Tagged: Radio Astronomy Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 11:57 am on September 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , Radio Astronomy,   

    From from the University of Melbourne and Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) via COSMOS: “The hunt for a 12-billion-year-old signal” 

    From

    u-melbourne-bloc

    From University of Melbourne

    and

    arc-centers-of-excellence-bloc

    From ARC Centres of Excellence

    via

    10 September 2019
    Nick Carne

    1
    In this image the Epoch of Reionization, neutral hydrogen, in red, is gradually ionised by the first stars, shown in white.
    Paul Giel and Simon Mutch / UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE DARK-AGES REIONIZATION AND GALAXY OBSERVABLES FROM NUMERICAL SIMULATIONS (DRAGONS) PROGRAM

    Astronomers believe they are closing in on a signal that has been travelling across the Universe for 12 billion years.

    In a paper soon to be published in The Astrophysical Journal, an international team reports a 10-fold improvement on data gathered by the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), a collection of 4096 dipole antennas set in the remote hinterland of Western Australia.

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

    The MWA was built specifically to detect electromagnetic radiation emitted by neutral hydrogen – a gas that made up most of the infant Universe in the period when the soup of disconnected protons and neutrons spawned by the Big Bang started to cool down.

    Eventually those atoms began to clump together to form the very first stars, initiating the major phase in the evolution of the Universe known as the Epoch of Reionization, or EoR.

    2
    Epoch of Reionization. Caltech/NASA

    “Defining the evolution of the EoR is extremely important for our understanding of astrophysics and cosmology,” says research leader Nichole Barry from the University of Melbourne and Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D).

    “So far, though, no one has been able to observe it. These results take us a lot closer to that goal.”

    The neutral hydrogen that dominated space and time before and in the early period of the EoR radiated at a wavelength of approximately 21 centimetres.

    Stretched now to somewhere above two metres because of the expansion of the Universe, the signal persists – and detecting it remains the theoretical best way to probe conditions in the early days of the Cosmos.

    But that’s difficult to do, the researchers say, as the signal is old and weak and there are a lot of other galaxies in the way.

    That means the signals recorded by the MWA and other EoR-hunting devices, such as the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionisation Array (HERA) in South Africa and the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) in The Netherlands, are extremely messy.

    UC Berkeley Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA), South Africa

    ASTRON LOFAR Radio Antenna Bank, Netherlands

    Using 21 hours of raw data, Barry and colleagues explored new techniques to refine analysis and exclude consistent sources of signal contamination, including ultra-faint interference generated by radio broadcasts on Earth.

    The result was a level of precision that significantly reduced the range in which the EoR may have begun, pulling in constraints by almost an order of magnitude.

    “We can’t really say that this paper gets us closer to precisely dating the start or finish of the EoR, but it does rule out some of the more extreme models,” says co-author Cathryn Trott, from Australia’s Curtin University.

    “That it happened very rapidly is now ruled out. That the conditions were very cold is now also ruled out.”

    The research was conducted by researchers from a number of institutions in Australia and New Zealand, in collaboration with Arizona State University, Brown University and MIT in the US, Kumamoto University in Japan, and Raman Research Institute in India.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    The objectives for the ARC Centres of Excellence are to:

    undertake highly innovative and potentially transformational research that aims to achieve international standing in the fields of research envisaged and leads to a significant advancement of capabilities and knowledge
    link existing Australian research strengths and build critical mass with new capacity for interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches to address the most challenging and significant research problems
    develope relationships and build new networks with major national and international centres and research programs to help strengthen research, achieve global competitiveness and gain recognition for Australian research
    build Australia’s human capacity in a range of research areas by attracting and retaining, from within Australia and abroad, researchers of high international standing as well as the most promising research students
    provide high-quality postgraduate and postdoctoral training environments for the next generation of researchers
    offer Australian researchers opportunities to work on large-scale problems over long periods of time
    establish Centres that have an impact on the wider community through interaction with higher education institutes, governments, industry and the private and non-profit sector.

    u-melbourne-campus

    The University of Melbourne (informally Melbourne University) is an Australian public research university located in Melbourne, Victoria. Founded in 1853, it is Australia’s second oldest university and the oldest in Victoria. Times Higher Education ranks Melbourne as 33rd in the world, while the Academic Ranking of World Universities places Melbourne 44th in the world (both first in Australia).

    Melbourne’s main campus is located in Parkville, an inner suburb north of the Melbourne central business district, with several other campuses located across Victoria. Melbourne is a sandstone university and a member of the Group of Eight, Universitas 21 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities. Since 1872 various residential colleges have become affiliated with the university. There are 12 colleges located on the main campus and in nearby suburbs offering academic, sporting and cultural programs alongside accommodation for Melbourne students and faculty.

    Melbourne comprises 11 separate academic units and is associated with numerous institutes and research centres, including the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research and the Grattan Institute. Amongst Melbourne’s 15 graduate schools the Melbourne Business School, the Melbourne Law School and the Melbourne Medical School are particularly well regarded.

    Four Australian prime ministers and five governors-general have graduated from Melbourne. Nine Nobel laureates have been students or faculty, the most of any Australian university.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:37 am on September 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Giant Radio Telescope in China Just Detected Repeating Signals From Across Space", , , , , , Radio Astronomy, [FAST [Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope] radio telescope   

    From McGill University via Science Alert: “Giant Radio Telescope in China Just Detected Repeating Signals From Across Space” 

    McGill University

    From McGill University

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    10 SEP 2019
    DAVID NIELD

    Remember the spectacle of that gigantic telescope unveiled in a mountain-ringed valley in China just a few years ago? Well, the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) has now picked up a mysterious space signal known as a fast radio burst.

    FAST [Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope] radio telescope, with phased arrays from CSIRO engineers Australia [located in the Dawodang depression in Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, south China

    Fast radio bursts or FRBs are brief but powerful pulses of energy from distant parts of the cosmos. The first one was spotted in 2007, and we’re finding more of them all the time.

    While astronomers have recently made some exciting progress in tracing FRBs, we just don’t know exactly what these signals are, or how they originate. They might be caused by black holes or neutron stars called magnetars, perhaps.

    What’s exciting about the detection by FAST is that this fast radio burst is a repeater. The burst is officially known as FRB 121102: first picked up in 2012 at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, it’s appeared several times since.


    NAIC Arecibo Observatory operated by University of Central Florida, Yang Enterprises and UMET, Altitude 497 m (1,631 ft).

    Researchers note that the signal has travelled around 3 billion light-years across the Universe to reach us.

    FAST latched on to FRB 121102 on August 30, before recording dozens of later pulses (on one particular day, September 3, more than 20 pulses were detected). So, this looks like a particularly persistent FRB.

    The 19-beam receiver on FAST is especially sensitive to radio signals, covering the 1.05-1.45 GHz frequency range, and that makes it perfect for keeping an eye on FRB 121102.

    The more observations we can make of these FRBs, the better our chances of being able to work out exactly what they are. One idea is that FRBs are produced upon disintegration of the crusts of certain types of neutron stars.

    Another hypothesis posits that different FRBs actually have different causes [above, from Owens Valley Radio Observatory], which may explain why FRB 121102 repeats and others don’t appear to do so. We are at least getting better at pinpointing where these mysterious bursts of electromagnetic radiation come from.

    Now we can add the data gathered by FAST to our growing database of knowledge on these most intriguing of space phenomena. The team at the telescope has already been able to eliminate aircraft and satellite interference from their measurements.

    “I just think it is so amazing that nature produces something like that,” physicist Ziggy Pleunis of McGill University told ScienceAlert, after helping to detail eight new FRBs in a paper published last month.

    “Also, I think that there is some very important information in that structure that we just have to figure out how to encode and it has been a lot of fun to try to figure out what exactly that is.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    All about
    McGill

    With some 300 buildings, more than 38,500 students and 250,000 living alumni, and a reputation for excellence that reaches around the globe, McGill has carved out a spot among the world’s greatest universities.
    Founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1821, McGill is a leading Canadian post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 11 professional schools, 300 programs of study and some 39,000 students, including more than 9,300 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, its 8,200 international students making up 21 per cent of the student body.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:38 pm on August 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Radio Astronomy   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Shows What’s Inside Jupiter’s Storms” 

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

    From ALMA

    22 August, 2019

    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

    Iris Nijman
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory Charlottesville, Virginia – USA
    Cell phone: +1 (434) 249 3423
    Email: alma-pr@nrao.edu

    1
    Radio image of Jupiter made with ALMA. Bright bands indicate high temperatures and dark bands low temperatures. The dark bands correspond to the zones on Jupiter, which are often white at visible wavelengths. The bright bands correspond to the brown belts on the planet. This image contains over 10 hours of data, so fine details are smeared by the planet’s rotation. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), I. de Pater et al.; NRAO/AUI NSF, S. Dagnello

    Swirling clouds, big colorful belts, giant storms. The beautiful and incredibly turbulent atmosphere of Jupiter has been showcased many times. But what is going on below the clouds? What is causing the many storms and eruptions that we see on the ‘surface’ of the planet? However, to study this, visible light is not enough. We need to study Jupiter using radio waves.

