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  • richardmitnick 8:32 pm on May 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Radio Astronomy   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Reveals the Cradles of Dense Cores: the Birthplace of Massive Stars” 

    ESO ALMA Array
    ALMA

    19 May 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

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

    A Taiwanese research team used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe a large molecular gas clump [1] named G33.92+0.11, where a cluster with massive stars is forming. The excellent imaging power of ALMA allowed to reveal with unprecedented detail, the fine structure of the molecular gas at the center of the region, where two surprisingly large molecular gas arms, with sizes of ~ 3.2 light years [2], appear to be spiraling around two massive molecular cores. These results showed that the large molecular arms are indeed the cradles of dense cores, which are current or future birthplaces of massive stars. This is a crucial step forward in the understanding of how mass distributes to form both massive cores and massive stars.

    How the gravitationally bound stellar clusters, for example, the young massive clusters (YMCs) and globular clusters (GCs) come to the existence, remains a fundamental problem in astrophysics. To form such complex systems, it is required that massive amounts of gas can be converted with little losses, into stars, before they start to disperse the gas by the action of their winds —the so called stellar feedback—, and such process is far from trivial. Current models propose that in order to quench the action of stellar feedback, the global collapse of the parent molecular cloud has to be very rapid.

    However, this global collapse of giant [3] molecular clouds (GMC) represents an observational challenge for astronomers, because they cannot measure distances along their line of sight (data is projected in two dimensions) and because it is near impossible to measure gas velocities in the transverse directions. Nevertheless, the amplified effects of the initial rotation (angular momentum) of the clouds may translate into the formation of massive molecular clumps that are supported by centrifugal forces at the center of the collapsing GMC.

    1
    Figure 1: An overview of a massive stellar cluster-forming molecular cloud from numerical hydrodynamical simulations (courtesy from James Dale [5]), and the context of the scale of the ALMA observations for the deeply embedded central few light-years region. Credit: ALMA(ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), H. B. Liu, J. Dale.

    The identification of rotating structures at scales larger than the cores, may serve as evidence of such an outcome of global collapse. Also, because the massive molecular clumps are the densest regions in a collapsing GMC, they are likely the sites where the most massive stars of stellar clusters can form. To resolve the details of the morphology and kinematics of these systems will be key to understand how mass distributes in the sites of star cluster formation, such that it can form both massive and not massive stars.

    A research team led by Hauyu Baobab Liu at the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA) observed with ALMA the luminous OB cluster-forming region G33.92+0.11, located at a distance of about 23.000 lightyears. This source is at a beginning phase of forming an OB association, which has a contained luminosity of 250 thousand times the luminosity of the Sun. Most of this light is provided by a few embedded massive stars. The research team used the archival Herschel 350 μm, which were combined with another 350 μm image from the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory(CSO) with a higher angular resolution.

    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
    CSO

    “The Herschel Space Telescope archive images provided a high quality map of the 350 μm thermal emission of the external dusty gas structures around G33.92+0.11.

    ESA Herschel
    ESA/Herschel

    We completed the missing small-scale pixels of this map with data from the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory. The final map revealed two molecular arms twisted in opposite directions, north and south of the cluster, converging at the central molecular clumps, indicating that perhaps the gas is being transported toward the central cluster along these spiral arms from distances as large as 20 light years,” says co-author Román-Zúñiga, from the Astronomy Institute of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

    2
    Figure 2: The central part of the OB cluster-forming region G33.92+0.11, observed by ALMA. Left: Dust continuum image taken at 1.3 mm. Right: False color image showing the integrated emission of three molecules: CH3CN in yellow, 13CS in green, and DCN in magenta, respectively. The CH3CN emission mainly traces the hot molecular cores, which harbor massive stars. The 13CS emission traces warm dense gas and shocks. The DCN emission appears to follow the bulk of dense gas traced by the dust continuum emission. Credit: ALMA(ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), H. B. Liu et al.

    The unprecedented high angular resolution and high imaging fidelity of ALMA allowed the astronomers to reveal in G33.92+0.11 A two centrally located massive molecular cores (~100-300 solar masses), connected by several spiraling dense molecular gas arms. This kind of morphology resembles the previous ALMA images of molecular gas arms surrounding the low-mass protostellar binary L1551 NE [4], however, but linearly scaled-up by a factor between 100 and 1000 (Figure 1). In addition, the observed gas arms in G33.92+0.11 A appear to be fragmenting, which results in the formation of multiple satellite cores orbiting the central two highest mass cores. Comparing the simultaneously observed molecular gas tracers including CH3CN, 13CS, and DCN shows that the gas excitation conditions in these molecular arms and cores far from being uniform across the system (Figure 2). For instance, the two highest mass cores at the center already harbor massive stars and present bright CH3CN emission. The molecular arms embedded with satellite cores in the north may be relatively cool, indicated by the good correlation between the DCN line and the 1.3 mm dust continuum emission. Finally the molecular arms connecting the central massive molecular cores from the west may contain gas that is shocked to a higher temperature or are subject to stellar heating and show stronger 13CS emission.

    This team propose that the central ~1 pc scale region of G33.92+0.11 A is a flattened, massive molecular clump that is currently accreting material, which is being fed by the exterior gas filaments, and is marginally supported by centrifugal forces. At all spatial scales, the regions of higher density, that contain larger amounts of mass, form at the center of the system. Accretion may be prohibited by the angular momentum, but might be alleviated by fragmentation. The authors further propose that in the dense eccentric accretion flows, the formation of spiraling arm-like structures may be essential to the process. The subsequent fragmentation of the dense molecular arms may lead to the formation of the second generation high-mass stars.

    “Gas structures similar to spiral arms should be common in many systems at many different scales, as long as they are unstable to gravity and have non-negligible rotation. The superb images made with ALMA are starting to show this,” says co-author Galván-Madrid.

    Notes

    [1] In our nomenclature, massive molecular clumps refer to dense molecular gas structures with sizes of ∼0.5-1 pc, massive molecular cores refer to the <0.1 pc size overdensities embedded within a clump, and condensations refer to the distinct molecular substructures within a core. Fragmentation refers to the dynamical process that produces or enhances the formation of multiple objects.

    [2] 1 parsec (pc) ~ 3.2 light years ~ 3.086×1016 meters.

    [3] The typical spatial scales of stellar cluster-forming molecular clouds are 101-2 pc.

    [4] More in the press release Dec 04, 2014: Astronomers Identify Gas Spirals as a Nursery of Twin Stars through ALMA Observation

    [5] For details, please see Dale, J. E., Ngoumou, J., Ercolano, B., Bonnell, I. A., 2014, MNRAS, 442, 694

    More information

    These observational results were published in the Astrophysical Journal (ApJ, 804, 37) by Liu et al. as ALMA resolves the spiraling accretion flow in the luminous OB cluster forming region G33.92+0.11.

    This research was conducted by Hauyu Baobab Liu (Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics); Roberto Galván-Madrid (Centro de Radioastronomía y Astrofísica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México); Izaskun Jiménez-Serra (Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College London and European Southern Observatory, Garching Germany); Carlos Román-Zúñiga (Instituto de Astronomía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México); Qizhou Zhang (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics); Zhiyun Li (Department of Astronomy, University of Virginia); Huei-Ru Chen (Institute of Astronomy and Department of Physics, National Tsing Hua University).

    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.

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  • richardmitnick 8:42 pm on May 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Radio Astronomy   

    From JPL: “Astronomers Take a New Kind of Pulse From the Sky” 

    JPL

    May 11, 2015
    Media Contact
    Whitney Clavin
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-4673
    whitney.clavin@jpl.nasa.gov

    Fast Facts:

    › Enormous telescope array produces videos of flickering, flashing night sky

    › Produces 5,000 DVDs worth of data every day

    Every night, our sky beats with the pulses of radio light waves, most of which go unseen. A new array of radio antennas in California, called the Owens Valley Long Wavelength Array, is gearing up to catch some of this action, aiming to pick up signals from flaring stars, flashing planets and potentially even more exotic objects.

