Tagged: Space based Astronomy Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 11:02 am on June 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers discover two new polars", , According to the study ZTFJ0850+0443 is an eclipsing polar with an orbital period of 1.72 hours at a distance of some 3260 light years away from the Earth., , At a distance of about 1200 light years ZTFJ0926+0105 is a non-eclipsing polar with an orbital period of about 1.48 hours., , Cataclysmic variables (CVs) are binary star systems comprising a white dwarf and a normal star companion., , , Space based Astronomy, , Two new polars which received designation ZTFJ0850+0443 and ZTFJ0926+0105.   

    From The California Institute of Technology via “phys.org” : “Astronomers discover two new polars” 

    Caltech Logo

    From The California Institute of Technology



    June 20, 2022
    Tomasz Nowakowski

    Folded light curve of ZTFJ0850+0443 (top, orbital perdiod = 1.72 hours) over ZTF forced photometry. Large amplitude variations (1–2 mag) are characteristic of cyclotron beaming in polars. Credit: Rodriguez et al, 2022.

    By analyzing the data from the Spektr-RG (SRG) space observatory and from the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), astronomers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and elsewhere have discovered two new polars. The discovery is reported in a paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal.

    Cataclysmic variables (CVs) are binary star systems comprising a white dwarf and a normal star companion. They irregularly increase in brightness by a large factor, then drop back down to a quiescent state. Polars are a subclass of cataclysmic variables distinguished from other CVs by the presence of a very strong magnetic field in their white dwarfs.

    Now, a team of astronomers led by Caltech’s Antonio C. Rodriguez has found two new polars which received designation ZTFJ0850+0443 and ZTFJ0926+0105. The detection is a result of crossmatching the eROSITA Final Equatorial Depth Survey (eFEDS) catalog with forced photometry of ZTF Data Release 5 (DR5).

    “We have discovered two polars: ZTFJ0850+0443 and ZTFJ0926+0105, through a crossmatch of the eFEDS dataset and ZTF archival photometry,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

    According to the study ZTFJ0850+0443 is an eclipsing polar with an orbital period of 1.72 hours at a distance of some 3260 light years away from the Earth. Its white dwarf has a mass of about 0.81 solar masses, while the companion star’s mass was estimated to be approximately 0.12 solar masses. The results suggest that ZTFJ0850+0443 is likely a low-field polar with magnetic field strength below 10 MG.

    At a distance of about 1200 light years ZTFJ0926+0105 is a non-eclipsing polar with an orbital period of about 1.48 hours. It has a more typical magnetic field strength of polars—at least 26 MG. Given that ZTFJ0926+0105 is not eclipsing, the team was not able to measure the mass of its white dwarf.

    The astronomers concluded that their discovery shows how important the eFEDS survey is in supplementing ZTF for the detection of new cataclysmic variables. Moreover, they added that by making use of ESA’s Gaia satellite, it will be possible to obtain precise luminosities of the newfound polars. The recent Gaia Data Release 3 (DR3), published June 13, may be very useful in this context.

    “Schwope et al (2021) identified an eclipsing polar through an eROSITA/SRG crossmatch with Gaia using a proprietary eRASS dataset,” the scientists noted.

    The research conducted by Rodriguez’s team is part of a larger follow-up analysis of the eFEDS/ZTF footprint. Such studies could be useful in overcoming observational biases in previous optical-only searches for cataclysmic variables, and would directly lead to accurate volume-limited studies of CVs.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Caltech campus

    The The California Institute of Technology is a private research university in Pasadena, California. The university is known for its strength in science and engineering, and is one among a small group of institutes of technology in the United States which is primarily devoted to the instruction of pure and applied sciences.

    The California Institute of Technology was founded as a preparatory and vocational school by Amos G. Throop in 1891 and began attracting influential scientists such as George Ellery Hale, Arthur Amos Noyes, and Robert Andrews Millikan in the early 20th century. The vocational and preparatory schools were disbanded and spun off in 1910 and the college assumed its present name in 1920. In 1934, The California Institute of Technology was elected to the Association of American Universities, and the antecedents of National Aeronautics and Space Administration ‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which The California Institute of Technology continues to manage and operate, were established between 1936 and 1943 under Theodore von Kármán.

    The California Institute of Technology has six academic divisions with strong emphasis on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. First-year students are required to live on campus, and 95% of undergraduates remain in the on-campus House System at The California Institute of Technology. Although The California Institute of Technology has a strong tradition of practical jokes and pranks, student life is governed by an honor code which allows faculty to assign take-home examinations. The The California Institute of Technology Beavers compete in 13 intercollegiate sports in the NCAA Division III’s Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC).

    As of October 2020, there are 76 Nobel laureates who have been affiliated with The California Institute of Technology, including 40 alumni and faculty members (41 prizes, with chemist Linus Pauling being the only individual in history to win two unshared prizes). In addition, 4 Fields Medalists and 6 Turing Award winners have been affiliated with The California Institute of Technology. There are 8 Crafoord Laureates and 56 non-emeritus faculty members (as well as many emeritus faculty members) who have been elected to one of the United States National Academies. Four Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force and 71 have won the United States National Medal of Science or Technology. Numerous faculty members are associated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as well as National Aeronautics and Space Administration. According to a 2015 Pomona College study, The California Institute of Technology ranked number one in the U.S. for the percentage of its graduates who go on to earn a PhD.


    The California Institute of Technology is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”. Caltech was elected to The Association of American Universities in 1934 and remains a research university with “very high” research activity, primarily in STEM fields. The largest federal agencies contributing to research are National Aeronautics and Space Administration; National Science Foundation; Department of Health and Human Services; Department of Defense, and Department of Energy.

    In 2005, The California Institute of Technology had 739,000 square feet (68,700 m^2) dedicated to research: 330,000 square feet (30,700 m^2) to physical sciences, 163,000 square feet (15,100 m^2) to engineering, and 160,000 square feet (14,900 m^2) to biological sciences.

    In addition to managing NASA-JPL/Caltech , The California Institute of Technology also operates the Caltech Palomar Observatory; the Owens Valley Radio Observatory;the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory; the W. M. Keck Observatory at the Mauna Kea Observatory; the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory at Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford, Washington; and Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory in Corona del Mar, California. The Institute launched the Kavli Nanoscience Institute at The California Institute of Technology in 2006; the Keck Institute for Space Studies in 2008; and is also the current home for the Einstein Papers Project. The Spitzer Science Center, part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center located on The California Institute of Technology campus, is the data analysis and community support center for NASA’s Spitzer Infrared Space Telescope [no longer in service].

    The California Institute of Technology partnered with University of California at Los Angeles to establish a Joint Center for Translational Medicine (UCLA-Caltech JCTM), which conducts experimental research into clinical applications, including the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer.

    The California Institute of Technology operates several Total Carbon Column Observing Network stations as part of an international collaborative effort of measuring greenhouse gases globally. One station is on campus.

  • richardmitnick 9:44 am on June 19, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Gaia space telescope rocks the science of asteroids", , , , , Space based Astronomy, , There is a significant increase in the number of close encounters between Gaia-detected asteroids.   

    From The University of Helsinki [Helsingin yliopisto] (FI) : “Gaia space telescope rocks the science of asteroids” 

    From The University of Helsinki [Helsingin yliopisto] (FI)

    Academy Professor Karri Muinonen
    University of Helsinki
    +358 50 415 5474

    Reference frames
    Professor Markku Poutanen
    National Land Survey of Finland
    Finnish Geospatial Research Institute FGI
    +358 40 7182152

    Associate Professor Mikael Granvik
    University of Helsinki
    Luleå University of Technology
    +358 50 521 7209

    Docent, University Researcher Antti Penttilä
    University of Helsinki
    +358 50 524 0968

    Exoplanets and variable stars
    University Researcher Mikko Tuomi
    University of Helsinki
    +358 40 500 7454

    Galaxies and cosmology
    Docent, Academy Research Fellow Till Sawala,
    University of Helsinki
    +358 440 418000

    The European Gaia space mission has produced an unprecedented amount of new, improved, and detailed data for almost two billion objects in the Milky Way galaxy and the surrounding cosmos.

    The Gaia Data Release 3 on Monday revolutionizes our knowledge of the Solar System and the Milky Way and its satellite galaxies.

    The Gaia DR3 astrometry is so accurate that the angular offset between the asteroid’s center of mass and the center of the area illuminated by the Sun and visible to Gaia must be accounted for. See for more details below. (Image: Reference and image credit: Tanga, P., Muinonen, K., Penttilä, A., et al., 2022, Astronomy & Astrophysics, in press.)

    The Gaia space mission of the European Space Agency ESA is constructing an ultra precise three-dimensional map of our Milky Way galaxy, observing almost two billion stars or roughly one percent of all the stars in our galaxy. Gaia was launched in December 2013 and has collected science data from July 2014. On Monday, June 13, ESA released Gaia data in Data Release 3 (DR3). Finnish researchers were strongly involved in the release.

    Gaia data allows, for example, for the derivation of asteroid and exoplanet orbits and physical properties. The data helps unveil the origin and future evolution of the Solar System and the Milky Way and helps understand stellar and planetary-system evolution and our place in the cosmos.

    Gaia revolves about its axis slowly in about six hours and is composed of two optical space telescopes. Three science instruments allow for accurate determination of stellar positions and velocities as well as the spectral properties. Gaia resides at about 1,5 million kilometers from the Earth in the anti-Sun direction, where it orbits the Sun together with the Earth in the proximity of the so-called Sun-Earth Lagrange L2-point.

    Gaia DR3 on June 13, 2022 was significant across astronomy. Some 50 scientific articles are being published with DR3, of which nine articles have been devoted to underscoring the exceptionally significant potential of DR3 for future research.

    The new DR3 data comprises, for example, the chemical compositions, temperatures, colors, masses, brightnesses, ages, and radial velocities of stars. DR3 includes the largest ever binary star catalog for the Milky Way, more than 150 000 Solar System objects, largely asteroids but also planetary satellites, as well as millions of galaxies and quasars beyond the Milky Way.

    There are so many revolutionary advances that it is difficult to pinpoint a single most significant advance. Based on Gaia DR3, Finnish researchers will change the conception of asteroids in our Solar System, exoplanets and stars in our Milky Way galaxy, as well as galaxies themselves, including the Milky Way and its surrounding satellite galaxies. Returning to our home planet, Gaia will produce an ultraprecise reference frame for navigation and positioning, says Academy Professor Karri Muinonen from the University of Helsinki.

    Gaia and asteroids

    The ten-fold increase in the number of asteroids reported in Gaia DR3 as compared to DR2 means that there is a significant increase in the number of close encounters between Gaia-detected asteroids. These close encounters can be utilized for asteroid mass estimation and we expect a significant increase in the number of asteroid masses to be derived by using Gaia DR3 astrometry, in particular, when combined with astrometry obtained by other telescopes.

    In the conventional computation of an asteroid’s orbit, the asteroid is assumed to be a point-like object and its size, shape, rotation and surface light scattering properties are not taken into account. The Gaia DR3 astrometry is, however, so accurate that the angular offset between the asteroid’s center of mass and the center of the area illuminated by the Sun and visible to Gaia must be accounted for. Based on Gaia DR3, the offset has been certified for asteroid (21) Lutetia (Figure 2 [See Astronomy & Astrophysics above]).

    The The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU) Rosetta space mission imaged Lutetia during the flyby on July 10, 2010.

    With the help of the Rosetta Lutetia imagery and ground-based astronomical observations, a rotation period, rotational pole orientation, and detailed shape model were derived. When the physical modeling is incorporated into orbit computation, the systematic errors are removed and, contrary to conventional computation, all observations can be incorporated into the orbit solution. Consequently, the Gaia astrometry provides information about the physical properties of asteroids. These properties need to be taken into account using physical models or empirical error models for the astrometry.

    The Gaia DR3 includes, for the first time, spectral observations. The spectrum measures the color of the target, meaning the brightness at different wavelengths. One especially interesting feature is that the new release contains about 60 000 spectra of asteroids in our Solar System (Figure 3). The asteroid spectrum contains information on their composition and, thus, about their origin and the evolution of the whole Solar System. Before the Gaia DR3, there has been only few thousand asteroid spectra available, so Gaia will multiply the amount of data by more than an order of magnitude.

    Gaia and exoplanets

    Gaia is expected to produce detections of up to 20 000 giant exoplanets by measuring their gravitational effect on the movement of their host stars. This will enable finding virtually all Jupiter-like exoplanets in the Solar neighbourhood over the coming years and determining how common are Solar System -like architectures. The first such astrometric Gaia detection was a giant exoplanet around epsilon Indi A, that corresponds to the nearest Jupiter-like exoplanet only 12 light years away. The first such detections are possible because acceleration observed in radial velocity surveys can be combined with movement data from Gaia to determine the orbits and planetary masses.

    Gaia and galaxies

    The microarcsecond resolution of Gaia DR3 provides precise measurements of the motions of stars, not only within our own Milky Way galaxy, but also for the many satellite galaxies that surround it.

    From the motion of stars within the Milky Way itself, we can accurately measure its mass, and together with the proper motion of satellites, we can now accurately determine their orbits. This lets us look both into the past and into the future of the Milky Way galaxy system. For example, we can find out which of the galaxies that surround the Milky Way are true satellites, and which are just passing by. We can also investigate if the evolution of the Milky Way conforms to cosmological models, and in particular, whether the satellite orbits fit the standard dark matter model.

    Gaia and reference frames

    The International Celestial Reference Frame, ICRF3, is based on the position of a few thousand quasars determined by Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) at radio wavelengths.

    ICRF-3 Credit: https//www.semanticscholar.org

    ICRF3 is used to obtain the coordinates of celestial objects and to determine the orbits of satellites. Quasars of ICRF3 are also fixed points on the sky that can be used to determine the precise orientation of the Earth in space at any time. Without this information, for example, satellite positioning would not work.

    Gaia’s data contain about 1,6 million quasars, which can be used to create a more accurate Celestial Reference Frame in visible light replacing the current one. In the future, this will have an impact on the accuracy of both satellite positioning and measurements of Earth-exploring satellites.

    The importance of DR3 and future data releases is in the improved accuracy due to increased data, summarizes Professor Markku Poutanen from the National Land Survey of Finland.

    University of Helsinki Gaia DR3 press event, June 13, 2022

    10.30 Opening, Gaia space mission, Karri Muinonen
    10.35 Small Solar System bodies, Mikael Granvik
    10.45 Discussion
    11.00 ESA Central Event
    12.00 Lunch
    13.00 Gaia Data Release 3 highlights, Asteroid characterization from photometry, Karri Muinonen
    13.20 Asteroid masses from astrometry, Mikael Granvik
    13.30 Asteroid classifications from spectroscopy, Antti Penttilä
    13.40 Exoplanets and variable stars, Mikko Tuomi
    13.50 Galaxies, Till Sawala
    14.00 Reference frames, Markku Poutanen
    14.10 Questions and answers, discussion, Anne Virkki (chair)
    15.00 Closing, Karri Muinonen

    Recordings of the University of Helsinki Gaia DR3 press event


    Full overview of the Gaia DR3 contents

    Data Release papers

    Along with the Gaia DR3 data release documentation, several data processing papers will be published describing the specifics of the data processing and validation performed by the different coordination units in the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC). There will also be some papers on the performance verification of Gaia, providing basic demonstrations of the scientific potential of the Gaia DR3 catalogue.

    Please be aware that the Gaia DR3 papers are complemented with the Gaia EDR3 papers which were published with the Gaia Early Data Release 3.

    The titles of the Gaia DR3 performance verification papers will be announced closer to the release of Gaia DR3.

    Media Kit for Gaia DR3

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Helsinki main building

    University of Helsinki, Viikki campus focusing on biological sciences

    The University of Helsinki (FI) (Helsingin yliopisto abbreviated UH) is a university located in Helsinki, Finland since 1829, but was founded in the city of Turku (in Swedish Åbo) in 1640 as the Royal Academy of Åbo, at that time part of the Swedish Empire. It is the oldest and largest university in Finland with the widest range of disciplines available. Around 36,500 students are currently enrolled in the degree programs of the university spread across 11 faculties and 11 research institutes.

    As of 1 August 2005, the university complies with the harmonized structure of the Europe-wide Bologna Process and offers Bachelor, Master, Licenciate, and Doctoral degrees. Admission to degree programmes is usually determined by entrance examinations, in the case of bachelor’s degrees, and by prior degree results, in the case of master and postgraduate degrees. Entrance is particularly selective (circa 15% of the yearly applicants are admitted). It has been ranked a top 100 university in the world according to the 2016 ARWU, QS and THE rankings.

    The university is bilingual, with teaching by law provided both in Finnish and Swedish. Since Swedish, albeit an official language of Finland, is a minority language, Finnish is by far the dominating language at the university. Teaching in English is extensive throughout the university at Master, Licentiate, and Doctoral levels, making it a de facto third language of instruction.

    Remaining true to its traditionally strong Humboldtian ethos, the University of Helsinki places heavy emphasis on high-quality teaching and research of a top international standard. It is a member of various prominent international university networks, such as EUROPAEUM (EU), UNICA (EU), the Utrecht Network (EU), and is a founding member of the League of European Research Universities (EU).

  • richardmitnick 10:37 am on June 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Did Supernovae Help Form Barnard's Loop?", , , , Space based Astronomy,   

    From The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics: “Did Supernovae Help Form Barnard’s Loop?” 

    From The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics


    A new view begins to piece together the 3D puzzle of Orion and how Barnard’s Loop may have formed.

    Credit: Michael Foley.

    Astronomers studying the structure of the Milky Way galaxy have released the highest-resolution 3D view of the Orion star-forming region. The image and interactive figure were presented today at a press conference hosted by the American Astronomical Society.

    Led by researchers at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, the work connects 3D data on young stars and interstellar gas around the Orion complex of star-forming regions. Analysis of the 2D and 3D images, alongside theoretical modeling, shows that supernova explosions within the last 4 million years produced large cavities in the interstellar material associated with Orion.

    One particular cavity the team discovered may help explain the origin of Barnard’s Loop, a famous and mysterious semi-circle in the night sky first observed in 1894.

    Building a 3D Model of Orion. To 3D and Beyond.

    The study, which is available on Authorea, relies on 3D positions and velocities for young stars and interstellar clouds obtained using Gaia, a space telescope run by the European Space Agency.

    The team combined the Gaia-derived 3D data with existing 2D observations of the Orion region to piece together its star-formation history.

    “Our first large-scale 3D look at Orion tells us so much,” says Michael Foley, a graduate student at the Center for Astrophysics (CfA) who led the study. “Prior to this work, most studies of Orion were confined to two dimensions — up-down and left-right on the sky. By adding in the third dimension — distance — we can begin to map out all sorts of interesting structures, like huge cavities of gas and dust or clusters of stars with very interesting motions. Combining the information from the interstellar gas and stars leads us to believe cavities were produced by a number of supernovae over the last few million years.”

    “Orion has had quite an exciting history,” he adds.

    Catching the Culprit: Finding a Source for Barnard’s Loop

    One of the cavities detected by the team appears to correspond with Barnard’s Loop, a famous, giant arc of hot gas in the Orion region that astronomers have studied for over a hundred years. The origin of the arc is debated, but the new study offers evidence that a certain cluster of stars, which produced one or more supernovae, played a very large role in the formation of Barnard’s Loop.

    Most of the new star formation in the Orion complex appears to happen on the edges of the giant cavities — one of which is nearly 500 light years wide — that appear throughout the region, suggesting that the supernovae that formed the cavities are ultimately responsible for the formation of the next generation of stars.

    Supernovae Everywhere

    The new findings are consistent with the team’s previous work on the Per-Tau Supershell Local Bubble around the Sun.

    “It seems clear that we are going to see a ‘swiss cheese’ picture of the interstellar medium, with stars forming at the edge of the holes, as we map more and more of the galaxy,” says Alyssa Goodman, Harvard professor, CfA astronomer and co-author on the study.

    “We believe that shells and loops in Orion, the Per-Tau shell, and the Local Bubble are the first of many discoveries relating new star formation to old supernovae, Foley says. “Supernovae sweep up gas and dust into dense clumps, leading to the perfect birthplaces for new stars. The Orion region, rich in both star formation and supernovae, is the latest example of that.”

    The new Orion results support the theory that when massive stars end their lives as supernova explosions, they create conditions ripe for the formation of new stars. The team is hard at work analyzing other regions in the Milky Way galaxy in 3D, and using numerical simulations, to see just how common supernova-driven star formation really is.

    “Thanks to the work of many incredible scientists, 3D data will transform our understanding of star formation in our galaxy,” Foley notes. “It may be much more explosive than we even imagine!”

    Seeing, and Publishing, in 3D

    The scholarly paper presenting the Orion work contains 3D interactive figures showcasing the findings, as do essentially all of this team’s recent publications. The team’s interactive figures, which have appeared over the past few years in Nature, The Astrophysical Journal, and The Astrophysical Journal Letters, were produced using the “glue” visualization software created and funded by NASA in-part to explore incoming data from the James Webb Space Telescope.

    The figures make use of a plug-in for glue, written by co-author Catherine Zucker of the Space Telescope Science Institute, to export any author’s figures to an interactive graphing environment. The plug-in allows authors to manipulate figures in an ordinary web browser and explore their data further.

    Use of the open-source glue software, and web versions of it, are currently making their way from astronomy to other areas of science, thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation and the Moore Foundation, as well as collaborations with commercial partners.

    Goodman, the founder of glue, hopes that, “soon all scientists will explore their ‘universes’ in 3D, and share findings in publications just as easily as astronomers can today.”

    Additional co-authors on the paper are: John Forbes of the Flatiron Institute; Shmuel Bialy of the University of Maryland; Cameren Swiggum, Josefa Groβschedl, and João Alves of the University of Vienna; Michael Grudic of the Carnegie Observatories; John Bally of the University of Colorado; Juan Soler of the Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology (Rome); and Reimar Leike and Torsten Ensslin of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

    Founded in 1973 and headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the CfA leads a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, Earth and space sciences, as well as science education. The CfA either leads or participates in the development and operations of more than fifteen ground- and space-based astronomical research observatories across the electromagnetic spectrum, including the forthcoming Giant Magellan Telescope(CL) and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, one of NASA’s Great Observatories.

    GMT Giant Magellan Telescope(CL) 21 meters, to be at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s NSF NOIRLab NOAO Las Campanas Observatory(CL) some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration Chandra X-ray telescope.

    Hosting more than 850 scientists, engineers, and support staff, the CfA is among the largest astronomical research institutes in the world. Its projects have included Nobel Prize-winning advances in cosmology and high energy astrophysics, the discovery of many exoplanets, and the first image of a black hole. The CfA also serves a major role in the global astrophysics research community: the CfA’s Astrophysics Data System, for example, has been universally adopted as the world’s online database of astronomy and physics papers. Known for most of its history as the “Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics”, the CfA rebranded in 2018 to its current name in an effort to reflect its unique status as a joint collaboration between Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution. The CfA’s current Director (since 2004) is Charles R. Alcock, who succeeds Irwin I. Shapiro (Director from 1982 to 2004) and George B. Field (Director from 1973 to 1982).

    The Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian is not formally an independent legal organization, but rather an institutional entity operated under a Memorandum of Understanding between Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution. This collaboration was formalized on July 1, 1973, with the goal of coordinating the related research activities of the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) under the leadership of a single Director, and housed within the same complex of buildings on the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The CfA’s history is therefore also that of the two fully independent organizations that comprise it. With a combined lifetime of more than 300 years, HCO and SAO have been host to major milestones in astronomical history that predate the CfA’s founding.

    History of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO)

    Samuel Pierpont Langley, the third Secretary of the Smithsonian, founded the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory on the south yard of the Smithsonian Castle (on the U.S. National Mall) on March 1,1890. The Astrophysical Observatory’s initial, primary purpose was to “record the amount and character of the Sun’s heat”. Charles Greeley Abbot was named SAO’s first director, and the observatory operated solar telescopes to take daily measurements of the Sun’s intensity in different regions of the optical electromagnetic spectrum. In doing so, the observatory enabled Abbot to make critical refinements to the Solar constant, as well as to serendipitously discover Solar variability. It is likely that SAO’s early history as a solar observatory was part of the inspiration behind the Smithsonian’s “sunburst” logo, designed in 1965 by Crimilda Pontes.

    In 1955, the scientific headquarters of SAO moved from Washington, D.C. to Cambridge, Massachusetts to affiliate with the Harvard College Observatory (HCO). Fred Lawrence Whipple, then the chairman of the Harvard Astronomy Department, was named the new director of SAO. The collaborative relationship between SAO and HCO therefore predates the official creation of the CfA by 18 years. SAO’s move to Harvard’s campus also resulted in a rapid expansion of its research program. Following the launch of Sputnik (the world’s first human-made satellite) in 1957, SAO accepted a national challenge to create a worldwide satellite-tracking network, collaborating with the United States Air Force on Project Space Track.

    With the creation of National Aeronautics and Space Administration the following year and throughout the space race, SAO led major efforts in the development of orbiting observatories and large ground-based telescopes, laboratory and theoretical astrophysics, as well as the application of computers to astrophysical problems.

    History of Harvard College Observatory (HCO)

    Partly in response to renewed public interest in astronomy following the 1835 return of Halley’s Comet, the Harvard College Observatory was founded in 1839, when the Harvard Corporation appointed William Cranch Bond as an “Astronomical Observer to the University”. For its first four years of operation, the observatory was situated at the Dana-Palmer House (where Bond also resided) near Harvard Yard, and consisted of little more than three small telescopes and an astronomical clock. In his 1840 book recounting the history of the college, then Harvard President Josiah Quincy III noted that “…there is wanted a reflecting telescope equatorially mounted…”. This telescope, the 15-inch “Great Refractor”, opened seven years later (in 1847) at the top of Observatory Hill in Cambridge (where it still exists today, housed in the oldest of the CfA’s complex of buildings). The telescope was the largest in the United States from 1847 until 1867. William Bond and pioneer photographer John Adams Whipple used the Great Refractor to produce the first clear Daguerrotypes of the Moon (winning them an award at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London). Bond and his son, George Phillips Bond (the second Director of HCO), used it to discover Saturn’s 8th moon, Hyperion (which was also independently discovered by William Lassell).

    Under the directorship of Edward Charles Pickering from 1877 to 1919, the observatory became the world’s major producer of stellar spectra and magnitudes, established an observing station in Peru, and applied mass-production methods to the analysis of data. It was during this time that HCO became host to a series of major discoveries in astronomical history, powered by the Observatory’s so-called “Computers” (women hired by Pickering as skilled workers to process astronomical data). These “Computers” included Williamina Fleming; Annie Jump Cannon; Henrietta Swan Leavitt; Florence Cushman; and Antonia Maury, all widely recognized today as major figures in scientific history. Henrietta Swan Leavitt, for example, discovered the so-called period-luminosity relation for Classical Cepheid variable stars, establishing the first major “standard candle” with which to measure the distance to galaxies. Now called “Leavitt’s Law”, the discovery is regarded as one of the most foundational and important in the history of astronomy; astronomers like Edwin Hubble, for example, would later use Leavitt’s Law to establish that the Universe is expanding, the primary piece of evidence for the Big Bang model.

    Upon Pickering’s retirement in 1921, the Directorship of HCO fell to Harlow Shapley (a major participant in the so-called “Great Debate” of 1920). This era of the observatory was made famous by the work of Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin, who became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in astronomy from Radcliffe College (a short walk from the Observatory). Payne-Gapochkin’s 1925 thesis proposed that stars were composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, an idea thought ridiculous at the time. Between Shapley’s tenure and the formation of the CfA, the observatory was directed by Donald H. Menzel and then Leo Goldberg, both of whom maintained widely recognized programs in solar and stellar astrophysics. Menzel played a major role in encouraging the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to move to Cambridge and collaborate more closely with HCO.

    Joint history as the Center for Astrophysics (CfA)

    The collaborative foundation for what would ultimately give rise to the Center for Astrophysics began with SAO’s move to Cambridge in 1955. Fred Whipple, who was already chair of the Harvard Astronomy Department (housed within HCO since 1931), was named SAO’s new director at the start of this new era; an early test of the model for a unified Directorship across HCO and SAO. The following 18 years would see the two independent entities merge ever closer together, operating effectively (but informally) as one large research center.

    This joint relationship was formalized as the new Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics on July 1, 1973. George B. Field, then affiliated with University of California- Berkeley, was appointed as its first Director. That same year, a new astronomical journal, the CfA Preprint Series was created, and a CfA/SAO instrument flying aboard Skylab discovered coronal holes on the Sun. The founding of the CfA also coincided with the birth of X-ray astronomy as a new, major field that was largely dominated by CfA scientists in its early years. Riccardo Giacconi, regarded as the “father of X-ray astronomy”, founded the High Energy Astrophysics Division within the new CfA by moving most of his research group (then at American Sciences and Engineering) to SAO in 1973. That group would later go on to launch the Einstein Observatory (the first imaging X-ray telescope) in 1976, and ultimately lead the proposals and development of what would become the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Chandra, the second of NASA’s Great Observatories and still the most powerful X-ray telescope in history, continues operations today as part of the CfA’s Chandra X-ray Center. Giacconi would later win the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics for his foundational work in X-ray astronomy.

    Shortly after the launch of the Einstein Observatory, the CfA’s Steven Weinberg won the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on electroweak unification. The following decade saw the start of the landmark CfA Redshift Survey (the first attempt to map the large scale structure of the Universe), as well as the release of the Field Report, a highly influential Astronomy & Astrophysics Decadal Survey chaired by the outgoing CfA Director George Field. He would be replaced in 1982 by Irwin Shapiro, who during his tenure as Director (1982 to 2004) oversaw the expansion of the CfA’s observing facilities around the world.

    Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory located near Amado, Arizona on the slopes of Mount Hopkins, Altitude 2,606 m (8,550 ft)

    European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganisation] (EU)/National Aeronautics and Space Administration SOHO satellite. Launched in 1995.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency NASA Kepler Space Telescope

    CfA-led discoveries throughout this period include canonical work on Supernova 1987A, the “CfA2 Great Wall” (then the largest known coherent structure in the Universe), the best-yet evidence for supermassive black holes, and the first convincing evidence for an extrasolar planet.

    The 1990s also saw the CfA unwittingly play a major role in the history of computer science and the internet: in 1990, SAO developed SAOImage, one of the world’s first X11-based applications made publicly available (its successor, DS9, remains the most widely used astronomical FITS image viewer worldwide). During this time, scientists at the CfA also began work on what would become the Astrophysics Data System (ADS), one of the world’s first online databases of research papers. By 1993, the ADS was running the first routine transatlantic queries between databases, a foundational aspect of the internet today.

    The CfA Today

    Research at the CfA

    Charles Alcock, known for a number of major works related to massive compact halo objects, was named the third director of the CfA in 2004. Today Alcock overseas one of the largest and most productive astronomical institutes in the world, with more than 850 staff and an annual budget in excess of $100M. The Harvard Department of Astronomy, housed within the CfA, maintains a continual complement of approximately 60 Ph.D. students, more than 100 postdoctoral researchers, and roughly 25 undergraduate majors in astronomy and astrophysics from Harvard College. SAO, meanwhile, hosts a long-running and highly rated REU Summer Intern program as well as many visiting graduate students. The CfA estimates that roughly 10% of the professional astrophysics community in the United States spent at least a portion of their career or education there.

    The CfA is either a lead or major partner in the operations of the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, the Submillimeter Array, MMT Observatory, the South Pole Telescope, VERITAS, and a number of other smaller ground-based telescopes. The CfA’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan includes the construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope as a driving priority for the Center.

    CFA Harvard Smithsonian Submillimeter Array on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, Altitude 4,205 m (13,796 ft).

    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL. The SPT collaboration is made up of over a dozen (mostly North American) institutions, including The University of Chicago ; The University of California-Berkeley ; Case Western Reserve University; Harvard/Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; The University of Colorado- Boulder; McGill (CA) University, The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; The University of California- Davis; Ludwig Maximilians Universität München(DE); DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory; and The National Institute for Standards and Technology.

    Along with the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the CfA plays a central role in a number of space-based observing facilities, including the recently launched Parker Solar Probe, Kepler Space Telescope, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), and HINODE. The CfA, via the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, recently played a major role in the Lynx X-ray Observatory, a NASA-Funded Large Mission Concept Study commissioned as part of the 2020 Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics (“Astro2020”). If launched, Lynx would be the most powerful X-ray observatory constructed to date, enabling order-of-magnitude advances in capability over Chandra.

    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration Solar Dynamics Observatory.

    Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) (国立研究開発法人宇宙航空研究開発機構] (JP)/National Aeronautics and Space Administration HINODE spacecraft.

    SAO is one of the 13 stakeholder institutes for the Event Horizon Telescope Board, and the CfA hosts its Array Operations Center. In 2019, the project revealed the first direct image of a black hole.

    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.

    The result is widely regarded as a triumph not only of observational radio astronomy, but of its intersection with theoretical astrophysics. Union of the observational and theoretical subfields of astrophysics has been a major focus of the CfA since its founding.

    In 2018, the CfA rebranded, changing its official name to the “Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian” in an effort to reflect its unique status as a joint collaboration between Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution. Today, the CfA receives roughly 70% of its funding from NASA, 22% from Smithsonian federal funds, and 4% from the National Science Foundation. The remaining 4% comes from contributors including the United States Department of Energy, the Annenberg Foundation, as well as other gifts and endowments.

  • richardmitnick 9:26 pm on June 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Wandering star disrupts stellar nursery", A young protostar in L483, , , , , , Space based Astronomy   

    From Northwestern University: “Wandering star disrupts stellar nursery” 

    Northwestern U bloc

    From Northwestern University

    June 13, 2022
    Amanda Morris

    A young protostar in L483 and its signature outflow peeks out through a shroud of dust in this infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

    Stars are known to form from collapsing clumps of gas and dust, or envelopes, seen here around a forming star system as a dark blob, or shadow, against a dusty background. The greenish color shows jets coming away from the young star within. The envelope is roughly 100 times the size of our solar system. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/J.Tobin (University of Michigan)

    From a zoomed out, distant view, star-forming cloud L483 appears normal. But when a Northwestern University-led team of astrophysicists zoomed in closer and closer, things became weirder and weirder.

    As the researchers peered closer into the cloud, they noticed that its magnetic field was curiously twisted. And then — as they examined a newborn star within the cloud — they spotted a hidden star, tucked behind it.

    “It’s the star’s sibling, basically,” said Northwestern’s Erin Cox, who led the new study. “We think these stars formed far apart, and one moved closer to the other to form a binary. When the star traveled closer to its sibling, it shifted the dynamics of the cloud to twist its magnetic field.”

    The new findings provide insight into binary star formation and how magnetic fields influence the earliest stages of developing stars.

    Cox presented this research at the 240th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Pasadena, California. “The Twisted Magnetic Field of L483” will take place on Tuesday, June 14, as a part of a session on “Magnetic Fields and Galaxies.” The Astrophysical Journal.

    Cox is a postdoctoral associate at Northwestern’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA).

    Twisted mystery

    Stellar nurseries are wild and wondrous places. As dense clouds of gas and dust collapse to form stars, they launch outflows of stellar material at hypersonic speeds. A magnetic field surrounding a star-forming cloud is typically parallel to these outflows. When Cox and her collaborators observed the large-scale L483 cloud, they discovered just that. The magnetic field matched this typical profile.

    But then the astrophysicists decided to take a closer look with NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), and this is when things became strange.

    The magnetic field was not, in fact, parallel to the newborn stars’ outflows. Instead, the field was twisted at a 45-degree angle, with respect to the outflows.

    “At first, it matched what theory predicts,” Cox said. “If you have a magnetized collapse, then the magnetic field is controlling how the star is forming. We expect to see this parallelism. But theory can say one thing, and observations can say another.”

    Unusual binary formation

    Although more observations are needed, Cox believes a previously hidden sibling star may be responsible for the twisted field. Using SOFIA, the astrophysics team spotted one newborn star forming inside an envelope of material. But upon closer examination with radio telescopes at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, the researchers spotted the second star, sharing the same stellar envelope.

    “These stars are still young and still forming,” Cox said. “The stellar envelope is what supplies the material to form the stars. It’s similar to rolling a snowball in snow to make it bigger and bigger. The young stars are ‘rolling’ in material to build up mass.”

    About the same distance apart as our sun to Pluto, the two young stars form a binary system. Currently, astrophysicists agree that binaries can be formed when star-forming clouds are large enough to produce two stars or when the disc rotating around a young star partially collapses to make a second star.

    But for the twin stars in L483, Cox suspects something unusual is at play.

    “There is newer work that suggests it’s possible to have two stars form faraway from each other, and then one star moves in closer to form a binary,” Cox said. “We think that’s what is happening here. We don’t know why one star would move toward another one, but we think the moving star shifted the dynamics of the system to twist the magnetic field.”

    Cox believes this new work ultimately could provide new insights into how binary stars — and the planets that orbit them — form. Most people are familiar with the iconic scene from “Star Wars,” in which Luke Skywalker wistfully gazes up at the binary stars that his home planet Tatooine orbits. Now, scientists know this scenario is not merely science fiction; planets orbiting binary stars potentially could be habitable worlds.

    “Learning how binary stars form is exciting because planet and star formation take place at the same time, and binary stars dynamically interact with each other,” Cox said. “In our census of exoplanets, we know planets exist around these double stars, but we don’t know much about how these planets differ from the ones that live around isolated stars. With new instruments coming online to discover and probe new binary systems, we will be able to test these results with a statistical sample.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Northwestern South Campus
    South Campus

    Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston, Illinois. Founded in 1851 to serve the former Northwest Territory, the university is a founding member of the Big Ten Conference.

    On May 31, 1850, nine men gathered to begin planning a university that would serve the Northwest Territory.

    Given that they had little money, no land and limited higher education experience, their vision was ambitious. But through a combination of creative financing, shrewd politicking, religious inspiration and an abundance of hard work, the founders of Northwestern University were able to make that dream a reality.

    In 1853, the founders purchased a 379-acre tract of land on the shore of Lake Michigan 12 miles north of Chicago. They established a campus and developed the land near it, naming the surrounding town Evanston in honor of one of the University’s founders, John Evans. After completing its first building in 1855, Northwestern began classes that fall with two faculty members and 10 students.
    Twenty-one presidents have presided over Northwestern in the years since. The University has grown to include 12 schools and colleges, with additional campuses in Chicago and Doha, Qatar.

    Northwestern is known for its focus on interdisciplinary education, extensive research output, and student traditions. The university provides instruction in over 200 formal academic concentrations, including various dual degree programs. The university is composed of eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, which include the Kellogg School of Management, the Pritzker School of Law, the Feinberg School of Medicine, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the Bienen School of Music, the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Medill School of Journalism, the School of Communication, the School of Professional Studies, the School of Education and Social Policy, and The Graduate School. As of fall 2019, the university had 21,946 enrolled students, including 8,327 undergraduates and 13,619 graduate students.

    Valued at $12.2 billion, Northwestern’s endowment is among the largest university endowments in the United States. Its numerous research programs bring in nearly $900 million in sponsored research each year.

    Northwestern’s main 240-acre (97 ha) campus lies along the shores of Lake Michigan in Evanston, 12 miles north of Downtown Chicago. The university’s law, medical, and professional schools, along with its nationally ranked Northwestern Memorial Hospital, are located on a 25-acre (10 ha) campus in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood. The university also maintains a campus in Doha, Qatar and locations in San Francisco, California, Washington, D.C. and Miami, Florida.

    As of October 2020, Northwestern’s faculty and alumni have included 1 Fields Medalist, 22 Nobel Prize laureates, 40 Pulitzer Prize winners, 6 MacArthur Fellows, 17 Rhodes Scholars, 27 Marshall Scholars, 23 National Medal of Science winners, 11 National Humanities Medal recipients, 84 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 10 living billionaires, 16 Olympic medalists, and 2 U.S. Supreme Court Justices. Northwestern alumni have founded notable companies and organizations such as the Mayo Clinic, The Blackstone Group, Kirkland & Ellis, U.S. Steel, Guggenheim Partners, Accenture, Aon Corporation, AQR Capital, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Melvin Capital.

    The foundation of Northwestern University can be traced to a meeting on May 31, 1850, of nine prominent Chicago businessmen, Methodist leaders, and attorneys who had formed the idea of establishing a university to serve what had been known from 1787 to 1803 as the Northwest Territory. On January 28, 1851, the Illinois General Assembly granted a charter to the Trustees of the North-Western University, making it the first chartered university in Illinois. The school’s nine founders, all of whom were Methodists (three of them ministers), knelt in prayer and worship before launching their first organizational meeting. Although they affiliated the university with the Methodist Episcopal Church, they favored a non-sectarian admissions policy, believing that Northwestern should serve all people in the newly developing territory by bettering the economy in Evanston.

    John Evans, for whom Evanston is named, bought 379 acres (153 ha) of land along Lake Michigan in 1853, and Philo Judson developed plans for what would become the city of Evanston, Illinois. The first building, Old College, opened on November 5, 1855. To raise funds for its construction, Northwestern sold $100 “perpetual scholarships” entitling the purchaser and his heirs to free tuition. Another building, University Hall, was built in 1869 of the same Joliet limestone as the Chicago Water Tower, also built in 1869, one of the few buildings in the heart of Chicago to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In 1873 the Evanston College for Ladies merged with Northwestern, and Frances Willard, who later gained fame as a suffragette and as one of the founders of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), became the school’s first dean of women (Willard Residential College, built in 1938, honors her name). Northwestern admitted its first female students in 1869, and the first woman was graduated in 1874.

    Northwestern fielded its first intercollegiate football team in 1882, later becoming a founding member of the Big Ten Conference. In the 1870s and 1880s, Northwestern affiliated itself with already existing schools of law, medicine, and dentistry in Chicago. Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law is the oldest law school in Chicago. As the university’s enrollments grew, these professional schools were integrated with the undergraduate college in Evanston; the result was a modern research university combining professional, graduate, and undergraduate programs, which gave equal weight to teaching and research. By the turn of the century, Northwestern had grown in stature to become the third largest university in the United States after Harvard University and the University of Michigan.

    Under Walter Dill Scott’s presidency from 1920 to 1939, Northwestern began construction of an integrated campus in Chicago designed by James Gamble Rogers, noted for his design of the Yale University campus, to house the professional schools. The university also established the Kellogg School of Management and built several prominent buildings on the Evanston campus, including Dyche Stadium, now named Ryan Field, and Deering Library among others. In the 1920s, Northwestern became one of the first six universities in the United States to establish a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC). In 1939, Northwestern hosted the first-ever NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship game in the original Patten Gymnasium, which was later demolished and relocated farther north, along with the Dearborn Observatory, to make room for the Technological Institute.

    After the golden years of the 1920s, the Great Depression in the United States (1929–1941) had a severe impact on the university’s finances. Its annual income dropped 25 percent from $4.8 million in 1930-31 to $3.6 million in 1933-34. Investment income shrank, fewer people could pay full tuition, and annual giving from alumni and philanthropists fell from $870,000 in 1932 to a low of $331,000 in 1935. The university responded with two salary cuts of 10 percent each for all employees. It imposed hiring and building freezes and slashed appropriations for maintenance, books, and research. Having had a balanced budget in 1930-31, the university now faced deficits of roughly $100,000 for the next four years. Enrollments fell in most schools, with law and music suffering the biggest declines. However, the movement toward state certification of school teachers prompted Northwestern to start a new graduate program in education, thereby bringing in new students and much needed income. In June 1933, Robert Maynard Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, proposed a merger of the two universities, estimating annual savings of $1.7 million. The two presidents were enthusiastic, and the faculty liked the idea; many Northwestern alumni, however, opposed it, fearing the loss of their Alma Mater and its many traditions that distinguished Northwestern from Chicago. The medical school, for example, was oriented toward training practitioners, and alumni feared it would lose its mission if it were merged into the more research-oriented University of Chicago Medical School. The merger plan was ultimately dropped. In 1935, the Deering family rescued the university budget with an unrestricted gift of $6 million, bringing the budget up to $5.4 million in 1938-39. This allowed many of the previous spending cuts to be restored, including half of the salary reductions.

    Like other American research universities, Northwestern was transformed by World War II (1939–1945). Regular enrollment fell dramatically, but the school opened high-intensity, short-term programs that trained over 50,000 military personnel, including future president John F. Kennedy. Northwestern’s existing NROTC program proved to be a boon to the university as it trained over 36,000 sailors over the course of the war, leading Northwestern to be called the “Annapolis of the Midwest.” Franklyn B. Snyder led the university from 1939 to 1949, and after the war, surging enrollments under the G.I. Bill drove dramatic expansion of both campuses. In 1948, prominent anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits founded the Program of African Studies at Northwestern, the first center of its kind at an American academic institution. J. Roscoe Miller’s tenure as president from 1949 to 1970 saw an expansion of the Evanston campus, with the construction of the Lakefill on Lake Michigan, growth of the faculty and new academic programs, and polarizing Vietnam-era student protests. In 1978, the first and second Unabomber attacks occurred at Northwestern University. Relations between Evanston and Northwestern became strained throughout much of the post-war era because of episodes of disruptive student activism, disputes over municipal zoning, building codes, and law enforcement, as well as restrictions on the sale of alcohol near campus until 1972. Northwestern’s exemption from state and municipal property-tax obligations under its original charter has historically been a source of town-and-gown tension.

    Although government support for universities declined in the 1970s and 1980s, President Arnold R. Weber was able to stabilize university finances, leading to a revitalization of its campuses. As admissions to colleges and universities grew increasingly competitive in the 1990s and 2000s, President Henry S. Bienen’s tenure saw a notable increase in the number and quality of undergraduate applicants, continued expansion of the facilities and faculty, and renewed athletic competitiveness. In 1999, Northwestern student journalists uncovered information exonerating Illinois death-row inmate Anthony Porter two days before his scheduled execution. The Innocence Project has since exonerated 10 more men. On January 11, 2003, in a speech at Northwestern School of Law’s Lincoln Hall, then Governor of Illinois George Ryan announced that he would commute the sentences of more than 150 death-row inmates.

    In the 2010s, a 5-year capital campaign resulted in a new music center, a replacement building for the business school, and a $270 million athletic complex. In 2014, President Barack Obama delivered a seminal economics speech at the Evanston campus.

    Organization and administration


    Northwestern is privately owned and governed by an appointed Board of Trustees, which is composed of 70 members and, as of 2011, has been chaired by William A. Osborn ’69. The board delegates its power to an elected president who serves as the chief executive officer of the university. Northwestern has had sixteen presidents in its history (excluding interim presidents). The current president, economist Morton O. Schapiro, succeeded Henry Bienen whose 14-year tenure ended on August 31, 2009. The president maintains a staff of vice presidents, directors, and other assistants for administrative, financial, faculty, and student matters. Kathleen Haggerty assumed the role of interim provost for the university in April 2020.

    Students are formally involved in the university’s administration through the Associated Student Government, elected representatives of the undergraduate students, and the Graduate Student Association, which represents the university’s graduate students.

    The admission requirements, degree requirements, courses of study, and disciplinary and degree recommendations for each of Northwestern’s 12 schools are determined by the voting members of that school’s faculty (assistant professor and above).

    Undergraduate and graduate schools

    Evanston Campus:

    Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (1851)
    School of Communication (1878)
    Bienen School of Music (1895)
    McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science (1909)
    Medill School of Journalism (1921)
    School of Education and Social Policy (1926)
    School of Professional Studies (1933)

    Graduate and professional

    Evanston Campus

    Kellogg School of Management (1908)
    The Graduate School

    Chicago Campus

    Feinberg School of Medicine (1859)
    Kellogg School of Management (1908)
    Pritzker School of Law (1859)
    School of Professional Studies (1933)

    Northwestern University had a dental school from 1891 to May 31, 2001, when it closed.


    In 1996, Princess Diana made a trip to Evanston to raise money for the university hospital’s Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at the invitation of then President Bienen. Her visit raised a total of $1.5 million for cancer research.

    In 2003, Northwestern finished a five-year capital campaign that raised $1.55 billion, exceeding its fundraising goal by $550 million.

    In 2014, Northwestern launched the “We Will” campaign with a fundraising goal of $3.75 billion. As of December 31, 2019, the university has received $4.78 billion from 164,026 donors.


    In January 2009, the Green Power Partnership (sponsored by the EPA) listed Northwestern as one of the top 10 universities in the country in purchasing energy from renewable sources. The university matches 74 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of its annual energy use with Green-e Certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). This green power commitment represents 30 percent of the university’s total annual electricity use and places Northwestern in the EPA’s Green Power Leadership Club. The Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN), supporting research, teaching and outreach in these themes, was launched in 2008.

    Northwestern requires that all new buildings be LEED-certified. Silverman Hall on the Evanston campus was awarded Gold LEED Certification in 2010; Wieboldt Hall on the Chicago campus was awarded Gold LEED Certification in 2007, and the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center on the Evanston campus was awarded Silver LEED Certification in 2006. New construction and renovation projects will be designed to provide at least a 20% improvement over energy code requirements where feasible. At the beginning of the 2008–09 academic year, the university also released the Evanston Campus Framework Plan, which outlines plans for future development of the university’s Evanston campus. The plan not only emphasizes sustainable building construction, but also focuses on reducing the energy costs of transportation by optimizing pedestrian and bicycle access. Northwestern has had a comprehensive recycling program in place since 1990. The university recycles over 1,500 tons of waste, or 30% of all waste produced on campus, each year. All landscape waste at the university is composted.


    Education and rankings

    Northwestern is a large, residential research university, and is frequently ranked among the top universities in the United States. The university is a leading institution in the fields of materials engineering, chemistry, business, economics, education, journalism, and communications. It is also prominent in law and medicine. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the respective national professional organizations for chemistry, psychology, business, education, journalism, music, engineering, law, and medicine, the university offers 124 undergraduate programs and 145 graduate and professional programs. Northwestern conferred 2,190 bachelor’s degrees, 3,272 master’s degrees, 565 doctoral degrees, and 444 professional degrees in 2012–2013. Since 1951, Northwestern has awarded 520 honorary degrees. Northwestern also has chapters of academic honor societies such as Phi Beta Kappa (Alpha of Illinois), Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, Eta Sigma Phi (Beta Chapter), Lambda Pi Eta, and Alpha Sigma Lambda (Alpha Chapter).

    The four-year, full-time undergraduate program comprises the majority of enrollments at the university. Although there is no university-wide core curriculum, a foundation in the liberal arts and sciences is required for all majors; individual degree requirements are set by the faculty of each school. The university heavily emphasizes interdisciplinary learning, with 72% of undergrads combining two or more areas of study. Northwestern’s full-time undergraduate and graduate programs operate on an approximately 10-week academic quarter system with the academic year beginning in late September and ending in early June. Undergraduates typically take four courses each quarter and twelve courses in an academic year and are required to complete at least twelve quarters on campus to graduate. Northwestern offers honors, accelerated, and joint degree programs in medicine, science, mathematics, engineering, and journalism. The comprehensive doctoral graduate program has high coexistence with undergraduate programs.

    Despite being a mid-sized university, Northwestern maintains a relatively low student to faculty ratio of 6:1.


    Northwestern was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1917 and is classified as an R1 university, denoting “very high” research activity. Northwestern’s schools of management, engineering, and communication are among the most academically productive in the nation. The university received $887.3 million in research funding in 2019 and houses over 90 school-based and 40 university-wide research institutes and centers. Northwestern also supports nearly 1,500 research laboratories across two campuses, predominately in the medical and biological sciences.

    Northwestern is home to the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics, Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems, Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center, Materials Research Center, Center for Quantum Devices, Institute for Policy Research, International Institute for Nanotechnology, Center for Catalysis and Surface Science, Buffet Center for International and Comparative Studies, the Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern, and the Argonne/Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center among other centers for interdisciplinary research.

    Student body

    Northwestern enrolled 8,186 full-time undergraduate, 9,904 full-time graduate, and 3,856 part-time students in the 2019–2020 academic year. The freshman retention rate for that year was 98%. 86% of students graduated after four years and 92% graduated after five years. These numbers can largely be attributed to the university’s various specialized degree programs, such as those that allow students to earn master’s degrees with a one or two year extension of their undergraduate program.

    The undergraduate population is drawn from all 50 states and over 75 foreign countries. 20% of students in the Class of 2024 were Pell Grant recipients and 12.56% were first-generation college students. Northwestern also enrolls the 9th-most National Merit Scholars of any university in the nation.

    In Fall 2014, 40.6% of undergraduate students were enrolled in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, 21.3% in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, 14.3% in the School of Communication, 11.7% in the Medill School of Journalism, 5.7% in the Bienen School of Music, and 6.4% in the School of Education and Social Policy. The five most commonly awarded undergraduate degrees are economics, journalism, communication studies, psychology, and political science. The Kellogg School of Management’s MBA, the School of Law’s JD, and the Feinberg School of Medicine’s MD are the three largest professional degree programs by enrollment. With 2,446 students enrolled in science, engineering, and health fields, the largest graduate programs by enrollment include chemistry, integrated biology, material sciences, electrical and computer engineering, neuroscience, and economics.


    Northwestern is a charter member of the Big Ten Conference. It is the conference’s only private university and possesses the smallest undergraduate enrollment (the next-smallest member, the University of Iowa, is roughly three times as large, with almost 22,000 undergraduates).

    Northwestern fields 19 intercollegiate athletic teams (8 men’s and 11 women’s) in addition to numerous club sports. 12 of Northwestern’s varsity programs have had NCAA or bowl postseason appearances. Northwestern is one of five private AAU members to compete in NCAA Power Five conferences (the other four being Duke, Stanford, USC, and Vanderbilt) and maintains a 98% NCAA Graduation Success Rate, the highest among Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

    In 2018, the school opened the Walter Athletics Center, a $270 million state of the art lakefront facility for its athletics teams.

    Nickname and mascot

    Before 1924, Northwestern teams were known as “The Purple” and unofficially as “The Fighting Methodists.” The name Wildcats was bestowed upon the university in 1924 by Wallace Abbey, a writer for the Chicago Daily Tribune, who wrote that even in a loss to the University of Chicago, “Football players had not come down from Evanston; wildcats would be a name better suited to “[Coach Glenn] Thistletwaite’s boys.” The name was so popular that university board members made “Wildcats” the official nickname just months later. In 1972, the student body voted to change the official nickname to “Purple Haze,” but the new name never stuck.

    The mascot of Northwestern Athletics is “Willie the Wildcat”. Prior to Willie, the team mascot had been a live, caged bear cub from the Lincoln Park Zoo named Furpaw, who was brought to the playing field on game days to greet the fans. After a losing season however, the team decided that Furpaw was to blame for its misfortune and decided to select a new mascot. “Willie the Wildcat” made his debut in 1933, first as a logo and then in three dimensions in 1947, when members of the Alpha Delta fraternity dressed as wildcats during a Homecoming Parade.


    Northwestern’s official motto, “Quaecumque sunt vera,” was adopted by the university in 1890. The Latin phrase translates to “Whatsoever things are true” and comes from the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians (Philippians 4:8), in which St. Paul admonishes the Christians in the Greek city of Philippi. In addition to this motto, the university crest features a Greek phrase taken from the Gospel of John inscribed on the pages of an open book, ήρης χάριτος και αληθείας or “the word full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
    Alma Mater is the Northwestern Hymn. The original Latin version of the hymn was written in 1907 by Peter Christian Lutkin, the first dean of the School of Music from 1883 to 1931. In 1953, then Director-of-Bands John Paynter recruited an undergraduate music student, Thomas Tyra (’54), to write an English version of the song, which today is performed by the Marching Band during halftime at Wildcat football games and by the orchestra during ceremonies and other special occasions.
    Purple became Northwestern’s official color in 1892, replacing black and gold after a university committee concluded that too many other universities had used these colors. Today, Northwestern’s official color is purple, although white is something of an official color as well, being mentioned in both the university’s earliest song, Alma Mater (1907) (“Hail to purple, hail to white”) and in many university guidelines.
    The Rock, a 6-foot high quartzite boulder donated by the Class of 1902, originally served as a water fountain. It was painted over by students in the 1940s as a prank and has since become a popular vehicle of self-expression on campus.
    Armadillo Day, commonly known as Dillo Day, is the largest student-run music festival in the country. The festival is hosted every Spring on Northwestern’s Lakefront.
    Primal Scream is held every quarter at 9 p.m. on the Sunday before finals week. Students lean out of windows or gather in courtyards and scream to help relieve stress.
    In the past, students would throw marshmallows during football games, but this tradition has since been discontinued.


    One of Northwestern’s most notable student charity events is Dance Marathon, the most established and largest student-run philanthropy in the nation. The annual 30-hour event is among the most widely-attended events on campus. It has raised over $1 million for charity every year since 2011 and has donated a total of $13 million to children’s charities since its conception.

    The Northwestern Community Development Corps (NCDC) is a student-run organization that connects hundreds of student volunteers to community development projects in Evanston and Chicago throughout the year. The group also holds a number of annual community events, including Project Pumpkin, a Halloween celebration that provides over 800 local children with carnival events and a safe venue to trick-or-treat each year.

    Many Northwestern students participate in the Freshman Urban Program, an initiative for students interested in community service to work on addressing social issues facing the city of Chicago, and the university’s Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI) programs, including group service-learning expeditions in Asia, Africa, or Latin America in conjunction with the Foundation for Sustainable Development.

    Several internationally recognized non-profit organizations were established at Northwestern, including the World Health Imaging, Informatics and Telemedicine Alliance, a spin-off from an engineering student’s honors thesis.


    Established in 1881, The Daily Northwestern is the university’s main student newspaper and is published on weekdays during the academic year. It is directed entirely by undergraduate students and owned by the Students Publishing Company. Although it serves the Northwestern community, the Daily has no business ties to the university and is supported wholly by advertisers.
    North by Northwestern is an online undergraduate magazine established in September 2006 by students at the Medill School of Journalism. Published on weekdays, it consists of updates on news stories and special events throughout the year. It also publishes a quarterly print magazine.
    Syllabus is the university’s undergraduate yearbook. It is distributed in late May and features a culmination of the year’s events at Northwestern. First published in 1885, the yearbook is published by Students Publishing Company and edited by Northwestern students.
    Northwestern Flipside is an undergraduate satirical magazine. Founded in 2009, it publishes a weekly issue both in print and online.
    Helicon is the university’s undergraduate literary magazine. Established in 1979, it is published twice a year: a web issue is released in the winter and a print issue with a web complement is released in the spring.
    The Protest is Northwestern’s quarterly social justice magazine.

    The Northwestern division of Student Multicultural Affairs supports a number of publications for particular cultural groups including Ahora, a magazine about Hispanic and Latino/a culture and campus life; Al Bayan, published by the Northwestern Muslim-cultural Student Association; BlackBoard Magazine, a magazine centered around African-American student life; and NUAsian, a magazine and blog on Asian and Asian-American culture and issues.
    The Northwestern University Law Review is a scholarly legal publication and student organization at Northwestern University School of Law. Its primary purpose is to publish a journal of broad legal scholarship. The Law Review publishes six issues each year. Student editors make the editorial and organizational decisions and select articles submitted by professors, judges, and practitioners, as well as student pieces. The Law Review also publishes scholarly pieces weekly on the Colloquy.
    The Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property is a law review published by an independent student organization at Northwestern University School of Law.
    The Northwestern Interdisciplinary Law Review is a scholarly legal publication published annually by an editorial board of Northwestern undergraduates. Its mission is to publish interdisciplinary legal research, drawing from fields such as history, literature, economics, philosophy, and art. Founded in 2008, the journal features articles by professors, law students, practitioners, and undergraduates. It is funded by the Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies and the Office of the Provost.


    Established in January 2011, Sherman Ave is a humor website that often publishes content on Northwestern student life. Most of its staff writers are current Northwestern undergraduates writing under various pseudonyms. The website is popular among students for its interviews of prominent campus figures, Freshman Guide, and live-tweeting coverage of football games. In Fall 2012, the website promoted a satiric campaign to end the Vanderbilt University football team’s custom of clubbing baby seals.
    Politics & Policy is dedicated to the analysis of current events and public policy. Established in 2010 by students at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, School of Communication, and Medill School of Journalism, the publication reaches students on more than 250 college campuses around the world. Run entirely by undergraduates, it is published several times a week and features material ranging from short summaries of events to extended research pieces. The publication is financed in part by the Buffett Center.
    Northwestern Business Review is a campus source for business news. Founded in 2005, it has an online presence as well as a quarterly print schedule.
    TriQuarterly Online (formerly TriQuarterly) is a literary magazine published twice a year featuring poetry, fiction, nonfiction, drama, literary essays, reviews, blog posts, and art.
    The Queer Reader is Northwestern’s first radical feminist and LGBTQ+ publication.

    Radio, film, and television

    WNUR (89.3 FM) is a 7,200-watt radio station that broadcasts to the city of Chicago and its northern suburbs. WNUR’s programming consists of music (jazz, classical, and rock), literature, politics, current events, varsity sports (football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, and women’s lacrosse), and breaking news on weekdays.
    Studio 22 is a student-run production company that produces roughly ten films each year. The organization financed the first film Zach Braff directed, and many of its films have featured students who would later go into professional acting, including Zach Gilford of Friday Night Lights.
    Applause for a Cause is currently the only student-run production company in the nation to create feature-length films for charity. It was founded in 2010 and has raised over $5,000 to date for various local and national organizations across the United States.
    Northwestern News Network is a student television news and sports network, serving the Northwestern and Evanston communities. Its studios and newsroom are located on the fourth floor of the McCormick Tribune Center on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. NNN is funded by the Medill School of Journalism.

  • richardmitnick 9:00 pm on June 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Cosmic 'Dust' from Supernovae Hints at How Stars Are Born", Space based Astronomy,   

    From The SETI Institute: “Cosmic ‘Dust’ from Supernovae Hints at How Stars Are Born” 

    From The SETI Institute

    June 13, 2022

    Rebecca McDonald
    Director of Communications
    SETI Institute

    Jeonghee Rho
    Research Scientist
    SETI Institute

    Left figure: Mosaicked images of SOFIA (154 microns in red), Herschel (70 microns in green), and Spitzer (24 microns in blue). Right figure: The magnetic field flows are on the SOFIA far-infrared (154micon) image.

    New research detected strong polarization from a young supernova remnant. It provided independent and solid evidence that the cosmic dust in the early Universe was formed in supernovae. While it’s true that supernovae eject and destroy cosmic dust, infrared observations now suggest that the dust formed at an early stage of a supernova. SOFIA HAWC+ (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy High-Resolution Airborne Wideband Camera Plus) Band D observations of the young supernova remnant (SNR) Cassiopeia A (Cas A) show high polarization at the 5-30% level.

    This polarization indicates:

    -Polarized dust emission detected in far-infrared belongs to the SNR, and supernovae are producers of a large mass of dust (some papers, including in Nature, have indicated the dust is only from the clouds in the line of sight and there is no cold dust in Cas A).
    -Newly formed dust grains in supernovae are large and elongated rather than spherical.
    -Silicate grains are the dominant dust to have such strong polarization.
    -Supernovae are important dust sources in the early Universe.

    Dr. Jeonghee Rho, a research scientist at the SETI Institute and the lead author of this research, said that the polarized dust emission belongs to the SNR Cas A and is not random interstellar emission. Studying far-infrared emissions is tricky since it is everywhere in the sky. Searching for emissions associated with supernovae is equivalent to finding a needle in the haystack. Polarization observations shine new light on that. The research is a collaboration with the graduate student, Mr. Aravind Ravi, and other scientists at the University of Texas, Arlington, and collaborators are at the University of College London and Cardiff University in U. K., Ghent University in Belgium, Max Planck Institute in Germany, and Korean Astronomy and Space Science Institute in South Korea.

    Cassiopeia A is a relatively young SNR located in the constellation Cassiopeia and approximately 11,000 light-years away from Earth, and its light first likely reached Earth in around 1671 AD. It is also a well-studied SNR, making it an ideal observation target. SOFIA’s HAWC+ is a far-infrared camera and imaging polarimeter that allows total and polarized flux imaging in five broad bands wavelengths. The polarization map of Cas A was conducted at 154 microns (Band D). By observing with this instrument, the researchers hoped to learn:

    -How does the magnetic field flow?
    -What type of dust grains are present?
    -How large are the dust grains?
    -What shapes are the dust grains?
    -How does the dust align with the magnetic field?

    The magnetic field directions are shown on the SOFIA far-infrared (154micon) image using the High-Resolution Airborne Wideband Camera Plus (HAWC+) on board SOFIA. The magnetic field strength in Cas A is very strong, 100 milli-Gauss inferred by the polarization measurements. The polarization is relatively weak where the far-infrared emission is stronger (in brown).

    By understanding the properties of the dust grains, scientists can better understand the history of star formation and the evolution of the Universe. Not to be confused with dust bunnies hiding under beds, cosmic dust is comprised of rocks and is made of elements like carbon, and in this case, mainly silicate, and plays a role in how stars and planets form. Theoretical models previously showed that dust formation in supernovae could explain the presence of dust in the early Universe. The big question was whether there would be evidence of sufficient amounts of dust forming.

    SOFIA’s polarization in Cas A combining Spitzer and Herschel images implies an estimate of a magnetic field of approximately 100 milli-Gauss. It puts Cas A as one of the strongest magnetic field sources. The grain alignment in supernova ejecta occurs with the magnetic fields, and dust polarization can reliably trace the magnetic field.

    The observation showed that silicate dust grains are the dominant grains in Cas A. This result is meaningful because the survival rate for silicate dust is higher than for other kinds of dust, so sufficient dust still exists behind the reverse shock. Other grains present could be iron-bearing dust, but additional wavelength observations or simulations will provide greater understanding.

    While the polarization shows a tight magnetic field at the center and southeastern shell, the polarization fraction is higher at the place between the two dust structures. West shows a lack of polarization and random fields.

    The large amount of dust from the polarized regions of the SNR shows that supernovae are the significant dust producer in the early Universe. The dust mass from the polarized area (e.g., excluding the western part) is still two-tenths of Solar mass. Previously it was done using deconvolution of spectra. This data is independent confirmation that dust production from supernovae is important as dust producers in the early Universe.

    “It’s disappointing that the SOFIA mission is coming to an end when we’re seeing exciting results such as this,” said Deputy Director of SOFIA Science Mission Operations, Bernhard Schulz. “There’s currently no plan for another Far Infrared observatory, so the whole field of astronomy will be impacted.”

    This work brings us closer to understanding processes in the early Universe leading to star and planet formation. By studying the grains more deeply with the James Webb Space Telescope, researchers hope to understand dust composition better.

    Dr. Rho will be presenting her findings at the AAS press briefing scheduled for 10:15 am PDT today, June 13.

    Funding acknowledgment:
    This research is funded by NASA through the award SOF07_0047 issued by USRA and the ADAP award 80NSSC20K0449 issued by NASA headquarters.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SETI Institute
    About The SETI Institute
    What is life? How does it begin? Are we alone? These are some of the questions we ask in our quest to learn about and share the wonders of the universe. At the SETI Institute we have a passion for discovery and for passing knowledge along as scientific ambassadors.

    The SETI Institute is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit scientific research institute headquartered in Mountain View, California. We are a key research contractor to NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and we collaborate with industry partners throughout Silicon Valley and beyond.

    Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute employs more than 130 scientists, educators, and administrative staff. Work at the SETI Institute is anchored by three centers: the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe (research), the Center for Education and the Center for Outreach.

    The SETI Institute welcomes philanthropic support from individuals, private foundations, corporations and other groups to support our education and outreach initiatives, as well as unfunded scientific research and fieldwork.

    A Special Thank You to SETI Institute Partners and Collaborators
    Campoalto, Chile, NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Headquarters, National Science Foundation, Aerojet Rocketdyne,SRI International

    Frontier Development Lab Partners
    Breakthrough Prize Foundation, The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU), Google Cloud, IBM, Intel, KBRwyle. Kx Lockheed Martin, NASA Ames Research Center, Nvidia, SpaceResources Luxembourg, XPrize
    In-kind Service Providers
    • Gunderson Dettmer – General legal services, Hello Pilgrim – Website Design and Development Steptoe & Johnson – IP legal services, Danielle Futselaar

    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), the origins of the Institute’s search.

    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow
    The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch.)

    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.

    Alumna Shelley Wright, now an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US), discusses the dichroic filter of the NIROSETI instrument, developed at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) and brought to UCSD and installed at the UC Santa Cruz Lick Observatory Nickel Telescope (Photo by Laurie Hatch).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    NIROSETI team from left to right Rem Stone UCO Lick Observatory Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley; Jérôme Maire, U Toronto; Shelley Wright, UCSD; Patrick Dorval, U Toronto; Richard Treffers, Starman Systems. (Image by Laurie Hatch).

    Laser SETI

    LaserSETI observatory installation at Haleakala Observatory in Maui, Hawai’i aimed East. There is also an installation at Robert Ferguson Observatory, Sonoma, CA aimed West for full coverage [no image available].

    SETI Institute – 189 Bernardo Ave., Suite 100
    Mountain View, CA 94043
    Phone 650.961.6633 – Fax 650-961-7099
    Privacy PolicyQuestions and Comments

    Also in the hunt, but not a part of the SETI Institute
    SETI@home, a BOINC [Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing] project originated in the Space Science Lab at UC Berkeley.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience. BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

  • richardmitnick 3:59 pm on June 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Gaia sees strange stars in most detailed Milky Way survey to date", , , , ESA Gaia data release 3, Space based Astronomy,   

    From The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU): “Gaia sees strange stars in most detailed Milky Way survey to date” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency – United Space in Europe (EU)

    From The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)



    This image shows four sky maps made with the new ESA Gaia data released on 13 June 2022.
    Click on the titles below to download the individual maps.
    Click here for a portrait version of this collage.

    1. Radial velocity

    ESA’s Gaia data release 3 shows us the speed at which more than 30 million objects in the Milky Way (mostly stars) move towards or away from us. This is called ‘radial velocity’. We can now see how the objects move over a large portion of the Milky Way’s disc.

    The rotation of the disc, projected along the line-of-sight, is visible from the alternation of bright areas (moving away from us) and dark areas (moving toward us). Several objects whose radial velocity differs from that of their close environment are visible by contrast.

    The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC) appear as bright spots in the lower right corner of the image. The Sagittarius dwarf galaxy is visible as a faint quasi-vertical stripe below the Galactic Centre. Several globular clusters appear as tiny dots in the image, such as 47 Tucanae, the dark dot on the immediate left of the SMC.

    2. Radial velocity and proper motion

    This sky map shows the velocity field of the Milky Way for ~26 million stars. The colours show the radial velocities of stars along the line-of-sight. Blue shows the parts of the sky where the average motion of stars is towards us and red shows the regions where the average motion is away from us. The lines visible in the figure trace out the motion of stars projected on the sky (proper motion). These lines show how the direction of the speed of stars varies by galactic latitude and longitude. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC) are not visible as only stars with well defined distances were selected to make this image.

    3. Interstellar dust

    Gaia not only maps the stars in our galaxy but tells us what is in between the stars. The space between stars is not empty but instead filled with dust and gas clouds, out of which stars are born.

    Through the precise measurements of the stars’ positions and their dispersed light, Gaia allows us to map the absorption of the starlight by the interstellar medium. Those maps provide us with essential clues to the physical mechanisms of the formation of stars, galaxies, and the history of our home galaxy.

    This map shows the interstellar dust that fills the Milky Way. The dark regions in the centre of the Galactic plane in black are the regions with a lot of interstellar dust fading to the yellow as the amount of dust decreases.The dark blue regions above and below the Galactic plane are regions where there is little dust.

    4. Chemical map

    What stars are made of can tell us about their birthplace and their journey afterwards, and therefore about the history of the Milky Way. With today’s data release, Gaia is bringing us a chemical map of the galaxy.

    With Gaia, we see that some stars in our galaxy are made of primordial material, while others like our Sun are made of matter enriched by previous generations of stars. Stars that are closer to the centre and plane of our galaxy are richer in metals than stars at larger distances.

    This all-sky view shows a sample of the Milky Way stars in Gaia’s data release 3. The colour indicates the stellar metallicity. Redder stars are richer in metals.

    © ESA/Gaia/DPAC; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

    Today, ESA’s Gaia mission releases its new treasure trove of data about our home galaxy. Astronomers describe strange ‘starquakes’, stellar DNA, asymmetric motions and other fascinating insights in this most detailed Milky Way survey to date.

    Gaia is ESA’s mission to create the most accurate and complete multi-dimensional map of the Milky Way. This allows astronomers to reconstruct our home galaxy’s structure and past evolution over billions of years, and to better understand the lifecycle of stars and our place in the Universe.

    Gaia data release 3: exploring our multi-dimensional Milky Way.

    What’s new in data release 3?

    Gaia’s data release 3 contains new and improved details for almost two billion stars in our galaxy. The catalogue includes new information including chemical compositions, stellar temperatures, colours, masses, ages, and the speed at which stars move towards or away from us (radial velocity). Much of this information was revealed by the newly released spectroscopy data, a technique in which the starlight is split into its constituent colours (like a rainbow). The data also includes special subsets of stars, like those that change brightness over time.

    Also new in this data set is the largest catalogue yet of binary stars, thousands of Solar System objects such as asteroids and moons of planets, and millions of galaxies and quasars outside the Milky Way.

    Gaia sees starquakes.


    One of the most surprising discoveries coming out of the new data is that Gaia is able to detect starquakes – tiny motions on the surface of a star – that change the shapes of stars, something the observatory was not originally built for.

    Previously, Gaia already found radial oscillations that cause stars to swell and shrink periodically, while keeping their spherical shape. But Gaia has now also spotted other vibrations that are more like large-scale tsunamis. These nonradial oscillations change the global shape of a star and are therefore harder to detect.

    Gaia found strong nonradial starquakes in thousands of stars. Gaia also revealed such vibrations in stars that have seldomly been seen before. These stars should not have any quakes according to the current theory, while Gaia did detect them at their surface.

    “Starquakes teach us a lot about stars, notably their internal workings. Gaia is opening a goldmine for ‘asteroseismology’ of massive stars,” says Conny Aerts of KU Leuven in Belgium, who is a member of the Gaia collaboration.

    The chemistry of our Milky Way.

    The “DNA” of stars

    What stars are made of can tell us about their birthplace and their journey afterwards, and therefore about the history of the Milky Way. With today’s data release, Gaia is revealing the largest chemical map of the galaxy coupled to 3D motions, from our solar neigbourhood to smaller galaxies surrounding ours.

    Some stars contain more ‘heavy metals’ than others. During the Big Bang, only light elements were formed (hydrogen and helium). All other heavier elements – called metals by astronomers – are built inside stars. When stars die, they release these metals into the gas and dust between the stars called the interstellar medium, out of which new stars form. Active star formation and death will lead to an environment that is richer in metals. Therefore, a star’s chemical composition is a bit like its DNA, giving us crucial information about its origin.

    With Gaia, we see that some stars in our galaxy are made of primordial material, while others like our Sun are made of matter enriched by previous generations of stars. Stars that are closer to the centre and plane of our galaxy are richer in metals than stars at larger distances. Gaia also identified stars that originally came from different galaxies than our own, based on their chemical composition.

    This image shows an artistic impression of the Milky Way, and on top of that an overlay showing the location and densities of a young star sample from Gaia’s data release 3 (in yellow-green). The “you are here” sign points towards the Sun.
    The overlay was created by Kevin Jardine based on data from the paper “Gaia Data Release 3: Mapping the asymmetric disc of the Milky Way” by the Gaia Collaboration, Drimmel, R., et al. 2022. The background Milky Way artistic impression was created by Stefan Payne-Wardenaar.

    The density of the star sample out to 5 kpc (~ 16 300 light years) from the Sun is provided on this image in the form of isodensity surfaces. The isodensity surfaces provide insight into the structure of our galaxy. The higher the density, the more young stars are found in this area.

    Binary stars, asteroids, quasars, and more

    Other papers that are published today reflect the breadth and depth of Gaia’s discovery potential. A new binary star catalogue presents the mass and evolution of more than 800 thousand binary systems, while a new asteroid survey comprising 156 thousand rocky bodies is digging deeper into the origin of our Solar System. Gaia is also revealing information about 10 million variable stars, mysterious macro-molecules between stars, as well as quasars and galaxies beyond our own cosmic neighborhood.

    “Unlike other missions that target specific objects, Gaia is a survey mission. This means that while surveying the entire sky with billions of stars multiple times, Gaia is bound to make discoveries that other more dedicated missions would miss. This is one of its strengths, and we can’t wait for the astronomy community to dive into our new data to find out even more about our galaxy and its surroundings than we could’ve imagined,” says Timo Prusti, Project Scientist for Gaia at ESA.

    See the full article here .


    More details on Gaia’s data releases 3 can be found here: https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia/data-release-3

    From 13 June 2022, 12:00 CEST onwards, the new Gaia data can be accessed at https://gea.esac.esa.int/archive/

    Gaia’s data release 3 was presented today during a virtual media briefing at https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/ESA_Web_TV

    This media kit summarises the data in a series of infographics: ​​https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/Gaia/Gaia_data_release_3_media_kit

    More in-depth stories on the new Gaia data can be found here: https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia/dr3-stories

    A series of scientific papers describing the data and their validation process will appear in a special issue of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics: https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia/dr3-papers


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC (NL) in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the
    European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA’s space flight programme includes human spaceflight (mainly through participation in the International Space Station program); the launch and operation of uncrewed exploration missions to other planets and the Moon; Earth observation, science and telecommunication; designing launch vehicles; and maintaining a major spaceport, the The Guiana Space Centre [Centre Spatial Guyanais; CSG also called Europe’s Spaceport) at Kourou, French Guiana. The main European launch vehicle Ariane 5 is operated through Arianespace with ESA sharing in the costs of launching and further developing this launch vehicle. The agency is also working with NASA to manufacture the Orion Spacecraft service module that will fly on the Space Launch System.

    The agency’s facilities are distributed among the following centres:

    ESA European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) (NL) in Noordwijk, Netherlands;
    ESA Centre for Earth Observation [ESRIN] (IT) in Frascati, Italy;
    ESA Mission Control ESA European Space Operations Center [ESOC](DE) is in Darmstadt, Germany;
    ESA -European Astronaut Centre [EAC] trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany;
    European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) (UK), a research institute created in 2009, is located in Harwell, England;
    ESA – European Space Astronomy Centre [ESAC] (ES) is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain.
    European Space Agency Science Programme is a long-term programme of space science and space exploration missions.


    After World War II, many European scientists left Western Europe in order to work with the United States. Although the 1950s boom made it possible for Western European countries to invest in research and specifically in space-related activities, Western European scientists realized solely national projects would not be able to compete with the two main superpowers. In 1958, only months after the Sputnik shock, Edoardo Amaldi (Italy) and Pierre Auger (France), two prominent members of the Western European scientific community, met to discuss the foundation of a common Western European space agency. The meeting was attended by scientific representatives from eight countries, including Harrie Massey (United Kingdom).

    The Western European nations decided to have two agencies: one concerned with developing a launch system, ELDO (European Launch Development Organization), and the other the precursor of the European Space Agency, ESRO (European Space Research Organisation). The latter was established on 20 March 1964 by an agreement signed on 14 June 1962. From 1968 to 1972, ESRO launched seven research satellites.

    ESA in its current form was founded with the ESA Convention in 1975, when ESRO was merged with ELDO. ESA had ten founding member states: Belgium, Denmark, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. These signed the ESA Convention in 1975 and deposited the instruments of ratification by 1980, when the convention came into force. During this interval the agency functioned in a de facto fashion. ESA launched its first major scientific mission in 1975, Cos-B, a space probe monitoring gamma-ray emissions in the universe, which was first worked on by ESRO.

    ESA50 Logo large

    Later activities

    ESA collaborated with National Aeronautics Space Agency on the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE), the world’s first high-orbit telescope, which was launched in 1978 and operated successfully for 18 years.

    ESA Infrared Space Observatory.

    European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/National Aeronautics and Space Administration Solar Orbiter annotated.

    A number of successful Earth-orbit projects followed, and in 1986 ESA began Giotto, its first deep-space mission, to study the comets Halley and Grigg–Skjellerup. Hipparcos, a star-mapping mission, was launched in 1989 and in the 1990s SOHO, Ulysses and the Hubble Space Telescope were all jointly carried out with NASA. Later scientific missions in cooperation with NASA include the Cassini–Huygens space probe, to which ESA contributed by building the Titan landing module Huygens.

    ESA/Huygens Probe from Cassini landed on Titan.

    As the successor of ELDO, ESA has also constructed rockets for scientific and commercial payloads. Ariane 1, launched in 1979, carried mostly commercial payloads into orbit from 1984 onward. The next two versions of the Ariane rocket were intermediate stages in the development of a more advanced launch system, the Ariane 4, which operated between 1988 and 2003 and established ESA as the world leader in commercial space launches in the 1990s. Although the succeeding Ariane 5 experienced a failure on its first flight, it has since firmly established itself within the heavily competitive commercial space launch market with 82 successful launches until 2018. The successor launch vehicle of Ariane 5, the Ariane 6, is under development and is envisioned to enter service in the 2020s.

    The beginning of the new millennium saw ESA become, along with agencies like National Aeronautics Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Indian Space Research Organisation, the Canadian Space Agency(CA) and Roscosmos(RU), one of the major participants in scientific space research. Although ESA had relied on co-operation with NASA in previous decades, especially the 1990s, changed circumstances (such as tough legal restrictions on information sharing by the United States military) led to decisions to rely more on itself and on co-operation with Russia. A 2011 press issue thus stated:

    “Russia is ESA’s first partner in its efforts to ensure long-term access to space. There is a framework agreement between ESA and the government of the Russian Federation on cooperation and partnership in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and cooperation is already underway in two different areas of launcher activity that will bring benefits to both partners.”

    Notable ESA programmes include SMART-1, a probe testing cutting-edge space propulsion technology, the Mars Express and Venus Express missions, as well as the development of the Ariane 5 rocket and its role in the ISS partnership. ESA maintains its scientific and research projects mainly for astronomy-space missions such as Corot, launched on 27 December 2006, a milestone in the search for exoplanets.

    On 21 January 2019, ArianeGroup and Arianespace announced a one-year contract with ESA to study and prepare for a mission to mine the Moon for lunar regolith.


    The treaty establishing the European Space Agency reads:

    The purpose of the Agency shall be to provide for and to promote, for exclusively peaceful purposes, cooperation among European States in space research and technology and their space applications, with a view to their being used for scientific purposes and for operational space applications systems…

    ESA is responsible for setting a unified space and related industrial policy, recommending space objectives to the member states, and integrating national programs like satellite development, into the European program as much as possible.

    Jean-Jacques Dordain – ESA’s Director General (2003–2015) – outlined the European Space Agency’s mission in a 2003 interview:

    “Today space activities have pursued the benefit of citizens, and citizens are asking for a better quality of life on Earth. They want greater security and economic wealth, but they also want to pursue their dreams, to increase their knowledge, and they want younger people to be attracted to the pursuit of science and technology. I think that space can do all of this: it can produce a higher quality of life, better security, more economic wealth, and also fulfill our citizens’ dreams and thirst for knowledge, and attract the young generation. This is the reason space exploration is an integral part of overall space activities. It has always been so, and it will be even more important in the future.”


    According to the ESA website, the activities are:

    Observing the Earth
    Human Spaceflight
    Space Science
    Space Engineering & Technology
    Telecommunications & Integrated Applications
    Preparing for the Future
    Space for Climate


    Copernicus Programme
    Cosmic Vision
    Horizon 2000
    Living Planet Programme

    Every member country must contribute to these programmes:

    Technology Development Element Programme
    Science Core Technology Programme
    General Study Programme
    European Component Initiative


    Depending on their individual choices the countries can contribute to the following programmes, listed according to:

    Earth Observation
    Human Spaceflight and Exploration
    Space Situational Awareness


    ESA has formed partnerships with universities. ESA_LAB@ refers to research laboratories at universities. Currently there are ESA_LAB@

    Technische Universität Darmstadt (DE)
    École des hautes études commerciales de Paris (HEC Paris) (FR)
    Université de recherche Paris Sciences et Lettres (FR)
    The University of Central Lancashire (UK)

    Membership and contribution to ESA

    By 2015, ESA was an intergovernmental organization of 22 member states. Member states participate to varying degrees in the mandatory (25% of total expenditures in 2008) and optional space programmes (75% of total expenditures in 2008). The 2008 budget amounted to €3.0 billion whilst the 2009 budget amounted to €3.6 billion. The total budget amounted to about €3.7 billion in 2010, €3.99 billion in 2011, €4.02 billion in 2012, €4.28 billion in 2013, €4.10 billion in 2014 and €4.33 billion in 2015. English is the main language within ESA. Additionally, official documents are also provided in German and documents regarding the Spacelab are also provided in Italian. If found appropriate, the agency may conduct its correspondence in any language of a member state.

    Non-full member states
    Since 2016, Slovenia has been an associated member of the ESA.

    Latvia became the second current associated member on 30 June 2020, when the Association Agreement was signed by ESA Director Jan Wörner and the Minister of Education and Science of Latvia, Ilga Šuplinska in Riga. The Saeima ratified it on July 27. Previously associated members were Austria, Norway and Finland, all of which later joined ESA as full members.

    Since 1 January 1979, Canada has had the special status of a Cooperating State within ESA. By virtue of this accord, The Canadian Space Agency [Agence spatiale canadienne, ASC] (CA) takes part in ESA’s deliberative bodies and decision-making and also in ESA’s programmes and activities. Canadian firms can bid for and receive contracts to work on programmes. The accord has a provision ensuring a fair industrial return to Canada. The most recent Cooperation Agreement was signed on 15 December 2010 with a term extending to 2020. For 2014, Canada’s annual assessed contribution to the ESA general budget was €6,059,449 (CAD$8,559,050). For 2017, Canada has increased its annual contribution to €21,600,000 (CAD$30,000,000).


    After the decision of the ESA Council of 21/22 March 2001, the procedure for accession of the European states was detailed as described the document titled The Plan for European Co-operating States (PECS). Nations that want to become a full member of ESA do so in 3 stages. First a Cooperation Agreement is signed between the country and ESA. In this stage, the country has very limited financial responsibilities. If a country wants to co-operate more fully with ESA, it signs a European Cooperating State (ECS) Agreement. The ECS Agreement makes companies based in the country eligible for participation in ESA procurements. The country can also participate in all ESA programmes, except for the Basic Technology Research Programme. While the financial contribution of the country concerned increases, it is still much lower than that of a full member state. The agreement is normally followed by a Plan For European Cooperating State (or PECS Charter). This is a 5-year programme of basic research and development activities aimed at improving the nation’s space industry capacity. At the end of the 5-year period, the country can either begin negotiations to become a full member state or an associated state or sign a new PECS Charter.

    During the Ministerial Meeting in December 2014, ESA ministers approved a resolution calling for discussions to begin with Israel, Australia and South Africa on future association agreements. The ministers noted that “concrete cooperation is at an advanced stage” with these nations and that “prospects for mutual benefits are existing”.

    A separate space exploration strategy resolution calls for further co-operation with the United States, Russia and China on “LEO” exploration, including a continuation of ISS cooperation and the development of a robust plan for the coordinated use of space transportation vehicles and systems for exploration purposes, participation in robotic missions for the exploration of the Moon, the robotic exploration of Mars, leading to a broad Mars Sample Return mission in which Europe should be involved as a full partner, and human missions beyond LEO in the longer term.”

    Relationship with the European Union

    The political perspective of the European Union (EU) was to make ESA an agency of the EU by 2014, although this date was not met. The EU member states provide most of ESA’s funding, and they are all either full ESA members or observers.


    At the time ESA was formed, its main goals did not encompass human space flight; rather it considered itself to be primarily a scientific research organisation for uncrewed space exploration in contrast to its American and Soviet counterparts. It is therefore not surprising that the first non-Soviet European in space was not an ESA astronaut on a European space craft; it was Czechoslovak Vladimír Remek who in 1978 became the first non-Soviet or American in space (the first man in space being Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union) – on a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft, followed by the Pole Mirosław Hermaszewski and East German Sigmund Jähn in the same year. This Soviet co-operation programme, known as Intercosmos, primarily involved the participation of Eastern bloc countries. In 1982, however, Jean-Loup Chrétien became the first non-Communist Bloc astronaut on a flight to the Soviet Salyut 7 space station.

    Because Chrétien did not officially fly into space as an ESA astronaut, but rather as a member of the French CNES astronaut corps, the German Ulf Merbold is considered the first ESA astronaut to fly into space. He participated in the STS-9 Space Shuttle mission that included the first use of the European-built Spacelab in 1983. STS-9 marked the beginning of an extensive ESA/NASA joint partnership that included dozens of space flights of ESA astronauts in the following years. Some of these missions with Spacelab were fully funded and organizationally and scientifically controlled by ESA (such as two missions by Germany and one by Japan) with European astronauts as full crew members rather than guests on board. Beside paying for Spacelab flights and seats on the shuttles, ESA continued its human space flight co-operation with the Soviet Union and later Russia, including numerous visits to Mir.

    During the latter half of the 1980s, European human space flights changed from being the exception to routine and therefore, in 1990, the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany was established. It selects and trains prospective astronauts and is responsible for the co-ordination with international partners, especially with regard to the International Space Station. As of 2006, the ESA astronaut corps officially included twelve members, including nationals from most large European countries except the United Kingdom.

    In the summer of 2008, ESA started to recruit new astronauts so that final selection would be due in spring 2009. Almost 10,000 people registered as astronaut candidates before registration ended in June 2008. 8,413 fulfilled the initial application criteria. Of the applicants, 918 were chosen to take part in the first stage of psychological testing, which narrowed down the field to 192. After two-stage psychological tests and medical evaluation in early 2009, as well as formal interviews, six new members of the European Astronaut Corps were selected – five men and one woman.

    Cooperation with other countries and organizations

    ESA has signed co-operation agreements with the following states that currently neither plan to integrate as tightly with ESA institutions as Canada, nor envision future membership of ESA: Argentina, Brazil, China, India (for the Chandrayan mission), Russia and Turkey.

    Additionally, ESA has joint projects with the European Union, NASA of the United States and is participating in the International Space Station together with the United States (NASA), Russia and Japan (JAXA).

    European Union
    ESA and EU member states
    ESA-only members
    EU-only members

    ESA is not an agency or body of the European Union (EU), and has non-EU countries (Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom) as members. There are however ties between the two, with various agreements in place and being worked on, to define the legal status of ESA with regard to the EU.

    There are common goals between ESA and the EU. ESA has an EU liaison office in Brussels. On certain projects, the EU and ESA co-operate, such as the upcoming Galileo satellite navigation system. Space policy has since December 2009 been an area for voting in the European Council. Under the European Space Policy of 2007, the EU, ESA and its Member States committed themselves to increasing co-ordination of their activities and programmes and to organising their respective roles relating to space.

    The Lisbon Treaty of 2009 reinforces the case for space in Europe and strengthens the role of ESA as an R&D space agency. Article 189 of the Treaty gives the EU a mandate to elaborate a European space policy and take related measures, and provides that the EU should establish appropriate relations with ESA.

    Former Italian astronaut Umberto Guidoni, during his tenure as a Member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2009, stressed the importance of the European Union as a driving force for space exploration, “…since other players are coming up such as India and China it is becoming ever more important that Europeans can have an independent access to space. We have to invest more into space research and technology in order to have an industry capable of competing with other international players.”

    The first EU-ESA International Conference on Human Space Exploration took place in Prague on 22 and 23 October 2009. A road map which would lead to a common vision and strategic planning in the area of space exploration was discussed. Ministers from all 29 EU and ESA members as well as members of parliament were in attendance.

    National space organisations of member states:

    The Centre National d’Études Spatiales(FR) (CNES) (National Centre for Space Study) is the French government space agency (administratively, a “public establishment of industrial and commercial character”). Its headquarters are in central Paris. CNES is the main participant on the Ariane project. Indeed, CNES designed and tested all Ariane family rockets (mainly from its centre in Évry near Paris)
    The UK Space Agency is a partnership of the UK government departments which are active in space. Through the UK Space Agency, the partners provide delegates to represent the UK on the various ESA governing bodies. Each partner funds its own programme.
    The Italian Space Agency A.S.I. – Agenzia Spaziale Italiana was founded in 1988 to promote, co-ordinate and conduct space activities in Italy. Operating under the Ministry of the Universities and of Scientific and Technological Research, the agency cooperates with numerous entities active in space technology and with the president of the Council of Ministers. Internationally, the ASI provides Italy’s delegation to the Council of the European Space Agency and to its subordinate bodies.
    The German Aerospace Center (DLR)[Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V.] is the national research centre for aviation and space flight of the Federal Republic of Germany and of other member states in the Helmholtz Association. Its extensive research and development projects are included in national and international cooperative programmes. In addition to its research projects, the centre is the assigned space agency of Germany bestowing headquarters of German space flight activities and its associates.
    The Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA)(ES) (National Institute for Aerospace Technique) is a Public Research Organization specialised in aerospace research and technology development in Spain. Among other functions, it serves as a platform for space research and acts as a significant testing facility for the aeronautic and space sector in the country.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency

    ESA has a long history of collaboration with NASA. Since ESA’s astronaut corps was formed, the Space Shuttle has been the primary launch vehicle used by ESA’s astronauts to get into space through partnership programmes with NASA. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Spacelab programme was an ESA-NASA joint research programme that had ESA develop and manufacture orbital labs for the Space Shuttle for several flights on which ESA participate with astronauts in experiments.

    In robotic science mission and exploration missions, NASA has been ESA’s main partner. Cassini–Huygens was a joint NASA-ESA mission, along with the Infrared Space Observatory, INTEGRAL, SOHO, and others.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration/European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/ASI Italian Space Agency [Agenzia Spaziale Italiana](IT) Cassini Spacecraft.

    European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU) Integral spacecraft

    European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganisation] (EU)/National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationSOHO satellite. Launched in 1995.

    Also, the Hubble Space Telescope is a joint project of NASA and ESA.

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

    ESA-NASA joint projects include the James Webb Space Telescope and the proposed Laser Interferometer Space Antenna.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency/European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganisation]Canadian Space Agency [Agence Spatiale Canadienne](CA) James Webb Space Telescope annotated. Scheduled for launch in December 2021.

    Gravity is talking. Lisa will listen. Dialogos of Eide.

    The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/National Aeronautics and Space Administration eLISA space based, the future of gravitational wave research.

    NASA has committed to provide support to ESA’s proposed MarcoPolo-R mission to return an asteroid sample to Earth for further analysis. NASA and ESA will also likely join together for a Mars Sample Return Mission. In October 2020 the ESA entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NASA to work together on the Artemis program, which will provide an orbiting lunar gateway and also accomplish the first manned lunar landing in 50 years, whose team will include the first woman on the Moon.

    NASA ARTEMIS spacecraft depiction.

    Cooperation with other space agencies

    Since China has started to invest more money into space activities, the Chinese Space Agency[中国国家航天局] (CN) has sought international partnerships. ESA is, beside, The Russian Federal Space Agency Государственная корпорация по космической деятельности «Роскосмос»](RU) one of its most important partners. Two space agencies cooperated in the development of the Double Star Mission. In 2017, ESA sent two astronauts to China for two weeks sea survival training with Chinese astronauts in Yantai, Shandong.

    ESA entered into a major joint venture with Russia in the form of the CSTS, the preparation of French Guiana spaceport for launches of Soyuz-2 rockets and other projects. With India, ESA agreed to send instruments into space aboard the ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 in 2008. ESA is also co-operating with Japan, the most notable current project in collaboration with JAXA is the BepiColombo mission to Mercury.

    European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency [国立研究開発法人宇宙航空研究開発機構](JP) Bepicolumbo in flight illustration. Artist’s impression of BepiColombo – ESA’s first mission to Mercury. ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will be operated from ESOC Germany.

    ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will be operated from ESOC Germany.

    Speaking to reporters at an air show near Moscow in August 2011, ESA head Jean-Jacques Dordain said ESA and Russia’s Roskosmos space agency would “carry out the first flight to Mars together.”

  • richardmitnick 11:19 am on June 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "DPAC": Data Processing and Analysis Consortium, "One step clos­er to un­der­stand­ing the Milky Way", , , , , Largest census of binary stars to date, Space based Astronomy, , The full third data release (DR3) on 13 June 2022   

    From The DLR German Aerospace Center [Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V.](DE): “One step clos­er to un­der­stand­ing the Milky Way” 

    DLR Bloc

    From The DLR German Aerospace Center [Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V.](DE)

    The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is the national aeronautics and space research centre of the Federal Republic of Germany.


    Gaia satellite mission completes third star catalogue.

    Asteroid locations 6.13.22. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC.

    Chemical composition of stars. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC.

    Gaia measures the movement of the stars. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC.

    Star spectra in color. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC.
    Unraveling the mysteries of the Milky Way and mapping it in the process is one of the main goals of the Gaia mission. On 13 June 2022, the mission came a step closer to achieving this with the publication of the complete third star catalogue. Gaia observed and measured approximately 1.8 billion celestial objects for this purpose. By the expected end of the mission in 2025, the largest and most accurate star catalogue to date, comprising around two billion celestial bodies, will have been created.

    Largest census of binary stars to date

    “In the last 34 months, Gaia has gained many new insights and significantly expanded the previous catalogue,” explains Alessandra Roy, Gaia Project Manager at the German Space Agency at DLR. “For example, the data contains the positions of around 156,000 small bodies, such as asteroids, in the Solar System. Another highlight is the largest census of binary stars in the Milky Way to date, which is crucial to understanding the formation of stars.” In addition, Gaia observed and documented numerous exoplanet transits.

    To achieve its scientific goals, Gaia has to record hundreds of celestial objects per second almost continuously. To do this, the spacecraft maps the objects in the Milky Way in three dimensions by measuring their positions, their distances from and their velocities with respect to Earth. The scientific instruments on board measure the apparent displacement of the stars in the sky resulting from Earth’s orbit around the Sun (stellar parallax) and distinguish it from their real movement through the galaxy.

    Even for the nearest stars, the apparent motion is tiny – it is less than one arcsecond. Gaia measures the position of stars to an accuracy of about one 20-millionth of an arcsecond, “This is equivalent to measuring the diameter of a human hair by an observer positioned 1000 kilometres away,” Roy clarifies. “But the spacecraft can do more than that; it also determines the brightness, temperature and chemical composition as well as the age of the nearly two billion objects observed.” All these parameters are important for understanding the lifecycle and origin of the observed stars.

    Big Data in space

    This enormous amount of information is analyzed by the Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC). DPAC is a collaboration of around 400 researchers and software engineers working in six different computer centres across Europe. The processed data are already being used successfully by researchers worldwide; since the beginning of the mission, the information from Gaia has been the basis for around 8000 scientific publications.

    Celestial objects have been documented since antiquity; the first star catalogue was compiled in the second century BC by the Greek astronomer Hipparchus of Nicaea. Since then, the records have become increasingly precise. But the measurement of star positions from the ground is limited by the turbulence of Earth’s atmosphere. ESA’s Hipparcos mission (1989-1993) was the first astrometry space mission and mapped about 120,000 stars.

    The complete Gaia catalogue will be 10,000 to 20,000 times larger than that of Hipparcos, as it will contain measurements of the physical parameters and 3D positions of about one percent of the hundred billion stars in our galaxy. The accuracy of the Gaia information also exceeds that of the previous data by a factor of 20 to 50.

    The Gaia mission was launched in 2013 and has been collecting scientific data ever since. The publication of this information is divided into individual catalogues due to the enormous amount of data. The first release, which took place in September 2014, already included the parallaxes and proper motions of around two million stars. The second Gaia release in April 2018 already contained 1.3 billion measurements and was even more accurate than the first. The third catalogue was split into two instalments – the early data release (eDR3), published in December 2020, and the full third data release (DR3) on 13 June 2022.

    Two more releases are currently planned. The fourth Gaia catalogue will be based on data from the first five years since Gaia’s launch and is scheduled to be published by the end of 2025. It will contain complete astrometric and photometric data for nearly two billion stars, as well as a list of variable stars, multiple star systems and exoplanets. Due to a possible mission extension to 2025, a fifth catalogue is planned, which is expected to be published in 2030.

    The new Gaia data is available in the Gaia archive as of 12:00 CEST on 13 June 2022.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    DLR Center
    The DLR German Aerospace Center [Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V.] (DE) is the national aeronautics and space research centre of the Federal Republic of Germany. Its extensive research and development work in aeronautics, space, energy, transport and security is integrated into national and international cooperative ventures. In addition to its own research, as Germany’s space agency, DLR has been given responsibility by the federal government for the planning and implementation of the German space programme. DLR is also the umbrella organisation for the nation’s largest project management agency.

    DLR has approximately 8000 employees at 16 locations in Germany: Cologne (headquarters), Augsburg, Berlin, Bonn, Braunschweig, Bremen, Goettingen, Hamburg, Juelich, Lampoldshausen, Neustrelitz, Oberpfaffenhofen, Stade, Stuttgart, Trauen, and Weilheim. DLR also has offices in Brussels, Paris, Tokyo and Washington D.C.

  • richardmitnick 12:27 pm on June 10, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers Report An Ultra-Rare Cosmic Object Was Just Detected in The Milky Way", An accreting X-ray millisecond pulsar MAXI J1816-195, , , , , Space based Astronomy   

    From “Science Alert (AU)” : “Astronomers Report An Ultra-Rare Cosmic Object Was Just Detected in The Milky Way” 


    From “Science Alert (AU)”

    10 JUNE 2022

    Artist’s impression of a pulsar. (Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library/Getty Images)

    A new member of a category of star so rare we can count the known number of them on our fingers and toes has just been discovered in the Milky Way.

    It’s called MAXI J1816-195, located no greater than 30,000 light-years away. Preliminary observations and investigations suggest that it’s an accreting X-ray millisecond pulsar – of which only 18 others are known, according to a pulsar database compiled by astronomer Alessandro Patruno.

    When numbers are that low, any new object represents an extremely exciting find that can yield important statistical information about how those objects form, evolve, and behave.

    The discovery really is hot off the presses. X-ray light emanating from the object was first detected on 7 June by the Japanese Space Agency’s Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) instrument mounted on the outside of the ISS.

    Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image | JAXA Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate

    In a notice posted to The Astronomer’s Telegram (ATel), a team headed by astrophysicist Hitoshi Negoro of Nihon University in Japan posted that they’d identified a previously uncatalogued X-ray source, located in the galactic plane between the constellations of Sagittarius, Scutum, and Serpens. It was, they said, flaring relatively brightly, but they hadn’t been able to identify it based on the MAXI data.

    It wasn’t long before other astronomers piled on. Using the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, a space-based telescope, astrophysicist Jamie Kennea of Pennsylvania State University and colleagues homed in on the location to confirm the detection with an independent instrument, and localize it.

    Swift saw the object in X-rays, but not optical or ultraviolet light, at the location specified by the MAXI observations.

    “This location does not lie at the location of any known catalogued X-ray source, therefore we agree that this is a new transient source MAXI J1816-195,” they wrote in a notice posted to ATel.

    “In addition, archival observations by Swift/XRT of this region taken in 2017 June 22, do not reveal any point source at this location.”

    Curiouser and curiouser

    Next up was the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), an X-ray NASA instrument also mounted to the ISS, in an investigation led by astrophysicist Peter Bult of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

    And this is where things started to get really interesting. NICER picked up X-ray pulsations at 528.6 Hz – suggesting that the thing is spinning at a rate of 528.6 times per second – in addition to an X-ray thermonuclear burst.

    “This detection,” they wrote, “shows that MAXI J1816-195 is a neutron star and a new accreting millisecond X-ray pulsar.”

    So what does that mean? Well, not all pulsars are built alike. At the very basic level, a pulsar is a type of neutron star, which is the collapsed core of a dead massive star that has gone supernova. These objects are very small and very dense – up to around 2.2 times the mass of the Sun, packed into a sphere just 20 kilometers (12 miles) or so across.

    To be classified as a pulsar, a neutron star has to… pulse. Beams of radiation are launched from its poles; because of the way the star is angled, these beams sweep past Earth like the beams from a lighthouse. Millisecond pulsars are pulsars that spin so fast, they pulse hundreds of times a second.

    Some pulsars are powered purely by rotation, but another type is powered by accretion. The neutron star is in a binary system with another star, their orbit so close that material is siphoned from the companion star and onto the neutron star. This material is channeled along the neutron star’s magnetic field lines to its poles, where it falls down onto the surface, producing hotspots that flare brightly in X-rays.

    In some cases, the accretion process can spin up the pulsar to millisecond rotational speeds. This is the accreting X-ray millisecond pulsar, and it appears that MAXI J1816-195 belongs to this rare category.

    The thermonuclear X-ray burst detected by NICER was likely the result of the unstable thermonuclear burning of material accumulated by the companion star.

    Since the discovery is so new, observations in multiple wavelengths are ongoing. Follow-up has already been conducted using Swift, and the 2m Liverpool Telescope on the Canary Island of La Palma in Spain was employed to look for an optical counterpart, although none was detected.

    Other astronomers are also encouraged to climb aboard the MAXI J1816-195 train.

    Meanwhile, a full pulsar timing analysis is being conducted, and will, Bult and his team said, be circulated as more data becomes available. You can follow along on ATel.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 4:05 pm on June 9, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "To Gaia and Beyond!", , , , , , , ESA Gaia spacecraft, , , Solar System and Stellar Astronomy, Space based Astronomy, Spectrophotometry, The era of Galactic Seismology – exploring the response of the Galaxy to internal and external perturbations – has just begun.   

    From astrobites : “To Gaia and Beyond!” 

    Astrobites bloc

    From astrobites

    Jun 9, 2022
    Maryum Sayeed

    Title: Microarcsecond Astrometry: Science Highlights from Gaia

    Authors: Anthony G. A. Brown

    First Author’s Institution: Leiden Observatory, Leiden University

    Status: Published in Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics [open access]

    Figure 1: Map of the total flux measured in G_{\textrm{BP}}, G, and G_{\textrm{RP}} bands from all sources measured by Gaia in Galactic coordinates. Source: Gaia Collaboration (2018)

    The European Space Agency’s space mission Gaia, launched in 2013, has proved indispensable for all subfields in astronomy. From studying nearby solar system objects, to quasars and galaxies, Gaia proves to be the tool that does all.

    With the release of Gaia DR3 just around the corner, astronomers are (im)patiently anticipating new content that will not only improve on current astrometric measurements, but will yield unparalleled numbers of spectra, radial velocities, abundances, and more.

    This article briefly summarizes science results enabled by Gaia DR1 & DR2 thus far, with a specific focus on solar system and stellar astronomy.

    Gaia is an astrometry mission, meaning that it collects accurate positions, parallaxes, and proper motions for all sources to magnitude 20.7 in G band, and provides multi-color photometry and radial velocities for stars brighter than G ~ 17 mag. Gaia delivers incredible precision on its measurements. Positions for 1.1 billion sources are available up to G ~ 20, and parallaxes and proper motions are available for 2 million sources with sub-milliarcsecond (mas) precision. To put this into context, the angular diameter of Proxima Centauri – the closest star to the Sun – is 1 mas, which is also approximately the size of an astronaut on the surface of the moon, or the head of a pin on Earth as seen from the International Space Station.

    Finally, Gaia has also provided radial velocity for 7 million sources (out to G ~ 12), light curves for 550 000 variable stars, and astrophysical parameters (ie. effective temperature, radius, extinction) for ~160 million sources.

    Gaia truly is the one-stop shop for all your astrometric needs.

    Solar System

    Solar system science benefited tremendously from Gaia. Gaia DR2 provides astrometry and G-band photometry for ~14 000 solar system objects with high precision. Combining its astrometry and spectrophotometric data enables high-precision studies of solar system objects. In the context of the solar system, the major impact of Gaia has been the availability of all sky maps of star positions, parallaxes and proper motions, which allows astronomers to study occultations of stars by solar system objects. Orbit predictions even over a short period of time have increased the reliability of hazard predictions for near-Earth objects. For instance, using Gaia DR2 stellar positions and past occultation campaigns, Pluto’s shadow trajectory on Earth in 2016 was well predicted, and its atmospheric pressure was well studied. In general, Gaia DR2 astrometry enables much more precise predictions of stellar occultations by Kuiper Belt objects which in turn motivates astronomers to organize large-scale observation campaigns.


    While it has been predicted that by the end of its mission Gaia could increase the number of known exoplanets by a factor of three (21000 +/-6000, Perryman et al. 2014 [The Astrophysical Journal]), it is already making significant contributions to the characterization of known planets and their host stars. However, characterization of exoplanets requires precise knowledge of properties of its host star, motivating the popular saying Know Thy Star, Know Thy Planet. NASA’s Kepler mission observed a patch of the sky for ~4 years and discovered thousands of exoplanets.

    Thanks to Gaia, there have been multiple efforts to derive fundamental stellar parameters of stars in the Kepler field. Since precise stellar radii and masses can be calculated to ~5-10 % errors, precise stellar parameters enable astronomers to investigate exoplanet demographics as a function of stellar age, abundance, and evolutionary state, while also potentially probing their formation history. Gaia is truly bringing other worlds closer to home.

    Observational HR Diagrams

    Figure 2: Example of a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram of the Orion region where the absolute magnitude on the y-axis is plotted against the color on the x-axis. The orange points represent a younger population of stars in the region as compared to the older gray points. Source: Figure 5 in the paper.

    Gaia’s precise measurements of stellar positions & parallaxes enable us to study stellar populations. Tools like an Hertzprung-Russell (HR) diagram allow us to study the various stages of stellar evolution. Many studies have provided HR diagrams of various populations, such as the Orion region (Figure 5 in the paper) or the Kepler field of view (Figure 8 in Berger et al. 2020 [ The Astronomical Journal]), that have revealed interesting substructures. Incredible insights into processes in the stellar interior have been made possible by a basic tool such as an HR diagram of Gaia data. For instance, Jao & Feiden 2020 [The Astronomical Journal], found a gap in their HR diagram of Gaia stars that they attribute to non-equilibrium fusion in the stellar core, and mixing between the core and the envelope.

    Similarly, Gaia has enabled many studies of moving groups and cluster characterization. One example is the discovery of a young stellar population found in the Scorpio-Centaurus-Lupus-Sky region via a simple selection on parallax and cuts in an HR diagram (Figure 1 in Villa Velez+2018 [Research Notes of the AAS]). Gaia also enabled the construction of a large all-sky sample of white dwarfs. In fact, an observational HR diagram in Gaia DR2 release revealed bifurcation of the white dwarf sequence attributed to varying compositions of white dwarfs (Figure 13 in this paper [A&A Gaia Data Release 2 special issue]).

    Galactic Archaeology

    Lastly, Galactic Archaeology was one of the many subfields that was revolutionized by Gaia. Helmi et al. 2020 provides a wonderful introduction of the field, as well as progress facilitated by Gaia DR2. A major discovery made possible by Gaia was that a large fraction of the halo stars near the Sun were debris stars from Gaia-Enceladus (or Gaia sausage), the last big merger event experienced by the Milky Way.

    Furthermore, Gaia’s velocity and positions of stars in three dimensions revealed that the Milky Way is in fact not in equilibrium. Our Galaxy was recently disturbed by an intruder – most likely the Sagittarius dwarf – that produced waves in the Galactic plane. Without precise information on stellar velocity and positions, this detail into our galaxy’s history would not have been possible.

    Other substructures in the Milky Way have also been better characterized by Gaia, such as stellar streams. Pre-Gaia, such streams were a faint overdensity of stars stretched out in position that were hard to disentangle or even see against the stars in front of and behind them. However, with Gaia measurements, we can filter out foreground stars based on their large parallaxes and/or proper motions, to isolate a stellar stream and even probe clumpy dark matter distributions. There are still more exciting discoveries to be made in Galactic archaeology and beyond; in fact, the era of Galactic Seismology – exploring the response of the Galaxy to internal and external perturbations – has just begun.

    Looking Ahead

    June 13th, 2022 is a date circled in many astronomers’ calendars. With unwavering excitement and trepidation, astronomers across subfields will finally have access to new Gaia data. Multiple cities, such as Chicago, NYC, and Aarhus, are also planning week-long Gaia sprints which involve exploring and playing with the new data with like-minded astronomers in similar research areas. Gaia DR3 promises to improve measurements on previous sources, but also provide new content. The full list of the data products are listed on Gaia’s webpage, but some exciting products include spectra from Radial Velocity Spectrograph (with resolution of ~11 500), catalog of binary stars, astrometry for 100 000 solar system objects, reflectance spectra of ~5000 asteroids, chemical abundances for ~2.5 million stars, and much, much, much more. The collective excitement over a new data release is inspiring, yet humbling, and like its predecessor, Gaia DR3 will advance our knowledge of the Universe on all scales, across the sky.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    What do we do?

    Astrobites is a daily astrophysical literature journal written by graduate students in astronomy. Our goal is to present one interesting paper per day in a brief format that is accessible to undergraduate students in the physical sciences who are interested in active research.
    Why read Astrobites?

    Reading a technical paper from an unfamiliar subfield is intimidating. It may not be obvious how the techniques used by the researchers really work or what role the new research plays in answering the bigger questions motivating that field, not to mention the obscure jargon! For most people, it takes years for scientific papers to become meaningful.

    Our goal is to solve this problem, one paper at a time. In 5 minutes a day reading Astrobites, you should not only learn about one interesting piece of current work, but also get a peek at the broader picture of research in a new area of astronomy.

  • richardmitnick 11:02 am on June 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Small Molecules Have Big Impacts in Interstellar Clouds", , , Diffuse atomic gas becomes dense molecular gas which ultimately forms stars and stellar systems and continues to evolve over time., Hydrides are useful to astronomers because they are very sensitive tracers of different phases of the interstellar medium., , Scientists are studying six hydrides which are molecules or molecular ions in which one or more hydrogen atoms are bound to a heavier atom through shared electron pairs., Space based Astronomy, Though astronomers understand much of this process there are a lot of missing pieces., W3 is one of the 25 Milky Way regions scientists are studying in the HyGAL project.   

    From NASA/DLR SOFIA : “Small Molecules Have Big Impacts in Interstellar Clouds” 



    May 31, 2022
    Anashe Bandari

    “One of the key goals, when you think about modern astronomy, considers the life cycle of molecular material,” said Arshia Jacob, an astronomer at Johns Hopkins University. Diffuse atomic gas becomes dense molecular gas, which ultimately forms stars and stellar systems, and continues to evolve over time. Though astronomers understand much of this process, there are a lot of missing pieces.

    Jacob is the lead author on a recent paper characterizing the interstellar medium in the Milky Way using SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, to fill in some of these missing pieces [The Astrophysical Journal]. By studying six hydrides, which are molecules or molecular ions in which one or more hydrogen atoms are bound to a heavier atom through shared electron pairs, Jacob and her collaborators hope to better understand how molecular clouds form and evolve.

    W3, one of the 25 Milky Way regions the HyGAL project will study, is seen as the glowing white area in the upper right of this image of the Heart and Soul Nebulae, taken by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).

    SOFIA looked at the abundances of six hydride molecules in W3, the spectra of two of which are shown in the box at left. Image credit: Nebulae: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA; Spectra: Jacob et al.

    Hydrides are useful to astronomers because they are very sensitive tracers of different phases of the interstellar medium, and their chemistry is relatively straightforward. Moreover, hydride observations provide measurements of the amount of material present.

    The multi-investigator SOFIA project Hydrides in the Galaxy (HyGAL) uses a diverse selection of hydride molecules, allowing different processes to be monitored while complementing other observations. For example, one of the hydrides studied, argonium, can only form in regions that are almost purely atomic gas, so detecting argonium is indicative of a low molecular content in its surrounding environment. Other hydride molecules can indicate the presence of dense gas, intense cosmic radiation, turbulence, and more.

    “Hydrides are small, but we can understand so much from them. Small molecules, big impact,” Jacob said.

    In the first stage of the project, the group compared the hydride abundances in three regions of the Milky Way: two star-forming regions, W3(OH) and W3 IRS5, and a young stellar object, NGC 7538 IRS1. Though the average properties of these first three sources are similar, the full HyGAL project plans to study a total of 25 regions. With the remaining 22 sources covering distances from the inner galaxy all the way to the outer galaxy, they expect vastly different results.

    “The sources are very different: Some of them are older, some have more chemical enrichment, some are younger and still forming stars,” Jacob said. “All of these will affect the nature of molecules that are formed, like their abundances, for example.”

    Moving away from the galactic center, the transitions from atomic to molecular gas change, and the cosmic ray ionization rates vary vastly, which will result in differences in the ratios of molecules present and other properties. This will help astronomers understand the diversity of environments within the Milky Way.

    “Imagine you’re moving into a cloud. At each stage, you’re seeing different molecules, reflecting changes in the cloud properties as it gets denser,” Jacob said. “Through this project, we’re filling in the properties of this transition.”

    Currently, there have only been a handful of bright sources emitting a broad range of radiation that have been studied in this way, all concentrated in the inner galaxy. The SOFIA data will more than double the existing data, providing additional answers about the structure, dynamics, and chemistry of these clouds and where the dense material comes from.

    SOFIA is the only facility presently capable of accessing the frequency range necessary for these observations at the required resolution. The German REceiver Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT) instrument [below] aboard SOFIA allows five frequencies to be monitored simultaneously, each tuned to five of the six hydrides in question to determine the makeup of the cloud sources. These are complemented by studies at radio wavelengths with observatories such as the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array near Socorro, New Mexico.

    “The idea is to give us not only information about the sources themselves, but also information about the different spiral arms they cross, making this truly a study over galactic scales,” Jacob said.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA/DLR SOFIA GREAT [German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies]

    NASA/DLR SOFIA High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-Plus HAWC+ Camera

    NASA/DLR SOFIA Forcast

    SOFIA is a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 106-inch diameter telescope. It is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center, DLR. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the SOFIA program, science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart. The aircraft is maintained and operated from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Hangar 703, in Palmdale, California.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [NASA/ESA Hubble, NASA Chandra, NASA Spitzer, and associated programs.] NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
%d bloggers like this: