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  • richardmitnick 3:29 pm on June 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALMA Discover Exciting Structures in a Young Protoplanetary Disk That Support Planet Formation, , , , , , Radio Astronomy   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Discover Exciting Structures in a Young Protoplanetary Disk That Support Planet Formation” 

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

    From ALMA

    20 June, 2018

    Ruobing Dong
    Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, USA
    Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
    +1 609 423 5625
    rbdong@gmail.com

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

    Masaaki Hiramatsu
    Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
    Observatory
, Tokyo – Japan
    +81 422 34 3630
    hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

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

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

    1
    ALMA image of the 0.87 mm continuum emission from the MWC 758 disk. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/Dong et al.

    Since early 2000, rich structures, including gaps and rings, dust clumps, and spiral arm-like features, have been discovered in a few tens of disks surrounding newborn stars. With the belief that planets are forming inside, astronomers named these disks protoplanetary disks.

    The origin of these structures is in hot debate among astronomers. In one scenario, they are thought to be produced by unseen planets forming inside and gravitationally interacting with the host disks, as planets open gaps, shepherd dust clumps, and excite spiral arms.

    Alternative ways to produce observed disk structures that do not invoke planets have also been raised. For examples, large central cavities may be the outcome of photoevaporation, as high energy radiations from the central star evaporate the inner disk. Also, under certain conditions shadows in disks may mimic the spiral arms seen in reflected light.

    The protoplanetary disk around a young star MWC 758 is located at 500 light years from us. In 2012, a pair of near symmetric giant spiral arms was discovered in reflected light. In dust thermal and molecular gas line emission at millimeter wavelengths, a big inner hole and two major dust clumps have been found, too.

    Now with the new ALMA image, the previously known cavity of MWC 758 is shown to be off-centered from the star with its shape well described by an ellipse with one focus on the star. Also, a millimeter dust emission feature corresponds nicely with one of the two spiral arms previously seen in reflected light. Both discoveries are the first among protoplanetary disks.

    “MWC 758 is a rare breed!”, says Sheng-Yuan Liu at ASIAA, co-author of this study, “All major types of disk structures have been found in this system. It reveals to us one of the most comprehensive suites of evidence of planet formation in all protoplanetary disks.”

    Previously in 2015, Dr. Dong and his collaborators proposed that the two arms in the MWC 758 disk can be explained as driven by a super-Jupiter planet just outside the disk.

    “Our new ALMA observations lend crucial support to planet-based origins for all the structures.”, says Dr. Takayuki Muto at Kogakuin University, Japan, co-author of this research, “For example, it’s exciting to see ellipses with one focus on the star. That’s Kepler’s first law! It’s pointing to a dynamical origin, possibly interacting with planets.”

    The off-centered cavity strongly, on the other hand, disfavors alternative explanations such as photoevaporation, which does not have an azimuthal dependence.

    2
    Various disk structures are marked. The green dotted contours mark the boundaries of the disk; the small circle at the center roughly marks the location of the star; the two green solid contours represent the extent of the two bright clumps; the solid, dotted and dashed white arcs trace out the inner, middle, and outer rings, respectively; and the arrow points out the spiral arm. The resolution (beam size, ~6.5 AU) of the image is labeled at the lower left corner. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/Dong et al.

    The fact that the south spiral branch is present in the millimeter emission tracing the dust rules that it’s a density arm. Other scenarios, such as shadows, which view the spiral arms as surface features, are not expected to reproduce the observations. The ultra-high resolution achieved in the new ALMA dataset also enables the detection of a slight offset between the arm locations in reflected light and in dust emission, which is consistent with models of planet-induced density wave.

    “These fantastic new details are only made possible thanks to the amazing angular resolution delivered by ALMA”, says co-author Eiji Akiyama at Hokkaido University, Japan, “We took full advantage of ALMA’s long baseline capabilities, and now the MWC 758 disk joins the elite club of ultra-high-resolution ALMA disks alongside only a handful of others.”

    Additional information

    This research was presented in a paper “The Eccentric Cavity, Triple Rings, Two-Armed Spirals, and Double Clumps of the MWC 758 Disk” by Dong et al. to appear in The Astrophysical Journal.

    The team is composed of Ruobing Dong (U. of Arizona, USA; ASIAA, Taiwan), Sheng-yuan Liu (ASIAA, Taiwan), Josh Eisner (University of Arizona, USA), Sean Andrews (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA), Jeffrey Fung (UC Berkeley, USA), Zhaohuan Zhu (UNLV, USA) Eugene Chiang (UC Berkeley, USA), Jun Hashimoto (Astrobiology Center, NINS, Japan), Hauyu Baobab Liu (European Southern Observatory, Germany), Simon Casassus (University of Chile, Chile), Thomas Esposito (UC Berkeley, USA), Yasuhiro Hasegawa (JPL/Caltech, USA), Takayuki Muto (Kogakuin University, Japan), Yaroslav Pavlyuchenkov (Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia), David Wilner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA), Eiji Akiyama (Hokkaido University, Japan), Motohide Tamura (The University of Tokyo; Astrobiology Center, NINS, Japan), and John Wisniewski (U. of Oklahoma, USA).

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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

    NRAO Small
    ESO 50 Large
    NAOJ

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  • richardmitnick 2:42 pm on June 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ASKAP, , , , , Meerkat, , Radio Astronomy,   

    From AAAS: “New radio telescope in South Africa will study galaxy formation” 

    AAAS

    From AAAS

    Jun. 19, 2018
    Daniel Clery

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

    Today, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a continent-spanning radio astronomy project, announced that Spain has come on board as the collaboration’s 11th member. That boost will help the sometimes-troubled project as, over the next year or so, it forms an international treaty organization and negotiates funding to start construction. Meanwhile, on the wide-open plains of the Karoo, a semiarid desert northeast of Cape Town, South Africa, part of the telescope is already in place in the shape of the newly completed MeerKAT, the largest and most powerful radio telescope in the Southern Hemisphere.

    The last of 64 13.5-meter dishes was installed late last year, and next month South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will officially open the facility. Spread across 8 kilometers, the dishes have a collecting area similar to that of the great workhorse of astrophysics, the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) near Socorro, New Mexico.

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky VLA, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA, at an elevation of 6970 ft (2124 m)

    But with new hardware designs and a powerful supercomputer to process data, the newcomer could have an edge on its 40-year-old northern cousin.

    “For certain studies, it will be the best” in the world, says Fernando Camilo, chief scientist of the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory in Cape Town, which operates MeerKAT. Sensitive across a wide swath of the radio spectrum, MeerKAT can study how hydrogen gas moves into galaxies to fuel star formation. With little experience, South Africa has “a major fantastic achievement,” says Heino Falcke of Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

    MeerKAT, which stands for Karoo Array Telescope along with the Afrikaans word for “more,” is one of several precursor instruments for the SKA. . The first phase of the SKA could begin in 2020 at a cost of €798 million. It would add another 133 dishes to MeerKAT, extending it across 150 kilometers, and place 130,000 smaller radio antennas across Australia—but only if member governments agree to fully fund the work. Months of delicate negotiations lie ahead. “In every country, people are having that discussion on what funding is available,” Falcke says.

    With MeerKAT’s 64 dishes now in place, engineers are learning how to process the data they gather. In a technique called interferometry, computers correlate the signals from pairs of dishes to build a much sharper image than a single dish could produce. For early science campaigns last year, 16 dishes were correlated. In March, the new supercomputer came online, and the team hopes to be fully operational by early next year. “It’s going to be a challenge,” Camilo says.

    MeerKAT’s dishes are smaller than the VLA’s, but having more of them puts it in “a sweet spot of sensitivity and resolution,” Camilo says. Its dishes are split into a densely packed core, which boosts sensitivity, and widely dispersed arms, which increase resolution. The VLA can opt for sensitivity or resolution, but not both at once—and only after the slow process of moving its 27 dishes into a different configuration.

    The combination makes MeerKAT ideal for mapping hydrogen, the fuel of star and galaxy formation. Because of a spontaneous transition in the atoms of neutral hydrogen, the gas constantly emits microwaves with a wavelength of 21 centimeters. Stretched to radio frequencies by the expansion of the universe, these photons land in the telescope’s main frequency band. It should have the sensitivity to map the faint signal to greater distances than before, and the resolution to see the gas moving in and around galaxies.

    MeerKAT will also watch for pulsars, dense and rapidly spinning stellar remnants. Their metronomic radio wave pulses serve as precise clocks that help astronomers study gravity in extreme conditions. “By finding new and exotic pulsars, MeerKAT can provide tests of physics,” says Philip Best of the University of Edinburgh. Falcke wants to get a better look at a highly magnetized pulsar discovered in 2013. He hopes it will shed light on the gravitational effects of the leviathan it orbits: the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

    Other SKA precursors are taking shape. The Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia is testing a novel survey technology with its 36 12-meter dishes that could be used in a future phase of the SKA.

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

    Whereas a conventional radio dish has a single-element detector—the equivalent of a single pixel—the ASKAP’s detectors have 188 elements, which should help it quickly map galaxies across large areas of the sky.

    Nearby is the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), an array of 2048 antennas, each about a meter across, that look like metallic spiders.

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

    Sensitive to lower frequencies than MeerKAT, the MWA can pick up the neutral hydrogen signal from as far back as 500 million years after the big bang, when the first stars and galaxies were lighting up the universe. Astronomers have been chasing the faint signal for years, and earlier this year, one group reported a tentative detection. “We’re really curious to see if it can be replicated,” says MWA Director Melanie Johnston-Hollitt of Curtin University in Perth, Australia.

    If the MWA doesn’t deliver a verdict, the SKA, with 130,000 similar antennas, almost certainly will. Although the MWA may detect the universe lighting up, the SKA intends to map out where it happened.

    The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 9:47 am on June 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ALMA Discovers Trio of Infant Planets around Newborn Star, , , , , , Radio Astronomy   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Discovers Trio of Infant Planets around Newborn Star” 

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

    From ALMA

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

    13 June 2018
    Christophe Pinte
    Monash University
    Clayton, Victoria, Australia
    Tel: +61 4 90 30 24 18
    Email: christophe.pinte@univ-grenoble-alpes.fr

    Richard Teague
    University of Michigan
    Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
    Tel: +1 734 764 3440
    Email: rteague@umich.edu

    Calum Turner
    ESO Assistant Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6670
    Email: calum.turner@eso.org

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

    Masaaki Hiramatsu
    Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
    Observatory
, Tokyo – Japan
    Phone: +81 422 34 3630
    Email: hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

    1
    ALMA has uncovered convincing evidence that three young planets are in orbit around the infant star HD 163296. Using a novel planet-finding technique, astronomers have identified three discrete disturbances in the young star’s gas-filled disc: the strongest evidence yet that newly formed planets are in orbit there. These are considered the first planets discovered with ALMA. This image shows part of the ALMA data set at one wavelength and reveals a clear “kink” in the material, which indicates unambiguously the presence of one of the planets. Credit: ESO, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); Pinte et al.

    Two independent teams of astronomers have used ALMA to uncover convincing evidence that three young planets are in orbit around the infant star HD 163296. Using a novel planet-finding technique, the astronomers identified three disturbances in the gas-filled disc around the young star: the strongest evidence yet that newly formed planets are in orbit there. These are considered the first planets to be discovered with ALMA.

    6
    Artist impression of protoplanets forming around a young star. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF; S. Dagnello

    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has transformed our understanding of protoplanetary discs — the gas- and dust-filled planet factories that encircle young stars. The rings and gaps in these discs provide intriguing circumstantial evidence for the presence of protoplanets [1]. Other phenomena, however, could also account for these tantalising features.

    3
    This wide-field image shows the surroundings of the young star HD 163296 in the rich constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer). This picture was created from the material forming part of the Digitized Sky Survey 2. HD 163296 is the bright bluish star at the center. Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2; Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin.

    But now, using a novel planet-hunting technique that identifies unusual patterns in the flow of gas within a planet-forming disc around a young star, two teams of astronomers have each confirmed distinct, telltale hallmarks of newly formed planets orbiting an infant star [2].

    “Measuring the flow of gas within a protoplanetary disc gives us much more certainty that planets are present around a young star,” said Christophe Pinte of Monash University in Australia and Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble (Université de Grenoble-Alpes/CNRS) in France, and lead author on one of the two papers. “This technique offers a promising new direction to understand how planetary systems form.”

    To make their respective discoveries, each team analysed ALMA observations of HD 163296, a young star about 330 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer) [3]. This star is about twice the mass of the Sun but is just four million years old — just a thousandth of the age of the Sun.

    “We looked at the localised, small-scale motion of gas in the star’s protoplanetary disc. This entirely new approach could uncover some of the youngest planets in our galaxy, all thanks to the high-resolution images from ALMA,” said Richard Teague, an astronomer at the University of Michigan and principal author on the other paper.

    Rather than focusing on the dust within the disc, which was clearly imaged in earlier ALMA observations, the astronomers instead studied carbon monoxide (CO) gas spread throughout the disc. Molecules of CO emit a very distinctive millimetre-wavelength light that ALMA can observe in great detail. Subtle changes in the wavelength of this light due to the Doppler effect reveal the motions of the gas in the disc.

    4
    The gaps between the rings are likely due to a depletion of dust and in the middle and outer gaps astronomers also found a lower level of gas. The depletion of both dust and gas suggests the presence of newly formed planets, each around the mass of Saturn, carving out these gaps on their brand new orbits. Credit: ESO, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); A. Isella; B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF).

    The team led by Teague identified two planets located approximately 12 billion and 21 billion kilometres from the star. The other team, led by Pinte, identified a planet at about 39 billion kilometres from the star [4].

    The two teams used variations on the same technique, which looks for anomalies in the flow of gas — as evidenced by the shifting wavelengths of the CO emission — that indicate the gas is interacting with a massive object [5].

    The technique used by Teague, which derived averaged variations in the flow of the gas as small as a few percent, revealed the impact of multiple planets on the gas motions nearer to the star. The technique used by Pinte, which more directly measured the flow of the gas, is better suited to studying the outer portion of the disc. It allowed the authors to more accurately locate the third planet, but is restricted to larger deviations of the flow, greater than about 10%.

    In both cases, the researchers identified areas where the flow of the gas did not match its surroundings — a bit like eddies around a rock in a river. By carefully analysing this motion, they could clearly see the influence of planetary bodies similar in mass to Jupiter.

    This new technique allows astronomers to more precisely estimate protoplanetary masses and is less likely to produce false positives. “We are now bringing ALMA front and centre into the realm of planet detection,” said coauthor Ted Bergin of the University of Michigan.

    Both teams will continue refining this method and will apply it to other discs, where they hope to better understand how atmospheres are formed and which elements and molecules are delivered to a planet at its birth.


    Zooming in on the young star HD 163296 from ALMA Observatory

    Notes

    [1] Although thousands of exoplanets have been discovered in the last two decades, detecting protoplanets remains at the cutting edge of science and there have been no unambiguous detections before now. The techniques currently used for finding exoplanets in fully formed planetary systems — such as measuring the wobble of a star or the dimming of starlight due to a transiting planet — do not lend themselves to detecting protoplanets.

    [2] The motion of gas around a star in the absence of planets has a very simple, predictable pattern (Keplerian rotation) that is nearly impossible to alter both coherently and locally, so that only the presence of a relatively massive object can create such disturbances.

    [3] ALMA’s stunning images of HD 163296 and other similar systems have revealed intriguing patterns of concentric rings and gaps within protoplanetary discs. These gaps may be evidence that protoplanets are ploughing the dust and gas away from their orbits, incorporating some of it into their own atmospheres. A previous study [Physical Review Letters] of this particular star’s disc shows that the gaps in the dust and gas overlap, suggesting that at least two planets have formed there.

    These initial observations, however, merely provided circumstantial evidence and could not be used to accurately estimate the masses of the planets.

    [4] These correspond to 80, 140 and 260 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun.

    [5] This technique is similar to the one that led to the discovery of the planet Neptune in the nineteenth century. In that case anomalies in the motion of the planet Uranus were traced to the gravitational effect of an unknown body, which was subsequently discovered visually in 1846 and found to be the eighth planet in the Solar System.
    More information

    This research was presented in two papers to appear in the same edition of the Astrophysical Journal Letters. The first is entitled Kinematic evidence for an embedded protoplanet in a circumstellar disc, by C. Pinte et al. and the second A Kinematic Detection of Two Unseen Jupiter Mass Embedded Protoplanets, by R. Teague et al.

    The Pinte team is composed of: C. Pinte (Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia; Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IPAG, Grenoble, France), D. J. Price (Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia), F. Ménard (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IPAG, Grenoble, France), G. Duchêne (University of California, Berkeley California, USA; Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IPAG, Grenoble, France), W.R.F. Dent (Joint ALMA Observatory, Santiago, Chile), T. Hill (Joint ALMA Observatory, Santiago, Chile), I. de Gregorio-Monsalvo (Joint ALMA Observatory, Santiago, Chile), A. Hales (Joint ALMA Observatory, Santiago, Chile; National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA) and D. Mentiplay (Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia).

    The Teague team is composed of: Richard D. Teague (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA), Jaehan Bae (Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington, DC, USA), Edwin A. Bergin (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA), Tilman Birnstiel (University Observatory, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany) and Daniel Foreman- Mackey (Center for Computational Astrophysics, Flatiron Institute, New York, USA).

    Research paper Pinte et al. in Astrophysical Journal Letters
    Research paper Teague et al. in Astrophysical Journal Letters

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


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

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

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

    NRAO Small
    ESO 50 Large
    NAOJ

     
  • richardmitnick 10:23 pm on June 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Big data and Scientific computing, , , CSIRO in Space, Growing the Australian space sector, NASA and CSIRO: partners in space, , Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, Radio Astronomy, Space tracking and Radio Astronomy   

    From Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation CSIRO: “Your partner in space” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation CSIRO

    Growing the Australian space sector

    Over the past 75 years we’ve built strong capabilities in Earth observation, radio astronomy, space tracking and managing complex facilities.

    But we do much more, like supporting supply chains through advanced manufacturing, managing big data and helping SMEs.

    We also have an established network of national and international partnerships throughout the space sector.

    Whatever your challenge, we’re here to help secure your footprint in the space economy.

    Earth observation and informatics

    Australian Geoscience Data Cube
    NovaSAR

    Satellite-derived data is critical for managing natural environments and supporting development opportunities. Tap into our Earth observation expertise, including data from the NovaSAR satellite.

    1
    Working on the satellite

    3
    NovaSAR satellite

    In September 2017, CSIRO announced an agreement to secure a share in one of the world’s most sophisticated new satellites, providing us with access to our own satellite data.
    New agreement improves our Earth Observation capabilities

    CSIRO has well recognised expertise and capabilities in using satellite-derived data to monitor and manage our environment including expertise in the acquisition, storage, processing and analysis of these rapidly growing datasets.

    To date, our Earth observation-related activities have relied heavily on Earth observation data provided by foreign satellites.

    However, in September 2017, CSIRO announced an agreement to purchase a 10 per cent share of time on one of the world’s most sophisticated new satellites, called NovaSAR.

    The NovaSAR satellite, developed by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in the UK, utilises Synthetic Aperture Radar (or SAR) which is an advanced form of radar technology providing extremely high resolution images of Earth from space.

    The key advantage of SAR technology is that it operates effectively in ‘all-weather’ conditions. This overcomes the main drawback of traditional optical imaging satellites as it can take images of Earth through clouds, and even at night.

    The agreement, with a value of $10.45 million over seven years, allows CSIRO to direct the NovaSAR satellite to collect whatever type of data imagery is required over Australia and the South East Asia region over an initial 4.5 year period, and also provides access to data collected elsewhere around the world.

    Under the terms of the agreement, CSIRO is licensed to use and share the data for our own research purposes, and those of our partners and collaborators.

    Who will benefit?

    Having the right to direct the satellite will enable us to collect data directly in response to natural disasters in Australia and the Asia Pacific region. Studies show that rapid spatial mapping of disaster areas can save up to US$0.5M to US$1M per event.

    Additionally, systematic analysis of flood patterns can allow identification of more sustainable areas for grazing, agriculture and habitation and to better understand the impacts of flooding for all at-risk communities.

    Access to the volume of SAR data specific to Australia will also provide the raw data required to develop and model disaster and risk scenarios, including use of the technology for bush fire management, flood management, volcanic cloud extent, earthquake prediction, pollution and oil spill monitoring.

    With this improved accuracy, we can focus on analysing changes in a wide range of applications including our land and agricultural practices, weather forecasting, climate and water cycle modelling, land use and land cover monitoring, forestry and conservation management practices, carbon accounting, mapping waterways, coastal habitats, seagrass and coral reefs, mineral mapping, hydrology, cartography and cadastral mapping, sea surface temperature and biodiversity monitoring.
    What is NovaSAR?

    NovaSAR is a revolutionary concept in earth observation satellite technology, developed by UK-based SSTL in conjunction with Airbus Defence & Space.

