%), a mean flux density of about 8 mJy, and a very steep spectral index of -2.6. These parameters all agree precisely with what was previously inferred from the EOR images. Thus, the pulsar must be Candi2!

    The left figure shows the polarimetric image at a Faraday depth of +3.5 rad/m^2 (uncorrected for ionosphere). Candi2 is in the middle with other diffuse features being from polarised Galactic foreground emission with a similar Faraday depth. On the right is the diagnostic plot from our pulsar search, showing the pulse profile (repeated twice) as a function of time and frequency.

    All the LOFAR pulsar discoveries so far can be found on the LOFAR Tied-Array All-Sky Survey (LOTAAS) web-page here.

    See the full article here.

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    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.

  • richardmitnick 2:02 pm on March 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NANOGrave, Radio Astronomy   

    From Caltech: “New NSF-Funded Physics Frontiers Center Expands Hunt for Gravitational Waves” 

    Caltech Logo

    Kathy Svitil

    Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time (represented by the green grid) produced by interacting supermassive black holes in distant galaxies. As these waves wash over the Milky Way, they cause minute yet measurable changes in the arrival times at Earth of the radio signals from pulsars, the Universe’s most stable natural clocks. These telltale changes can be detected by sensitive radio telescopes, like the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. Credit: David Champion

    The search for gravitational waves—elusive ripples in the fabric of space-time predicted to arise from extremely energetic and large-scale cosmic events such as the collisions of neutron stars and black holes—has expanded, thanks to a $14.5-million, five-year award from the National Science Foundation for the creation and operation of a multi-institution Physics Frontiers Center (PFC) called the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav).

    The NANOGrav PFC will be directed by Xavier Siemens, a physicist at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and the principal investigator for the project, and will fund the NANOGrav research activities of 55 scientists and students distributed across the 15-institution collaboration, including the work of four Caltech/JPL scientists—Senior Faculty Associate Curt Cutler; Visiting Associates Joseph Lazio and Michele Vallisneri; and Walid Majid, a visiting associate at Caltech and a JPL research scientist—as well as two new postdoctoral fellows at Caltech to be supported by the PFC funds. JPL is managed by Caltech for NASA.

    “Caltech has a long tradition of leadership in both the theoretical prediction of sources of gravitational waves and experimental searches for them,” says Sterl Phinney, professor of theoretical astrophysics and executive officer for astronomy in the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy. “This ranges from waves created during the inflation of the early universe, which have periods of billions of years; to waves from supermassive black hole binaries in the nuclei of galaxies, with periods of years; to a multitude of sources with periods of minutes to hours; to the final inspiraling of neutron stars and stellar mass black holes, which create gravitational waves with periods less than a tenth of a second.”

    The detection of the high-frequency gravitational waves created in this last set of events is a central goal of Advanced LIGO (the next-generation Laser Interferometry Gravitational-Wave Observatory), scheduled to begin operation later in 2015. LIGO and Advanced LIGO, funded by NSF, are comanaged by Caltech and MIT.

    “This new Physics Frontier Center is a significant boost to what has long been the dark horse in the exploration of the spectrum of gravitational waves: low-frequency gravitational waves,” Phinney says. These gravitational waves are predicted to have such a long wavelength—significantly larger than our solar system—that we cannot build a detector large enough to observe them. Fortunately, the universe itself has created its own detection tool, millisecond pulsars—the rapidly spinning, superdense remains of massive stars that have exploded as supernovas. These ultrastable stars appear to “tick” every time their beamed emissions sweep past Earth like a lighthouse beacon. Gravitational waves may be detected in the small but perceptible fluctuations—a few tens of nanoseconds over five or more years—they cause in the measured arrival times at Earth of radio pulses from these millisecond pulsars.

    NANOGrav makes use of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT), and will obtain other data from telescopes in Europe, Australia, and Canada. The team of researchers at Caltech will lead NANOGrav’s efforts to develop the approaches and algorithms for extracting the weak gravitational-wave signals from the minute changes in the arrival times of pulses from radio pulsars that are observed regularly by these instruments.