    New radio wave images made with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) provide a unique view of Jupiter’s atmosphere down to fifty kilometers below the planet’s visible (ammonia) cloud deck.

    “ALMA enabled us to make a three-dimensional map of the distribution of ammonia gas below the clouds. And for the first time, we were able to study the atmosphere below the ammonia cloud layers after an energetic eruption on Jupiter,” said Imke de Pater of the University of California, Berkeley (EE. UU.).

    The atmosphere of giant Jupiter is made out of mostly hydrogen and helium, together with trace gases of methane, ammonia, hydrosulfide, and water. The top-most cloud layer is made up of ammonia ice. Below that is a layer of solid ammonia hydrosulfide particles, and deeper still, around 80 kilometers below the upper cloud deck, there likely is a layer of liquid water. The upper clouds form the distinctive brown belts and white zones seen from Earth.

    Many of the storms on Jupiter take place inside those belts. They can be compared to thunderstorms on Earth and are often associated with lightning events. Storms reveal themselves in visible light as small bright clouds, referred to as plumes. These plume eruptions can cause a major disruption of the belt, which can be visible for months or years.

    The ALMA images were taken a few days after amateur astronomers observed an eruption in Jupiter’s South Equatorial Belt in January 2017. A small bright white plume was visible first, and then a large-scale disruption in the belt was observed that lasted for weeks after the eruption.

    De Pater and her colleagues used ALMA to study the atmosphere below the plume and the disrupted belt at radio wavelengths and compared these to UV-visible light and infrared images made with other telescopes at approximately the same time.

    “Our ALMA observations are the first to show that high concentrations of ammonia gas are brought up during an energetic eruption,” said de Pater. “The combination of observations simultaneously at many different wavelengths enabled us to examine the eruption in detail. Wich led us to confirm the current theory that energetic plumes are triggered by moist convection at the base of water clouds, which are located deep in the atmosphere. The plumes bring up ammonia gas from deep in the atmosphere to high altitudes, well above the main ammonia cloud deck,” she added.

    “These ALMA maps at millimeter wavelengths complement the maps made with the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array in centimeter wavelengths,” said Bryan Butler of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

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

    “Both maps probe below the cloud layers seen at optical wavelengths and show ammonia-rich gases rising into and forming the upper cloud layers (zones), and ammonia-poor air sinking down (belts).”

    “The present results show superbly what can be achieved in planetary science when an object is studied with various observatories and at various wavelengths”. Explains Eric Villard, an ALMA astronomer part of the research team. “ALMA, with its unprecedented sensitivity and spectral resolution at radio wavelengths, worked together successfully with other major observatories around the world, to provide the data to allow a better understanding of the atmosphere of Jupiter.”

    3
    Flat map of Jupiter in radio waves with ALMA (top) and visible light with the Hubble Space Telescope (bottom). The eruption in the South Equatorial Belt is visible in both images. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), I. de Pater et al.; NRAO/AUI NSF, S. Dagnello; NASA/Hubble

    Science paper:
    First ALMA Millimeter Wavelength Maps of Jupiter, with a Multi-Wavelength Study of Convection
    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1907.11820.pdf

    See the full article here .

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

    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

     
  • richardmitnick 9:33 am on August 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Radio Astronomy,   

    From University of Central Florida: “National Science Foundation Awards Arecibo Observatory $12.3 Million Grant” 

    From University of Central Florida

    August 14, 2019
    Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala


    NAIC Arecibo Observatory operated by University of Central Florida, Yang Enterprises and UMET, Altitude 497 m (1,631 ft).

    The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico today was awarded $12.3 million by the National Science Foundation to make repairs and improve resiliency of the facility managed by UCF.

    The congressionally supported emergency supplemental funds represent a significant investment in the long-term viability of the site to do cutting-edge observations of Earth’s atmosphere, asteroids, interstellar gas, distant galaxies, pulsars, fast radio bursts, and to search for gravitational waves from distant cataclysmic events.

    “NSF is excited to see the full potential of the Arecibo Observatory’s unique scientific capabilities realized as this restorative work is completed,” says Ashley Zauderer, program director at the National Science Foundation.

    The money will be used during the next four years to make a range of repairs and improvements to the facility, which will also expand Arecibo’s capabilities.

    “The grant will ensure that Arecibo Observatory remains a leading research and educational institution in the world,” says Francisco Cordova, the facility’s director. “The repairs and investment in infrastructure are critical to the long-term structural integrity of the radio telescope, reliability and quality of collected data, and improving overall performance of the systems.”

    UCF manages Arecibo under a cooperative agreement with Universidad Ana G. Méndez and Yang Enterprises Inc.

    The Arecibo Observatory received a $2 million grant in June 2018 after Hurricanes Irma and María ripped through the island and damaged the facility in 2017. Those funds were used to make emergency repairs such as fixing the catwalk that leads to the reflectors suspended above the 305-meter dish. In addition, buildings were repaired, generators were serviced, and first responder equipment was replaced. This funding also enabled the facility to prepare for the 2019 hurricane season.

    Projects from this grant include:

    Repairing one of the suspension cables holding the primary telescope platform, ensuring long-term structural integrity of one of the main structural elements of the telescope.
    Recalibrating the primary reflector, which will restore the observatory’s sensitivity at higher frequencies.
    Aligning the Gregorian Reflector, improving current calibration and pointing.
    Installing a new control system for S band radar, which is part of the microwave band of the electromagnetic spectrum.
    Replacing the modulator on the 430 MHz transmitter, increasing consistency of power output and data quality.
    Improving the telescope’s pointing controls and data tracking systems.

    Each of these projects is essential to the work conducted at the facility, which includes research in the areas of planetary radar, astronomy and space and atmospheric sciences, administrators say. The telescope has assisted in the understanding of gravitational waves, the theory of relativity, the discovery of new planets, and other research. The instruments also play an important role in monitoring asteroids that could pose a hazard to Earth.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Founded in 1963 by the Florida Legislature, UCF opened in 1968 as Florida Technological University, with the mission of providing personnel to support the growing U.S. space program at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Florida’s Space Coast. As the school’s academic scope expanded beyond engineering and technology, Florida Tech was renamed The University of Central Florida in 1978. UCF’s space roots continue, as it leads the NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium. Initial enrollment was 1,948 students; enrollment today exceeds 66,000 students from 157 countries, all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

    Most of the student population is on the university’s main campus, 13 miles (21 km) east of downtown Orlando and 35 miles (56 km) west of Cape Canaveral. The university offers more than 200 degrees through 13 colleges at 10 regional campuses in Central Florida, the Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona, the Rosen College of Hospitality Management in south Orlando and the Center for Emerging Media in downtown Orlando.[13] Since its founding, UCF has awarded more than 290,000 degrees, including over 50,000 graduate and professional degrees, to over 260,000 alumni worldwide.

    UCF is a space-grant university. Its official colors are black and gold, and the university logo is Pegasus, which “symbolizes the university’s vision of limitless possibilities.” The university’s intercollegiate sports teams, known as the “UCF Knights” and represented by mascot Knightro, compete in NCAA Division I and the American Athletic Conference.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:29 pm on August 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "ALMA Identified Dark Ancestors of Massive Elliptical Galaxies", , , , , , , Radio Astronomy   

    From ALMA: “ALMA Identified Dark Ancestors of Massive Elliptical Galaxies” 

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

    From ALMA

    7 August, 2019

    Tao Wang
    Postdoctoral fellow
    Institute of Astronomy, The University of Tokyo / National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
    Email: taowang@ioa.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp

    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

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

    Mariya Lyubenova
    ESO Outreach Astronomer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Phone: +49 89 32 00 61 88
    Email: mlyubeno@eso.org

    Iris Nijman
    Public Information Officer
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory Charlottesville, Virginia – USA
    Cell phone: +1 (434) 249 3423
    Email: alma-pr@nrao.edu

    1
    An artistic representation of the distant galaxies observed with ALMA. ALMA identified faint galaxies invisible to the Hubble Space Telescope. For the research team, these galaxies precede the massive elliptical galaxies of the present Universe. Credits: NAOJ

    Astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to identify 39 faint galaxies that are not seen with the Hubble Space Telescope’s most in-depth view of the Universe, 10 billion light-years away. They are ten times more numerous than similarly massive but optically–bright galaxies detected with Hubble. The research team assumes that these faint galaxies precede massive elliptical galaxies in the present Universe. However, no significant theories for the evolution of the Universe have predicted such an abundant population of star-forming, dark, massive galaxies. The new ALMA results throw into question our understanding of the early Universe. These results appear in the latest issue of the journal Nature.

    “Previous studies have found extremely active star-forming galaxies in the early Universe, but their population is quite limited,” says Tao Wang, lead author of this research at the University of Tokyo, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). “Star formation in the dark galaxies we identified is less intense, but they are 100 times more abundant than the extreme starbursts. It is important to study such a major component of the history of the Universe to comprehend galaxy formation.”

    Wang and his team targeted three ALMA windows to the deep Universe opened up by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST): the CANDELS fields. The team discovered 63 extremely red objects in the infrared images taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope: they are too red to be detected with HST. However, Spitzer’s limited spatial resolution prevented astronomers from identifying their nature.

    ALMA detected submillimeter-wave emission from 39 out of the 63 extremely red objects. Thanks to its high resolution and sensitivity, ALMA confirmed that they are massive, star-forming galaxies that are producing stars 100 times more efficiently than the Milky Way. These galaxies are representative of the majority of massive galaxies in the Universe 10 billion years ago, most of which have so far been missed by previous studies.

    “By maintaining this rate of star formation, these ALMA-detected galaxies will likely transform into the first population of massive elliptical galaxies formed in the early Universe,” says David Elbaz, an astronomer at CEA, and coauthor on the paper, “But there is a problem. They are unexpectedly abundant.” The researchers estimated their number density to be equivalent to 530 objects in a square degree in the sky. This number density well exceeds predictions from current theoretical models and computer simulations. Also, according to the widely accepted model of the Universe with a particular type of dark matter, it is challenging to build a large number of massive objects in such an early phase of the Universe. Together, the present ALMA results challenge our current understanding of the evolution of the Universe.

    “Like the galaxy Messier 87, from which astronomers recently obtained the first-ever image of a black hole, massive elliptical galaxies are located in the heart of galaxy clusters.

    The first image of a black hole, Messier 87 Credit Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, via NSF and ERC 4.10.19

    Katie Bouman of Harvard Smithsonian Observatory for Astrophysics, headed to Caltech, with EHT hard drives from Messier 87

    Scientist believes that these galaxies formed most of their stars in the early Universe,” explains Kotaro Kohno, a professor at the University of Tokyo and member of the research team. “However, previous searches for the progenitors of these massive galaxies have been unsuccessful because they were based solely on galaxies that are easily detectable by HST. The discovery of this large number of massive, HST-dark galaxies provides direct evidence for the early assembly of massive galaxies during the first billion years of the Universe.” More detailed follow-up observations with ALMA and NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope are essential to provide further insights into the nature of these galaxies. New studies could enable a complete view of galaxy formation in the early Universe.”

    2
    ALMA identified 39 faint galaxies that are not seen with the Hubble Space Telescope’s most in-depth view of the Universe 10 billion light-years away. This example image shows a comparison of Hubble and ALMA observations. The squares numbered from 1 to 4 are the locations of faint galaxies unseen in the Hubble image. Credit: The University of Tokyo/CEA/NAOJ.

    The research team members are:
    T. Wang (The University of Tokyo/CEA/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), C. Schreiber (CEA/Leiden University/Oxford University), D. Elbaz (CEA), Y. Yoshimura (The University of Tokyo), K. Kohno (The University of Tokyo), X. Shu (Anhui Normal University), Y. Yamaguchi (The University of Tokyo), M. Pannella (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat,), M. Franco (CEA), J. Huang (National Astronomical Observatories of China), C.-F. Lim (Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics), and W.-H. Wang (Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics).

    See the full article here .

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

    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

     
  • richardmitnick 1:26 pm on July 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NGC 1316, Radio Astronomy, , South Africa Radio Astronomy Observatory   

    South Africa Radio Astronomy Observatory: “South Africa’s MeerKAT discovers missing gas in distant galaxy” 

    From South Africa Radio Astronomy Observatory

    Media release

    July 22, 2019
    Kim de Boer
    SARAO Acting Head of Communications and Stakeholder Relations
    Email: kdeboer@ska.ac.za
    Tel: +27 11 442-2434
    +27 (0) 83 276 3282

    An international team of astronomers today announced the resolution of a long-standing mystery related to the formation and evolution of galaxies, by discovering vast amounts of hydrogen gas in a galaxy 60 million light years from Earth. Their work, just published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, is based on observations carried out last year with the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory’s new MeerKAT telescope in the Northern Cape.

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

    3
    Hydrogen gas (represented by green blobs) detected with SARAO’s MeerKAT radio telescope within and around the galaxy NGC 1316, visible at the centre of the image. The two hydrogen tails newly discovered with MeerKAT are visible in the upper and lower parts of the image (the curved arcs are added to guide the eye). Additional hydrogen clouds near NGC 1316 are also visible. The visible light image in the background is from the Fornax Deep Survey – a Dutch-Italian collaboration led by the University of Groningen and INAF – Naples – and was obtained with the VST telescope at the European Southern Observatory. (Adapted from results presented in Serra et al. 2019.)

    ESO VST telescope, at ESO’s Cerro Paranal Observatory, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    NGC 1316, the subject of the new research (funded in part by the European Research Council) is the brightest galaxy at visible wavelengths in a nearby cluster of galaxies located in the direction of the Fornax constellation. It is also known as the radio galaxy “Fornax A”, and is the fourth brightest source of astronomical radio waves in the entire sky.

    It is clear from its irregular shape in visible light images that this peculiar galaxy formed through a collision and merger of two major galaxies a few billion years ago, followed by subsequent merging with smaller satellite galaxies. Galaxy merging is one of the cornerstones of modern cosmological theories, and examples such as NGC 1316 are of great importance because they allow astronomers to study in detail the physical processes at work during mergers, and their effect on galaxy evolution.

    A decades-long mystery is why NGC 1316 seemed to have so little hydrogen gas, the raw fuel that, present in many galaxies alongside heavier dust grains, ultimately makes up stars throughout the Universe.

    “NGC 1316 contains a very large amount of dust in its interstellar medium,” says Paolo Serra of the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) – Observatory of Cagliari, and lead author of the new study. It has been generally understood by astronomers that this is due to the nature of the two merging galaxies: one was gargantuan and devoid of much gas or dust, while the other, ten times smaller, was similar to the Milky Way and could bring into NGC 1316 enough dust to explain the observed amount. However, it should also have brought along an even larger amount of hydrogen gas. The problem: so far the vast majority of this hydrogen had never been detected!

    “In this article,” continues Serra, “we show new radio images obtained with MeerKAT, which reveal where all that hydrogen was hiding – it’s distributed in two long, faint, gaseous tails, stretching to a large distance from the galaxy”. The radio tails were found at the same location as tails made up of stars discernible in sensitive visible light images. According to Serra, “the tails were generated by tidal forces in action during the merger. The amount of gas found is consistent with that expected based on merger theory, and on the fact that the smallest progenitor galaxy was alike the Milky Way. Thus, thanks to these observations all pieces of the puzzle are now in place, and we finally have a more precise and coherent understanding of the formation of this famous galaxy.”

    “With this beautiful piece of work, Paolo and his colleagues, among whom are several young South Africans, have significantly advanced our knowledge of the formation and evolution of galaxies,” says Dr Fernando Camilo, SARAO’s Chief Scientist. “This provides a wonderful taste of what MeerKAT will do in years to come.”