    The array has already produced a new video of the radio sky, showing how it flickers and morphs over 24 hours.

    “Our new telescope lets us see the entire sky all at once, and we can image everything instantaneously,” said Gregg Hallinan, an assistant professor of astronomy at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and the principal investigator of the Owens Valley Long Wavelength Array.

    One of the key goals of the project is to monitor extrasolar space weather — the interaction between nearby stars and their orbiting planets. Our sun flares with radiation and hurtles particles and magnetic fields outward. Spectacular light displays, or auroras, are produced on the planets in our solar system when those particles interact with chemical elements in the planets’ atmospheres. The same is true for stars beyond our sun, and, if those stars have planets, they too would, in theory, have auroras.

    Measurements of these interactions in other star systems could reveal new information about the strength of planets’ magnetic fields — and thus their potential for harboring life. Magnetic fields were a critical factor in the development of life on Earth, offering protection from dangerous radiation and particles.

    The radio antennas, which combine to form a powerful radio telescope, are based at Caltech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory, near Big Pine, California. Other partners include: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California; Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, headquartered in Washington.

    NASA JPL Owens Valley Low Frequency Radio Observatory
    JPL Caltech Owens Valley Low Frequency Radio Observatory

    The array’s station consists of 250 low-cost antennas, each about 3 feet (1 meter) in size, spread out in the Owens Valley. Future plans include thousands of additional antennas; the more antennas in the array, the greater the image sensitivity. The small size of the antennas has benefits as well, leading to a huge field of view in the same way that binoculars can see a large patch of sky. The array covers the entire viewable sky all at once.

    “Just as the antenna of your car radio can detect local radio stations no matter where they are around the car, these antennas can detect signals anywhere in the sky,” said Joseph Lazio, an astronomer on the project from JPL.

    The Owens Valley Long Wavelength Array might also be able to gather traces of radio light from the very first stars and galaxies.

    “The biggest challenge is that this weak radiation from the early universe is obscured by the radio emission from our own Milky Way galaxy, which is about a million times brighter than the signal itself, so you have to have very carefully calibrated data to see it,” said Hallinan. “That’s one of the primary goals of our collaboration — to try to get the first statistical measure of that weak signal from our cosmic dawn.”

    Lazio said the array will help in the design of future space missions. Some radio wavelengths are blocked or reflected off Earth’s atmosphere, but in space the whole radio spectrum can be observed.

    “Ultimately, we will likely need to construct a similar array of simple antennas and put it in space, or on the moon,” he said.

    One challenge of a project like this is managing the deluge of data. The array produces more than 5,000 DVDs worth of data every day. A supercomputer developed by a group led by Lincoln Greenhill of Harvard University for the National Science Foundation-funded Large-Aperture Experiment to Detect the Dark Ages delivers this torrent of data. It uses graphics processing units similar to those used in modern computer games to combine signals from all the antennas in real time. These combined signals are then sent to a second computer cluster, the All-Sky Transient Monitor, developed at Caltech and JPL, which produces all-sky images in real-time.

    The project is funded by Caltech, JPL, NASA and the National Science Foundation.

    A more detailed feature story about the project from Caltech is online at:

    http://www.caltech.edu/news/powerful-new-radio-telescope-array-searches-entire-sky-247-46754

    More information on the Long Wavelength Array is also online at:

    http://lwa.unm.edu

    See the full article here.

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 9:05 am on April 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From SKA: “World’s largest radio telescope has a permanent home for its headquarters” 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA

    April 29, 2015
    William Garnier
    SKA Organisation Communications and Outreach Manager
    Email: w.garnier@skatelescope.org
    Mob.: +44 7814 908932

    At their meeting yesterday Wednesday 29 April, the Members of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation decided that negotiations should start with the UK government to locate the permanent headquarters of the SKA project in the UK, at the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank site.