    Arecibo Observatory
    Arecibo Radio Observatory Telescope


    See the full article here.

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    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”
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  • richardmitnick 8:36 pm on March 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Radio Astronomy, ,   

    From U Wisconsin: “Automation offers big solution to big data in astronomy” 

    U Wisconsin

    University of Wisconsin

    March 24, 2015
    David Tenenbaum

    SKA Map

    It’s almost a rite of passage in physics and astronomy. Scientists spend years scrounging up money to build a fantastic new instrument. Then, when the long-awaited device finally approaches completion, the panic begins: How will they handle the torrent of data?

    That’s the situation now, at least, with the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), a radio telescope planned for Africa and Australia that will have an unprecedented ability to deliver data — lots of data points, with lots of details — on the location and properties of stars, galaxies and giant clouds of hydrogen gas.

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    In a study published in The Astronomical Journal, a team of scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has developed a new, faster approach to analyzing all that data.

    Hydrogen clouds may seem less flashy than other radio telescope targets, like exploding galaxies. But hydrogen is fundamental to understanding the cosmos, as it is the most common substance in existence and also the “stuff” of stars and galaxies.

    Hubble telescope image of stars forming inside a cloud of cold hydrogen gas and dust in the Carina Nebula, 7,500 light-years away.
    Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute

    As astronomers get ready for SKA, which is expected to be fully operational in the mid-2020s, “there are all these discussions about what we are going to do with the data,” says Robert Lindner, who performed the research as a postdoctoral fellow in astronomy and now works as a data scientist in the private sector. “We don’t have enough servers to store the data. We don’t even have enough electricity to power the servers. And nobody has a clear idea how to process this tidal wave of data so we can make sense out of it.”

    Lindner worked in the lab of Associate Professor Snežana Stanimirović, who studies how hydrogen clouds form and morph into stars, in turn shaping the evolution of galaxies like our own Milky Way.

    In many respects, the hydrogen data from SKA will resemble the vastly slower stream coming from existing radio telescopes. The smallest unit, or pixel, will store every bit of information about all hydrogen directly behind a tiny square in the sky. At first, it is not clear if that pixel registers one cloud of hydrogen or many — but answering that question is the basis for knowing the actual location of all that hydrogen.

    Robert Lindner

    People are visually oriented and talented in making this interpretation, but interpreting each pixel requires 20 to 30 minutes of concentration using the best existing models and software. So, Lindner asks, how will astronomers interpret hydrogen data from the millions of pixels that SKA will spew? “SKA is so much more sensitive than today’s radio telescopes, and so we are making it impossible to do what we have done in the past.”

    In the new study, Lindner and colleagues present a computational approach that solves the hydrogen location problem with just a second of computer time.

    For the study, UW-Madison postdoctoral fellow Carlos Vera-Ciro helped write software that could be trained to interpret the “how many clouds behind the pixel?” problem. The software ran on a high-capacity computer network at UW-Madison called HTCondor. And “graduate student Claire Murray was our ‘human,’” Lindner says. “She provided the hand-analysis for comparison.”

    Those comparisons showed that as the new system swallows SKA’s data deluge, it will be accurate enough to replace manual processing.

    Ultimately, the goal is to explore the formation of stars and galaxies, Lindner says. “We’re trying to understand the initial conditions of star formation — how, where, when do they start? How do you know a star is going to form here and not there?”

    To calculate the overall evolution of the universe, cosmologists rely on crude estimates of initial conditions, Lindner says. By correlating data on hydrogen clouds in the Milky Way with ongoing star formation, data from the new radio telescopes will support real numbers that can be entered into the cosmological models.

    “We are looking at the Milky Way, because that’s what we can study in the greatest detail,” Lindner says, “but when astronomers study extremely distant parts of the universe, they need to assume certain things about gas and star formation, and the Milky Way is the only place we can get good numbers on that.”

