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  • richardmitnick 3:23 pm on October 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Mysterious Flashing Radio Signal Coming From Center of The Galaxy Scientists Report", ASKAP J173608.2-321635 may represent part of a new class of objects being discovered through radio imaging surveys., Radio Astronomy,   

    From University of Sydney (AU) via Science Alert (US) : “Mysterious Flashing Radio Signal Coming From Center of The Galaxy Scientists Report” 

    U Sidney bloc

    From University of Sydney (AU)

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert (US)

    13 OCTOBER 2021
    MICHELLE STARR

    1
    Artist’s impression of the radio signal. (Sebastian Zentilomo/University of Sydney.)

    As our eyes on the sky grow ever more sensitive, we’re going to find more and more things we’ve never seen before.

    Such is the case for a newly discovered source of radio signals, located not far from the center of the galaxy. It’s called ASKAP J173608.2-321635, and astronomers have been unable to figure out what kind of cosmic object best fits its weird properties.

    “We have presented the discovery and characterization of ASKAP J173608.2-321635: a highly-polarized, variable radio source located near the Galactic Center and with no clear multi-wavelength counterpart,” explains a team of astronomers led by Ziteng Wang of the University of Sydney in Australia.

    “ASKAP J173608.2-321635 may represent part of a new class of objects being discovered through radio imaging surveys.”


    Signals From Space.

    ASKAP J173608.2-32163 was discovered using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), one of the most sensitive radio telescopes ever built, designed to peer deep into the radio Universe.

    It’s already proven adept at finding things we have never seen before, such as Odd Radio Circles (we don’t know what those are, yet), undiscovered galaxies, and mysterious fast radio bursts.

    ASKAP J173608.2-32163 might turn out to be a known type of cosmic object, but if it does, it could end up stretch the definition of whatever object that is.

    “We’ve never seen anything like it,” Wang says.

    It’s highly variable, emitting radio waves for weeks at a time, and then disappearing on rapid timescales. The signal is also highly polarized – that is, the orientation of the oscillation of the electromagnetic wave is twisted, both linearly and circularly.

    ASKAP J173608.2-32163 is also quite a tricky beast to spot. The object, whatever it is, had not been seen before the ASKAP detections, made during a pilot survey of the sky to look for transient radio sources. Between April 2019 and August 2020, the signal appeared in the data 13 times.

    Follow-up observations in April and July of 2020 using a different radio telescope, Murriyang in Parkes, Australia, yielded nothing. But the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa got a hit, in February 2021. The Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) also made a detection in April 2021.

    This supports and validates the ASKAP detections, but also suggests that the source is quite elusive – there were no MeerKAT or ATCA detections prior to that date. Nor did the source appear in X-ray and near-infrared observations, nor in archives of radio data collected by multiple instruments that the researchers checked.

    Which leaves a pretty fascinating mystery. The polarization suggests scattering and magnetization, possibly partially due to dust and magnetic fields in the interstellar medium between us and the source, although it’s possible that the source itself is also highly magnetized.

    All up, it’s really hard to figure out what the source might be. There are several types of stars that are known to vary in radio wavelengths, such as stars that flare frequently, or close binaries with active chromospheres, or that eclipse each other. The non-detection in X-ray and near-infrared wavelengths makes this unlikely though.

    Flaring stars usually have X-ray emission that corresponds to the radio emission, and the vast majority of stars have ratios of near-infrared emission that should be detectable.

    Nor is a pulsar likely: a type of neutron star with sweeping beams of radio light, like a cosmic lighthouse. Pulsars have regular periodicity, on a timescale of hours, and ASKAP J173608.2-32163 was detected fading, which is inconsistent with pulsars. Also, there was a three-month span with no detections, which is also inconsistent with pulsars.

    X-ray binaries, gamma-ray bursts, and supernovae were also all ruled out.

    However, the object does share some properties with a type of mysterious signal spotted near the galactic center. These are known as Galactic Center Radio Transients (GCRT), three of which were identified in the 2000s, and more of which are awaiting confirmation.

    These sources are also yet to be explained, but they have several features in common with ASKAP J173608.2-32163.

    If ASKAP J173608.2-32163 is a GCRT, ASKAP’s detection could help us find more such sources, and figure out what they are.

    “Given that ASKAP J173608.2-321635 is typically not detected and can turn off on timescales from several weeks to as quickly as a day, our sparse sampling (12 epochs over 16 months) suggests that there could be other similar sources in these fields,” the researchers write.

    “Increasing the survey cadence and comparing the results of this search to other regions will help us understand how truly unique ASKAP J173608.2-321635 is and whether it is related to the Galactic plane, which should ultimately help us deduce its nature.”

    The findings are reported in The Astrophysical Journal.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    University of Sydney (AU)
    Our founding principle as Australia’s first university,University of Sydney (AU) was that we would be a modern and progressive institution. It’s an ideal we still hold dear today.

    When Charles William Wentworth proposed the idea of Australia’s first university in 1850, he imagined “the opportunity for the child of every class to become great and useful in the destinies of this country”.

    We’ve stayed true to that original value and purpose by promoting inclusion and diversity for the past 160 years.

    It’s the reason that, as early as 1881, we admitted women on an equal footing to male students. The University of Oxford (UK) didn’t follow suit until 30 years later, and Jesus College at The University of Cambridge (UK) did not begin admitting female students until 1974.

    It’s also why, from the very start, talented students of all backgrounds were given the chance to access further education through bursaries and scholarships.

    Today we offer hundreds of scholarships to support and encourage talented students, and a range of grants and bursaries to those who need a financial helping hand.

    The University of Sydney is an Australian public research university in Sydney, Australia. Founded in 1850, it is Australia’s first university and is regarded as one of the world’s leading universities. The university is known as one of Australia’s six sandstone universities. Its campus, spreading across the inner-city suburbs of Camperdown and Darlington, is ranked in the top 10 of the world’s most beautiful universities by the British Daily Telegraph and the American Huffington Post.The university comprises eight academic faculties and university schools, through which it offers bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.

    The QS World University Rankings ranked the university as one of the world’s top 25 universities for academic reputation, and top 5 in the world and first in Australia for graduate employability. It is one of the first universities in the world to admit students solely on academic merit, and opened their doors to women on the same basis as men.

    Five Nobel and two Crafoord laureates have been affiliated with the university as graduates and faculty. The university has educated seven Australian prime ministers, two governors-general of Australia, nine state governors and territory administrators, and 24 justices of the High Court of Australia, including four chief justices. The university has produced 110 Rhodes Scholars and 19 Gates Scholars.

    The University of Sydney (AU) is a member of The Group of Eight (AU), CEMS, The Association of Pacific Rim Universities and The Association of Commonwealth Universities.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:13 pm on October 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Nature of unknown gamma-ray sources revealed", , , , , Gamma-ray Astronomy, , , Radio Astronomy, ,   

    From Xinglong Observatory [兴隆观测站] (CN) via phys.org : “Nature of unknown gamma-ray sources revealed” 

    LAMOST telescope located in Xinglong Station, Hebei Province, China, Altitude 960 m (3,150 ft).

    From Xinglong Observatory [兴隆观测站] (CN)

    Chinese Academy of Sciences [中国科学院] (CN)

    via

    phys.org

    October 11, 2021
    Li Yuan, Chinese Academy of Sciences [中国科学院] (CN)

    1
    Fig. 1 Artistic representation of an active galaxy jet. Credit: M. Kornmesser/European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte](EU)(CL).

    An international team of astronomers has unveiled the nature of hundreds of gamma-ray emitting sources, discovering that most of them belong to the class of active galaxies known as blazars.

    Their recent study was published in The Astronomical Journal.

    One of the most intriguing challenges in modern gamma-ray astronomy is searching for low-energy counterparts of unidentified gamma-ray sources. Unidentified sources constitute about 1/3 of all celestial objects detected by the Fermi satellite to date, the most recent gamma-ray mission with unprecedented capabilities for observing the high energy sky.

    Since the largest population of known gamma-ray sources are blazars, astronomers believe they can also classify most unidentified gamma-ray sources as blazars. However, they can completely understand their nature only by observing blazar candidates at visible frequencies.

    Blazars are extremely rare, black hole-powered galaxies. They host a supermassive black hole in their central regions that sweep out matter at almost the speed of light in the form of a powerful jet pointing towards the Earth. Particles accelerated in these jets can emit light up to the most energetic gamma-rays, thus being visible by instruments onboard the Fermi satellite.

    2
    Fig. 2 Example of the completely featureless optical spectrum of the BL Lac known as J065046.49+250259.6. Credit: Harold A. Peña Herazo.

    The team, led by Dr. Harold Peña Herazo from The National Institute for Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics(MX), analyzed hundreds of optical spectra collected by the Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fabre Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST) at the Xinglong Station in China [above].

    LAMOST is hosted by The National Astronomical Observatories of China [ 国家天文台] at Chinese Academy of Sciences [中国科学院](CN). It provided a unique opportunity to unveil the nature of blazar-like sources that can potentially be counterparts of unidentified gamma-ray sources.

    From the list of sources discovered by the Fermi satellite, the researchers selected a sample of Blazar Candidates of Uncertain type (BCUs), which share several properties in common with blazars. However, optical spectroscopic observations are necessary to determine their proper classification and confirm their nature.

    Using spectroscopic data available in the LAMOST archive, the researchers were able to classify tens of BCUs as blazars. “LAMOST data also permitted verifying the nature of hundreds of additional blazars by searching for emission or absorption lines used to determine their cosmological distances,” said Prof. GU Minfeng from The Shanghai Astronomical Observatory [上海天文台]Chinese Academy of Sciences [上海天文台](CN).

    The vast majority of sources belong to the blazar class known as BL Lac objects and have a completely featureless optical spectrum. This makes measuring their cosmological distances an extremely challenging task. However, thanks to the LAMOST observations, a few more of them have luckily revealed visible signatures in their optical spectra.

    “Our analysis showed great potential for the LAMOST survey and allowed us to discover a few changing-look blazars,” said Dr. Peña Herazo, currently a postdoctoral fellow at The East Asian Observatory – Hilo, Hawaii(US).

    “It is worth noting that the possibility of using LAMOST observations to estimate blazar cosmological distances is critical to studying this population, its cosmological evolution, the imprint in the extragalactic gamma-ray background light in the gamma-ray spectra, and the blazar contribution to the extragalactic gamma-ray background,” said Prof. Francesco Massaro from the University of Turin.

    “I started working on this optical campaign and analyzing spectroscopic data in 2015, and nowadays, thanks to the observations available in LAMOST archive, we certainly made a significant step toward the identification of gamma-ray sources with blazars. Future perspectives achievable thanks to LAMOST datasets will definitively reveal the nature of hundreds of new blazars in the years to come,” commented Dr. Federica Ricci at The University of Bologna [Alma mater studiorum – Università di Bologna](IT) and INAF-Institute for Radio Astronomy of Bologna [Istituto di Radioastronomia di Bologna](IT).

    The group’s previous study was also published in The Astronomical Journal.

    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 Xinglong Observatory [兴隆观测站] (CN) of the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) (IAU code: 327, coordinates: 40°23′39′′ N, 117°34′30′′ E) was founded in 1968. At present, it is one of most primary observing stations of NAOC. As the largest optical astronomical observatory site in the continent of Asia, it has 9 telescopes with effective aperture larger than 50 cm. These are the Guo Shoujing Telescope, also called the Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST), the 2.16-m Telescope, a 1.26-m optical & near-infrared telescope, a 1-m Alt-Az telescope, an 85-cm telescope (NAOC-Beijing Normal University [北京師範大學](CN) Telescope, NBT), an 80-cm telescope (Tsinghua University [清华大学](CN)-NAOC Telescope, TNT), a 60-cm telescope, a 50-cm telescope and a 60/90-cm Schmidt telescope.

    The average altitude of the Xinglong Observatory is about 900 m. The Xinglong Observatory is located at the south of the main peak of the Yanshan Mountains, in the Xinglong County, Hebei Province, which lies about 120 km (about 2 hours’ drive) to the northeast of Beijing. A shuttle bus runs between NAOC campus and Xinglong Observatory every Tuesday and Friday. The mean and media seeing values of the Xinglong Observatory are 1.9′′ and 1.7′′, respectively. On average, there are 117 photometric nights and 230 observable nights per year based on the data of 2007-2014. Most of the time, the wind speed is less than 4 m/s (the mean value is 2 m/s), and the sky brightness is about 21.1 mag arcsec2 in V band at the zenith.

    Each year, more than a hundred astronomers use the telescopes of the Xinglong Observatory to perform the observations for the studies on Galactic sciences (stellar parameters, extinction measurements, Galactic structures, exoplanets, etc.) and extragalactic sciences (including nearby galaxies, AGNs, high-redshift quasars), as well as time-domain astronomy (supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, stellar tidal disruption events, and different types of variable stars). In recent years, besides the basic daily maintenance of the telescopes, new techniques and methods have been explored by the engineers and technicians of the Xinglong Observatory to improve the efficiency of observations. Meanwhile, the Xinglong Observatory is also a National populscience and education base of China for training students from graduate schools, colleges, high schools and other education institutes throughout China, and it has hosted a number of international workshops and summer schools.

    The Chinese Academy of Sciences [中国科学院] (CN) is the linchpin of China’s drive to explore and harness high technology and the natural sciences for the benefit of China and the world. Comprising a comprehensive research and development network, a merit-based learned society and a system of higher education, CAS brings together scientists and engineers from China and around the world to address both theoretical and applied problems using world-class scientific and management approaches.

    Since its founding, CAS has fulfilled multiple roles — as a national team and a locomotive driving national technological innovation, a pioneer in supporting nationwide S&T development, a think tank delivering S&T advice and a community for training young S&T talent.

    Now, as it responds to a nationwide call to put innovation at the heart of China’s development, CAS has further defined its development strategy by emphasizing greater reliance on democratic management, openness and talent in the promotion of innovative research. With the adoption of its Innovation 2020 programme in 2011, the academy has committed to delivering breakthrough science and technology, higher caliber talent and superior scientific advice. As part of the programme, CAS has also requested that each of its institutes define its “strategic niche” — based on an overall analysis of the scientific progress and trends in their own fields both in China and abroad — in order to deploy resources more efficiently and innovate more collectively.

    As it builds on its proud record, CAS aims for a bright future as one of the world’s top S&T research and development organizations.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:10 pm on October 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Aurorae discovered on distant stars suggest hidden planets", , , , , , Radio Astronomy,   

    From Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) (NL) : “Aurorae discovered on distant stars suggest hidden planets” 

    ASTRON bloc

    From Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) (NL)

    11 October 2021

    Using the world’s most powerful radio telescope, LOFAR [below], scientists have discovered stars unexpectedly blasting out radio waves, possibly indicating the existence of hidden planets.

    Searching for red dwarfs

    Leiden University [Universiteit Leiden](NL)’s Dr Joseph Callingham and his colleagues have been searching for aurorae from exoplanets using the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR), the world’s most powerful radio telescope. “We’ve discovered signals from 19 distant red dwarf stars, four of which are best explained by the existence of planets orbiting them,” Dr Callingham said. “We’ve long known that the planets of our own solar system emit powerful radio waves as their magnetic fields interact with the solar wind. This same process drives the beautiful aurorae we see at the poles of Earth.

    1
    Artist impression of a red-dwarf star’s magnetic interaction with its exoplanet. Credit: Danielle Futselaar (artsource.nl)

    “However, it is only with LOFAR have we had the sensitivity to find auroral emission outside our Solar System. This is an incredibly powerful tool to help find planets outside our Solar System and to determine their magnetic fields.” LOFAR was designed, built and is presently operated by ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, its core is situated in Exloo, the Netherlands.

    Using the world’s most powerful radio telescope, LOFAR, scientists have discovered stars unexpectedly blasting out radio waves, possibly indicating the existence of hidden planets.

    Dr Harish Vedantham at ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, co-author of the paper, said that the team is confident these signals are coming from the magnetic connection of the stars and unseen orbiting planets, similar to the interaction between Jupiter and its moon Io. “Our own Earth has aurorae, commonly recognised here as the northern and southern lights. These beautiful aurorae also emit powerful radio waves – this is from the interaction of the planet’s magnetic field with the solar wind,” he said. “But in the case of aurorae from Jupiter, they’re much stronger as its volcanic moon Io is blasting material out into space, filling Jupiter’s environment with particles that drive unusually powerful aurorae.

    “Our model for this radio light from our stars is a scaled-up version of Jupiter and Io, with an exoplanet enveloped in the magnetic field of a star, feeding material into vast currents that similarly power bright aurorae on the star itself.

    “It’s a spectacle that has attracted our attention from lightyears away.”


    The hunt for exo-aurora’s.
    Using the world’s most powerful radio telescope, LOFAR, scientists have discovered stars unexpectedly blasting out radio waves, possibly indicating the existence of hidden planets.

    Future observations with the SKA Square Kilometre Array (AU)(SA)

    The team are now investigating the direct presence of the planets around the star using optical telescopes and searching for periodicity in the radio light. “The radio light should turn on and off like a lighthouse,” Dr Callingham said “and we hope to see that periodicity in new LOFAR data.”

    The discoveries with LOFAR are just the beginning, but the telescope only has the capacity to monitor stars that are relatively nearby, up to 165 lightyears away. With the next-generation Square Kilometre Array radio telescope finally under construction, switching on in 2029, the team predict they will be able to see hundreds of relevant stars out to much greater distances.

    SKA ASKAP Pathfinder Radio Telescope

    SKA Square Kilometre Array low frequency at Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia on the traditional lands of the Wajarri peoples

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

    This work demonstrates that radio astronomy is on the cusp of revolutionising our understanding of planets outside our Solar System.

    Science paper:
    Nature Astronomy

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASTRON is the ASTRON-Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy [Nederlands Instituut voor Radioastronomie] (NL). Its main office is in Dwingeloo in the Dwingelderveld National Park in the province of Drenthe. ASTRON is part of Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

    ASTRON’s main mission is to make discoveries in radio astronomy happen, via the development of new and innovative technologies, the operation of world-class radio astronomy facilities, and the pursuit of fundamental astronomical research. Engineers and astronomers at ASTRON have an outstanding international reputation for novel technology development, and fundamental research in galactic and extra-galactic astronomy. Its main funding comes from NWO.

    ASTRON’s programme has three principal elements:

    The operation of front line observing facilities, including especially the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope and LOFAR,
    The pursuit of fundamental astronomical research using ASTRON facilities, together with a broad range of other telescopes around the world and space-borne instruments (e.g. Sptizer, HST etc.)
    A strong technology development programme, encompassing both innovative instrumentation for existing telescopes and the new technologies needed for future facilities.

    In addition, ASTRON is active in the international science policy arena and is one of the leaders in the international SKA project. The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope with a total collecting area of approximately one square kilometre. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. It is a global enterprise bringing together 11 countries from the 5 continents.

    Radio telescopes

    ASTRON operates the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT), one of the largest radio telescopes in the world. The WSRT and the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT) are dedicated to explore the universe at radio frequencies ranging from 10 MHz to 8 GHz.

    Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope, an aperture synthesis interferometer near World War II Nazi detention and transit camp Westerbork, north of the village of Westerbork, Midden-Drenthe, in the northeastern Netherlands.

    In addition to its use as a stand-alone radio telescope, the Westerbork array participates in the European Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (EVN) of radio telescopes.

    ASTRON is the host institute for the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE).

    Its primary task is to operate the EVN MkIV VLBI Data Processor (correlator). JIVE also provides a high-level of support to astronomers and the Telescope Network. ASTRON also hosts the NOVA Optical/ Infrared instrumentation group.

    LOFAR is a radio telescope composed of an international network of antenna stations and is designed to observe the universe at frequencies between 10 and 250 MHz. Operated by ASTRON (NL), the network includes stations in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, the U.K., France, Poland and Ireland.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:59 am on October 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Radio Astronomy, The team of astronomers have now studied a Fast Radio Burst at two radio wavelengths – one bluer, , The use of “radio colours” led to the breakthrough.,   

    From Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) (NL) : “Periodic Fast Radio Burst found bare, unobscured by strong binary wind” 

    ASTRON bloc

    From Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) (NL)

    25 August 2021

    By connecting two of the biggest radio telescopes in the world, astronomers have discovered that a simple binary wind cannot cause the puzzling periodicity of a Fast Radio Burst after all. The bursts may come from a highly magnetized, isolated neutron star. The radio detections also show that Fast Radio Bursts, some of the most energetic events in the Universe, are free from shrouding material. That transparency further increases their importance for cosmology. The results appear in Nature this week.

    Radio colours

    The use of “radio colours” led to the breakthrough. In optical light, colours are how the eye distinguishes each wavelength. Our rainbow goes from shorter-wavelength blue optical light, to longer-wavelength red optical light. But electro-magnetic radiation that the human eye cannot see, because the wavelength is too long or short, is equally real. Astronomers call this “ultra-violet light” or “radio light”. The radio-light extends the rainbow beyond the red edge we see. The radio rainbow itself also goes from “bluer”, short-wavelength radio to “redder” long-wavelength radio. Radio wavelengths are a million times longer than the wavelengths of optical blue and red, but fundamentally they are just “colours”: radio colours.

    The team of astronomers have now studied a Fast Radio Burst at two radio wavelengths – one bluer, one much redder – at the same time. Fast Radio Bursts are some of the brightest flashes in the radio sky, but they emit outside of our human vision. They only last about 1/1000th of a second. The energy required to form Fast Radio Bursts must be exceedingly high. Still, their exact nature is unknown. Some Fast Radio Bursts repeat, and in the case of FRB 20180916B, that repetition is periodic. This periodicity led to a series of models in which Fast Radio Bursts come from a pair of stars orbiting each other. The binary orbit and stellar wind then create the periodicity. “Strong stellar winds from the companion of the Fast Radio Burst source were expected to let most blue, short-wavelength radio light escape the system. But the redder long-wavelength radio should be blocked more, or even completely,” says Inés Pastor-Marazuela (The University of Amsterdam [Universiteit van Amsterdam](NL) and ASTRON), the first author of the publication.

    2
    We report how the Westerbork dishes (left) detected a periodic, short Fast Radio Burst in the blue, high-frequency radio sky. Time passed, the steady background stars turned into trails. Only much later did the same source emit in the red, low-frequency radio sky. The LOFAR telescope (right) now detected these for the first time. This chromatic behaviour shows the bursts are not periodically blocked by binary-star winds. (Image credit: Joeri van Leeuwen)

    To test this model, the astronomer team combined the LOFAR and renewed Westerbork telescopes. They could thus simultaneously study FRB 20180916B at two radio colours. Westerbork looked at the bluer wavelength of 21 centimetre, LOFAR observed the much redder, 3-meter wavelength. Both telescopes recorded radio movies with thousands of frames per second. A very fast machine-learning supercomputer quickly detected bursts. “Once we analysed the data, and compared the two radio colours, we were very surprised”, says Pastor-Marazuela. “Existing binary-wind models predicted the bursts should shine only in blue, or at least last much longer there. But we saw 2 days of bluer, radio bursts, followed by 3 days of redder radio bursts. We rule out the original models now – something else must be going on”.

    The Fast Radio Burst detections were the first ever with LOFAR. None had been seen at any wavelengths longer than 1 meter, up to then. Dr Yogesh Maan from ASTRON first laid eyes on the LOFAR bursts: “It was thrilling to discover that Fast Radio Burst shine at such long wavelengths. After going through immense amounts of data, I had a hard time believing it at first, even though the detection was convincing. Soon, even more bursts came in.” This discovery is important because it means the redder, long-wavelength radio emission can escape the environment around the source of the Fast Radio Burst. “The fact that some Fast Radio Bursts live in clean environments, relatively unobscured by any dense electron mist in the host galaxy, is very exciting”, says co-author Dr Liam Connor (U. Amsterdam/ASTRON). “Such bare Fast Radio Bursts will allow us to hunt down the elusive baryonic matter that remains unaccounted for in the Universe”.

    Magnetars

    The LOFAR telescope and the Apertif system on Westerbork each are formidable in their own right, but the breakthroughs were made possible because the team directly connected the two, as if they were one. “We built a real-time machine learning system on Westerbork that alerted LOFAR whenever a burst came in”, says principal investigator Dr Joeri van Leeuwen (ASTRON/U. Amsterdam), “But no simultaneous LOFAR bursts were seen. First, we thought a haze around the Fast Radio Bursts was blocking all redder bursts – but surprisingly, once the bluer bursts had stopped, redder bursts appeared after all. That’s when we realised simple binary wind models were ruled out. Fast Radio Bursts are bare, and could be made by magnetars.”

    Such magnetars are neutron stars, of a much higher density than lead, that are also highly magnetic. Their magnetic fields are many times stronger than the strongest magnet in any Earth lab. “An isolated, slowly rotating magnetar best explains the behaviour we discovered”, says Pastor-Marazuela. “It feels a lot like being a detective – our observations have considerably narrowed down which Fast Radio Burst models can work.”

    Science paper:
    Chromatic periodic activity down to 120 MHz in a Fast Radio Burst

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASTRON is the ASTRON-Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy [Nederlands Instituut voor Radioastronomie] (NL). Its main office is in Dwingeloo in the Dwingelderveld National Park in the province of Drenthe. ASTRON is part of Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

    ASTRON’s main mission is to make discoveries in radio astronomy happen, via the development of new and innovative technologies, the operation of world-class radio astronomy facilities, and the pursuit of fundamental astronomical research. Engineers and astronomers at ASTRON have an outstanding international reputation for novel technology development, and fundamental research in galactic and extra-galactic astronomy. Its main funding comes from NWO.

    ASTRON’s programme has three principal elements:

    The operation of front line observing facilities, including especially the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope and LOFAR,
    The pursuit of fundamental astronomical research using ASTRON facilities, together with a broad range of other telescopes around the world and space-borne instruments (e.g. Sptizer, HST etc.)
    A strong technology development programme, encompassing both innovative instrumentation for existing telescopes and the new technologies needed for future facilities.

    In addition, ASTRON is active in the international science policy arena and is one of the leaders in the international SKA project. The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope with a total collecting area of approximately one square kilometre. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. It is a global enterprise bringing together 11 countries from the 5 continents.

    Radio telescopes

    ASTRON operates the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT), one of the largest radio telescopes in the world. The WSRT and the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT) are dedicated to explore the universe at radio frequencies ranging from 10 MHz to 8 GHz.

    In addition to its use as a stand-alone radio telescope, the Westerbork array participates in the European Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (EVN) of radio telescopes.

    ASTRON is the host institute for the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE).

    Its primary task is to operate the EVN MkIV VLBI Data Processor (correlator). JIVE also provides a high-level of support to astronomers and the Telescope Network. ASTRON also hosts the NOVA Optical/ Infrared instrumentation group.

    LOFAR is a radio telescope composed of an international network of antenna stations and is designed to observe the universe at frequencies between 10 and 250 MHz. Operated by ASTRON (NL), the network includes stations in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, the U.K., France, Poland and Ireland.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:20 pm on October 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Ten years exploring the cold dark universe", , , , Radio Astronomy   

    From ESOblog (EU): “Ten years exploring the cold dark universe” 

    From ESOblog (EU)

    At

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte] (EU) (CL)

    1
    Antennae Galaxies

    On the Ground

    8 October 2021

    Ten years ago this week, the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array, also known as ALMA, officially opened to astronomers for “early science”. The occasion was marked with the publication of its first images, revealing the swirling gas in the colliding Antennae Galaxies. Since then, ALMA has detected complex molecules, discovered discs where planets are forming, and has even helped give us the first glimpse of a black hole. To find out more about how this ambitious project came to be, we spoke to Richard Hills, ALMA Project Scientist; Itziar de Gregorio-Monsalvo, ESO Staff Astronomer when ALMA started operating and now Head of the Office for Science in Chile; and Paola Andreani, Head of the European ALMA Regional Centre at that time and now Head of the Office for Science in Garching.

    At 5000 metres above sea level, high in the Chilean Andes, the Chajnantor plateau is one of the loneliest places on Earth. It is, however, home to ALMA, a giant array of 66 antennas spread over 16km, turning their great white heads in graceful unison to look deep into the distant Universe.

    “What we can see with ALMA is the cold Universe, regions dark to our eyes but that shine bright at millimetre/submillimetre wavelengths,” explains de Gregorio-Monsalvo. “With ALMA we can mainly see cold dust and gas coming from different regions of the Universe, from very distant galaxies to nearby objects, revealing with unprecedented detail how galaxies, stars and planets form and evolve, and the building blocks of life.”

    2
    This panoramic view of the Chajnantor Plateau shows the site of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), taken from near the peak of Cerro Chico. Babak Tafreshi, an ESO Photo Ambassador, has succeeded in capturing the feeling of solitude experienced at the ALMA site, 5000 metres above sea level in the Chilean Andes. Light and shadow paint the landscape, enhancing the otherworldly appearance of the terrain. In the foreground of the image, clustered ALMA antennas look like a crowd of strange, robotic visitors to the plateau. When the telescope is completed in 2013, there will be a total of 66 such antennas in the array, operating together.

    ALMA is already revolutionising how astronomers study the Universe at millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths. Even with a partial array of antennas, ALMA is more powerful than any previous telescope at these wavelengths, giving astronomers an unprecedented capability to study the cool Universe — molecular gas and dust as well as the relic radiation of the Big Bang. ALMA studies the building blocks of stars, planetary systems, galaxies, and life itself. By providing scientists with detailed images of stars and planets being born in gas clouds near the Solar System, and detecting distant galaxies forming at the edge of the observable Universe, which we see as they were roughly ten billion years ago, it will let astronomers address some of the deepest questions of our cosmic origins.

    ALMA, an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte](EU)(CL), on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), 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.

    As a project, ALMA is unprecedented both in scale and in its pioneering example of international collaboration in astronomy. Despite the isolation of its surroundings, it was the coming together of different cultures and organisations that made its conception possible. But it wasn’t always going to be that way…

    “The ALMA project was a dream that various astronomers across the world began to form back in the 1990s”, explains Hills. “A lot of people working in the field [of millimetre-wavelength astronomy] realised that they needed a much bigger telescope and, in particular, a telescope that used lots of relatively large antennas spread over a really large region.”

    Such a telescope is called an interferometer, which works by combining the light from each of its antennas to discern much finer details than would be possible with an individual antenna. The technique is notoriously challenging — “Interferometry is a very tricky beast!” confirms Andreani.

    Initially, three separate groups in Europe, Japan and the USA developed plans for such a telescope. But it soon became apparent that the best way to realise this dream would be to merge these projects, creating one large facility instead of three separate ones. The three major astronomical institutes that agreed to undertake this ambitious project were ESO in Europe, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in the USA, and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) in East Asia. The three partners also shared the construction of the antennas, with slightly different designs but ultimately the same specifications. ESO and NRAO would provide 25 12-m antennas each, and NAOJ would contribute 4 12-m antennas and 12 7-m ones.

    Once the partners had come together and the plans for the three projects were developed into a single telescope design, ALMA started to come to life in 2001, with plans for a 10-year construction period. Working as a Project Scientist, Hills was able to experience first hand some of the challenges and triumphs of this process. “I think the original plan back in 2000 was that we would be ready for this so-called early science period, in 2007, and by 2007 we hadn’t even got the first antenna!” he says.

    Fortunately after a slow start, ALMA’s construction quickly picked up pace. “There was no time to be bored!” says de Gregorio-Monsalvo. “There were so many things to develop and test to make ALMA possible that the first light seemed really far-off. But thanks to the effort of a great team the goal was achieved.”

    3
    Assembly of the first European antenna.
    Credit: S. Rossi/ESO/ALMA.

    4
    A European Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) antenna takes a ride on Lore, one of the ALMA Transporters, at the 2900-metre altitude Operations Support Facility in the Chilean Andes. This took place on 23 June 2010, and was the first time that European antennas have been lifted with the transporters, a procedure that was fully successful, with both moves completed in a single day.

    The first two European antennas for ALMA have been moved to two new outdoor foundation pads in order to perform tests of their dish surface accuracy. In this process, known as holography, the antennas observe the signals from a special transmitter located on a nearby tower. In order to allow parallel assembly of several antennas, two new foundations have recently been built. As the newly built foundations lie between the original positions of the two antennas and the holography tower, the antennas were moved to the new locations.

    In September 2011, ALMA opened for its “early science” period, with astronomers from across the globe able to use the new telescope for the first time. At this time only 16 of the eventual 66 antennas were available to use. Even then, ALMA was still bigger in scale than any previous interferometer and the excitement among the astronomical community was palpable. To observe with ALMA –– or any other telescope –– astronomers must submit proposals that are evaluated by a panel of experts; only a few will be successful. For this first observation period, ALMA received over 900 proposals, but only around 100 were selected!

    5
    Data from the first “early science” observing night arriving at the consoles in the control room.
    Credit: I. de Gregorio-Monsalvo.

    “The thing that was amazing was that as soon as all the equipment came together, everything worked more or less out of the box,” remembers Hills. “The first images came out and the scientific results started to flow. The results were fantastic –– well beyond our expectations in many cases.”

    “It was amazing in terms of human relation and amazing in terms of scientific discovery.” agrees Adreani.

    De Gregorio-Monsalvo also remembers how she felt at ALMA first light: “It was very rewarding for me and I felt very proud of myself and of my ALMA colleagues. When I saw the first light I thought that all the invested effort and all the sleepless nights had been worth it.”

    During the construction of ALMA in Chile, other challenges were being tackled behind the scenes as the ALMA partners worked to define how the observatory would be operated. Three ALMA Regional Centres (ARCs) were created to interact with astronomers worldwide. “It was the first time that a big international facility built this kind of user support mode which was spread around,” says Andreani. “The main difficulty really was to communicate, and to convince people that we are always working towards the same goal — we all wanted to make this facility work and be successful. We built the entire operation. The first years were pretty intensive. We set up all the procedures, we agreed on all the policies, we wrote all the documents which are now available both for public and for internal purposes,” she says.

    Ultimately the leap into the unknown regarding the organisation of ALMA paid off and Adreani felt the ARCs were especially successful. “I see that still the people supporting the users are doing a wonderful job, they are offering more and more help. I think it’s now a model which many other facilities are copying.”

    Now, a decade after it opened for early science, ALMA has been at the forefront of many discoveries. “My favourite scientific discovery made by ALMA was the image of the dust disc surrounding the young star HL Tau, revealing the planetary genesis,” says de Gregorio-Monsalvo. “I still remember the awed silence of the team after we saw that image for the first time!” Hills agrees: “When that first came out it just blew our minds.”

    6
    ALMA image of the protoplanetary disc around HL Tauri.

    This is the sharpest image ever taken by ALMA — sharper than is routinely achieved in visible light with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. It shows the protoplanetary disc surrounding the young star HL Tauri. These new ALMA observations reveal substructures within the disc that have never been seen before and even show the possible positions of planets forming in the dark patches within the system. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO).

    Messier 87*, The first image of the event horizon of a black hole. This is the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy Messier 87. Image via The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration released on 10 April 2019 via National Science Foundation(US).

    Another scientific highlight with ALMA is the role it played in the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration to deliver the first image of a black hole, the supermassive black hole at the heart of the M87 galaxy. This was an impressive feat, as it required combining data gathered by several radio telescopes all over the world, functioning as a single planet-sized facility. “When we built the telescope we knew the science specifications that needed to be reached, but we were not prepared to see transformational science in just one single image,” says de Gregorio-Monsalvo.

    “Indeed it is delivering very astonishing results in all astronomical fields,” adds Andreani.

    In addition to its scientific achievements, all the scientists agree that ALMA has been a triumph of cooperation on a global scale. “It holds up as an example of international collaboration paying off. It certainly couldn’t have been done in its successful form by a single one of the partners,” says Hills.

    See the full article here .


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

    European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte] (EU) is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design,

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    European Southern Observatory(EU) ExTrA telescopes at erro LaSilla at an altitude of 2400 metres.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:28 am on September 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "This May Be the First Planet Found Orbiting 3 Stars at Once", GW Ori is a star system 1300 light years from Earth in the constellation of Orion., , , Radio Astronomy,   

    From The New York Times : “This May Be the First Planet Found Orbiting 3 Stars at Once” 

    From The New York Times

    Sept. 28, 2021
    Jonathan O’Callaghan


    An artist’s animation of the three stars’ movement at the center of GW Orionis, based on a computer model using observations made by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. Credit: L. Calçada/European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte](EU)(CL)/Kraus et al./The University of Exeter (UK).

    GW Ori is a star system 1300 light years from Earth in the constellation of Orion. It is surrounded by a huge disk of dust and gas, a common feature of young star systems that are forming planets. But fascinatingly, it is a system with not one star, but three.

    As if that were not intriguing enough, GW Ori’s disk is split in two, almost like Saturn’s rings if they had a massive gap in between. And to make it even more bizarre, the outer ring is tilted at about 38 degrees.

    Scientists have been trying to explain what is going on there [https://sciencesprings.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/from-european-southern-observatory-new-observations-show-planet-forming-disc-torn-apart-by-its-three-central-stars/]. Some hypothesized that the gap in the disk could be the result of one or more planets [The Astrophysical Journal Letters] forming in the system. If so, this would be the first known planet that orbits three stars at once, also known as a circumtriple planet.

    Now the GW Ori system has been modeled in greater detail [MNRAS], and researchers say a planet — a gassy world as massive as Jupiter — is the best explanation for the gap in the dust cloud. Although the planet itself cannot be seen, astronomers may be witnessing it carve out its orbit in its first million years of its existence.

    A paper on the finding was published in September in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society [above]. The scientists say it disproves an alternative explanation — that the gravitational torque of the stars cleared the space in the disk. Their paper suggests there is not enough turbulence in the disk, known as its viscosity, for this explanation to suffice.

    The finding also highlights how much more there is to learn about the unexpected ways in which planets can form.

    2
    An image made by the ALMA telescope, left, shows the GW Ori disc’s ringed structure, with the innermost ring separated from the rest of the disc. The SPHERE observations, right, show the shadow of this innermost ring on the rest of the disc. Credit: L. Calçada/European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte](EU)(CL)/Kraus et al./The University of Exeter (UK)

    Anyone who has watched George Lucas’ original Star Wars is familiar with planets that can have two stars rising and falling in its skies. Luke Skywalker’s dusty home of Tatooine was in such a binary star system. But a planet orbiting three stars would be more unusual.

    If a familiar life form could dwell on a gas giant like the one that would be orbiting GW Ori, it would not actually be able to see the three stars in its skies. Rather, they would see only a pair as the two innermost stars orbit so close as to appear like a single point of light. Yet as the planet rotated, its stars would rise and fall in fascinating sunrises and sunsets unlike any other known world.

    Star Wars missed a trick,” said Rebecca Nealon from The University of Warwick (UK), a co-author on the paper.

    Scientists have been on the lookout for a planet orbiting three stars, and found potential evidence in another system, GG Tau A [Nature], located about 450 light years from Earth. But the researchers say the gap in GW Ori’s gas and dust ring makes it a more convincing example.

    “It may be the first evidence of a circumtriple planet carving a gap in real time,” said Jeremy Smallwood from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, lead author of the new paper.

    William Welsh, an astronomer at San Diego State University, said the researchers “make a good case. If this turns out to be a planet, it would be fascinating.”

    Alison Young from the University of Leicester in England who has argued that GW Ori’s stars caused the gap in the system’s disk, rather than a planet, notes that observations from the ALMA telescope and Very Large Telescope in Chile in the coming months could end the debate.

    “We’ll be able to look for direct evidence of a planet in the disk,” Dr. Young said.

    If the planet hypothesis is confirmed, the system would reinforce the idea that planet formation is common. Several worlds, known as circumbinary planets, are already known to orbit two stars at once. But circumtriple planets have been harder to come by — despite estimates that at least a tenth [ApJS] of all stars cluster in systems of three or more. Yet their possible existence suggests that planets spring up in all sorts of places, even here in this most bizarre of systems.

    “Three stars is not enough to kill planet formation,” Dr. Nealon said.

    That suggests that exoplanets are likely to arise in more and more unusual locations. “What we’ve learned is any time planets can form, they do,” said Sean Raymond, an astronomer from the University of Bordeaux in France who was not involved in the paper.

    Perhaps even a world orbiting four, or five, or six stars at once?

    “I don’t see why not,” he said.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 10:57 am on September 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Unusual structure of giant radio galaxy J0133−1302 detected by astronomers", , Radio Astronomy   

    From phys.org : “Unusual structure of giant radio galaxy J0133−1302 detected by astronomers” 

    From phys.org

    September 27, 2021
    Tomasz Nowakowski

    1
    Radio image of the GRG J0133−1302. Credit: Mhlahlo et al., 2021.

    Using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), astronomers from South Africa and Poland have conducted radio observations of a giant radio galaxy (GRG) known as J0133−1302.

    The observational campaign revealed that the galaxy has an unusual complex structure. The finding is reported in a paper published September 17 for MNRAS.

    GRGs are radio galaxies with an overall projected linear length exceeding at least 2.28 million light years. They are rare objects grown in low-density environments. GRGs are important for astronomers to study the formation and the evolution of radio sources.

    GRG J0133−1302 was discovered at a redshift of approximately 0.3 by the 7-dish Karoo Array Telescope (KAT-7) in the field of the cluster of galaxies ACO209 at a frequency of 1.83 GHz.

    2
    KAT-7. Square Kilometre Array site, north of Carnarvon, Northern Cape, South Africa.

    KAT-7 observations also detected extended emission from J0133−1302 in the form of two symmetric lobes. Further monitoring of the field of this GRG, mainly as part of the NRAO VLA Sky Survey (NVSS), identified four peculiar sources that received designations: S1 (southern-east SE lobe), S2 (core), S3 and S4 (northern-west NW lobe).

    However, due to poor resolution of the KAT-7 radio telescope and small collecting area, it was difficult to resolve the detected components of J0133−1302 into distinct sources. That is why astronomers led by Nceba Mhlahlo of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg decided to perform follow-up radio observations of this GRG with GMRT, hoping to shed more light on these sources.

    “For a deeper and detailed analysis, there was a need for high-resolution observations, which we obtained from the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT; Swarup et al. 1991). For the first time, our GMRT observations have resolved the extended sources in Colafrancesco et al. (2016) into new sources which were not previously observed in the KAT-7 and NVSS structures,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

    Using GMRT, Mhlahlo’s team has analyzed the radio core and lobes of J0133−1302. The lobes, designated L1 and L2, turned out to have a steep spectrum, what is contrasted by the flat inverted spectrum of the core. L1 and L2 have spectral index values of about −0.92 and −0.79, respectively, while the spectral index of the core is approximately 0.7. This suggests decaying emission of the lobes and restarting core activity for J0133−1302.

    The research found that the two lobes are not symmetric as previously thought but exceptionally asymmetric—the upper lobe is much further from the core when compared to the lower lobe. The observations also revealed that the upper lobe has a complex structure.

    According to the astronomers, the complex structure of the upper lobe suggests the presence of another unidentified source. This source, located in the proximity to the upper lobe’s edge resembles a bent-double, or distorted bent tail (DBT) radio galaxy.

    Summing up the results, the authors of the paper noted that J0133−1302 is restarting activity in the nucleus, which makes it one of only few known sources with episodic activity in an active galactic nucleus (AGN). The collected data also suggest that J0133−1302 may be GigaHertz Peaked Spectrum (GPS) radio galaxy; however, further observations of this object are required in order to confirm this.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 11:25 am on September 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Radio Astronomy   

    From ALMA Observatory (CL) : “ALMA Discover Most Ancient Spiral Galaxy” 

    European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte](EU)(CL)/National Radio Astronomy Observatory(US)/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan(JP)

    From ALMA Observatory (CL)

    20 May, 2021

    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

    Bárbara Ferreira
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Phone: +49 89 3200 6670
    Email: pio@eso.org
    Amy C. Oliver
    Public Information & News Manager
    National Radio Astronomical Observatory (NRAO), USA
    Phone: +1 434 242 9584
    Email: aoliver@nrao.edu

    All general references:
    ALMA Observatory (CL)
    European Southern Observatory(EU)
    National Astronomical Observatory of Japan(JP)
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory(US)

    1
    ALMA image of the galaxy BRI 1335-0417 at 12.4 billion years ago. ALMA detected emissions from carbon ions in the galaxy. Spiral arms are visible on both sides of the compact, bright area in the galaxy center. Credit: T. Tsukui & S. Iguchi ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)


    Supercomputer simulation of spiral galaxy formation. Over about 13.5 billion years, small galaxies merge one after another into a single giant spiral galaxy. Please note that this video was created in 2007 and is not a reproduction of the current study. Credit: Takaaki Takeda, Sorahiko Nukatani, Takayuki Saito, 4D2U Project, NAOJ.

    Analyzing data obtained with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), researchers found a galaxy with a spiral morphology in the Universe, only 1.4 billion years after the Big Bang. This is the most ancient galaxy of its kind ever observed. The discovery of a galaxy with a spiral structure at such an early stage is an essential clue to solve the classic questions of astronomy: “How and when did spiral galaxies form?”

    “I was excited because I had never seen such clear evidence of a rotating disk, spiral structure, and centralized mass structure in a distant galaxy in any previous literature,” says Takafumi Tsukui, a graduate student at SOKENDAI-Graduate University for Advanced Studies [総合研究大学院大学] (JP) and the lead author of the research paper published in the journal Science. “The quality of the ALMA data was so good that I was able to see so much detail that I thought it was a nearby galaxy.”

    The Milky Way Galaxy, where we live, is a spiral galaxy. Spiral galaxies are fundamental objects in the Universe, accounting for as much as 70% of the total number of galaxies. However, studies have shown that the proportion of spiral galaxies declines rapidly as we look back through the history of the Universe. So, when were the spiral galaxies formed?

    Tsukui and his supervisor Satoru Iguchi, a professor at SOKENDAI and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, noticed a galaxy called BRI 1335-0417 in the ALMA Science Archive. The galaxy existed 12.4 billion years ago and contained a large amount of dust which obscures the starlight, making it difficult to study this galaxy in detail with visible light. On the other hand, ALMA can detect radio emissions from carbon ions in the galaxy, enabling astronomers to investigate what is going on in the galaxy.

    The researchers found a spiral structure extending about 15,000 light-years from the center of the galaxy: one-third of the size of the Milky Way. The estimated total mass of stars and interstellar matter in BRI 1335-0417 is roughly identical to that of the Milky Way.

    “As BRI 1335-0417 is a very distant object, we might not be able to see the true edge of the galaxy in this observation,” comments Tsukui. “For a galaxy that existed in the early Universe, BRI 1335-0417 was giant.”

    Then the question becomes, how was this distinct spiral structure formed in only 1.4 billion years after the Big Bang? The researchers considered multiple possible causes and suggested that it could be due to an interaction with a small galaxy. BRI 1335-0417 is actively forming stars, and the researchers found that the gas in the outer part of the galaxy is gravitationally unstable, which is conducive to star formation. This situation is likely to occur when a large amount of gas is supplied from the outside, possibly due to collisions with smaller galaxies.

    The fate of BRI 1335-0417 is also shrouded in mystery. Galaxies that contain large amounts of dust and actively produce stars in the ancient Universe are thought to be the ancestors of the giant elliptical galaxies in the present Universe. In that case, BRI 1335-0417 changes its shape from a disk galaxy to an elliptical one in the future. Or, contrary to the conventional view, the galaxy may remain a spiral galaxy for a long time. BRI 1335-0417 will play an essential role in studying the evolution of galaxy shape evolution over the long history of the Universe.

    “Our Solar System lodges in one of the Milky Way spiral arms,” explains Iguchi. “Tracing the roots of spiral structure will provide us with clues as to the environment in which the Solar System was born. I hope that this research will further advance our understanding of the formation history of galaxies.”

    Additional Information

    These research results are presented in Science on Thursday, 20 May 2021.

    See the full article here .

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    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)(CL) , 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 European Southern Observatory(EU), on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (US) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.
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    ALMA is a time machine!

    ALMA-In Search of our Cosmic Origins

     
  • richardmitnick 10:47 am on September 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "ALMA Unveils Galaxies at Cosmic Dawn That Were Hiding Behind the Dust", , , , European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte](EU)(CL); National Radio Astronomy Observatory(US); National Astronomical Observatory of Japan(JP), , , Radio Astronomy,   

    From ALMA Observatory (CL): “ALMA Unveils Galaxies at Cosmic Dawn That Were Hiding Behind the Dust” 

    European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte](EU)(CL)/National Radio Astronomy Observatory(US)/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan(JP)

    From ALMA Observatory (CL)

    22 September, 2021

    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

    Bárbara Ferreira
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Phone: +49 89 3200 6670
    Email: pio@eso.org
    Amy C. Oliver
    Public Information & News Manager
    National Radio Astronomical Observatory (NRAO), USA
    Phone: +1 434 242 9584
    Email: aoliver@nrao.edu

    All general references:
    ALMA Observatory (CL)
    European Southern Observatory(EU)
    National Astronomical Observatory of Japan(JP)
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory(US)

    1
    Distant galaxies imaged with ALMA, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the European Southern Observatory’s VISTA telescope.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US)/European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganisation] (EU) Hubble Space Telescope

    Part of ESO’s Paranal Observatory the VLT Survey Telescope (VISTA) observes the brilliantly clear skies above the Atacama Desert of Chile. It is the largest survey telescope in the world in visible light, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    Green and orange colors represent radiations from ionized carbon atoms and dust particles, respectively, observed with ALMA, and blue represents near-infrared radiation observed with VISTA and Hubble Space Telescopes. REBELS-12 and REBELS-29 detected both near-infrared radiation and radiation from ionized carbon atoms and dust. On the other hand, REBELS-12-2 and REBELS-29-2 have not been detected in the near-infrared, which suggests that these galaxies are deeply buried in dust. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, ESO, Fudamoto et al.

    2
    A schematic of the results of this research. ALMA revealed a hitherto undiscovered galaxy as it is buried deep in dust (artist’s impression in upper right) in a region where the Hubble Space Telescope could not see anything (left). Researchers serendipitously discovered the new hidden galaxy while observing an already well-known typical young galaxy (artist’s impression in lower right) Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

    While investigating the data of young, distant galaxies observed with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), Yoshinobu Fudamoto from Waseda University [早稲田大学](JP) and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan noticed unexpected emissions coming from seemingly empty regions in space that, a global research team confirmed, came actually from two hitherto undiscovered galaxies heavily obscured by cosmic dust. This discovery suggests that numerous such galaxies might still be hidden in the early Universe, many more than researchers were expecting.

    When astronomers peer deep into the night sky, they observe what the Universe looked like a long time ago. Because the speed of light is finite, studying the most distant observable galaxies allows us to glimpse billions of years into the past when the Universe was very young and galaxies had just started to form stars. Studying this “early Universe” is one of the last frontiers in Astronomy and is essential for constructing accurate and consistent astrophysics models. A key goal of scientists is to identify all the galaxies in the first billion years of cosmic history and to measure the rate at which galaxies were growing by forming new stars.

    Various efforts have been made over the past decades to observe distant galaxies, which are characterized by electromagnetic emissions that become strongly redshifted (shifted towards longer wavelengths) before reaching the Earth. So far, our knowledge of early galaxies has mostly relied on observations with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and large ground-based telescopes, which probe their ultra-violet (UV) emission. However, recently, astronomers have started to use the unique capability of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope to study distant galaxies at submillimeter wavelengths. This could be particularly useful for studying dusty galaxies missed in the HST surveys due to the dust absorbing UV emission. Since ALMA observes in submillimeter wavelengths, it can detect these galaxies by observing the dust emissions instead.

    In an ongoing large program called REBELS (Reionization-Era Bright Emission Line Survey), astronomers are using ALMA to observe the emissions of 40 target galaxies at cosmic dawn. Using this dataset, they have recently discovered that the regions around some of these galaxies contain more than meets the eye.

    While analyzing the observed data for two REBELS galaxies, Fudamoto noticed strong emission by dust and singly ionized carbon in positions substantially offset from the initial targets. To his surprise, even highly sensitive equipment like the HST couldn’t detect any UV emission from these locations. To understand these mysterious signals, Fudamoto and his colleagues investigated matters further.

    In their latest paper published in Nature, astronomers presented a thorough analysis, revealing that these unexpected emissions came from two previously unknown galaxies located near the two original REBELS targets. These galaxies are not visible in the UV or visible wavelengths as they are almost completely obscured by cosmic dust. One of them represents the most distant dust-obscured galaxy discovered so far.

    What is most surprising about this serendipitous finding is that the newly discovered galaxies, which formed more than 13 billion years ago, are not strange at all when compared with typical galaxies at the same epoch. “These new galaxies were missed not because they are extremely rare, but only because they are completely dust-obscured,” explains Fudamoto. However, it is uncommon to find such “dusty” galaxies in the early period of the Universe (less than 1 billion years after the Big Bang), suggesting that the current census of early galaxy formation is most likely incomplete, and would call for deeper, blind surveys. “It is possible that we have been missing up to one out of every five galaxies in the early Universe so far,” Fudamoto adds.

    The researchers expect that the unprecedented capability of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and its strong synergy with ALMA would lead to significant advances in this field in the coming years. “Completing our census of early galaxies with the currently missing dust-obscured galaxies, like the ones we found this time, will be one of the main objectives of JWST and ALMA surveys in the near future,” states Pascal Oesch from University of Geneva.

    Overall, this study constitutes an important step in uncovering when the very first galaxies started to form in the early Universe, which in turn shall help us understand where we are standing today.

    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)(CL) , 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 European Southern Observatory(EU), on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (US) 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

    ALMA is a time machine!

    ALMA-In Search of our Cosmic Origins

     
  • richardmitnick 10:21 am on September 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "ALMA Reveals Carbon-Rich Organic Birth Environments of Planets", , , , , , Radio Astronomy   

    From ALMA Observatory (CL) /European Southern Observatory (EU)(CL)/National Radio Astronomy Observatory(US)/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan(JP): “ALMA Reveals Carbon-Rich Organic Birth Environments of Planets” 

    European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte](EU)(CL)/National Radio Astronomy Observatory(US)/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan(JP) ALMA Observatory (CL)

    15 September, 2021

    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

    Bárbara Ferreira
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Phone: +49 89 3200 6670
    Email: pio@eso.org
    Amy C. Oliver
    Public Information & News Manager
    National Radio Astronomical Observatory (NRAO), USA
    Phone: +1 434 242 9584
    Email: aoliver@nrao.edu

    All general references:
    ALMA Observatory (CL)
    European Southern Observatory(EU)
    National Astronomical Observatory of Japan(JP)
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory(US)

    1
    This composite image of ALMA data from the young star HD 163296 shows hydrogen cyanide emission laid over a starfield. The MAPS project zoomed in on hydrogen cyanide and other organic and inorganic compounds in planet-forming disks to gain a better understanding of the compositions of young planets and how the compositions link to where planets form in a protoplanetary disk. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/D. Berry (NRAO), K. Öberg et al (MAPS)

    An international collaboration of scientists using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has completed the most extensive chemical composition mapping of the protoplanetary disks around five nearby young stars at high resolution, producing images that capture the molecular composition associated with planetary births, and a roadmap for future studies of the makeup of planet- and comet-forming regions. The new study unlocks clues about the role of molecules in planetary system formation, and whether these young planetary systems in the making have what it takes to host life. The results of the program, appropriately called MAPS, or Molecules with ALMA at Planet-forming Scales, will appear in an upcoming 20-paper special edition of The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.

    Planets form in the disks of dust and gas—also called protoplanetary disks—surrounding young stars. The chemical makeup of—or molecules contained within—these disks may have an impact on the planets themselves, including how and where planetary formation occurs, the chemical composition of the planets, and whether those planets have the organic composition necessary to support life. MAPS specifically looked at the protoplanetary disks surrounding the young stars IM Lup, GM Aur, AS 209, HD 163296, and MWC 480, where evidence of ongoing planet formation has already been detected. The project led to multiple exciting discoveries, including a link between dust and chemical substructures and the presence of large reservoirs of organic molecules in the inner disk regions of the stars.

    “With ALMA we were able to see how molecules are distributed where exoplanets are currently assembling,” said Karin Öberg, an astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA)(US) and the Principal Investigator for MAPS. “One of the really exciting things we saw is that the planet-forming disks around these five young stars are factories of a special class of organic molecules, so-called nitriles, which are implicated in the origins of life here on Earth.”

    Simple organic molecules like HCN, C2H, and H2CO were observed throughout the project in unprecedented detail, thanks to the sensitivity and resolving power of ALMA’s Band 3 and Band 6 receivers. “In particular, we were able to observe the amount of small organic molecules in the inner regions of disks, where rocky planets are likely assembling,” said Viviana V. Guzmán, an astronomer at The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile [Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile] (CL)’s Institute of Astrophysics[Instituto de Astrofísica](CL), lead author on MAPS VI and a MAPS co-Principal Investigator. “We’re finding that our own Solar System is not particularly unique, and that other planetary systems around other stars have enough of the basic ingredients to form the building blocks of life.”

    Scientists also observed more complex organic molecules like HC3N, CH3CN, and c-C3H2—notably those containing carbon, and therefore most likely to act as the feedstock of larger, prebiotic molecules. Although these molecules have been detected in protoplanetary disks before, MAPS is the first systematic study across multiple disks at very high spatial resolution and sensitivity, and the first study to find the molecules at small scales and in such significant quantities. “We found more of the large organic molecules than expected, a factor of 10 to 100 more, located in the inner disks on scales of the Solar System, and their chemistry appears similar to that of Solar System comets,” said John Ilee, an astronomer at The University of Leeds (UK) and the lead author of MAPS IX. “The presence of these large organic molecules is significant because they are the stepping-stones between simpler carbon-based molecules such as carbon monoxide, which is found in abundance in space, and the more complex molecules that are required to create and sustain life.”

    Molecules are not distributed uniformly across planet-forming disks, however, as evidenced in MAPS III and IV, which revealed that while the general disk compositions appear to be similar to the Solar System, zooming in at high resolution reveals some diversity in composition that could result in planet-to-planet differences. “Molecular gas in protoplanetary disks is often found in sets of distinct rings and gaps,” said Charles Law, CfA astronomer and lead author on MAPS III and IV. “But the same disk observed in different molecular emission lines often looks completely different, with each disk having multiple molecular faces. This also means that planets in different disks or even in the same disk at different locations may form in radically different chemical environments.” This means that some planets form with the necessary tools for building and sustaining life while other nearby planets may not.

    One of those radically different environments occurs in the space surrounding Jupiter-like planets, where scientists found the gas to be poor in carbon, oxygen, and heavier elements, while rich in hydrocarbons, such as methane. “The chemistry that is seen in protoplanetary disks should be inherited by forming planets,” said Arthur Bosman, an astronomer at The University of Michigan (US) and lead author of MAPS VII. “Our findings suggest that many gas giants may form with extremely oxygen-poor (carbon-rich) atmospheres, challenging current expectations of planet compositions.”

    Taken all together, MAPS is providing exactly that: a map for scientists to follow, connecting the dots between the gas and dust in a protoplanetary disk and the planets that eventually form from them to create a planetary system. “A planet’s composition is a record of the location in the disk in which it was formed,” said Bosman. “Connecting planet and disk composition enables us to peer into the history of a planet and helps us to understand the forces that formed it.”

    Joe Pesce, astronomer and ALMA program officer at the National Science Foundation (US) notes, “whether life exists beyond Earth is one of humanity’s fundamental questions. We now know planets are found everywhere, and the next step is to determine if they have the conditions necessary for life as we know it (and how common that situation might be). The MAPS program will help us better answer these questions. ALMA’s search for precursors to life far from Earth complements studies conducted in laboratories, and in places like hydrothermal vents on Earth.”

    Öberg added, “MAPS is the culmination of decades of work on the chemistry of planet-forming disks by scientists using ALMA and its precursors. Although MAPS has surveyed just five disks at this time, we had no idea how chemically complex and visually stunning these disks really were until now. MAPS has first answered questions we could not have imagined asking decades ago, and also presented us with many more questions to answer.”

    Additional Information

    The highlighted papers of this research are:

    “Molecules with ALMA at Planet-forming Scales (MAPS) I: Program overview and highlights,” K. Öberg et al, ApJS, preview [ https://arxiv.org/pdf/2109.06268.pdf ]

    “Molecules with ALMA at Planet-forming Scales (MAPS) III: Characteristics of radial chemical substructures,” C. Law et al, ApJS, preview [ https://arxiv.org/pdf/2109.06210.pdf ]

    “Molecules with ALMA at Planet-forming Scales (MAPS). IV: Emission Surfaces and Vertical Distribution of Molecules,” C. Law, ApJS, preview [ https://arxiv.org/pdf/2109.06217.pdf ]

    “Molecules with ALMA at Planet-forming Scales (MAPS) VI: Distribution of the small organics HCN, C2H, and H2CO,” V. Guzmán et al, ApJS, preview [ https://arxiv.org/pdf/2109.06391.pdf ]

    “Molecules with ALMA at Planet-forming Scales (MAPS) VII: Substellar O/H and C/H and superstellar C/O in planet-feeding gas,” A. Bosman et al, ApJS, preview [ https://arxiv.org/pdf/2109.06221.pdf ]

    “Molecules with ALMA at Planet-forming Scales (MAPS) IX: “Distribution and properties of the large organic molecules HC3N, CH3CN, and c-C3H2,” J. Ilee et al, ApJS, preview [ https://arxiv.org/pdf/2109.06319.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)(CL) , 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 European Southern Observatory(EU), on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (US) 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

    ALMA is a time machine!

    ALMA-In Search of our Cosmic Origins

     
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