    Jodrell Bank houses the headquarters of the multinational SKA project for the current pre-construction phase. These premises will eventually be expanded to support the project as it transitions into the construction phase.

    “I am delighted that a permanent home for the SKA headquarters has been identified”, said Professor Philip Diamond, Director General of the SKA Organisation. “Clarity over the location of the headquarters is an important step for SKA, ahead of international negotiations to form an inter-governmental organisation and the beginning of construction in 2018.”

    The process for selecting the permanent headquarters began in 2014 when, following an agreed plan, Members were invited to submit bids. Two bids were received, from Italy and the United Kingdom, both of which were judged to be excellent and both suitable for the project’s needs. After thorough consideration, the Members of the SKA Organisation expressed their preference for the United Kingdom’s Jodrell Bank site as the future home for the SKA headquarters, thanks to the strong package offered by the UK government.

    The UK plan, backed by the UK government via the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the University of Manchester and Cheshire East Council, as well as Oxford and Cambridge Universities, envisages designing and constructing a unique campus for one of the most inspirational science projects of the 21st Century. The headquarters will be constructed to meet the needs of the SKA project and there is space to grow if the project requires it in the future.

    Members thanked the Italian government for submitting such a compelling bid, which demonstrates the very high profile the project has acquired in Italy. The SKA Director General and the SKA Board will work with Italian representatives to ensure that the high visibility and political support for the project in Italy can continue to maximise Italy’s engagement in the project.

    “Italy has been a key partner of the SKA since the early stages of the project”, said Professor Diamond. “I am confident they will maintain a high level of engagement on all fronts and I look forward to working with them as well as with all the other partner countries as we move into the next phase of the SKA.”

    See the full article here.

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    SKA CSIRO  Pathfinder Telescope
    SKA ASKAP Pathfinder Telescope

    SKA Meerkat telescope
    SKA Meerkat Telescope

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array
    SKA Murchison Wide Field Array

    About SKA

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

     
  • richardmitnick 2:12 pm on April 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From ALMA: “Launch of ChiVO, the first Chilean Virtual Observatory” 

    ESO ALMA Array
    ALMA

    24 April 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

    1

    After more than two years of work, today was launched the first Chilean Virtual Observatory (ChiVO), an astro-informatic platform for the administration and analysis of massive data coming from the observatories built across the country. Its implementation will provide advanced computing tools and research algorithms to the Chilean astronomical community.

    3
    The project designed to manage and analyze the almost 250 terabytes of data that the Atacama Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) will generate each year has joined the International Virtual Observatory Alliance, becoming a key initiative in Chile’s contribution to astroinformatics around the world.

    4

    “This project is a major contribution for Chilean astronomers -said Diego Mardones, an astronomer at Universidad de Chile- because besides being an excellent tool for exploring the huge quantity of astronomical data that will be generated in our country in the coming years, it opens new opportunities of interdisciplinary research.”

    2
    ChiVO main team. Left to right: Paulina Troncoso, Astronomer; Ricardo Contreras, U. of Concepción; Jorge Ibsen, ALMA; Mauricio Solar, ChiVO’s director, U. Técnica Federico Santa María (UFSM); Paola Arellano, REUNA; Victor Parada, U. of Santiago; Marcelo Mendoza, ChiVO’s alternate director, UFSM; Diego Mardones, U. of Chile; Mauricio Araya, UFSM; María; Guillermo Cabrera, U. of Chile.

    The project led by Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María (UTFSM) is a successful collaboration with four other universities in Chile (Universidad de Chile, Universidad Católica, Universidad de Concepción y Universidad de Santiago) and was funded by FONDEF, the Chilean Scientific and Technological Development Fund. Furthermore, both the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and REUNA, the National Universities Network, are associated to the project. Thanks to ChiVO, Chile will become a member of the International Virtual Observatories Alliance (IVOA) and it will be accessible for all astronomers making their research in the country through its website http://www.chivo.cl.

    For the project’s director, Mauricio Solar, “this innovation will allow astronomical data to be processed in Chile using high-quality, local human capital and integrating Chilean astro-informatics with the international community at the highest levels of development.”

    With new telescopes being constructed in Chile, the amount of astronomical data generated will only increase. As an example, once ALMA is operating at full capacity, it will produce close to 250 terabytes of data each year. ChiVO will enable Chilean astronomers to access this data with high transfer rates, provide the infrastructure for high storage capacity and access the analysis of the data.

    “ChiVO and the services provided by it will be a key tool for the Chilean astronomical community, added Jorge Ibsen, director of ALMA’s Department of Computing. “ALMA is proud to be part of this project that will boost the usage of the astronomical data generated in the country.

    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.

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  • richardmitnick 12:37 pm on April 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon Web Services AstroCompute, , , Radio Astronomy,   

    From SKA: “Seeing stars through the Cloud” 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA

    SKA & Amazon Web Services team up to offer AstroCompute in the Cloud grant

    Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation is teaming up with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to use innovative cloud computing solutions to explore ever-increasing amounts of astronomy data in ways that were previously unimaginable. Located in Australia and Africa, the SKA will be the world’s largest radio telescope and is often considered to be the largest public science Big Data project, set to ultimately produce massive amounts of data – several times the global Internet traffic.

    28 April, 2015
    William Garnier
    SKA Organisation Communications and Outreach Manager
    w.garnier@skatelescope.org
    +44 7814 908932

    Today, SKA Organisation and AWS are launching the AstroCompute in the Cloud grant programme to accelerate the development of innovative tools and techniques for processing, storing and analysing the global astronomy community’s vast amounts of astronomic data in the cloud. Grant recipients will have access to credits for AWS cloud services over a two-year period and up to one petabyte (PB) of storage for data contributed by SKA partners, which AWS will make available as a public dataset. Anyone associated with or using radio astronomical telescopes or radio astronomical data resources around the world is welcome to apply.

    “With the SKA, we will be generating more data than the entire Internet traffic at any single time,” said Tim Cornwell, the SKA Organisation Architect and administrator of the grant. “So we’re looking into innovative cloud solutions to help us cope with never-before-seen volumes of data, using techniques that are yet to be invented.”

    “This is an exciting opportunity, not only for our partner institutions, but for all companies and research facilities around the world dealing with astronomy data,” said Professor Philip Diamond, SKA Organisation Director-General. “The call is to help us explore how cloud computing can help process the data deluge we are expecting in astronomy in the 21st century – and in particular with the SKA.”

    In its first phase of construction, SKA will include two game-changing telescopes, one consisting of more than one hundred thousand low frequency antennas, and one with about two hundred large dishes. Supercomputers will translate the enormous volume of raw data coming from the telescopes into a useable form for astronomers. With observations expected to run full-time, data will flow continuously and supercomputers will process it on the fly, transmitting useful data to an archive and deleting contaminated or otherwise unnecessary data in real time. To handle the data, and develop the know-how to process it, new smart algorithms and software will be required.

    “Through our Scientific Computing program, our grants and our public datasets, we’ve found that when researchers have access to the tools and data they need, they find innovative ways of solving big data challenges,” said Jamie Kinney, senior manager for scientific computing, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “The SKA is an ambitious project which presents an unprecedented opportunity to leverage a tremendous amount of data to explore the Universe.”

    Beyond the field of astronomy the development of cloud processing and data analysis and visualisation tools is certain to have major applications in everyday life. Supercomputing is increasingly used by pharmaceutical companies to design better drugs, by weather forecasting to refine predictions up to a week in advance, and by engineers to design smarter infrastructure.

    “There’s an increasingly strong link between fundamental research and computing, with all the potential spinoffs benefitting society that come with it,” said Tim Cornwell. “CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, realised very early they would face a challenge to distribute the amount of data from their experiments to physicists around the world. To solve it, they created the World Wide Web. SKA is the next step.”

    Statements from SKA partners

    Peter Quinn, Executive Director of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), Perth, Australia: “We’re pleased to see Amazon Web Services support the Square Kilometre Array project. ICRAR has been actively using AWS for several years to prototype data and processing systems for the SKA and to demonstrate the benefits of cloud technologies for radio astronomy. This is a great example of how the SKA and industry are working together to innovate in areas that will not only help science but also generate down-to-earth benefits for the global community.”

    Lewis Ball, Director of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, Marsfield, Australia: “The management of big data is now a challenge faced by researchers worldwide. For example, once fully operational, our ASKAP telescope (one of the SKA precursor telescopes) will generate about five petabytes of data per year. Big computing resources will support this vital scientific research, expand capabilities and enable exciting new discoveries – not only for astronomy but also other data-intensive investigations right across the scientific spectrum.”

    Justin Jonas, Associate Director at SKA South Africa: “The computing needs of the SKA and its pathfinder and precursor facilities present some problems that are unique to radio astronomy, but others are common with other Big Data and High Performance Computing applications. One of our current challenges is to identify the most appropriate compute platforms for these two classes of applications. Cloud computing is an attractive option that is already being used to good effect by MeerKAT (one of the SKA precursor telescopes) scientists, engineers and software developers. The AWS grant will allow us to fully explore the capabilities of cloud computing in the context of MeerKAT and SKA data processing and delivery. We foresee that students in our Human Capital Development Programme will also benefit from this grant, giving them first-hand experience in this cutting edge computing environment.”

    Mike Garrett, ASTRON Director, the Netherlands: “It makes sense for a globally distributed project like the SKA to be an early adopter of cloud technology. The cloud will impact every possible aspect of the project, from telescope maintenance and operations, to collaborative data sharing and the nature and process of scientific discovery itself.”

    Brian Glendenning, Head of the Data Management and Software Department at the NRAO: “The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is pleased that grants are available to all radio astronomy users, including users with NRAO data. NRAO has recently started a pilot project to configure and implement a supported instance of its radio interferometric data reduction software package (CASA) on AWS. NRAO will be able to assist (e.g., via providing supported CASA virtual machines with tuned parallelization parameters) the radio community as it makes the transition to this era of on-demand computing.”

    See the full article here.

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    About SKA

    SKA Pathfinder Radio Telescope
    SKA ASKAP Pathfinder

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array
    SKA Murchison Wide Field Array

    SKA Meerkat telescope
    SKA Meerkat Radio Telescope

    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 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

    1
    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.

    2
    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.

    ESO APEX
    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”).

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    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.

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    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
    NASA/Chandra

    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

    ALMA
    ASIAA
    Arizona Radio Observatory (U. of Arizona)
    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
    CARMA
    ESO
    Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
    Submillimeter Array
    University of Massachusetts – Amherst
    IRAM
    MIT Haystack Observatory
    MPIfR
    NAOJ
    NRAO
    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

    SKA

    q
    ZDNET

    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.

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    3

    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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    SKA Banner

    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” 

    NAOJ

    NAOJ

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

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    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
    Subaru

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    sft
    Solar Flare Telescope

    Nobeyama Radio Telescope - Copy
    Nobeyama Radio Observatory

    Nobeyama Solar Radio Telescope Array
    Nobeyama Radio Observatory: Solar

    Misuzawa Station Japan
    Mizusawa VERA Observatory

    NAOJ Okayama Astrophysical Observatory Telescope
    Okayama Astrophysical Observatory

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

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

     
  • richardmitnick 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

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    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
    Caltech

    03/30/2015
    Kathy Svitil

    1
    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

    NRAO GBT
    NRAO/GBT

    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.”
    Caltech buildings

     
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