    With automated data processing, “suddenly we are not time-limited,” Lindner says. “Let’s take the whole survey from SKA. Even if each pixel is not quite as precise, maybe, as a human calculation, we can do a thousand or a million times more pixels, and so that averages out in our favor.”

    See the full article here.

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    In achievement and prestige, the University of Wisconsin–Madison has long been recognized as one of America’s great universities. A public, land-grant institution, UW–Madison offers a complete spectrum of liberal arts studies, professional programs and student activities. Spanning 936 acres along the southern shore of Lake Mendota, the campus is located in the city of Madison.

  • richardmitnick 5:26 am on March 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Radio Astronomy,   

    From ICRAR: “The world’s largest radio telescope takes a major step towards construction” 

    International Center for Radio Astronomy Research

    International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA Organisation HQ – Monday 9 March – At their meeting last week at the SKA Organisation Headquarters near Manchester, UK, the SKA Board of Directors unanimously agreed to move the world’s largest radio telescope forward to its final pre-construction phase. The design of the €650M first phase of the SKA (SKA1) is now defined, consisting of two complementary world-class instruments – one in Australia and one in South Africa – both expecting to deliver exciting and transformational science.

    Artist impression representing the first phase of the Square Kilometre Array at night, with its two instruments SKA1 LOW (in Australia, on the right) and SKA1 MID (in South Africa, on the left). SKA1 LOW will be made of some 130,000 dipole antennas and SKA1 MID of some 200 dishes, including 64 MeerKAT dishes. Also pictured on the images are the ASKAP dishes in Australia. Credit: SKAO

    “I was impressed by the strong support from the Board and the momentum to take the project forward”, said Professor Philip Diamond, Director General of the SKA Organisation. “The SKA will fundamentally change our understanding of the Universe. We are talking about a facility that will be many times better than anything else out there.”

    Presently in its design phase, the international project, currently consisting of 11 nations, has been engaged over the last 20 months in a rigorous and extremely challenging science-driven, engineering process with teams from around the world working to refine the design of SKA1.

    The SKA instruments will be located in two countries – South Africa and Australia. In the first phase of the project, South Africa will host about 200 parabolic antennas or dishes – similar to, but much larger than a standard domestic satellite dish – and Australia more than 100,000 ‘dipole’ antennas, which resemble domestic TV aerials.

    “Thanks to these two complementary instruments, we will address a broad range of exciting science, such as observing pulsars and black holes to detect the gravitational waves predicted by [Albert] Einstein, testing gravity, and looking for signatures of life in the galaxy”, said Professor Robert Braun, Science Director of the SKA Organisation. “We will also observe one of the last unexplored periods in the history of our Universe – the epoch of re-ionisation – looking back to the first billion years of the Universe at a time when the first stars and galaxies are forming.”

    The Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope, a precursor telescope already operating as a first-class instrument in its own right in Western Australia, will continue to provide world-leading survey capability which will complement the overall SKA programme.

    SKA Pathfinder Telescope
    Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope

    The SKA will incorporate a programme for the development of next-generation Phased Array Feeds (PAFs), a technology that greatly enhances the field of view of radio telescopes, allowing for observations of a larger portion of the sky in any given time. In South Africa, the MeerKAT telescope, another precursor to the SKA, will be integrated into the dish array.

    SKA MeerKAT Telescope Array
    MeerKAT telescope array

    Artist impression of SKA1 LOW in Australia. Credit: SKAO.

    “This will build on South Africa’s considerable investment in science and in particular radio astronomy, it’s something we can rightly be very proud of”, said Dr Phil Mjwara, Director General of the South African Department of Science and Technology. “Being involved in this exciting global science project spanning two continents alongside our Australian colleagues and colleagues from around the world is great for the country and for the African continent.”

    “The Australian astronomical community are delighted to be working with their colleagues from around the world in one of the most thrilling science endeavours of the 21st century”, said Professor Brian Boyle, Australia’s SKA Director. “This outcome recognises the confidence the global community has placed in the world-class observatory we have built in Western Australia and the leading-edge radio-astronomy technology Australia has developed for the pathfinder telescopes located there.”

    “The next step is to work with the SKA partner countries to develop an international Organisation before the start of the construction in 2018”, said Professor John Womersley, Chair of the SKA Board of Directors. “This incredible telescope has a design, it is within budget, construction is around the corner, it will drive technology development in the era of Big Data, and it is going to deliver Nobel prize-winning science. In short, it will have an invaluable impact on society like very few enterprises before it.”

    The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by the SKA Organisation from Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK. 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.

    The SKA is not a single telescope, but a collection of telescopes or instruments, called an array, to be spread over long distances. The SKA is to be constructed in two phases: Phase 1 (called SKA1) in South Africa and Australia; Phase 2 (called SKA2) expanding into other African countries, with the Australian component also being expanded.

    Already supported by 11 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – the Organisation has brought together some of 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.

    SKA Organisation:
    William Garnier
    Communications and Outreach Manager
    +44 7814908932

    SKA Australia:
    Jerry Skinner
    Manager, Program Planning and Stakeholder Management
    +61-2-6213 6298

    SKA South Africa:
    Lorenzo Raynard
    Science Communication Manager
    +27 71 4540658

    See the full article here.

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    ICRAR is an equal joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia with funding support from the State Government of Western Australia. The Centre’s headquarters are located at UWA, with research nodes at both UWA and the Curtin Institute for Radio Astronomy (CIRA).
    ICRAR has strong support from the government of Australia and is working closely with industry and the astronomy community, including CSIRO and the Australian Telescope National Facility, iVEC, and the international SKA Project Office (SPO), based in the UK.

    ICRAR is:

    Playing a key role in the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, the world’s biggest ground-based telescope array.

    SKA Square Kilometer Array
    Attracting some of the world’s leading researchers in radio astronomy, who will also contribute to national and international scientific and technical programs for SKA and ASKAP.
    Creating a collaborative environment for scientists and engineers to engage and work with industry to produce studies, prototypes and systems linked to the overall scientific success of the SKA, MWA and ASKAP.

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array
    A Small part of the Murchison Widefield Array

    Enhancing Australia’s position in the international SKA program by contributing to the development process for the SKA in scientific, technological and operational areas.
    Promoting scientific, technical, commercial and educational opportunities through public outreach, educational material, training students and collaborative developments with national and international educational organisations.
    Establishing and maintaining a pool of emerging and top-level scientists and technologists in the disciplines related to radio astronomy through appointments and training.
    Making world-class contributions to SKA science, with emphasis on the signature science themes associated with surveys for neutral hydrogen and variable (transient) radio sources.
    Making world-class contributions to SKA capability with respect to developments in the areas of Data Intensive Science and support for the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory.

  • richardmitnick 7:24 pm on March 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Infrared Astronomy, Radio Astronomy   

    From ESO And ALMA: “An Old-looking Galaxy in a Young Universe” 

    ESO ALMA Array

    European Southern Observatory

    ESO VLT Interferometer

    2 March 2015

    Valeria Foncea
    Education and Public Outreach Officer
    Joint ALMA Observatory
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56 2 467 6258
    Cell: +56 9 75871963
    Email: vfoncea@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

    Charles E. Blue
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
    Tel: +1 434 296 0314
    Cell: +1 434.242.9559
    E-mail: cblue@nrao.edu

    Darach Watson
    Niels Bohr Institute
    University of Copenhagen, Denmark
    Tel: +45 2480 3825
    Email: darach@dark-cosmology.dk

    Kirsten K. Knudsen
    Chalmers University of Technology
    Onsala, Sweden
    Tel: +46 31 772 5526
    Cell: +46 709 750 956
    Email: kirsten.knudsen@chalmers.se

    Richard Hook
    ESO education and Public Outreach Department
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org


    One of the most distant galaxies ever observed has provided astronomers with the first detection of dust in such a remote star-forming system and tantalising evidence for the rapid evolution of galaxies after the Big Bang. The new observations have used ALMA to pick up the faint glow from cold dust in the galaxy A1689-zD1 and used ESO’s Very Large Telescope to measure its distance.

    A team of astronomers, led by Darach Watson from the University of Copenhagen, used the Very Large Telescope’s X-shooter instrument along with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe one of the youngest and most remote galaxies ever found.

    ESO VLT X-shooter

    They were surprised to discover a far more evolved system than expected. It had a fraction of dust similar to a very mature galaxy, such as the Milky Way. Such dust is vital to life, because it helps form planets, complex molecules and normal stars.

    The target of their observations is called A1689-zD1 [1]. It is observable only by virtue of its brightness being amplified more than nine times by a gravitational lens in the form of the spectacular galaxy cluster, Abell 1689, which lies between the young galaxy and the Earth. Without the gravitational boost, the glow from this very faint galaxy would have been too weak to detect.

    We are seeing A1689-zD1 when the Universe was only about 700 million years old — five percent of its present age [2]. It is a relatively modest system — much less massive and luminous than many other objects that have been studied before at this stage in the early Universe and hence a more typical example of a galaxy at that time.


    A1689-zD1 is being observed as it was during the period of reionisation, when the earliest stars brought with them a cosmic dawn, illuminating for the first time an immense and transparent Universe and ending the extended stagnation of the [cosmic] Dark Ages. Expected to look like a newly formed system, the galaxy surprised the observers with its rich chemical complexity and abundance of interstellar dust.

    “After confirming the galaxy’s distance using the VLT,” said Darach Watson, “we realised it had previously been observed with ALMA. We didn’t expect to find much, but I can tell you we were all quite excited when we realised that not only had ALMA observed it, but that there was a clear detection. One of the main goals of the ALMA Observatory was to find galaxies in the early Universe from their cold gas and dust emissions — and here we had it!”

    This galaxy was a cosmic infant — but it proved to be precocious. At this age it would be expected to display a lack of heavier chemical elements — anything heavier than hydrogen and helium, defined in astronomy as metals. These are produced in the bellies of stars and scattered far and wide once the stars explode or otherwise perish. This process needs to be repeated for many stellar generations to produce a significant abundance of the heavier elements such as carbon, oxygen and nitrogen.

    Surprisingly, the galaxy A1689-zD1 seemed to be emitting a lot of radiation in the far infrared [3], indicating that it had already produced many of its stars and significant quantities of metals, and revealed that it not only contained dust, but had a dust-to-gas ratio that was similar to that of much more mature galaxies.

    “Although the exact origin of galactic dust remains obscure,” explains Darach Watson, “our findings indicate that its production occurs very rapidly, within only 500 million years of the beginning of star formation in the Universe — a very short cosmological time frame, given that most stars live for billions of years.”

    The findings suggest A1689-zD1 to have been consistently forming stars at a moderate rate since 560 million years after the Big Bang, or else to have passed through its period of extreme starburst very rapidly before entering a declining state of star formation.

    Prior to this result, there had been concerns among astronomers that such distant galaxies would not be detectable in this way, but A1689-zD1 was detected using only brief observations with ALMA.

    Kirsten Knudsen (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden), co-author of the paper, added, “This amazingly dusty galaxy seems to have been in a rush to make its first generations of stars. In the future, ALMA will be able to help us to find more galaxies like this, and learn just what makes them so keen to grow up.”

    [1] This galaxy was noticed earlier in the Hubble images, and suspected to be very distant, but the distance could not be confirmed at that time.

    [2] This corresponds to a redshift of 7.5.

    [3] This radiation is stretched by the expansion of the Universe into the millimetre wavelength range by the time it gets to Earth and hence can be detected with ALMA.
    More information

    This research was presented in a paper entitled A dusty, normal galaxy in the epoch of reionization by D. Watson et al., to appear online in the journal Nature on 2 March 2015.

    The team is composed of D. Watson (Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark), L. Christensen (University of Copenhagen), K. K. Knudsen (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden), J. Richard (CRAL, Observatoire de Lyon, Saint Genis Laval, France), A. Gallazzi (INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Firenze, Italy) and M. J. Michalowski (SUPA, Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, UK).

    See the full article here.

    Hubble’s results

    Abell 1689
    This new Hubble image shows galaxy cluster Abell 1689. It combines both visible and infrared data from Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) with a combined exposure time of over 34 hours (image on left over 13 hours, image on right over 20 hours) to reveal this patch of sky in greater and striking detail than in previous observations.

    This image is peppered with glowing golden clumps, bright stars, and distant, ethereal spiral galaxies. Material from some of these galaxies is being stripped away, giving the impression that the galaxy is dripping, or bleeding, into the surrounding space. Also visible are a number of electric blue streaks, circling and arcing around the fuzzy galaxies in the centre.
    These streaks are the telltale signs of a cosmic phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. Abell 1689 is so massive that it bends and warps the space around it, affecting how light from objects behind the cluster travels through space. These streaks are the distorted forms of galaxies that lie behind the cluster.
    Date 12 September 2013
    NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Blakeslee (NRC Herzberg Astrophysics Program, Dominion Astrophysical Observatory), and H. Ford (JHU)

    NASA Hubble Telescope

    NASA Hubble ACS
    Hubble’s ACS

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    ESO Main

    ESO, European Southern Observatory, builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.

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

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

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  • richardmitnick 8:31 am on February 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Radio Astronomy   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Revealed Calm Pockets Protecting Organic Molecules” 

    ESO ALMA Array

    Thursday, 26 February 2015
    Nicolás Lira
    Education and Public Outreach Assistant
    Joint ALMA Observatory
    Santiago, Chile
    Tel: +56 2 467 6519
    Cell: +56 9 9445 7726
    Email: nlira@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

    Charles E. Blue
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
    Tel: +1 434 296 0314
    Cell: +1 434.242.9559
    E-mail: cblue@nrao.edu

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

    The central part of the galaxy M77, also known as NGC 1068, observed by ALMA and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Yellow: cyanoacetylene (HC3N), Red: carbon monosulfide (CS), Blue: carbon monoxide (CO), which are observed with ALMA. While HC3N is abundant in the central part of the galaxy (CND), CO is mainly distributed in the starburst ring. CS is distributed both in the CND and the starburst ring. Credit: ALMA(ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), S. Takano et al., NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope

    NASA Hubble Telescope

    Researchers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered regions where certain organic molecules somehow endure the intense radiation near the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy NGC 1068, also known to amateur stargazers as M77.

    Hubble Space Telescope image of NGC 1068

    Such complex carbon-based molecules are thought to be easily obliterated by the strong X-rays and ultraviolet (UV) photons that permeate the environment surrounding supermassive black holes. The new ALMA data indicate, however, that pockets of calm exist even in this tumultuous region, most likely due to dense areas of dust and gas that shield molecules from otherwise lethal radiation.

    Molecules Reveal Clues to Galactic Environments

    Interstellar gas contains a wide variety of molecules and its chemical composition differs widely depending on the environment. For example, an active star forming region with a temperature higher than the surrounding environment stimulates the production of certain types of molecules by chemical reactions which are difficult to take place in a cold temperature region. This enables researchers to probe the environment (temperature and density) of a target region by studying the molecular chemical compositions in it. Since each molecule has its own frequency spectrum, we can identify the chemical composition and the environment of a remote target object through observations with a radio telescope.

    From this perspective, astronomers have been actively working on the starburst regions of galaxies [1] and the surrounding region of the active galactic nuclei (AGN) at the center of galaxies, called circumnuclear disk (CND) [2]. These regions are very important in understanding the evolution of galaxies, and radio observations of molecular emissions are essential to explore its mechanism and environment [3]. However, the weak radio emission from molecules often made the observations difficult and took many days for signal detection using conventional radio telescopes.

    ALMA Observations Trace Molecules

    A research team led by Shuro Takano at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and Taku Nakajima at Nagoya University observed the spiral galaxy M77 in the direction of the constellation of Cetus (the Whale) about 47 million light years away with ALMA. M77 is known to have an active galactic nucleus at its center which is surrounded by a starburst ring with a radius of 3500 light years.

    Since the research team had already conducted radio observations of various molecular emissions in this galaxy with the 45 meters telescope at the Nobeyama Radio Observatory of NAOJ, they aimed to develop their research further with ALMA’s extreme sensitivity, high-fidelity and ability to observe wideband in multiple wavelenght along with a high spatial resolution; and identify the difference in chemical composition between AGNs and starburst regions.

    NAOJ Nobeyama Radio Observatory
    Nobeyama Radio Observatory of NAOJ

    ALMA observations clearly revealed the distributions of nine types of molecules in the circumnuclear disk and in the starburst ring. “In this observation, we used only 16 antennas, which are about one-fourth of the complete number of ALMA antennas, but it was really surprising that we could get so many molecular distribution maps in less than two hours. We have never obtained such a quantity of maps in one observation,” says Takano, the leader of the research team.

    The results show that the molecular distribution varies according to the type of molecule. While carbon monoxide (CO) is distributed mainly in the starburst ring, five types of molecules, including complex organic molecules such as cyanoacetylene (HC3N) and acetonitrile (CH3CN) are concentrated in the circumnuclear disk. In addition, carbon monosulfide (CS) and methanol (CH3OH) are distributed both in the starburst ring and the circumnuclear disk. ALMA provided the first high resolution observation of the five types of molecules in M77 and revealed that they are concentrated in the circumnuclear disk.

    Shielding Complex Organics around a Black Hole

    The supermassive black hole devours surrounding materials by its strong gravity and generates such a hot disk around him that it emits intense X-rays or UV photons. When complex organic molecules are exposed to strong X-rays or UV photons, their multiple atomic bonds are broken and the molecules destroyed. This is why the circumnuclear disk was thought to be a very difficult environment for organic molecules to survive. ALMA observations, however, proved the contrary: Complex organic molecules are abundant in the circumnuclear disk.

    “It was quite unexpected that acetonitrile (CH3CN) and cyanoacetylene (HC3N), which have a large number of atoms, are concentrated in the circumnuclear disk,” said Nakajima.

    The research team assumes that organic molecules remain intact in the circumnuclear disk due to a large amount of gas, which act as a shield from X-rays and UV photons, while organic molecules cannot survive the exposure to the strong UV photons in the starburst region where the gas density is lower.

    The researchers point out that these results are a significant first step in understanding the structure, temperature, and density of gas surrounding the active black hole in M77. “We expect that future observations with wider bandwidth and higher resolution will show us the whole picture of our target object in further detail and achieve even more remarkable results,” says Takano.

    “ALMA has launched an entirely new era in astrochemistry,” said Eric Herbst of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and a member of the research team. “Detecting and tracing molecules throughout the cosmos enables us to learn so much more about otherwise hidden areas, like the regions surrounding the black hole in M77.”

    These observation results were published as Takano et al. Distributions of molecules in the circumnuclear disk and surrounding starburst ring in the Seyfert galaxy NGC 1068 observed with ALMA (in the astronomical journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan (PASJ), issued in July 2014) and as Nakajima et al. A Multi-Transition Study of Molecules toward NGC 1068 based on High-Resolution Imaging Observations with ALMA (in PASJ issued in February 2015).


    [1] In the Milky Way Galaxy which we live in, one sun-like star is generated per year on average, while several hundred sun-like stars are churned out each year in a starburst region.

    [2] It is believed that most of the galaxies have in their center a supermassive black hole of millions to hundreds of millions of solar mass. Among them, Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) represents a type of supermassive black hole which are gulping down surrounding gas very actively and emitting some amount of gas as high-speed gas flows (jets).

    [3] For example, a research team led by Takuma Izumi and Kotaro Kohno at the University of Tokyo, both of whom are engaged in this research, suggests that there is enhanced emission of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) from the supermassive black hole in the barred spiral galaxy NGC1097 by the past ALMA observations.

    Reference: October 24, 2013, Press release “Unique Chemical Composition Surrounding Supermassive Black Hole—A Step toward Development of New Black Hole Exploration Method”

    This research was conducted by: Shuro TAKANO (NAOJ Nobeyama Radio Observatory/SOKENDAI); Taku NAKAJIMA (Solar-Terrestrial Environment Laboratory, Nagoya University); Kotaro KOHNO (Institute of Astronomy, The University of Tokyo/Research Center for the Early Universe); Nanase HARADA (Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics [At the time of writing: Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy]); Eric HERBST (University of Virginia); Yoichi TAMURA (Institute of Astronomy, The University of Tokyo); Takuma IZUMI (Institute of Astronomy, The University of Tokyo); Akio TANIGUCHI (Institute of Astronomy, The University of Tokyo); Tomoka TOSAKI (Joetsu University of Educaction).

    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

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  • richardmitnick 5:07 am on February 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NASA Deep Space Network, Radio Astronomy   

    From CSIRO: “A new antenna for old friends: celebrating 55 years of AUS-US space communication” 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    February 26, 2015
    Nicholas Kachel

    NEW VISTAS: Deep Space Station 35 will operate for many decades. We can only begin to imagine what future discoveries it might make. Credit: Adam McGrath

    It’s been a momentous couple of days in the history of Australian space exploration. Just yesterday, the newest antenna in NASA’s Deep Space Network was officially commissioned at our Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, five years to the day from its original ground breaking ceremony.

    DAY OR NIGHT: Deep Space Station 35 will be operating 24/7 to help make discoveries in deep space.

    The new dish, Deep Space Station 35, incorporates the latest in Beam Waveguide technology: increasing its sensitivity and capacity for tracking, commanding and receiving data from spacecraft located billions of kilometres away across the Solar System.

    The Canberra Complex is one of three Deep Space Network stations capable of providing two-way radio contact with robotic deep space missions. The Complex’s sister stations are located in California and Spain. Together, the three stations provide around-the-clock contact with over 35 spacecraft exploring the solar system and beyond. You may remember this technology being utilised recently for the Rosetta and Philae comet landing; and for communicating with the ever so far-flung New Horizons spacecraft on its journey past Pluto.

    ESA Rosetta spacecraft

    NASA New Horizons spacecraft
    NASA/New Horizons

    “Does it get Channel Two?”

    As a vital communication station for these types of missions, the new antenna will make deep space communication for spacecraft and their Earth-bound support staff even easier.

    But don’t put away the space candles just yet. For today marks the 55 anniversary of the signing of the original space communication and tracking agreement signed between Australia and the United States, way back on the 26th February 1960.

    It is a partnership that has that has led to many historic firsts and breakthrough discoveries – the first flybys of Mercury and Venus, the vital communication link and television coverage of the first Moonwalk, robotic rover landings on (and amazing views from) the surface of Mars, the first ‘close-ups’ of the giant outer planets and first-time encounters with worlds such as Pluto.

    The first ever Moon landing: a momentous occasion, broadcast around the world thanks to the Australian-US partnership.

    o, we say welcome to the newest addition to the Deep Space Network and happy birthday to our space-relationship with the US. Here’s to another fifty five years of success!

    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.

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