    Boosting nation-wide collaboration in space-related research and industry development

    Access to NovaSAR data will be a catalyst for applications-specific research and commercialisation of data analytics expertise in the field of remote sensing.

    Beyond CSIRO, this new UK partnership will expand collaboration opportunities across government and academia – in areas such as the environment, agriculture and defence – and boost Australia’s civilian space science sector.

    This project is also an important step along a growth pathway for Australia’s space hardware and space data services sectors, and will help capture regional and international opportunities in the growing national and international ‘space economy’.

    Big data
    Scientific computing

    Bracewell supercomputer
    Pearcey cluster

    Bracewell delivers deep learning

    CSIRO Dell EMC Bracewell supercomputer Australia

    Our investment in high-performance computing infrastructure and expertise in handling big data allows us to develop insights and solutions to tackle Australia’s biggest challenges and opportunities.

    Our latest high performance computer, Bracewell, provides the computational power our researchers need to develop and apply world-leading deep learning techniques to solving the world’s big problems.

    What if your work requires access to some of the most bleeding edge computing facilities in the world? We recently welcomed our latest high performance computing (HPC) cluster, Pearcey into our portfolio of scientific computing facilities.

    The challenge

    Researchers need powerful computers

    The international scientific research community is one of the leading users of high performance computing (HPC), and being one of the most diverse scientific research organisations in the world, we’ve got a whole heap of researchers looking for that bit of extra grunt to help drive their research to new heights.
    Our response

    We partnered with Dell to deliver our latest high performance computer.

    CSIRO Pearcey Dell HPC system

    For the past three years we’ve been working closely with Dell in a unique collaboration to create our latest high performance computer (HPC) cluster to tackle some of our most data intensive research and computational modelling challenges.

    The result of this collaboration is Pearcey, a 230 node HPC cluster that delivers even greater computational power to our portfolio of scientific computing facilities.

    Pearcey supports our researchers across a broad range of areas such as Bioinformatics, Fluid Dynamics and Materials Science to solve real issues. Our Information Management Technology (IMT) team work closely with our researchers to ensure their work delivers maximum impact and fully harnesses the HPC capabilities on offer.

    Pearcey is named after Australian ICT pioneer Dr Trevor Pearcey, who led the CSIRO project team that built one of the world’s first digital computers, CSIR Mk1 / CSIRAC.

    To find more about how we’re using Pearcey in our research applications, read this post on our blog Supercomputers, pelvic prolapses, Dell and the matrix.

    Pawsey Supercomputing Centre

    The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre is a world-class supercomputing centre in Kensington, Western Australia. It hosts new facilities, expertise and infrastructure to support advanced research in astronomy and geoscience.

    What research does the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre support?

    3

    The main aim of the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre is to host new supercomputing facilities and expertise to support Square Kilometre Array (SKA) pathfinder research, geoscience and other high-end science.

    It also aims to demonstrate Australia’s ability to deliver and support world-class advanced information and communication technology infrastructure.

    The Centre addresses two priority areas of astronomy and geoscience. It comprises a purpose-built building which houses supercomputers and associated works at Kensington, Western Australia.

    The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre is one of two national research supercomputing facilities, along with the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI). NCI’s priority areas are climate science, earth systems and national water management.

    How is the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre funded and managed?

    The $80 million of funding for the Centre was announced in the May 2009 Federal Budget under the Super Science Initiative.

    Project funding was awarded to CSIRO to build and commission the Centre in trust for iVEC, the manager of the Pawsey Centre. iVEC has since rebranded to the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.

    The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre is a joint venture between CSIRO and four partner universities and is supported by the Western Australian Government and aims to develop research and the uptake of:

    Supercomputing
    Large-scale data storage
    Visualisation.

    The Centre is on CSIRO-owned land adjacent to the CSIRO’s existing Australian Resources Research Centre facility.

    The Systems at Pausey

    Magnus Cray XC40 supercomputer at Pawsey Supercomputer Centre Perth Australia

    Galaxy Cray XC30 Series Supercomputer at Pawsey Supercomputer Centre Perth Australia

    CSIRO Zeus SGI Linux cluster at Pausey Supercomputer Centre Perth Australia

    CSIRO Cloud Nimbus is an Ocata OpenStack deployment based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Hypervisors on Ubuntu Cloud Archive repositories at Pausey Supercomputer Centre Perth Australia

    CSIRO Athena next generation high-performance computing system at Pausey Supercomputer Centre Perth Australia

    Space tracking and Radio Astronomy

    Space tracking

    NASA and CSIRO: partners in space

    About Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

    We manage and operate one of NASA’s three tracking stations that provide continuous, two-way radio contact with spacecraft exploring our Solar System and beyond.

    Located at Tidbinbilla, just outside Australia’s capital city, the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex is one of three Deep Space Network stations around the world. The Complex’s sister stations are located at Goldstone in California, and near Madrid in Spain. Together, the three stations provide around-the-clock contact with more than 30 spacecraft, including missions to study Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, comets, the Moon and the Sun.

    There are currently five antennas operating at the Canberra station: one 70-metre and four 34-metre radio dishes that receive data from, and transmit commands to, spacecraft on deep space missions.

    NASA Canberra, AU, Deep Space Network

    NASA Deep Space Network Canberra, Australia, radio telescopes on watch.

    UNSW Canberra campus

    Radio astronomy

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

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

    CSIRO ATCA 6 radio telescopes at the Paul Wild Observatory, about 25 km west of the town of Narrabri in rural NSW about 500 km north-west of Sydney, AU

    CSIRO ATNF Mopra Telescope located near the town of Coonabarabran in north-west New South Wales.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

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

     
  • richardmitnick 1:45 pm on June 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AME-anomalous microwave emission, , , ATCA-Australia Telescope Compact Array, , , Diamond Dust Shimmering around Distant Stars, , Mysterious cosmic microwave “glow” emanating from several protoplanetary disks in our galaxy, Radio Astronomy   

    From Green Bank Observatory: Diamond Dust Shimmering around Distant Stars: Nanoscale gemstones source of mysterious cosmic microwave light 

    gbo-logo

    Green Bank Radio Telescope, West Virginia, USA
    Green Bank Radio Telescope, West Virginia, USA

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    From Green Bank Observatory

    Press Release

    11 June 2018
    Paul Vosteen
    Media Specialist; Education & Public Outreach
    Green Bank Observatory
    +1.304.456.2212
    pvosteen@nrao.edu

    Some of the tiniest diamonds in the universe – bits of crystalline carbon hundreds of thousands of times smaller than a grain of sand – have been detected swirling around three infant star systems in the Milky Way. These microscopic gemstones are neither rare nor precious; they are, however, exciting for astronomers who identified them as the source of a mysterious cosmic microwave “glow” emanating from several protoplanetary disks in our galaxy.

    1
    Artist impression of nanoscale diamonds surrounding a young star in the Milky Way. Recent GBT and ATCA observations have identified the telltale radio signal of diamond dust around 3 such stars, suggesting they are a source of the so-called anomalous microwave emission. Credit: S. Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF

    For decades, astronomers have puzzled over the exact source of a peculiar type of faint microwave light emanating from a number of regions across the Milky Way. Known as anomalous microwave emission (AME), this light comes from energy released by rapidly spinning nanoparticles – bits of matter so small that they defy detection by ordinary microscopes. (The period on an average printed page is approximately 500,000 nanometers across.)

    “Though we know that some type of particle is responsible for this microwave light, its precise source has been a puzzle since it was first detected nearly 20 years ago,” said Jane Greaves, an astronomer at Cardiff University in Wales and lead author on a paper announcing this result in Nature Astronomy.

    Until now, the most likely culprit for this microwave emission was thought to be a class of organic molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – carbon-based molecules found throughout interstellar space and recognized by the distinct, yet faint infrared (IR) light they emit. Nanodiamonds — particularly hydrogenated nanodiamonds, those bristling with hydrogen-bearing molecules on their surfaces — also naturally emit in the infrared portion of the spectrum, but at a different wavelength.

    A series of observations with the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia and the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) has — for the first time — homed in on three clear sources of AME light, the protoplanetary disks surrounding the young stars known as V892 Tau, HD 97048, and MWC 297. The GBT observed V892 Tau and the ATCA observed the other two systems.

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

    “This is the first clear detection of anomalous microwave emission coming from protoplanetary disks,” said David Frayer a coauthor on the paper and astronomer with the Green Bank Observatory.

    The astronomers also note that the infrared light coming from these systems matches the unique signature of nanodiamonds. Other protoplanetary disks throughout the Milky Way, however, have the clear infrared signature of PAHs yet show no signs of the AME light.

    This strongly suggests that PAHs are not the mysterious source of anomalous microwave radiation, as astronomers once thought. Rather, hydrogenated nanodiamonds, which form naturally within protoplanetary disks and are found in meteorites on Earth, are the most likely source of AME light in our galaxy.

    “In a Sherlock Holmes-like method of eliminating all other causes, we can confidently say the best candidate capable of producing this microwave glow is the presence of nanodiamonds around these newly formed stars,” said Greaves. Based on their observations, the astronomers estimate that up to 1-2 percent of the total carbon in these protoplanetary disks has gone into forming nanodiamonds.

    Evidence for nanodiamonds in protoplanetary disks has grown over the past several decades. This is, however, the first clear connection between nanodiamonds and AME in any setting.

    Statistical models also strongly support the premise that nanodiamonds are abundant around infant stars and are responsible for the anomalous microwave emission found there. “There is a one in 10,000 chance, or less, that this connection is due to chance,” said Frayer.

    For their research, the astronomers used the GBT and ATCA to survey 14 young stars across the Milky Way for hints of anomalous microwave emission. AME was clearly seen in 3 of the 14 stars, which are also the only 3 stars of the 14 that show the IR spectral signature of hydrogenated nanodiamonds. “In fact, these are so rare,” notes Greaves, “no other young stars have the confirmed infrared imprint.”

    This detection has interesting implications for the study of cosmology and the search for evidence that our universe began with a period of inflation. If immediately after the Big Bang, our universe grew at a pace that vastly outstripped the speed of light, a trace of that period of inflation should be seen in a peculiar polarization of the cosmic microwave background. Though this signature of polarization has yet to be conclusively detected, the work by Greaves and her colleagues offers some hope that it could be.

    “This is good news for those who study polarization of the cosmic microwave background, since the signal from spinning nanodiamonds would be weakly polarized at best,” said Brian Mason, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and coauthor on the paper. “This means that astronomers can now make better models of the foreground microwave light from our galaxy, which must be removed to study the distant afterglow of the Big Bang.”

    Nanodiamonds likely form out of a superheated vapor of carbon atoms in highly energized star-forming regions. This is not unlike industrial methods of creating nanodiamonds on Earth.

    In astronomy, nanodiamonds are special in that their structure produces what is known as a “dipole moment” – an arrangement of atoms that allows them to emit electromagnetic radiation when they spin. Because these particles are so small – smaller than normal dust particles in a protoplanetary disk — they are able to spin exceptionally fast, emitting radiation in the microwave range rather than in the meter-wavelength range, where galactic and intergalactic radiation would probably drown it out.

    “This is a cool and unexpected resolution to the puzzle of anomalous microwave radiation,” concluded Greaves. “It’s even more interesting that it was obtained by looking at protoplanetary disks, shedding light on the chemical features of early solar systems, including our own.”

    “It is an exciting result,” concluded co-author Anna Scaife from Manchester University. “It’s not often you find yourself putting new words to famous tunes, but ‘AME in the Sky with Diamonds’ seems a thoughtful way of summarizing our research.”

    Future centimeter-wave instruments, like the planned Band 1 receivers on ALMA and the Next Generation Very Large Array, will be able to study this phenomenon in much greater detail. Now that there is a physical model and, for the first time, a clear spectral signature, astronomers expect our understanding will improve quickly.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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    Mission Statement

    Green Bank Observatory enables leading edge research at radio wavelengths by offering telescope, facility and advanced instrumentation access to the astronomy community as well as to other basic and applied research communities. With radio astronomy as its foundation, the Green Bank Observatory is a world leader in advancing research, innovation, and education.

    History

    60 years ago, the trailblazers of American radio astronomy declared this facility their home, establishing the first ever National Radio Astronomy Observatory within the United States and the first ever national laboratory dedicated to open access science. Today their legacy is alive and well.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:42 pm on May 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Radio Astronomy, The very distant galaxy MACS1149-JD1   

    From European Southern Observatory and ALMA Observatory: “ALMA and VLT Find Evidence for Stars Forming Just 250 Million Years After Big Bang” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    and

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

    From ALMA

    16 May 2018

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

    Masaaki Hiramatsu
    Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
    Observatory
, Tokyo – Japan
    Phone: +81 422 34 3630
    Email: hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

    Nicolas Laporte
    University College London
    London, United Kingdom
    Tel: +44 7452 807 591
    Email: n.laporte@ucl.ac.uk

    Richard Ellis
    University College London
    London, United Kingdom
    Tel: +44 7885 403 334
    Email: richard.ellis@ucl.ac.uk

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

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

    1
    Astronomers have used observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to determine that star formation in the very distant galaxy MACS1149-JD1 started at an unexpectedly early stage, only 250 million years after the Big Bang. This discovery also represents the most distant oxygen ever detected in the Universe and the most distant galaxy ever observed by ALMA or the VLT. The results will appear in the journal Nature on 17 May 2018.

    2
    This image shows the huge galaxy cluster MACS J1149.5+223, whose light took over 5 billion years to reach us. The huge mass of the cluster is bending the light from more distant objects. The light from these objects has been magnified and distorted due to gravitational lensing. The same effect is creating multiple images of the same distant objects.
    Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Rodney (John Hopkins University, USA) and the SN team; T. Treu (University of California Los Angeles, USA), P. Kelly (University of California Berkeley, USA) and the GLASS team; J. Lotz (STScI) and the Frontier Fields team; M. Postman (STScI) and the CLASH team; and Z. Levay (STScI)

    Frontier Fields

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    3
    This image shows the very distant galaxy MACS1149-JD1, seen as it was 13.3 billion years ago and observed with ALMA. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Hashimoto et al.


    ESOcast 161 Light: Distant galaxy reveals very early star formation.


    Zooming in on the distant galaxy MACS1149, and beyond


    Computer simulation of star formation in MACS1149-JD1


    Zooming in on the distant galaxy MACS 1149-JD1

    An international team of astronomers used ALMA to observe a distant galaxy called MACS1149-JD1. They detected a very faint glow emitted by ionised oxygen in the galaxy. As this infrared light travelled across space, the expansion of the Universe stretched it to wavelengths more than ten times longer by the time it reached Earth and was detected by ALMA. The team inferred that the signal was emitted 13.3 billion years ago (or 500 million years after the Big Bang), making it the most distant oxygen ever detected by any telescope [1]. The presence of oxygen is a clear sign that there must have been even earlier generations of stars in this galaxy.

    “I was thrilled to see the signal of the distant oxygen in the ALMA data,” says Takuya Hashimoto, the lead author of the new paper and a researcher at both Osaka Sangyo University and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. “This detection pushes back the frontiers of the observable Universe.”

    3
    Microwave spectrum of oxygen ions in MACS1149-JD1 detected with ALMA. It was originally infrared light with a wavelength of 88 micrometers, and ALMA detected it as microwaves with an increased wavelength of 893 micrometers due to the expansion of the Universe. Credit: Hashimoto et al. – ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

    In addition to the glow from oxygen picked up by ALMA, a weaker signal of hydrogen emission was also detected by ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). The distance to the galaxy determined from this observation is consistent with the distance from the oxygen observation. This makes MACS1149-JD1 the most distant galaxy with a precise distance measurement and the most distant galaxy ever observed with ALMA or the VLT.

    “This galaxy is seen at a time when the Universe was only 500 million years old and yet it already has a population of mature stars,” explains Nicolas Laporte, a researcher at University College London (UCL) in the UK and second author of the new paper. “We are therefore able to use this galaxy to probe into an earlier, completely uncharted period of cosmic history.”

    For a period after the Big Bang there was no oxygen in the Universe; it was created by the fusion processes of the first stars and then released when these stars died. The detection of oxygen in MACS1149-JD1 indicates that these earlier generations of stars had been already formed and expelled oxygen by just 500 million years after the beginning of the Universe.

    But when did this earlier star formation occur? To find out, the team reconstructed the earlier history of MACS1149-JD1 using infrared data taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope. They found that the observed brightness of the galaxy is well-explained by a model where the onset of star formation corresponds to only 250 million years after the Universe began [2].

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    The maturity of the stars seen in MACS1149-JD1 raises the question of when the very first galaxies emerged from total darkness, an epoch astronomers romantically term “cosmic dawn”. By establishing the age of MACS1149-JD1, the team has effectively demonstrated that galaxies existed earlier than those we can currently directly detect.

    Richard Ellis, senior astronomer at UCL and co-author of the paper, concludes: “Determining when cosmic dawn occurred is akin to the Holy Grail of cosmology and galaxy formation. With these new observations of MACS1149-JD1 we are getting closer to directly witnessing the birth of starlight! Since we are all made of processed stellar material, this is really finding our own origins.”
    ESO Notes

    [1] ALMA has set the record for detecting the most distant oxygen several times. In 2016, Akio Inoue at Osaka Sangyo University and his colleagues used ALMA to find a signal of oxygen emitted 13.1 billion years ago. Several months later, Nicolas Laporte of University College London used ALMA to detect oxygen 13.2 billion years ago. Now, the two teams combined their efforts and achieved this new record, which corresponds to a redshift of 9.1.

    [2] This corresponds to a redshift of about 15.

    More information

    ALMA Notes

    [1] The measured redshift of galaxy MACS1149-JD1 is z=9.11. A calculation based on the latest cosmological parameters measured with Planck (H0=67.3 km/s/Mpc, Ωm=0.315, Λ=0.685: Planck 2013 Results) yields the distance of 13.28 billion light-years. Please refer to “Expressing the distance to remote objects” for the details.

    [2] The galaxy GN-z11 is thought to be located 13.4 billion light-years away based on observations with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). But the precision of the distance measurement with HST low-resolution spectroscopy is significantly lower than that of ALMA’s measurement using a single emission line from atoms.

    These results are published in a paper entitled: “The onset of star formation 250 million years after the Big Bang”, by T. Hashimoto et al., to appear in the journal Nature on 17 May 2018.

    The research team members are: Takuya Hashimoto (Osaka Sangyo University/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Japan), Nicolas Laporte (University College London, United Kingdom), Ken Mawatari (Osaka Sangyo University, Japan), Richard S. Ellis (University College London, United Kingdom), Akio. K. Inoue (Osaka Sangyo University, Japan), Erik Zackrisson (Uppsala University, Sweden), Guido Roberts-Borsani (University College London, United Kingdom), Wei Zheng (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States), Yoichi Tamura (Nagoya University, Japan), Franz E. Bauer (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile), Thomas Fletcher (University College London, United Kingdom), Yuichi Harikane (The University of Tokyo, Japan), Bunyo Hatsukade (The University of Tokyo, Japan), Natsuki H. Hayatsu (The University of Tokyo, Japan; ESO, Garching, Germany), Yuichi Matsuda (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan/SOKENDAI, Japan), Hiroshi Matsuo (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan/SOKENDAI, Japan, Sapporo, Japan), Takashi Okamoto (Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan), Masami Ouchi (The University of Tokyo, Japan), Roser Pelló (Université de Toulouse, France), Claes-Erik Rydberg (Universität Heidelberg, Germany), Ikkoh Shimizu (Osaka University, Japan), Yoshiaki Taniguchi (The Open University of Japan, Chiba, Japan), Hideki Umehata (The University of Tokyo, Japan) and Naoki Yoshida (The University of Tokyo, Japan).

    See the full ESO article here .

    See the full ALMA article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools

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    STEM Education Coalition

    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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    NAOJ

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

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

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

    Glistening against the awesome backdrop of the night sky above ESO_s Paranal Observatory, four laser beams project out into the darkness from Unit Telescope 4 UT4 of the VLT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ESO ExTrA telescopes at Cerro LaSilla at an altitude of 2400 metres

     
  • richardmitnick 3:36 pm on May 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Greenland Telescpe achieves "first light" and more, , Radio Astronomy   

    From Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics: “Greenland Telescope Opens New Era of Arctic Astronomy” 

    Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics


    Center For Astrophysics

    May 1, 2018

    Megan Watzke
    Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
    +1 617-496-7998
    mwatzke@cfa.harvard.edu

    Peter Edmonds
    Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
    +1 617-571-7279
    pedmonds@cfa.harvard.edu

    NSF CfA Greenland telescope

    NSF CfA Greenland telescope

    To study the most extreme objects in the Universe, astronomers sometimes have to go to some extreme places themselves. Over the past several months, a team of scientists has braved cold temperatures to put the finishing touches on a new telescope in Greenland. [This is a major gain for astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere, which sometimes seems to be less productive than the astronomical assets in the Southern Hemsphere.]

    Taking advantage of excellent atmospheric conditions, the Greenland Telescope is designed to detect radio waves from stars, galaxies and black holes. One of its primary goals is to join the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a global array of radio dishes that are linked together to make the first image of a supermassive black hole.

    Event Horizon Telescope Array

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

    ESO/APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment

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

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

    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO)

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

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

    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano
    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano

    CfA Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO
    Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO

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

    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL
    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL

    Future Array/Telescopes

    Plateau de Bure interferometer
    Plateau de Bure interferometer

    NSF CfA Greenland telescope

    The Greenland Telescope has recently achieved two important milestones, its “first light” and the successful synchronization with data from another radio telescope. With this, the Greenland Telescope is ready to help scientists explore some of the Universe’s deepest mysteries.

    “We can officially announce that we are open for business to explore the cosmos from Greenland,” said Timothy Norton of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and Senior Project Manager for the telescope. “It’s an exciting day for everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen.”

    In December 2017, astronomers were able to successfully detect radio emission from the Moon using the Greenland Telescope, an event astronomers refer to as “first light.” Then in early 2018, scientists combined data from the Greenland Telescope’s observations of a quasar with data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA.

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

    The data from the Greenland Telescope and ALMA were synchronized so that they acted like two points on a radio dish equal in size to the separation of the two observing sites, an achievement that is called “finding fringes.”

    “This represents a major step in integrating the telescope into a larger, global network of radio telescopes,” said Nimesh Patel of CfA. “Finding fringes tells us that the Greenland Telescope is working as we hoped and planned.”

    The Greenland Telescope is a 12-meter radio antenna that was originally built as a prototype for ALMA. Once ALMA was operational in Chile, the telescope was repurposed to Greenland to take advantage of the near-ideal conditions of the Arctic to study the Universe at specific radio frequencies.

    The Greenland location also allows interferometry with the Submillimeter Array in Hawaii, ALMA and other radio dishes, to become a part of the northernmost component of the EHT. This extends the baseline of this array in the north-south direction to about 12,000 km (about 7,500 miles).

    CfA Submillimeter Array Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,080 m (13,390 ft)

    “The EHT essentially turns the entire globe into one giant radio telescope, and the farther apart radio dishes in the array are, the sharper the images the EHT can make,” said Sheperd Doeleman of the CfA and leader of the EHT project. “The Greenland Telescope will help us obtain the best possible image of a supermassive black hole outside our galaxy.”

    The Greenland Telescope joined the EHT observing campaign in the middle of April 2018 to observe the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy M87. This supermassive black hole and the one in our galaxy are the two primary targets for the EHT, because the apparent sizes of their event horizons are larger than for any other black hole. Nevertheless exquisite telescope resolution is required, equivalent to reading a newspaper on the Moon. This capability is about a thousand times better than what the best optical telescopes in the world can achieve.

    Scientists plan to use these observations to help test Einstein’s theory of General Relativity in environments where extreme gravity exists, and probe the physics around black holes with unprecedented detail.

    In 2011, NSF, the Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI)/National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) awarded the antenna to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) for relocation to Greenland. SAO’s project partner, the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy & Astrophysics (ASIAA) of Taiwan, led the effort to refurbish and rebuild the antenna to prepare it for the cold climate of Greenland’s ice sheet. In 2016, the telescope was shipped to the Thule Air Base, Greenland, 750 miles inside the Arctic Circle, where it was reassembled at this sea-level coastal site. A future site is under consideration a the summit of the Greenland ice sheet where we will be able to take advantage of lower water vapor in the atmosphere overhead and achieve even better resolution at the higher operating frequencies.

    More information on the Greenland Telescope can be found at https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/greenland12m/

    Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists, organized into six research divisions, study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.

    See the full article here .

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    The Center for Astrophysics combines the resources and research facilities of the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory under a single director to pursue studies of those basic physical processes that determine the nature and evolution of the universe. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution, founded in 1890. The Harvard College Observatory (HCO), founded in 1839, is a research institution of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, and provides facilities and substantial other support for teaching activities of the Department of Astronomy.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:59 pm on April 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , newswise, , Phased Array Feeds, Radio Astronomy   

    From National Radio Astronomy Observatory via newswise: “New Technology Offers to Broaden Vision for Radio Astronomy” 

    NRAO Icon
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory

    NRAO Banner

    1
    @newswise

    newswise

    30-Apr-2018

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    Infographic demonstrating the layout of the newly designed Phased Array Feed receiver that was tested on the Green Bank Telescope. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF; S. Dangello.



    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA

    To accelerate the pace of discovery and exploration of the cosmos, a multi-institution team of astronomers and engineers has developed a new and improved version of an unconventional radio-astronomy imaging system known as a Phased Array Feed (PAF). This remarkable instrument can survey vast swaths of the sky and generate multiple views of astronomical objects with unparalleled efficiency.

    Looking nothing like a camera or other traditional imaging technologies – like CCDs in optical telescopes or single receivers in radio telescopes – this new Phased Array Feed design resembles a forest of miniature tree-like antennas evenly arranged on a meter-wide metal plate. When mounted on a single-dish radio telescope, specialized computers and signal processors are able to combine the signals among the antennas to create a virtual multi-pixel camera.

    This type of instrument is particularly useful in a number of important areas of astronomical research, including the study of hydrogen gas raining in on our galaxy and in searches for enigmatic Fast Radio Bursts.

    Over the years, various other radio astronomy research facilities have developed phased array receiver designs. Most, however, have not achieved the efficiency necessary to compete with classical radio receiver designs, which process one signal from one spot on the sky at a time. The value of the new PAF is that it can form multiple views (or “beams on the sky,” in radio astronomy terms) with the same efficiency as a classical receiver, which can enable faster scans of multiple astronomical targets.

    This newly developed system helps take Phased Array Feed technology from a curious area of research to a highly efficient, multipurpose tool for exploring the universe.

    Commissioning observations with the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) using this new design show that this instrument met and exceeded all testing goals. It also achieved the lowest operating noise temperature – a normally vexing problem for clear views of the sky — of any phased array receiver to date. This milestone is critical to move the technology from an experimental design to a fully fledged observing instrument.

    The results are published in The Astronomical Journal.

    “When looking at all phased array receiver technologies currently operating or in development, our new design clearly raises the bar and gives the astronomy community a new, more rapid way of conducting large-scale surveys,” said Anish Roshi, an astronomer-engineer with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and a member of the design team.

    The new PAF was designed by a consortium of institutions: the NRAO’s Central Development Laboratory, Green Bank Observatory, and Brigham Young University.

    “The collaborative work that went into designing, building, and ultimately verifying this remarkable system is truly astounding,” said NRAO Director Tony Beasley. “It highlights the fact that new and emerging radio astronomy technology can have an immense impact on research.”

    The new PAF design consists of 19 dipole antennas, radio receivers that resemble miniature umbrellas without a covering. A dipole, which simply means “two poles,” is the most basic type of antenna. Its length determines the frequency — or wavelength of radio light — it is able to receive. In the PAF radio system, the strength of the signal can vary across the surface of the array. By calculating how the signal is received by each of the antennas, the system produces what is known as a “point-spread function” – essentially, a pattern of dots concentrated in one region.

    The PAF’s computer and signal processors can calculate up to seven point-spread functions at a time, enabling the receiver to synthesize seven individual beams on the sky. The new design also allows these regions to overlap, creating a more comprehensive view of the region of space being surveyed.

    “This project brings together in one instrument a state-of-the-art, low-noise receiver design, next generation multi-channel digital radio technology, and advanced phased array modeling and beamforming,” said Bill Shillue, PAF group lead at the NRAO’s Central Development Laboratory.

    The astronomical value of the receiver was demonstrated by GBT observations of the pulsar B0329+54 and the Rosette Nebula, a star-forming region of the Milky Way filled with ionized hydrogen gas.

    Additional development and computing power could enable this same design to generated an even greater number of beams on the sky, greatly expanding its utility.

    The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

    See the full article here.

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

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

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

    Access to ALMA observing time by the North American astronomical community will be through the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC).

    NRAO VLBA

    NRAO VLBA

    *The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) comprises ten radio telescopes spanning 5,351 miles. It’s the world’s largest, sharpest, dedicated telescope array. With an eye this sharp, you could be in Los Angeles and clearly read a street sign in New York City!

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

    And the future Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA).

     
  • richardmitnick 12:45 pm on April 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Interactive infographic developed by SKAO, New Platform To Showcase SKA’s Major Engineering Progress, Radio Astronomy,   

    From SKA: “New Platform To Showcase SKA’s Major Engineering Progress” 


    SKA

    27 April 2018

    1
    The interactive infographic developed by SKAO showcases the ongoing Critical Design Reviews (CDRs) – key engineering milestones that assess the readiness levels of the major elements of the SKA. Click on the image in the full blog post or the full article to access the new platform.

    The SKA Organisation is pleased to announce the launch of a new platform highlighting the SKA’s key engineering milestones. The interactive infographic will showcase the ongoing Critical Design Reviews (CDRs), which assess the readiness levels of the major elements of the SKA.

    As well as capturing international teams’ progress towards and beyond their CDRs, the new platform will feature a wide range of news stories, profiles, case studies, photos and videos, providing context on the work that has been done so far.

    All the CDRs will take place in 2018 and early 2019, with reviewers and engineering consortia members meeting at the SKA’s headquarters in the UK to discuss and assess their proposed designs. The first full review, for the Telescope Manager (the set of software that will operate and monitor the telescope), was completed last week.

    The CDR platform is designed to be a central hub for updates, chronicling each major step on the road towards SKA construction and showcasing the technological innovations that are making it possible.

    It will also highlight the expertise and talents of the teams behind that progress.

    Users will get to know key individuals from the SKA Organisation and its partner institutions in the global consortia through detailed profiles that demonstrate how people – not just technology – are crucial to the SKA’s success.

    Scientists will be on hand to explain the significance of reaching each target, and how it relates to the project’s key science goals, from looking at how the very first stars and galaxies formed just after the Big Bang, through to understanding the vast magnetic fields which permeate the cosmos.

    For our industry partners, the platform is a place to highlight their vital contributions to the project, showcasing how their technologies are being used both at this crucial CDR stage and going forward.

    A key characteristic of the site is that its functionalities will increase over time, just like the SKA itself. As the telescope’s design elements are finalised through the CDRs and towards the System CDR, the infographic will grow its content and capabilities in parallel.

    The CDRs represent a global effort by 9 international engineering consortia representing 500 engineers and scientists in 20 countries.

    Since 2013, these nine consortia have been focusing on the main components of the telescope, each essential to the overall success of the project, while three others focus on developing advanced instrumentation for the telescope. The reviews will allow the SKA to fine-tune if needed and then adopt the proposed designs to proceed to construction.

    Last week’s CDR for the Telescope Manager (TM) element of the SKA went well, according to Prof. Yashwant Gupta, Director of the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics of India and Lead of the TM consortium.

    “We’ve had a very good CDR review” said Prof. Gupta after the meeting at SKA headquarters. “The review panel stated that they didn’t find any showstoppers in the overall TM architecture that we’ve presented. I really would like to thank the team members from all the different countries who’ve come together. It’s a really positive take from the entire work over the last several years.”

    “It’s a very good recognition of the work done by the consortium members and by the SKA Office people” added Maurizio Miccolis, SKAO Project Manager for TM.

    Earlier in the year, the reviews for the four sub-elements of the Central Signal Processor (the pulsar search, pulsar timing, and both the Mid and Low correlator and beamformer) also took place, allowing the overall system design work to move forward ahead of the consortium’s final review.

    Watch the first impressions from the Telescope Manager Critical Design Review:

    The new CDR platform will be updated regularly as the process advances, with content also being shared on SKA social media accounts. Keep an eye on updates here: https://cdr.skatelescope.org/

    See the full article here .

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    SKA ASKAP Pathefinder Telescope

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


    SKA Meerkat Telescope

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


    SKA Murchison Wide Field Array
    About SKA

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

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

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

     
  • richardmitnick 9:47 pm on April 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Radio Astronomy, , SKA precursor upgrade makes telescope 10 times more powerful   

    From SKA: “SKA precursor upgrade makes telescope 10 times more powerful” 


    SKA

    1
    MWA aerial view of the centre of the array. AAVS1, the station of prototype SKA-low antennas, is visible at bottom left. Credit – Curtin University

    24 April 2018

    A major expansion of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), one of four SKA precursor telescopes, has been completed, doubling the number of antenna stations at the remote site in Western Australia.

    The addition of 2,048 antennas will make the low-frequency radio telescope ten times more powerful as it seeks to explore the evolution of the Universe. As one of four precursors to the SKA, the MWA provides scientists with invaluable knowledge and carries out scientific study related to future SKA activities. Curtin University, based in Perth, operates the telescope on behalf of a consortium of 21 research institutions.

    MWA Director Prof Melanie Johnston-Hollitt notes that the upgrade will greatly assist scientists in their research. “The telescope is now ten times more powerful and with double the resolution, meaning not only can we explore more of the Universe, but the quality of the images we produce is significantly improved, providing the opportunity for greater scientific discovery,” Prof Johnston-Hollitt said.

    Australia’s Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash attended a celebratory event at Curtin University alongside Prof Johnston-Hollitt, SKA Organisation Director-General Prof Philip Diamond and Chair of the SKA Board of Directors Dr Catherine Cesarsky.

    “The SKA will be the largest and most advanced radio telescope ever constructed and will be used by scientists from around the world to make major discoveries about the universe. Lessons learned in building and operating the MWA are vital to delivering the SKA,” Minister Cash said in a statement. “These projects are also driving the development of new technologies, particularly in the field of big data management. This work is helping to expand Australian businesses and create jobs, in Western Australia and across the country.”

    Read the official press release on the Curtin University website.

    See the full article here .

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    SKA ASKAP Pathefinder Telescope

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


    SKA Meerkat Telescope

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


    SKA Murchison Wide Field Array
    About SKA

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

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

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

     
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