    MeerKAT, the South African precursor to the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA), consists of 64 dishes extremely sensitive to radio waves spread over a diameter of eight (8) kilometres in the Karoo. But the configuration of those 64 dishes appears peculiar at first: three quarters are located within a diameter of one (1) kilometre, with the remainder more sparsely spread farther out.

    “This was done on purpose,” explains Camilo, “to provide extra sensitivity for detecting the very faint radio signals that hydrogen atoms emit from across the Universe, at a frequency of 1420 megahertz.” “What is also remarkable is that these observations were done with the telescope in its initial commissioning phase, using only 40 of the dishes, before the inauguration in July of last year.” “Results like these,” concludes Camilo, “show that MeerKAT has begun addressing some of the key open questions in modern astrophysics, and we look forward to researchers in South Africa and from around the world joining us on a journey of scientific discovery.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA-MPG telescope

    The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory

    The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), a facility of the National Research Foundation, is responsible for managing all radio astronomy initiatives and facilities in South Africa, including the MeerKAT Radio Telescope in the Karoo, and the Geodesy and VLBI activities at the HartRAO facility. SARAO also coordinates the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) for the eight SKA partner countries in Africa, as well as South Africa’s contribution to the infrastructure and engineering planning for the Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope. To maximise the return on South Africa’s investment in radio astronomy, SARAO is managing programmes to create capacity in radio astronomy science and engineering research, and the technical capacity required to support site operations.

    http://www.sarao.ac.za

     
  • richardmitnick 12:10 pm on July 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Radio Astronomy, ,   

    From Niels Bohr Institute: “Probing the beginning of the Universe can soon be done more accurately” 

    University of Copenhagen

    Niels Bohr Institute bloc

    From Niels Bohr Institute

    Measurement of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation:

    In the Karoo desert in South Africa, scientists from all over the world plan to set up a huge array of telescopes – the Square Kilometer Array (SKA).


    SKA South Africa

    As many as 200 telescopes will be erected in the next decade, in order to achieve the highest possible precision in measuring radiation from the Universe.

    1
    Photograph of the SKA-MPG telescope for which the study was performed. The primary dish has a diameter of 15 meters and can receive signals between 1.7 and 3.5 Gigahertz. It is currently being installed in the South African Karoo desert. © South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO)

    Among the many scientific goals of the SKA are tests of Einstein’s relativity theory, probing the nature of Dark Energy, and studying the properties of our Galaxy, to name just a few. A team of researchers, amongst them Sebastian von Hausegger, who just finished as a PhD fellow in the Theoretical Particle Physics and Cosmology group of the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, has developed a plan to utilize the very first prototype, the SKA-MPG telescope, in the Karoo in a different way in the near future: the additional knowledge about our Galaxy which this telescope will bring can be used immediately for the study of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the earliest picture of our Universe. In a detailed study, they investigate the scientific potential of the SKA-MPG telescope – the prototype for those dishes which eventually should be built into the array is built by the German Max Planck Society – and demonstrate the huge advantage already this single dish will have for cosmology. This forecast was led by Aritra Basu from Bielefeld University and is now published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    Separating the foreground from the background

    The Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (CMB) is the afterglow of the forming of our Universe.

    CMB per ESA/Planck

    ESA/Planck 2009 to 2013

    In this respect, it carries the fingerprint of how everything we know and are came to be. If analyzed correctly, it will tell us about the very early universe, perhaps including stories about gravitational waves generated by a process called inflation, the currently leading theory of the Universe’s beginning – obviously, we want to be able to study it as closely and accurately as possible.

    Inflation

    4
    Alan Guth, from Highland Park High School and M.I.T., who first proposed cosmic inflation

    HPHS Owls

    Lambda-Cold Dark Matter, Accelerated Expansion of the Universe, Big Bang-Inflation (timeline of the universe) Date 2010 Credit: Alex MittelmannColdcreation

    Alan Guth’s notes:

    Alan Guth’s original notes on inflation

    However, all measurements we attempt to take of the CMB are disturbed by the radiation emitted by our own Galaxy. This radiation is called `foreground emission’ in the CMB community, to distinguish it from the sought-for cosmic `background’. To reliably remove thisforeground, we must understand exactly what it is, and what is causing it. This is where telescopes like the one shown come into play.

    Sebastian von Hausegger’s work as a PhD student dealt with the problem of foreground separation. “Essentially, you take a picture of the sky at different frequencies, and by tracing the differences of those pictures, you understand what sort of foreground emission they contain. Once that is done properly, the real work with interpreting the background can begin”, Sebastian explains. “The more frequencies you take pictures at – the better your understanding gets of the physical processes, the structure, and the composition of the Milky Way!” The SKA-MPG telescope is able to measure at 2048 different frequencies between 1.7 and 3.5 GHz – many more than previously possible.

    Bringing the radio astronomy and the CMB community together

    Sebastian continues, “The radio emission of our Galaxy is mainly caused by electrons, zooming around in the Galactic disk, and they can do crazy things. As a part of my PhD, I visited the Astroparticle Physics and Cosmology group at Bielefeld University, Germany. The group includes experts on galactic radio emission – the emission we call foreground radiation. I visited them as a representative from the CMB research community, so to say. Our own Galaxy is not that interesting in the grand scale of things, but the insight gained from measurements of its emission can sure help us learn about this grand scale! In this collaboration,we tried to bring the two communities closer together.”

    Motivated by the properties of the telescope, the authors of this study consider a much more ambitious model for the radio-foregrounds than was done in previous efforts. Even considering the impact of the SKA-MPG prototype alone, the level of achievable detail is much higher than with current data and the inferred prospects for CMB analyses are highly promising.

    An array of up to 200 telescopes is the goal

    The ambition of the Square Kilometer Array is to finally place 200 telescopes in the South African desert. The reason for choosing a remote area like a desert for performing their measurements the restriction of radio emission in the surroundings(the Karoo desert has been made a so-called Radio Quiet Zone). The large number of telescopes will give the SKA unprecedented precision. “As we speak, the prototype telescope is being built, and is expected to be completed in the autumn. It will be very interesting to see what the data will tell us, once it is up – not to mention the future data of the entire array”, says Sebastian.

    See the full article here .


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


    Stem Education Coalition

    Niels Bohr Institute Campus

    Niels Bohr Institute (Danish: Niels Bohr Institutet) is a research institute of the University of Copenhagen. The research of the institute spans astronomy, geophysics, nanotechnology, particle physics, quantum mechanics and biophysics.

    The Institute was founded in 1921, as the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of Copenhagen, by the Danish theoretical physicist Niels Bohr, who had been on the staff of the University of Copenhagen since 1914, and who had been lobbying for its creation since his appointment as professor in 1916. On the 80th anniversary of Niels Bohr’s birth – October 7, 1965 – the Institute officially became The Niels Bohr Institute.[1] Much of its original funding came from the charitable foundation of the Carlsberg brewery, and later from the Rockefeller Foundation.[2]

    During the 1920s, and 1930s, the Institute was the center of the developing disciplines of atomic physics and quantum physics. Physicists from across Europe (and sometimes further abroad) often visited the Institute to confer with Bohr on new theories and discoveries. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics is named after work done at the Institute during this time.

    On January 1, 1993 the institute was fused with the Astronomic Observatory, the Ørsted Laboratory and the Geophysical Institute. The new resulting institute retained the name Niels Bohr Institute.

    The University of Copenhagen (UCPH) (Danish: Københavns Universitet) is the oldest university and research institution in Denmark. Founded in 1479 as a studium generale, it is the second oldest institution for higher education in Scandinavia after Uppsala University (1477). The university has 23,473 undergraduate students, 17,398 postgraduate students, 2,968 doctoral students and over 9,000 employees. The university has four campuses located in and around Copenhagen, with the headquarters located in central Copenhagen. Most courses are taught in Danish; however, many courses are also offered in English and a few in German. The university has several thousands of foreign students, about half of whom come from Nordic countries.

    The university is a member of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), along with University of Cambridge, Yale University, The Australian National University, and UC Berkeley, amongst others. The 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities ranks the University of Copenhagen as the best university in Scandinavia and 30th in the world, the 2016-2017 Times Higher Education World University Rankings as 120th in the world, and the 2016-2017 QS World University Rankings as 68th in the world. The university has had 9 alumni become Nobel laureates and has produced one Turing Award recipient

     
  • richardmitnick 11:29 am on July 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Is anyone out there?, Radio Astronomy, , Shelley Wright of UCSD and Niroseti at UCSC Lick Observatory's Nickel Telescope,   

    From WIRED: “An Alien-Hunting Tech Mogul May Help Solve a Space Mystery” 

    Wired logo

    From WIRED

    07.21.19
    Katia Moskvitch

    1
    Yuri Milner. Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images

    In spring 2007, David Narkevic, a physics student at West Virginia University, was sifting through reams of data churned out by the Parkes telescope—a dish in Australia that had been tracking pulsars, the collapsed, rapidly spinning cores of once massive stars.

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

    His professor, astrophysicist Duncan Lorimer, had asked him to search for a recently discovered type of ultra-rapid pulsar dubbed RRAT. But buried among the mountain of data, Narkevic found an odd signal that seemed to come from the direction of our neighboring galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud.

    smc

    Small Magellanic Cloud. NASA/ESA Hubble and ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2

    The signal was unlike anything Lorimer had encountered before. Although it flashed only briefly, for just five milliseconds, it was 10 billion times brighter than a typical pulsar in the Milky Way galaxy. It was emitting in a millisecond as much energy as the sun emits in a month.

    What Narkevic and Lorimer found was the first of many bizarre, ultra-powerful flashes detected by our telescopes. For years the flashes first seemed either improbable or at least vanishingly rare. But now researchers have observed more than 80 of these Fast Radio Bursts, or FRBs. While astronomers once thought that what would be later dubbed the “Lorimer Burst” was a one-off, they now agree that there’s probably one FRB happening somewhere in the universe nearly every second.

    And the reason for this sudden glut of discoveries? Aliens. Well, not aliens per se, but the search for them. Among the scores of astronomers and researchers working tirelessly to uncover these enigmatic signals is an eccentric Russian billionaire who, in his relentless hunt for extraterrestrial life, has ended up partly bankrolling one of the most complex and far-reaching scans of our universe ever attempted.

    Ever since Narkevic spotted the first burst, scientists have been wondering what could produce these mesmerizing flashes in deep space. The list of possible sources is long, ranging from the theoretical to the simply unfathomable: colliding black holes, white holes, merging neutron stars, exploding stars, dark matter, rapidly spinning magnetars, and malfunctioning microwaves have all been proposed as possible sources.

    While some theories can now be rejected, many live on. Finally though, after more than a decade of searching, a new generation of telescopes is coming online that could help researchers to understand the mechanism that is producing these ultra-powerful bursts. In two recent back-to-back papers, one published last week and one today, two different arrays of radio antennas—the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) and Caltech’s Deep Synoptic Array 10 at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO) in the US—have for the first time ever been able to precisely locate two different examples of these mysterious one-off FRBs.

    Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a radio telescope array located at Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in the Australian Mid West. ASKAP consists of 36 identical parabolic antennas, each 12 metres in diameter, working together as a single instrument with a total collecting area of approximately 4,000 square metres.

    Caltech’s Deep Synoptic Array 10 dish array at Owens Valley Radio Observatory, near Big Pine, California USA, Altitude 1,222 m (4,009 ft

    Physicists are now expecting that two other new telescopes—Chime (the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment) in Canada and MeerKAT in South Africa—will finally tell us what produces these powerful radio bursts.

    CHIME Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment -A partnership between the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, McGill University, Yale and the National Research Council in British Columbia, at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, British Columbia, CA Altitude 545 m (1,788 ft)

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

    But Narkevic’s and Lorimer’s discovery nearly got binned. For a few months after they first spotted the unusually bright burst, it looked like the findings wouldn’t make it any further than Lorimer’s office walls, just beyond the banks of the Monongahela River that slices through the city of Morgantown in West Virginia.

    Soon after detecting the burst, Lorimer asked his former graduate adviser Matthew Bailes, an astronomer at Swinburne University in Melbourne, to help him plot the signal—which to astronomers is now a famous and extremely bright energy peak, rising well above the power of any known pulsar. The burst seemed to come from much, much further away than where the Parkes telescope would usually find pulsars; in this case, probably from another galaxy, potentially billions of light-years away.

    “It just looked beautiful. I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s amazing.’ We nearly fell off our chairs,” recalls Bailes. “I had trouble sleeping that night because I thought if this thing is really that far away and that insanely bright, it’s an amazing discovery. But it better be right.”

    Within weeks, Lorimer and Bailes crafted a paper and sent it to Nature—and swiftly received a rejection. In a reply, a Nature editor raised concerns that there had been only one event, which appeared way brighter than seemed possible. Bailes was disappointed, but he had been in a worse situation before. Sixteen years earlier, he and fellow astronomer Andrew Lyne had submitted a paper claiming to have spotted the first ever planet orbiting another star—and not just any star but a pulsar. The scientific discovery turned out to be a fluke of their telescope. Months later, Lyne had to stand up in front of a large audience at an American Astronomical Society conference and announce their mistake. “It’s science. Anything can happen,” says Bailes. This time around, Bailes and Lorimer were certain that they had it right and decided to send their FRB paper to another journal, Science.

    After it was published, the paper immediately stirred interest; some scientists even wondered whether the mysterious flash was an alien communication. This wasn’t the first time that astronomers had reached for aliens as the answer for a seemingly inexplicable signal from space; in 1967, when researchers detected what turned out to be the first pulsar, they also wondered whether it could be a sign of intelligent life.

    Just like Narkevic decades later, Cambridge graduate student Jocelyn Bell had stumbled across a startling signal in the reams of data gathered by a radio array in rural Cambridgeshire.

    Women in STEM – Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell, discovered pulsars with radio astronomy. Jocelyn Bell at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge University, taken for the Daily Herald newspaper in 1968. Denied the Nobel.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell at work on first plusar chart 1967 pictured working at the Four Acre Array in 1967. Image courtesy of Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell 2009

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943 – ), still working from http://www. famousirishscientists.weebly.com

    Not much of the array is left today; in the fields near the university where it once stood, there’s an overgrown hedge, hiding a collection of wonky, sad-looking wooden poles that were once covered in a web of copper wire designed to detect radio waves from faraway sources. The wire has long been stolen and sold on to scrap metal dealers.

    “We did seriously consider the possibility of aliens,” Bell says, now an emeritus professor at Oxford University. Tellingly, the first pulsar was half-jokingly dubbed LGM-1 —for little green men. With only half a year left until the defense of her PhD thesis, she was less than thrilled that “some silly lot of little green men” were using her telescope and her frequency to signal to planet Earth. Why would aliens “be using a daft technique signaling to what was probably still a rather inconspicuous planet?” she once wrote in an article for Cosmic Search Magazine.

    Just a few weeks later, however, Bell spotted a second pulsar, and then a third just as she got engaged, in January 1968. Then, as she was defending her thesis and days before her wedding, she discovered a fourth signal in yet another part of the sky. Proof that pulsars had to be a natural phenomenon of an astrophysical origin, not a signal from intelligent life. Each new signal made the prospect even more unlikely that groups of aliens, separated by the vastness of the space, were somehow coordinating their efforts to send a message to an uninteresting hunk of rock on the outskirts of the Milky Way.

    Lorimer wasn’t so lucky. After the first burst, six years would pass without another detection. Many scientists began to lose interest. The microwave explanation persisted for a while, says Lorimer, as skeptics sneered at the notion of finding a burst that was observed only once. It didn’t help that in 2010 Parkes detected 16 similar pulses, which were quickly proven to be indeed caused by the door of a nearby microwave oven that had been opened suddenly during its heating cycle.

    2
    Yuri Milner on stage with Mark Zuckerberg at a Breakthrough Prize event in 2017. Kimberly White/Getty Images

    When Avi Loeb first read of Lorimer’s unusual discovery, he too wondered if it was nothing more than the result of some errant wiring or miscalibrated computer. The chair of the astronomy department at Harvard happened to be in Melbourne in November 2007, just as Lorimer’s and Bailes’ paper appeared in Science, so he had a chance to discuss the odd burst with Bailes. Loeb thought the radio flash was a compelling enigma—but not much more than that.

    Still, that same year Loeb wrote a theoretical paper arguing that radio telescopes built to detect very specific hydrogen emissions from the early universe would also be able to eavesdrop on radio signals from alien civilizations up to about 10 light-years away. “We have been broadcasting for a century—so another civilization with the same arrays can see us from a distance out to 50 light-years,” was Loeb’s reasoning. He followed up with another paper on the search for artificial lights in the solar system. There, Loeb showed that a city as bright as Tokyo could be detected with the Hubble Space Telescope even if it was located right at the edge of the solar system. In yet another paper he argued how to detect industrial pollution in planetary atmospheres.

    Ever since he was a little boy growing up in Israel, Loeb has been fascinated with life—on Earth and elsewhere in the universe. “Currently, the search for microbial life is part of the mainstream in astronomy—people are looking for the chemical fingerprints of primitive life in the atmosphere of exoplanets,” says Loeb, who first dabbled in philosophy before his degree in physics.

    But the search for intelligent life beyond Earth should also be part of the mainstream, he argues. “There is a taboo, it’s a psychological and sociological problem that people have. It’s because there is the baggage of science fiction and UFO reports, both of which have nothing to do with what actually goes on out there in space,” he adds. He’s frustrated with having to explain—and defend—his point of view. After all, he says, billions have been poured into the search for dark matter over decades with zero results. Should the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, more commonly known as SETI, be regarded as even more fringe than this fruitless search?

    Lorimer didn’t follow Loeb’s SETI papers closely. After six long and frustrating years, his luck turned in 2013, when a group of his colleagues—including Bailes—spotted four other bright radio flashes in Parkes’ data. Lorimer felt vindicated and relieved. More detections followed and the researchers were on a roll: At long last, FRBs had been confirmed as a real thing. After the first event was dubbed “Lorimer’s Burst,” it swiftly made it onto the physics and astronomy curricula of universities around the globe. In physics circles, Lorimer was elevated to the position of a minor celebrity.

    Keeping an eye on events from a distance was Loeb. One evening in February 2014, at a dinner in Boston, he started chatting to a charismatic Russian-Israeli called Yuri Milner, a billionaire technology investor with a background in physics and a well-known name in Silicon Valley. Ever since he could remember, Milner had been fascinated with life beyond Earth, a subject close to Loeb’s heart; the two instantly hit it off.

    Milner came to see Loeb again in May the following year, at Harvard, and asked the academic how long it would take to travel to Alpha Centauri, the star system closest to Earth.

    Centauris Alpha Beta Proxima 27, February 2012. Skatebiker

    Loeb replied he would need half a year to identify the technology that would allow humans to get there in their lifetime. Milner then asked Loeb to lead Breakthrough Starshot, one of five Breakthrough Initiatives the Russian oligarch was about to announce in a few weeks—backed by $100 million of his own money and all designed to support SETI.

    Breakthrough Starshot Initiative

    Breakthrough Starshot

    ESO 3.6m telescope & HARPS at LaSilla, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    SPACEOBS, the San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations Observatory is located at 2450m above sea level, north of the Atacama Desert, in Chile, near to the village of San Pedro de Atacama and close to the border with Bolivia and Argentina

    SNO Sierra Nevada Observatory is a high elevation observatory 2900m above the sea level located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Granada Spain and operated maintained and supplied by IAC

    Teide Observatory in Tenerife Spain, home of two 40 cm LCO telescopes

    Observatori Astronòmic del Montsec (OAdM), located in the town of Sant Esteve de la Sarga (Pallars Jussà), 1,570 meters on the sea level

    Bayfordbury Observatory,approximately 6 miles from the main campus of the University of Hertfordshire

    Fast-forward six months, and at the end of December 2015 Loeb got a call asking him to prepare a presentation summarizing his recommended technology for the Alpha Centauri trip. Loeb was visiting Israel and about to head on a weekend trip to a goat farm in the southern part of the country. “The following morning, I was sitting next to the reception of the farm—the only location with internet connectivity—and typing the PowerPoint presentation that contemplated a lightsail technology for Yuri’s project,” says Loeb. He presented it at Milner’s home in Moscow two weeks later, and the Breakthrough Initiatives were announced with fanfare in July 2015.

    The initiatives were an adrenaline shot in the arm of the SETI movement—the largest ever private cash injection into the search for aliens. One of the five projects is Breakthrough Listen, which was championed, among others, by the famous astronomer Stephen Hawking (who has died since) and British astronomer royal Martin Rees.

    Breakthrough Listen Project

    1

    UC Observatories Lick Autmated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA




    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA


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


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

    Newly added

    CfA/VERITAS, a major ground-based gamma-ray observatory with an array of four 12m optical reflectors for gamma-ray astronomy in the GeV – TeV energy range. Located at Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, Mount Hopkins, Arizona, US in AZ, USA, Altitude 2,606 m (8,550 ft)

    Echoing the film Contact, with Jodie Foster playing an astronomer listening out for broadcasts from aliens (loosely based on real-life SETI astronomer Jill Tarter), the project uses radio telescopes around the world to look for any signals from extraterrestrial intelligence.

    Jill Tarter Image courtesy of Jill Tarter

    After the Breakthrough Initiatives were announced, Milner’s money quickly got invested into the deployment of cutting-edge technology—such as computer storage and new receivers—at existing radio telescopes, including Green Bank in West Virginia and Parkes in Australia; whether the astronomers using these observatories believed in alien life or not, they welcomed the investment with open arms. It didn’t take long to receive the first scientific returns.

    After the Breakthrough Initiatives were announced, Milner’s money quickly got invested into the deployment of cutting-edge technology—such as computer storage and new receivers—at existing radio telescopes, including Green Bank in West Virginia and Parkes in Australia; whether the astronomers using these observatories believed in alien life or not, they welcomed the investment with open arms. It didn’t take long to receive the first scientific returns.

    In August 2015 one of the previously spotted FRBs decided to make a repeat appearance, triggering headlines worldwide because it was so incredibly powerful, brighter than the Lorimer Burst and any other FRB. It was dubbed “the repeater” and is also known as the Spitler Burst, because it was first discovered by astronomer Laura Spitler of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany.

    Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy

    Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy Bonn Germany

    Over the next few months, the burst flashed many more times, not regularly, but often enough to allow researchers to determine its host galaxy and consider its possible source—likely a highly magnetized, young, rapidly spinning neutron star (or magnetar).

    This localization was done with the Very Large Array (VLA), a group of 27 radio dishes in New Mexico that feature heavily in the film Contact. But the infrastructure at Green Bank Telescope upgraded by Breakthrough Listen caught the repeating flashes many more times, says Lorimer—allowing researchers to study its host galaxy more in detail. “It’s wonderful—they have a mission to find ET, but along the way they want to show that this is producing other useful results for the scientific community,” he adds. Detecting FRBs has quickly become one of the main objectives of Breakthrough Listen.

    Netting the repeater was both a boon and a hindrance—on the one hand, it eliminated models that cataclysmic events such as supernova explosions were causing FRBs; after all, these can happen only once. On the other hand, it deepened the mystery. The repeater lives in a small galaxy with a lot of star formation—the kind of environment where a neutron star could be born, hence the magnetar model. But what about all the other FRBs that don’t repeat?

    Researchers started to think that perhaps there were different types of these bursts, each with its own source. Scientific conferences still buzz with talks of mights and might-nots, with physicists eagerly debating possible sources of FRBs in corridors and at conference bars. In March 2017, Loeb caused a media frenzy by suggesting that FRBs could actually be of alien origin—solar-powered radio transmitters that might be interstellar light sails pushing huge spaceships across galaxies.

    That Parkes is part of the SETI project is obvious to any visitor. Walking up the flight of stairs to the circular operating tower below the dish, every button, every door, and every wall nostalgically screams 1960s, until you reach the control room full of modern screens where astronomers remotely control the antenna to observe pulsars.

    Up another flight of stairs is the data storage room, stacked with columns and columns of computer drives full of blinking lights. One thick column of hard drives is flashing neon blue, put there by Breakthrough Listen as part of a cutting-edge recording system designed to help astronomers search for every possible radio signal in 12 hours of data, much more than ever before. Bailes, who now splits his time between FRB search and Breakthrough Listen, takes a smiling selfie in front of Milner’s drives.

    While many early FRB discoveries were made with veteran telescopes—single mega dishes like Parkes and Green Bank—new telescopes, some with the financial backing of Breakthrough Listen, are now revolutionizing the FRB field.

    Deep in South African’s semi-desert region of the Karoo, eight hours by car from Cape Town, stands an array of 64 dishes, permanently tracking space. They are much smaller than their mega-dish cousins, and all work in unison. This is MeerKAT [above], another instrument in Breakthrough Listen’s growing worldwide network of giant telescopes. Together with a couple of other next-generation instruments, this observatory might hopefully tell us one day, probably in the next decade, what FRBs really are.

    The name MeerKAT means “More KAT,” a follow up to KAT 7, the Karoo Array Telescope of seven antennas—although real meerkats do lurk around the remote site, sharing the space with wild donkeys, horses, snakes, scorpions and kudus, moose-sized mammals with long, spiraling antlers. Visitors to MeerKAT are told to wear safety leather boots with steel toes as a precaution against snakes and scorpions. They’re also warned about the kudus, which are very protective of their calves and recently attacked the pickup truck of a security guard, turning him and his car over. Around MeerKAT there is total radio silence; all visitors have to switch off their phones and laptops. The only place with connectivity is an underground “bunker” shielded by 30-centimeter-thick walls and a heavy metal door to protect the sensitive antennas from any human-made interference.

    MeerKAT is one of the two precursors to a much bigger future radio observatory—the SKA, or Square Kilometer Array.

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    SKA South Africa

    Once SKA is complete, scientists will have added another 131 antennas in the Karoo. The first SKA dish has just been shipped to the MeerKAT site from China. Each antenna will take several weeks to assemble, followed by a few more months of testing to see whether it actually works the way it should. If all goes well, more will be commissioned, built, and shipped to this faraway place, where during the day the dominant color is brown; as the sun sets, however, the MeerKAT dishes dance in an incredible palette of purples, reds, and pinks, as they welcome the Milky Way stretching its starry path just above. MeerKAT will soon be an incredible FRB machine, says Bailes.

    There is another SKA precursor—ASKAP in Australia.

    Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a radio telescope array located at Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in the Australian Mid West. ASKAP consists of 36 identical parabolic antennas, each 12 metres in diameter, working together as a single instrument with a total collecting area of approximately 4,000 square metres.

    Back in 2007, when Lorimer was mulling over the Nature rejection, Ryan Shannon was finishing his PhD in physics at Cornell University in New York—sharing the office with Laura Spitler, who would later discover the Spitler Burst. Shannon had come to the US from Canada, growing up in a small town in British Columbia. About half an hour drive from his home is the Dominion and Radio Astronomical Observatory (DRAO)—a relatively small facility that was involved in building equipment for the VLA.

    5

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

    Subconsciously, says Shannon, DRAO must have impacted his choice of career. And it was at DRAO that a few years later a totally new telescope—Chime [above]—would be built that would greatly impact the nascent field of FRB research. But in 2007 that was still to come. After graduating from Cornell in 2011, Shannon decided not to stay close to home—“something my mum would’ve wanted.” Instead, he moved to Australia and ultimately to Swinburne University on the outskirts of Melbourne.

    Shannon joined Bailes’ team in 2017—and by then astronomers had begun to understand why they weren’t detecting more FRBs, even though they were already estimating that these flashes were happening hundreds of times every day, if not more. “Our big radio telescopes don’t have wide fields of view, they can’t see the entire sky—that’s why we missed nearly all FRBs in the first decade of realizing these things exist,” says Shannon.

    When he, Bailes, and other FRB hunters saw the ultra-bright repeater, the Spitler Burst, they understood that there were fast radio bursts which could be found even without gigantic telescopes like Parkes, by using instruments that have a wider field of view. So they started building ASKAP [above]—a new observatory conceived in 2012 and recently completed in the remote Australian outback. It sports 36 dishes with a 12-meter diameter each, and just like with MeerKAT, they all work together.

    To get to ASKAP, in a very sparsely populated area in the Murchison Shire of Western Australia, one has to first fly to Perth, change for a smaller plane bound for Murchison, then squeeze into a really tiny single propeller plane, or drive for five hours across 150 kilometers of dirt roads. “When it rains, it turns to mud, and you can’t drive there,” says Shannon, who went to the ASKAP site twice, to introduce the local indigenous population to the new telescope constructed—with permission—on their land and see the remote, next-generation ultra-sensitive radio observatory for himself.

    MeerKAT and ASKAP bring two very different technological approaches to the hunt for FRBs. Both observatories look at the southern sky, which makes it possible to see the Milky Way’s bright core much better than in the northern hemisphere; they complement old but much upgraded observatories like Parkes and Arecibo in South America. But the MeerKAT dishes have highly sensitive receivers which are able to detect very distant objects, while ASKAP’s novel multi-pixel receivers on each dish offer a much wider field of view, enabling the telescope to find nearby FRBs more often.

    “ASKAP’s dishes are less sensitive, but we can observe a much larger portion of the sky,” says Shannon. “So ASKAP is going to be able to see things that are usually intrinsically brighter.” Together, the two precursors will be hunting for different parts of the FRB population—since “you want to understand the entire population to know the big picture.”

    MeerKAT only started taking data in February, but ASKAP has been busy scanning the universe for FRBs for a few years now. Not only has it already spotted about 30 new bursts, but in a new paper just released in Science, Shannon and colleagues have detailed a new way to localize them despite their short duration, which is a big and important step toward being able to determine what triggers this ultra-bright radiation. Think of ASKAP’s antennas as the eye of a fly; they can scan a wide patch of the sky to spot as many bursts as possible, but the antennas can all be made to point instantly in the same direction. This way, they make an image of the sky in real time, and spot a millisecond-long FRB as it washes over Earth. That’s what Shannon and his colleagues have done, and for the first time ever, managed to net one burst they named FRB 180924 and pinpoint its host galaxy, some 4 billion light-years away, all in real time.

    Another team, at Caltech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO) in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, have also just caught a new burst and traced it back to its source, a galaxy 7.9 billion light years away.

    Caltech’s Deep Synoptic Array 10 dish array at Owens Valley Radio Observatory, near Big Pine, California USA, Altitude 1,222 m (4,009 ft

    And just like Shannon, they didn’t do it with a single dish telescope but a recently built array of 10 4.5-meter antennas called the Deep Synoptic Array-10. The antennas act together like a mile-wide dish to cover an area on the sky the size of 150 full moons. The telescope’s software then processes an amount of data equivalent to a DVD every second. The array is a precursor for the Deep Synoptic Array that, when built by 2021, will sport 110 radio dishes, and may be able to detect and locate more than 100 FRBs every year.

    What both ASKAP’s and OVRO’s teams found was that their presumably one-off bursts originated in galaxies very different from the home of the first FRB repeater. Both come from galaxies with very little star formation, similar to the Milky Way and very different from the home of the repeater, where stars are born at a rate of about a hundred times faster. The discoveries show that “every galaxy, even a run-of-the-mill galaxy like our Milky Way, can generate an FRB,” says Vikram Ravi, an astronomer at Caltech and part of the OVRO team.

    But the findings also mean that the magnetar model, accepted by many as the source of the repeating burst, does not really work for these one-off flashes. Perhaps, Shannon says, ASKAP’s burst could be the result of a merger of two neutron stars, similar to the one spotted two years ago by the gravitational wave detectors LIGO and Virgo in the US and Italy, because both host galaxies are very similar. “It’s a bit spooky that way,” says Shannon. One thing is clear though, he adds: The findings show that there is likely more than one type of FRBs.

    Back in Shannon’s hometown in Canada, the excitement has also been growing exponentially because of CHIME. Constructed at the same time as MeerKAT and ASKAP, this is a very different observatory; it has no dishes but antennas in the form of long buckets designed to capture light. In January, the CHIME team reported the detection of the second FRB repeater and 12 non-repeating FRBs. CHIME is expected to find many, many more bursts, and with ASKAP, MeerKAT and CHIME working together, astronomers hope to understand the true nature of the enigmatic radio flashes very soon.

    But will they fulfill Milner’s dream and successfully complete SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence? Lorimer says that scientists hunting for FRBs and pulsars have for decades been working closely with colleagues involved in SETI projects.

    After all, Loeb’s models for different—alien—origins of FRBs are not fundamentally wrong. “The energetics when you consider what we know from the observations are consistent and there’s nothing wrong with that,” says Lorimer. “And as part of the scientific method, you definitely want to encourage those ideas.” He personally prefers to find the simplest natural explanation for the phenomena he observes in space—but until we manage to directly observe the source of these FRBs, all theoretical ideas should stand, as long as they are scientifically sound—whether they involve aliens or not.

    Any image repeats in this post were required for complete coverage.

    See the full article here .

    Totally missing from this article on SETI-

    SETI Institute


    SETI/Allen Telescope Array situated at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, 290 miles (470 km) northeast of San Francisco, California, USA, Altitude 986 m (3,235 ft)

    UCSC alumna Shelley Wright, now an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego, discusses the dichroic filter of the NIROSETI instrument. (Photo by Laurie Hatch).jpg

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego, with NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto, at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Laser SETI, the future of SETI Institute research

    SETI@home, a BOINC project originated in the Space Science Lab at UC Berkeley

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 1:31 pm on July 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Radio Astronomy, , VERITAS Collaboration added to project   

    From UC Santa Cruz: “Breakthrough Listen launches new optical search with VERITAS Telescope Array” 

    UC Santa Cruz

    From UC Santa Cruz

    July 17, 2019
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    SCIPP (Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics) physicist David Williams will help lead effort using four 12-meter telescopes to search for nanosecond flashes of light from extraterrestrial civilizations.

    The Breakthrough Listen initiative to find signs of intelligent life in the universe will collaborate with the VERITAS Collaboration in the search for technosignatures, signs of technology developed by intelligent life beyond the Earth.

    Joining the Breakthrough Listen initiative’s ongoing radio frequency survey and spectroscopic optical laser survey, VERITAS (the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System) will search for pulsed optical beacons with its array of four 12-meter telescopes at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in Amado, Arizona.

    VERITAS is the world’s most powerful telescope array for studying high-energy astrophysics with gamma rays. It detects gamma rays coming from space by looking for the extremely brief flashes of blue “Čerenkov” light they create when they hit the top of the Earth’s atmosphere.

    VERITAS will look for pulsed optical beacons with durations as short as several nanoseconds. Over such timescales, artificial beacons could easily outshine any stars that lie in the same direction on the sky. The use of all four telescopes simultaneously allows for very effective discrimination against false positive detections. The VERITAS Collaboration has previously published observations of the mysteriously dimming Boyajian’s Star in search of such optical pulses. The new program of VERITAS observations will provide complementary searches for optical pulse signatures of many more stars from the primary Breakthrough Listen star list.

    “It is impressive how well-suited the VERITAS telescopes are for this project, since they were built only with the purpose of studying very-high-energy gamma rays in mind,” said David Williams, adjunct professor of physics at UC Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP) and a member of the VERITAS collaboration.

    Breakthrough Listen’s search for optical technosignatures with VERITAS will be led by Williams at UCSC and Jamie Holder of the University of Delaware, in collaboration with the Listen team at UC Berkeley’s SETI Research Center led by Andrew Siemion.

    “When it comes to intelligent life beyond Earth, we don’t know where it exists or how it communicates,” said Yuri Milner, founder of the Breakthrough Initiatives. “So our philosophy is to look in as many places, and in as many ways, as we can. VERITAS expands our range of observation even further.”

    “Breakthrough Listen is already the most powerful, comprehensive, and intensive search yet undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth,” Siemion said. “Now, with the addition of VERITAS, we’re sensitive to an important new class of signals: fast optical pulses. Optical communication has already been used by NASA to transmit high definition images to Earth from the moon, so there’s reason to believe that an advanced civilization might use a scaled-up version of this technology for interstellar communication.”

    If a laser comparable to the most powerful lasers on Earth (delivering about 500 terawatts in a pulse lasting a few nanoseconds) were situated at the distance of Boyajian’s Star and pointed in our direction, VERITAS could detect it. But most of the stars in the Listen target list are 10 to 100 times closer than Boyajian’s Star, meaning that the new search will be sensitive to pulses a factor 100 to 10,000 times fainter still.

    “Using the huge mirror area of the four VERITAS telescopes will allow us to search for these extremely faint optical flashes in the night sky, which could correspond to signals from an extraterrestrial civilization,” said Holder.

    Breakthrough Listen Project

    1

    UC Observatories Lick Autmated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA




    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA


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


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

    Newly added

    CfA/VERITAS, a major ground-based gamma-ray observatory with an array of four 12m optical reflectors for gamma-ray astronomy in the GeV – TeV energy range. Located at Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, Mount Hopkins, Arizona, US in AZ, USA, Altitude 2,606 m (8,550 ft)

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UCSC Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    .

    UCO Lick Shane Telescope
    UCO Lick Shane Telescope interior
    Shane Telescope at UCO Lick Observatory, UCSC

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

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

    UC Santa Cruz campus
    The University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    Lick Observatory's Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building
    Lick Observatory’s Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow
    1
    The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch) UCSC Lick Nickel telescope

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego who led the development of the new instrument while at the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by UC Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will be fully operational by early summer and will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

    The NIROSETI team also includes Geoffrey Marcy and Andrew Siemion from UC Berkeley; Patrick Dorval, a Dunlap undergraduate, and Elliot Meyer, a Dunlap graduate student; and Richard Treffers of Starman Systems. Funding for the project comes from the generous support of Bill and Susan Bloomfield.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:41 pm on July 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New Method May Resolve Difficulty in Measuring Universe's Expansion", , , , , , Radio Astronomy   

    From National Radio Astronomy Observatory: “New Method May Resolve Difficulty in Measuring Universe’s Expansion” 

    From National Radio Astronomy Observatory

    Astronomers using National Science Foundation (NSF) radio telescopes have demonstrated how a combination of gravitational-wave and radio observations, along with theoretical modeling, can turn the mergers of pairs of neutron stars into a “cosmic ruler” capable of measuring the expansion of the Universe and resolving an outstanding question over its rate.

    The astronomers used the NSF’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) to study the aftermath of the collision of two neutron stars that produced gravitational waves detected in 2017.

    NRAO/VLBA

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

    Green Bank Radio Telescope, West Virginia, USA, now the center piece of the GBO, Green Bank Observatory, being cut loose by the NSF

    This event offered a new way to measure the expansion rate of the Universe, known by scientists as the Hubble Constant. The expansion rate of the Universe can be used to determine its size and age, as well as serve as an essential tool for interpreting observations of objects elsewhere in the Universe.

    Two leading methods of determining the Hubble Constant use the characteristics of the Cosmic Microwave Background, the leftover radiation from the Big Bang, or a specific type of supernova explosions, called Type Ia, in the distant Universe. However, these two methods give different results.

    “The neutron star merger gives us a new way of measuring the Hubble Constant, and hopefully of resolving the problem,” said Kunal Mooley, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and Caltech.

    The technique is similar to that using the supernova explosions. Type Ia supernova explosions are thought to all have an intrinsic brightness which can be calculated based on the speed at which they brighten and then fade away. Measuring the brightness as seen from Earth then tells the distance to the supernova explosion. Measuring the Doppler shift of the light from the supernova’s host galaxy indicates the speed at which the galaxy is receding from Earth. The speed divided by the distance yields the Hubble Constant. To get an accurate figure, many such measurements must be made at different distances.

    When two massive neutron stars collide, they produce an explosion and a burst of gravitational waves. The shape of the gravitational-wave signal tells scientists how “bright” that burst of gravitational waves was. Measuring the “brightness,” or intensity of the gravitational waves as received at Earth can yield the distance.

    “This is a completely independent means of measurement that we hope can clarify what the true value of the Hubble Constant is,” Mooley said.

    However, there’s a twist. The intensity of the gravitational waves varies with their orientation with respect to the orbital plane of the two neutron stars. The gravitational waves are stronger in the direction perpendicular to the orbital plane, and weaker if the orbital plane is edge-on as seen from Earth.

    “In order to use the gravitational waves to measure the distance, we needed to know that orientation,” said Adam Deller, of Swinburne University of Technology in Australia.

    Over a period of months, the astronomers used the radio telescopes to measure the movement of a superfast jet of material ejected from the explosion. “We used these measurements along with detailed hydrodynamical simulations to determine the orientation angle, thus allowing use of the gravitational waves to determine the distance,” said Ehud Nakar from Tel Aviv University.

    This single measurement, of an event some 130 million light-years from Earth, is not yet sufficient to resolve the uncertainty, the scientists said, but the technique now can be applied to future neutron-star mergers detected with gravitational waves.

    “We think that 15 more such events that can be observed both with gravitational waves and in great detail with radio telescopes, may be able to solve the problem,” said Kenta Hotokezaka, of Princeton University. “This would be an important advance in our understanding of one of the most important aspects of the Universe,” he added.

    The international scientific team led by Hotokezaka is reporting its results in the journal Nature Astronomy.

    NRAO Banner

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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).

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: