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  • richardmitnick 11:18 am on October 5, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers find a 'cataclysmic' pair of stars with the shortest orbit yet", , , , , Scientists caught this system in the act of switching from hydrogen to helium accretion., , , The newly discovered system tagged ZTF J1813+4251, This is the first time such a transitioning system has been observed directly., ZTF-Zwicky Transient Facility   

    From The Massachusetts Institute of Technology And The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics: “Astronomers find a ‘cataclysmic’ pair of stars with the shortest orbit yet” 

    From The Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    And

    The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

    10.5.22
    Jennifer Chu

    1
    An artist’s illustration shows a white dwarf (right) circling a larger, sun-like star (left) in an ultra-short orbit, forming a “cataclysmic” binary system. Credit: M.Weiss/Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian.

    Nearly half the stars in our galaxy are solitary like the sun. The other half comprises stars that circle other stars, in pairs and multiples, with orbits so tight that some stellar systems could fit between Earth and the moon.

    Astronomers at MIT and elsewhere have now discovered a stellar binary, or pair of stars, with an extremely short orbit, appearing to circle each other every 51 minutes. The system seems to be one of a rare class of binaries known as a “cataclysmic variable,” in which a star similar to our sun orbits tightly around a white dwarf — a hot, dense core of a burned-out star.

    A cataclysmic variable occurs when the two stars draw close, over billions of years, causing the white dwarf to start accreting, or eating material away from its partner star. This process can give off enormous, variable flashes of light that, centuries ago, astronomers assumed to be a result of some unknown cataclysm.

    The newly discovered system, which the team has tagged ZTF J1813+4251, is a cataclysmic variable with the shortest orbit detected to date. Unlike other such systems observed in the past, the astronomers caught this cataclysmic variable as the stars eclipsed each other multiple times, allowing the team to precisely measure properties of each star.

    With these measurements, the researchers ran simulations of what the system is likely doing today and how it should evolve over the next hundreds of millions of years. They conclude that the stars are currently in transition, and that the sun-like star has been circling and “donating” much of its hydrogen atmosphere to the voracious white dwarf. The sun-like star will eventually be stripped down to a mostly dense, helium-rich core. In another 70 million years, the stars will migrate even closer together, with an ultrashort orbit reaching just 18 minutes, before they begin to expand and drift apart.

    Decades ago, researchers at MIT and elsewhere predicted that such cataclysmic variables should transition to ultrashort orbits. This is the first time such a transitioning system has been observed directly.

    “This is a rare case where we caught one of these systems in the act of switching from hydrogen to helium accretion,” says Kevin Burdge, a Pappalardo Fellow in MIT’s Department of Physics. “People predicted these objects should transition to ultrashort orbits, and it was debated for a long time whether they could get short enough to emit detectable gravitational waves. This discovery puts that to rest.”​

    Burdge and colleagues report their discovery today in Nature [below]. The study’s co-authors include collaborators from multiple institutions, including the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

    Sky search

    The astronomers discovered the new system within a vast catalog of stars, observed by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a survey that uses a camera attached to a telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California to take high-resolution pictures of wide swaths of the sky.

    The survey has taken more than 1,000 images of each of the more than 1 billion stars in the sky, recording each star’s changing brightness over days, months, and years.

    Burdge combed through the catalog, looking for signals of systems with ultrashort orbits, the dynamics of which can be so extreme that they should give off dramatic bursts of light and emit gravitational waves.

    “Gravitational waves are allowing us to study the universe in a totally new way,” says Burdge, who is searching the sky for new gravitational-wave sources.

    For this new study, Burdge looked through the ZTF data for stars that appeared to flash repeatedly, with a period of less than an hour — a frequency that typically signals a system of at least two closely orbiting objects, with one crossing the other and briefly blocking its light.

    He used an algorithm to weed through over 1 billion stars, each of which was recorded in more than 1,000 images. The algorithm sifted out about 1 million stars that appeared to flash every hour or so. Among these, Burdge then looked by eye for signals of particular interest. His search zeroed in on ZTF J1813+4251 — a system that resides about 3,000 light years from Earth, in the Hercules constellation.

    “This thing popped up, where I saw an eclipse happening every 51 minutes, and I said, OK, this is definitely a binary,” Burdge recalls.

    A dense core

    He and his colleagues further focused on the system using the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawai’i and the Gran Telescopio Canarias in Spain.

    They found that the system was exceptionally “clean,” meaning they could clearly see its light change with each eclipse. With such clarity, they were able to precisely measure each object’s mass and radius, as well as their orbital period.

    They found that the first object was likely a white dwarf, at 1/100th the size of the sun and about half its mass. The second object was a sun-like star near the end of its life, at a tenth the size and mass of the sun (about the size of Jupiter). The stars also appeared to orbit each other every 51 minutes.

    Yet, something didn’t quite add up.

    “This one star looked like the sun, but the sun can’t fit into an orbit shorter than eight hours — what’s up here?” Burdge says.

    He soon hit upon an explanation: Nearly 30 years ago, researchers including MIT Professor Emeritus Saul Rappaport had predicted that ultrashort-orbit systems should exist as cataclysmic variables. As the white dwarf eats orbits the sun-like star and eats away its light hydrogen, the sun-like star should burn out, leaving a core of helium — an element that is more dense than hydrogen, and heavy enough to keep the dead star in a tight, ultrashort orbit.

    Burdge realized that ZTF J1813+4251 was likely a cataclysmic variable, in the act of transitioning from a hydrogen- to helium-rich body. The discovery both confirms the predictions made by Rappaport and others, and also stands as the shortest orbit cataclysmic variable detected to date.

    “This is a special system,” Burdge says. “We got doubly lucky to find a system that answers a big open question, and is one of the most beautifully behaved cataclysmic variables known.”

    This research was supported, in part, by the European Research Council.

    Science paper:
    Nature

    See the full article here .


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    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.

    [caption id="attachment_60988" align="alignnone" width="632"] 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.

    MIT Seal

    [caption id="attachment_116504" align="alignnone" width="632"] USPS “Forever” postage stamps celebrating Innovation at MIT.

    MIT Campus

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private land-grant research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The institute has an urban campus that extends more than a mile (1.6 km) alongside the Charles River. The institute also encompasses a number of major off-campus facilities such as the MIT Lincoln Laboratory , the MIT Bates Research and Engineering Center , and the Haystack Observatory , as well as affiliated laboratories such as the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Whitehead Institute.

    Massachusettes Institute of Technology-Haystack Observatory Westford, Massachusetts, USA, Altitude 131 m (430 ft).

    Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, Massachusetts Institute of Technology adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. It has since played a key role in the development of many aspects of modern science, engineering, mathematics, and technology, and is widely known for its innovation and academic strength. It is frequently regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

    As of December 2020, 97 Nobel laureates, 26 Turing Award winners, and 8 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT as alumni, faculty members, or researchers. In addition, 58 National Medal of Science recipients, 29 National Medals of Technology and Innovation recipients, 50 MacArthur Fellows, 80 Marshall Scholars, 3 Mitchell Scholars, 22 Schwarzman Scholars, 41 astronauts, and 16 Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force have been affiliated with The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The university also has a strong entrepreneurial culture and MIT alumni have founded or co-founded many notable companies. Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a member of the Association of American Universities.

    Foundation and vision

    In 1859, a proposal was submitted to the Massachusetts General Court to use newly filled lands in Back Bay, Boston for a “Conservatory of Art and Science”, but the proposal failed. A charter for the incorporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, proposed by William Barton Rogers, was signed by John Albion Andrew, the governor of Massachusetts, on April 10, 1861.

    Rogers, a professor from the University of Virginia , wanted to establish an institution to address rapid scientific and technological advances. He did not wish to found a professional school, but a combination with elements of both professional and liberal education, proposing that:

    “The true and only practicable object of a polytechnic school is, as I conceive, the teaching, not of the minute details and manipulations of the arts, which can be done only in the workshop, but the inculcation of those scientific principles which form the basis and explanation of them, and along with this, a full and methodical review of all their leading processes and operations in connection with physical laws.”

    The Rogers Plan reflected the German research university model, emphasizing an independent faculty engaged in research, as well as instruction oriented around seminars and laboratories.

    Early developments

    Two days after The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was chartered, the first battle of the Civil War broke out. After a long delay through the war years, MIT’s first classes were held in the Mercantile Building in Boston in 1865. The new institute was founded as part of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to fund institutions “to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes” and was a land-grant school. In 1863 under the same act, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts founded the Massachusetts Agricultural College, which developed as the University of Massachusetts Amherst ). In 1866, the proceeds from land sales went toward new buildings in the Back Bay.

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was informally called “Boston Tech”. The institute adopted the European polytechnic university model and emphasized laboratory instruction from an early date. Despite chronic financial problems, the institute saw growth in the last two decades of the 19th century under President Francis Amasa Walker. Programs in electrical, chemical, marine, and sanitary engineering were introduced, new buildings were built, and the size of the student body increased to more than one thousand.

    The curriculum drifted to a vocational emphasis, with less focus on theoretical science. The fledgling school still suffered from chronic financial shortages which diverted the attention of the MIT leadership. During these “Boston Tech” years, Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty and alumni rebuffed Harvard University president (and former MIT faculty) Charles W. Eliot’s repeated attempts to merge MIT with Harvard College’s Lawrence Scientific School. There would be at least six attempts to absorb MIT into Harvard. In its cramped Back Bay location, MIT could not afford to expand its overcrowded facilities, driving a desperate search for a new campus and funding. Eventually, the MIT Corporation approved a formal agreement to merge with Harvard, over the vehement objections of MIT faculty, students, and alumni. However, a 1917 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court effectively put an end to the merger scheme.

    In 1916, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology administration and the MIT charter crossed the Charles River on the ceremonial barge Bucentaur built for the occasion, to signify MIT’s move to a spacious new campus largely consisting of filled land on a one-mile-long (1.6 km) tract along the Cambridge side of the Charles River. The neoclassical “New Technology” campus was designed by William W. Bosworth and had been funded largely by anonymous donations from a mysterious “Mr. Smith”, starting in 1912. In January 1920, the donor was revealed to be the industrialist George Eastman of Rochester, New York, who had invented methods of film production and processing, and founded Eastman Kodak. Between 1912 and 1920, Eastman donated $20 million ($236.6 million in 2015 dollars) in cash and Kodak stock to MIT.

    Curricular reforms

    In the 1930s, President Karl Taylor Compton and Vice-President (effectively Provost) Vannevar Bush emphasized the importance of pure sciences like physics and chemistry and reduced the vocational practice required in shops and drafting studios. The Compton reforms “renewed confidence in the ability of the Institute to develop leadership in science as well as in engineering”. Unlike Ivy League schools, Massachusetts Institute of Technology catered more to middle-class families, and depended more on tuition than on endowments or grants for its funding. The school was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1934.

    Still, as late as 1949, the Lewis Committee lamented in its report on the state of education at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology that “the Institute is widely conceived as basically a vocational school”, a “partly unjustified” perception the committee sought to change. The report comprehensively reviewed the undergraduate curriculum, recommended offering a broader education, and warned against letting engineering and government-sponsored research detract from the sciences and humanities. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and the MIT Sloan School of Management were formed in 1950 to compete with the powerful Schools of Science and Engineering. Previously marginalized faculties in the areas of economics, management, political science, and linguistics emerged into cohesive and assertive departments by attracting respected professors and launching competitive graduate programs. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences continued to develop under the successive terms of the more humanistically oriented presidents Howard W. Johnson and Jerome Wiesner between 1966 and 1980.

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology‘s involvement in military science surged during World War II. In 1941, Vannevar Bush was appointed head of the federal Office of Scientific Research and Development and directed funding to only a select group of universities, including MIT. Engineers and scientists from across the country gathered at Massachusetts Institute of Technology ‘s Radiation Laboratory, established in 1940 to assist the British military in developing microwave radar. The work done there significantly affected both the war and subsequent research in the area. Other defense projects included gyroscope-based and other complex control systems for gunsight, bombsight, and inertial navigation under Charles Stark Draper’s Instrumentation Laboratory; the development of a digital computer for flight simulations under Project Whirlwind; and high-speed and high-altitude photography under Harold Edgerton. By the end of the war, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology became the nation’s largest wartime R&D contractor (attracting some criticism of Bush), employing nearly 4000 in the Radiation Laboratory alone and receiving in excess of $100 million ($1.2 billion in 2015 dollars) before 1946. Work on defense projects continued even after then. Post-war government-sponsored research at MIT included SAGE and guidance systems for ballistic missiles and Project Apollo.

    These activities affected The Massachusetts Institute of Technology profoundly. A 1949 report noted the lack of “any great slackening in the pace of life at the Institute” to match the return to peacetime, remembering the “academic tranquility of the prewar years”, though acknowledging the significant contributions of military research to the increased emphasis on graduate education and rapid growth of personnel and facilities. The faculty doubled and the graduate student body quintupled during the terms of Karl Taylor Compton, president of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology between 1930 and 1948; James Rhyne Killian, president from 1948 to 1957; and Julius Adams Stratton, chancellor from 1952 to 1957, whose institution-building strategies shaped the expanding university. By the 1950s, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology no longer simply benefited the industries with which it had worked for three decades, and it had developed closer working relationships with new patrons, philanthropic foundations and the federal government.

    In late 1960s and early 1970s, student and faculty activists protested against the Vietnam War and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology ‘s defense research. In this period Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s various departments were researching helicopters, smart bombs and counterinsurgency techniques for the war in Vietnam as well as guidance systems for nuclear missiles. The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded on March 4, 1969 during a meeting of faculty members and students seeking to shift the emphasis on military research toward environmental and social problems. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology ultimately divested itself from the Instrumentation Laboratory and moved all classified research off-campus to the MIT Lincoln Laboratory facility in 1973 in response to the protests. The student body, faculty, and administration remained comparatively unpolarized during what was a tumultuous time for many other universities. Johnson was seen to be highly successful in leading his institution to “greater strength and unity” after these times of turmoil. However, six Massachusetts Institute of Technology students were sentenced to prison terms at this time and some former student leaders, such as Michael Albert and George Katsiaficas, are still indignant about MIT’s role in military research and its suppression of these protests. (Richard Leacock’s film, November Actions, records some of these tumultuous events.)

    In the 1980s, there was more controversy at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology over its involvement in SDI (space weaponry) and CBW (chemical and biological warfare) research. More recently, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s research for the military has included work on robots, drones and ‘battle suits’.

    Recent history

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has kept pace with and helped to advance the digital age. In addition to developing the predecessors to modern computing and networking technologies, students, staff, and faculty members at Project MAC, the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and the Tech Model Railroad Club wrote some of the earliest interactive computer video games like Spacewar! and created much of modern hacker slang and culture. Several major computer-related organizations have originated at MIT since the 1980s: Richard Stallman’s GNU Project and the subsequent Free Software Foundation were founded in the mid-1980s at the AI Lab; the MIT Media Lab was founded in 1985 by Nicholas Negroponte and Jerome Wiesner to promote research into novel uses of computer technology; the World Wide Web Consortium standards organization was founded at the Laboratory for Computer Science in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee; the MIT OpenCourseWare project has made course materials for over 2,000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology classes available online free of charge since 2002; and the One Laptop per Child initiative to expand computer education and connectivity to children worldwide was launched in 2005.

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was named a sea-grant college in 1976 to support its programs in oceanography and marine sciences and was named a space-grant college in 1989 to support its aeronautics and astronautics programs. Despite diminishing government financial support over the past quarter century, MIT launched several successful development campaigns to significantly expand the campus: new dormitories and athletics buildings on west campus; the Tang Center for Management Education; several buildings in the northeast corner of campus supporting research into biology, brain and cognitive sciences, genomics, biotechnology, and cancer research; and a number of new “backlot” buildings on Vassar Street including the Stata Center. Construction on campus in the 2000s included expansions of the Media Lab, the Sloan School’s eastern campus, and graduate residences in the northwest. In 2006, President Hockfield launched the MIT Energy Research Council to investigate the interdisciplinary challenges posed by increasing global energy consumption.

    In 2001, inspired by the open source and open access movements, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched “OpenCourseWare” to make the lecture notes, problem sets, syllabi, exams, and lectures from the great majority of its courses available online for no charge, though without any formal accreditation for coursework completed. While the cost of supporting and hosting the project is high, OCW expanded in 2005 to include other universities as a part of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, which currently includes more than 250 academic institutions with content available in at least six languages. In 2011, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced it would offer formal certification (but not credits or degrees) to online participants completing coursework in its “MITx” program, for a modest fee. The “edX” online platform supporting MITx was initially developed in partnership with Harvard and its analogous “Harvardx” initiative. The courseware platform is open source, and other universities have already joined and added their own course content. In March 2009 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty adopted an open-access policy to make its scholarship publicly accessible online.

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has its own police force. Three days after the Boston Marathon bombing of April 2013, MIT Police patrol officer Sean Collier was fatally shot by the suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, setting off a violent manhunt that shut down the campus and much of the Boston metropolitan area for a day. One week later, Collier’s memorial service was attended by more than 10,000 people, in a ceremony hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology community with thousands of police officers from the New England region and Canada. On November 25, 2013, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced the creation of the Collier Medal, to be awarded annually to “an individual or group that embodies the character and qualities that Officer Collier exhibited as a member of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology community and in all aspects of his life”. The announcement further stated that “Future recipients of the award will include those whose contributions exceed the boundaries of their profession, those who have contributed to building bridges across the community, and those who consistently and selflessly perform acts of kindness”.

    In September 2017, the school announced the creation of an artificial intelligence research lab called the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. IBM will spend $240 million over the next decade, and the lab will be staffed by MIT and IBM scientists. In October 2018 MIT announced that it would open a new Schwarzman College of Computing dedicated to the study of artificial intelligence, named after lead donor and The Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman. The focus of the new college is to study not just AI, but interdisciplinary AI education, and how AI can be used in fields as diverse as history and biology. The cost of buildings and new faculty for the new college is expected to be $1 billion upon completion.

    The Caltech/MIT Advanced aLIGO was designed and constructed by a team of scientists from California Institute of Technology , Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and industrial contractors, and funded by the National Science Foundation .

    Caltech /MIT Advanced aLigo

    It was designed to open the field of gravitational-wave astronomy through the detection of gravitational waves predicted by general relativity. Gravitational waves were detected for the first time by the LIGO detector in 2015. For contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves, two Caltech physicists, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist Rainer Weiss won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2017. Weiss, who is also a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate, designed the laser interferometric technique, which served as the essential blueprint for the LIGO.

    The mission of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:48 am on July 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "'Twilight telescopes' are finding 'city-killer' asteroids in an unexplored region of our solar system", , , , , , , , ZTF-Zwicky Transient Facility   

    From SPACE.com : “‘Twilight telescopes’ are finding ‘city-killer’ asteroids in an unexplored region of our solar system” 

    From SPACE.com

    7.22.22
    Jamie Carter

    1
    An artist’s rendering showing the 2021 PH2 asteroid (above) and the planet Mercury (below). (Image credit: CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva (Spaceengine))

    When it comes to looking for asteroids, we have a blind spot. It may seem counterintuitive, but the most important asteroid discoveries are now being made in twilight, when astronomers are able to look close to the horizon — and close to the sun — for little-known asteroids that orbit inside the orbits of Earth, Venus and even Mercury.

    In a perspective published in Science [below] today, asteroid-hunter Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution of Science highlights the new “twilight telescope” surveys and the riches they’re beginning to discover. That includes the first asteroid with an orbit interior to Venus and one with the shortest-known orbital period around the sun, both of which have been unearthed in the last two years. It also includes “city-killers,” asteroids large enough that if they were to impact Earth, the damage would be severe.

    “We’re doing a full-fledged survey looking for anything that moves around the orbit of Venus, which is somewhere we haven’t really surveyed very deep in the past with anything other than small one meter telescopes,” Sheppard, who runs a twilight survey using the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile, told Space.com. “It’s pretty hard to do and generally the larger telescopes don’t have a very big field of view so you can’t cover a lot of sky.”

    However, DECam and another telescope are making it much easier to probe a previously hidden world of asteroids that until now have been obscured by the sun’s glare.

    Why look for asteroids in twilight

    About 30 years of methodical searching of the skies have resulted in finding most asteroids 3 miles (5 kilometers) across. Models and surveys suggest that more than 90% of “planet-killer” Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) (those larger than 0.6 miles, or 1 km) have been found, but only about half of the “city-killer” NEOs (those larger than 460 feet, or 140 meters) are known.

    So where are the rest? “There are going to be others either close to the sun, so hard to observe, or on aliasing orbits with Earth that makes them hard to find by the normal survey,” Sheppard said. Their eccentric orbits make them only visible in twilight skies.

    Sheppard’s team has already identified a mid-sized asteroid, called 2022 AP7, whose orbit crosses that of Earth, matching the criteria of a “potentially hazardous asteroid.” But others, in all likelihood, remain to be found. “The main reason we haven’t found all the ‘city-killers’ is simply because we haven’t been observing the sky to the same depth over years and years to find them,” Sheppard said.

    The language of asteroids

    Near-Earth asteroids come in a variety of flavors, all designated by characteristics of the space rock’s orbit. For example, Amors get close to Earth, but never cross its orbital path around the sun, so pose no danger to us.

    Not so for the Apollo asteroids, which cross Earth’s orbit, but are mostly beyond it. This category includes the likes of Apophis and Bennu, and these space rocks generally orbit the sun from just beyond Earth’s orbital path, which means that wide-field telescope surveys operating at night are best posed to spot these asteroids.

    Other categories of near-Earth asteroids are much more difficult to find, like Atens (which cross Earth’s orbit and remain mostly within it), Atiras (also called Apohele, which orbit interior to Earth’s orbit) and Vatiras (which orbit inside the orbital path of the planet Venus). However, Sheppard’s survey — which uses just 10 minutes of telescope time right after sunset and before sunrise to search close to the sun — is turning up some surprises.

    2
    The orbits of Earth, Venus and Mercury, and ‘Ayló’chaxnim. The dots show the exact positions of planets at the time of discovery on Jan. 4, 2020, when both ‘Aylóchaxnim and Venus were in the evening sky over Palomar Mountain. (Image credit: R. Hurt/Caltech-IPAC.)

    The one true “Venus Girl”

    So far astronomers know of only one Vatiras space rock.

    Asteroid 2020 AV2 was discovered on Jan. 4 using the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) telescope at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California.

    The facility is on ancestral lands of the indigenous Pauma group, who were asked to name it. They chose ‘Ayló’chaxnim, which means “Venus girl” in their Luiseño language.

    The asteroid is between 0.6 miles to 1.9 miles wide (1 to 3 km) across, orbits on a path that’s tilted 15 degrees relative to the plane of the solar system, and takes 151 days to circle the sun. Scientists suspect the asteroid was probably thrown into Venus’ orbit after a close encounter with another planet.

    The sun’s nearest neighbor

    In the twilight hours of Aug. 13, 2021, Sheppard discovered an asteroid with the shortest orbital period yet. Caught in data from the DECam, asteroid 2021 PH27 is about 0.6 miles across and its surface probably heats up to about 930 degrees Fahrenheit (500 degrees Celsius) — hot enough to melt lead — because its 113-day orbit carries it as close as 12 million miles (20 million km) from the sun. Only Mercury has a shorter orbit of the sun, at 88 days. However, since its orbit crosses both the orbits of Mercury and Venus, this asteroid classed as an Atira.

    2021 PH27 could be an extinct comet, scientists think, given that its orbit is inclined from the main plane of the solar system by 32 degrees. That tilt suggests that the object may be from the outer solar system, sent into a closer orbit around the sun after passing near one of the terrestrial planets.

    The top “twilight telescopes”

    ZTF and DECam are where it’s at when looking for asteroids that orbit interior to Venus.

    You might think that the bigger the telescope, the better for asteroid-hunting, but larger telescopes have smaller fields of view. ZTF, which rapidly scans the sky, has so far spotted one Vatira and several Atira asteroids. DECam, a 570-megapixel CCD imager designed for the Dark Energy Survey (DES) has found a few Atira asteroids, including 2021 PH27. ZTF has a bigger field of view, but DECam can spot objects much fainter in brightness as measured by magnitude.

    “DECam changes everything,” Sheppard said. “We’re now going over a magnitude deeper than people have gone to before — we’re opening up a whole new area of space that we’re able to constantly monitor that hasn’t really been monitored well in the past.”

    Expect to hear a lot more about new asteroids being discovered in an unexplored region of our solar system.

    Science paper:
    Science

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 5:54 pm on January 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Palomar Survey Instrument Analyzes Impact of Starlink Satellites", 5301 satellite streaks appear in archival images taken between November 2019 and September 2021., A team of researchers studied archival images captured NSF-funded Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF)-an instrument that operates from Caltech's Palomar Observatory near San Diego., Astronomers have expressed concerns that that SpaceX satellites which can appear as streaks in telescope images could hamper their scientific observations., In 2019 0.5 percent of twilight images were affected and now almost 20 percent are affected., SpaceX has been launching an increasing number of internet satellites into orbit around Earth., , The scientists expect that nearly all of the ZTF images taken during twilight will contain at least one streak especially after the Starlink constellation reaches 10000 satellites a goal SpaceX hopes , The streaks are most apparent in so-called twilight observations-those taken at dawn or dusk-which are important for finding near-Earth asteroids that appear close to the sun in the sky., ZTF-Zwicky Transient Facility   

    From The California Institute of Technology (US): “Palomar Survey Instrument Analyzes Impact of Starlink Satellites” 

    Caltech Logo

    From The California Institute of Technology (US)

    January 17, 2022
    Whitney Clavin
    (626) 395‑1944
    wclavin@caltech.edu

    A study of archival images from Zwicky Transient Facility shows an increase in satellite streaks.

    1
    The streak from a Starlink satellite appears in this image of the Andromeda galaxy, taken by The Zwicky Transient Facility, or ZTF, during twilight on May 19, 2021. The image shows only one-sixteenth of ZTF’s full field of view. Credit: Caltech Optical Observatories/The Caltech NASA Infrared Processing and Analysis Center(US).

    Since 2019, SpaceX has been launching an increasing number of internet satellites into orbit around Earth. The satellite constellation, called Starlink, now includes nearly 1,800 members orbiting at altitudes of about 550 kilometers. Astronomers have expressed concerns that that these objects, which can appear as streaks in telescope images, could hamper their scientific observations.

    To quantify these effects, a team of researchers studied archival images captured by the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), an instrument that operates from Caltech’s Palomar Observatory near San Diego.

    Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) instrument installed on the 1.2m diameter Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory in California. Credit: Caltech Optical Observatories.

    Caltech Palomar Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope, located in San Diego County, California, U.S.A., altitude 1,712 m (5,617 ft). Credit: Caltech.

    ZTF scans the entire night sky every two days, cataloguing cosmic objects that explode, blink, or otherwise change over time. This includes everything from supernovae to near-Earth asteroids. The Zwicky team members say they decided to specifically study the effects of Starlink satellites because they currently represent the largest low-Earth orbit, or LEO, constellation, and they have well-characterized orbits.

    The findings, reported in the January 17 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters, shows 5301 satellite streaks appear in archival images taken between November 2019 and September 2021. The streaks are most apparent in so-called twilight observations-those taken at dawn or dusk-which are important for finding near-Earth asteroids that appear close to the sun in the sky. ZTF has discovered several asteroids of this nature, including 2020 AV2, the first asteroid spotted with an orbit that fits entirely within the orbit of Venus.

    “In 2019 0.5 percent of twilight images were affected, and now almost 20 percent are affected,” says Przemek Mróz, study lead author and a former Caltech postdoctoral scholar who is now at The University of Warsaw [Uniwersytet Warszawski](PL).

    In the future, the scientists expect that nearly all of the ZTF images taken during twilight will contain at least one streak, especially after the Starlink constellation reaches 10,000 satellites, a goal SpaceX hopes to reach by 2027.

    “We don’t expect Starlink satellites to affect non-twilight images, but if the satellite constellation of other companies goes into higher orbits, this could cause problems for non-twilight observations,” Mróz says.

    Yet despite the increase in image streaks, the new report notes that ZTF science operations have not been strongly affected. Study co-author Tom Prince, the Ira S. Bowen Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at Caltech, says the paper shows a single streak affects less than one-tenth of a percent of the pixels in a ZTF image.

    “There is a small chance that we would miss an asteroid or another event hidden behind a satellite streak, but compared to the impact of weather, such as a cloudy sky, these are rather small effects for ZTF.”

    Prince says that software can be developed to help mitigate potential problems; for example, software could predict the locations of the Starlink satellites and thus help astronomers avoid scheduling an observation when one might be in the field of view. Software can also assess whether a passing satellite may have affected an astronomical observation, which would allow astronomers to mask or otherwise reduce the negative effects of the streaks.

    The new study also looked at the effectiveness of visors on the Starlink satellites, which SpaceX added beginning in 2020 to block sunlight from reaching the spacecraft. According to the ZTF observations, the visors reduce the satellite brightness by a factor of about five. That dims the satellites down to an apparent brightness level of 6.8 magnitude (the brightest stars are first magnitude, and the faintest stars we can see with our eyes are about sixth magnitude).

    This is still not dim enough to meet standards outlined by the Satellite Constellations 1 (SATCON1) workshop in 2020, a gathering sponsored by The NSF NOIRLab [National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory](US) and The American Astronomical Society (US) to bring together astronomers, policymakers, and other experts to discuss the impact of large satellite constellations on astronomy and society. The group called for all LEO satellites to be at seventh magnitude or fainter.

    The study authors also note their study is specific to ZTF. Like ZTF, the upcoming Vera C. Rubin Observatory, under construction in Chile, will also survey the sky nightly, but due to its more sensitive imager, astronomers predict that it may be more negatively affected by satellite streaks than ZTF.

    Other authors of the study include Richard Dekany (BS ’89), Matthew Graham, Steven Groom, and Frank Masci of Caltech; Dmitry Duev, a former Caltech postdoc now at Weights & Biases Inc.; Angel Otarola of The European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europaiche Sûdsternwarte] (EU)(CL); and Michael S. Medford of The University of California-Berkeley (US) and DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (US).

    ZTF is funded by The National Science Foundation(US) and an international collaboration of partners. Additional support comes from The Heising-Simons Foundation (US) and Caltech. ZTF data are processed and archived by Caltech NASA Infrared Science Archive IPAC. NASA supports ZTF’s search for near-Earth objects through the Near-Earth Object Observations program.

    See the full article here .


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


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Caltech campus

    The The California Institute of Technology (US) 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 (US)’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(US) as well as National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US). According to a 2015 Pomona College(US) 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.

    Research

    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(US); National Science Foundation(US); Department of Health and Human Services(US); Department of Defense(US), and Department of Energy(US).

    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 (US), The California Institute of Technology also operates the Caltech Palomar Observatory(US); the Owens Valley Radio Observatory(US);the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory(US); the W. M. Keck Observatory at the Mauna Kea Observatory(US); the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory at Livingston, Louisiana and Richland, Washington; and Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory(US) 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(US), part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center(US) 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(US) 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(US) stations as part of an international collaborative effort of measuring greenhouse gases globally. One station is on campus.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:14 pm on July 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Spectacular ultraviolet flash may finally explain how white dwarfs explode", , , , , For just the second time ever astrophysicists have spotted a spectacular flash of ultraviolet (UV) light accompanying a white dwarf explosion., , Perlmutter Riess and Schmidt proved the accelerating expansion of the universe using Type 1A supernovae., Saul Perlmutter [The Supernova Cosmology Project] Adam Riess and Brian Schmidt [The High-z Supernova Search Team] shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics., SN2019yvq, , , ZTF-Zwicky Transient Facility   

    From Northwestern University: “Spectacular ultraviolet flash may finally explain how white dwarfs explode” 

    Northwestern U bloc
    From Northwestern University

    July 23, 2020

    Amanda Morris
    (847) 467-6790
    amandamo@northwestern.edu

    White dwarf explosion caused extremely rare burst of ultraviolet (UV) light.
    This is just the second time a UV flash accompanied a type Ia supernova.
    White dwarfs are cool objects; UV light requires something incredibly hot.
    Researchers will have a better understanding of how white dwarfs explode as they continue to watch the event throughout the year.

    For just the second time ever, astrophysicists have spotted a spectacular flash of ultraviolet (UV) light accompanying a white dwarf explosion.

    An extremely rare type of supernova, the event is poised to offer insights into several long-standing mysteries, including what causes white dwarfs to explode, how dark energy accelerates the cosmos and how the universe creates heavy metals, such as iron.

    “The UV flash is telling us something very specific about how this white dwarf exploded,” said Northwestern University astrophysicist Adam Miller, who led the research. “As time passes, the exploded material moves farther away from the source. As that material thins, we can see deeper and deeper. After a year, the material will be so thin that we will see all the way into the center of the explosion.”

    At that point, Miller said, his team will know more about how this white dwarf — and all white dwarfs, which are dense remnants of dead stars — explode.

    1
    Zwicky Transient Facility composite image of SN2019yvq (blue dot in the center of the image) in the host galaxy NGC 4441 (large yellow galaxy in the center of the image), which is nearly 140 million light-years away from Earth. SN 2019yvq exhibited a rarely observed ultraviolet flash in the days after the star exploded.
    Credit: ZTF/A. A. Miller (Northwestern University) and D. Goldstein (Caltech)

    Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) instrument installed on the 1.2m diameter Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory in California. Courtesy Caltech Optical Observatories

    Caltech Palomar Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope, located in San Diego County, California, United States, altitude 1,712 m (5,617 ft)

    The paper was published today (July 23) in The Astrophysical Journal.

    Common event with a rare twist

    Using the Zwicky Transient Facility [above] in California, researchers first spotted the peculiar supernova in December 2019 — just a day after it exploded. The event, dubbed SN2019yvq, occurred in a relatively nearby galaxy located 140 million light-years from Earth, very close to tail of the dragon-shaped Draco constellation.

    Within hours, astrophysicists used NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory to study the phenomenon in ultraviolet and X-ray wavelengths.

    NASA Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory

    They immediately classified SN2019yvq as a type Ia (pronounced “one-A”) supernova, a fairly frequent event that occurs when a white dwarf explodes.

    “These are some of the most common explosions in the universe,” Miller said. “But what’s special is this UV flash. Astronomers have searched for this for years and never found it. To our knowledge, this is actually only the second time a UV flash has been seen with a type Ia supernova.”

    Heated mystery

    The rare flash, which lasted for a couple days, indicates that something inside or nearby the white dwarf was incredibly hot. Because white dwarfs become cooler and cooler as they age, the influx of heat puzzled astronomers.

    “The simplest way to create UV light is to have something that’s very, very hot,” Miller said. “We need something that is much hotter than our sun — a factor of three or four times hotter. Most supernovae are not that hot, so you don’t get the very intense UV radiation. Something unusual happened with this supernova to create a very hot phenomenon.”

    Miller and his team believe this is an important clue to understanding why white dwarfs explode, which has been a long-standing mystery in the field. Currently, there are multiple competing hypotheses. Miller is particularly interested in exploring four different hypotheses, which match his team’s data analysis from SN2019yvq.

    Potential scenarios that could cause a white dwarf to explode with a UV flash are:

    A white dwarf consumes material from its companion star and becomes so massive and unstable that it explodes. The white dwarf’s expelled material and the companion star collide, causing a flash of UV emission;
    Extremely hot radioactive material in the white dwarf’s core mixes with its outer layers, causing the outer shell to reach higher temperatures than usual;
    An outer layer of helium ignites carbon within the white dwarf, causing an extremely hot double explosion and a UV flash;
    Two white dwarfs merge, triggering an explosion with colliding ejecta that emit UV radiation.

    “Within a year,” Miller said, “we’ll be able to figure out which one of these four is the most likely explanation.”

    Earth-shattering insights

    Once the researchers know what caused the explosion, they will apply those findings to learn more about planet formation and dark energy.

    Because most of the iron in the universe is created by type Ia supernovae, better understanding this phenomenon could tell us more about our own planet. Iron from exploded stars, for example, formed the core of all rocky planets, including Earth.

    “If you want to understand how the Earth formed, you need to understand where iron came from and how much iron was needed,” Miller said. “Understanding the ways in which a white dwarf explodes gives us a more precise understanding of how iron is created and distributed throughout the universe.”

    Illuminating dark energy

    White dwarfs already play an enormous role in physicists’ current understanding of dark energy as well. Physicists predict that white dwarfs all have the same brightness when they explode. So type Ia supernovae are considered “standard candles,” allowing astronomers to calculate exactly how far the explosions lie from Earth. Using supernovae to measure distances led to the discovery of dark energy, a finding recognized with the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics.

    _____________________________________________
    4

    4 October 2011

    The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2011

    with one half to

    Saul Perlmutter
    The Supernova Cosmology Project
    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California,
    Berkeley, CA, USA

    and the other half jointly to

    Brian P. Schmidt
    The High-z Supernova Search Team
    Australian National University,
    Weston Creek, Australia

    and

    Adam G. Riess
    The High-z Supernova Search Team
    Johns Hopkins University and Space Telescope Science Institute,
    Baltimore, MD, USA

    “for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae”

    Saul Perlmutter [The Supernova Cosmology Project] shared the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy, the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, and the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics with Brian P. Schmidt and Adam Riess [The High-z Supernova Search Team] for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

    Written in the stars

    “Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice…” *
    What will be the final destiny of the Universe? Probably it will end in ice, if we are to believe this year’s Nobel Laureates in Physics. They have studied several dozen exploding stars, called supernovae, and discovered that the Universe is expanding at an ever-accelerating rate. The discovery came as a complete surprise even to the Laureates themselves.

    In 1998, cosmology was shaken at its foundations as two research teams presented their findings. Headed by Saul Perlmutter [The Supernova Cosmology Project], one of the teams had set to work in 1988. Brian Schmidt headed another team [The High-z Supernova Search Team], launched at the end of 1994, where Adam Riess was to play a crucial role.

    The research teams raced to map the Universe by locating the most distant supernovae. More sophisticated telescopes on the ground and in space, as well as more powerful computers and new digital imaging sensors (CCD, Nobel Prize in Physics in 2009), opened the possibility in the 1990s to add more pieces to the cosmological puzzle.

    The teams used a particular kind of supernova, called type Ia supernova. It is an explosion of an old compact star that is as heavy as the Sun but as small as the Earth. A single such supernova can emit as much light as a whole galaxy. All in all, the two research teams found over 50 distant supernovae whose light was weaker than expected – this was a sign that the expansion of the Universe was accelerating. The potential pitfalls had been numerous, and the scientists found reassurance in the fact that both groups had reached the same astonishing conclusion.

    For almost a century, the Universe has been known to be expanding as a consequence of the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago. However, the discovery that this expansion is accelerating is astounding. If the expansion will continue to speed up the Universe will end in ice.

    The acceleration is thought to be driven by dark energy, but what that dark energy is remains an enigma – perhaps the greatest in physics today. What is known is that dark energy constitutes about three quarters of the Universe. Therefore the findings of the 2011 Nobel Laureates in Physics have helped to unveil a Universe that to a large extent is unknown to science. And everything is possible again.
    _____________________________________________

    Standard Candles to measure age and distance of the universe from supernovae. NASA

    5
    Evolution of the ultraviolet and visible light emitted from SN2019yvq. Most Type Ia SNe emit far more light in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum than in the ultraviolet. As shown here, SN 2019yvq exhibited a spectacular ultraviolet flash just after it exploded. Credit: A. A. Miller/Northwestern University

    “We don’t have a direct way to measure the distance to other galaxies,” Miller explained. “Most galaxies are actually moving away from us. If there is a type Ia supernova in a distant galaxy, we can use it to measure a combination of distance and velocity that allows us to determine the acceleration of the universe. Dark energy remains a mystery. But these supernovae are the best way to probe dark energy and understand what it is.”

    And by better understanding white dwarfs, Miller believes we potentially could better understand dark energy and how fast it causes the universe to accelerate.

    “At the moment, when measuring distances, we treat all of these explosions as the same, yet we have good reason to believe that there are multiple explosion mechanisms,” he said. “If we can determine the exact explosion mechanism, we think we can better separate the supernovae and make more precise distance measurements.”

    The paper, “The spectacular ultraviolet flash from the peculiar type Ia supernova 2019yvq,” was partially supported by the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Corporation, the Brinson Foundation and the Moore Foundation.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Northwestern South Campus
    South Campus

    Northwestern is recognized nationally and internationally for its educational programs.

    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.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:12 pm on June 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Black Hole Collision May Have Exploded with Light", , , , , , , , ZTF-Zwicky Transient Facility   

    From Caltech: “Black Hole Collision May Have Exploded with Light” 

    Caltech Logo

    From Caltech

    June 25, 2020
    Whitney Clavin
    (626) 395‑1944
    wclavin@caltech.edu

    1
    Artist’s concept of a supermassive black hole and its surrounding disk of gas. Embedded within this disk are two smaller black holes orbiting one another. Using data from the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) at Palomar Observatory, researchers have identified a flare of light suspected to have come from one such binary pair soon after they merged into a larger black hole. The merger of the black holes would have caused them to move in one direction within the disk, plowing through the gas in such a way to create a light flare. The finding, while not confirmed, could amount to the first time that light has been seen from a coalescing pair of black holes. These merging black holes were first spotted on May 21, 2019, by the National Science Foundation’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and the European Virgo detector, which picked up gravitational waves generated by the merger.
    Credit: Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)

    Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) instrument installed on the 1.2m diameter Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory in California. Courtesy Caltech Optical Observatories

    Caltech Palomar Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope, located in San Diego County, California, United States, altitude 1,712 m (5,617 ft)

    Possible light flare observed from small black holes within the disk of a massive black hole.

    When two black holes spiral around each other and ultimately collide, they send out ripples in space and time called gravitational waves. Because black holes do not give off light, these events are not expected to shine with any light waves, or electromagnetic radiation. But some theorists have come up with ways in which a black hole merger might explode with light. Now, for the first time, astronomers have seen evidence for one of these light-producing scenarios.

    With the help of Caltech’s Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and located at Palomar Observatory near San Diego, the scientists have spotted what might be a flare of light from a pair of coalescing black holes. The black hole merger was first witnessed by the NSF’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and the European Virgo detector on May 21, 2019, in an event called S190521g. As the black holes merged, jiggling space and time, they sent out gravitational waves.

    MIT /Caltech Advanced aLigo


    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy

    While this was happening, ZTF was performing its robotic survey of the sky that captured all kinds of objects that flare, erupt, or otherwise vary in the night sky. One flare the survey caught, generated by a distant active supermassive black hole, or quasar, called J1249+3449, was pinpointed to the region of the gravitational-wave event S190521g.

    “This supermassive black hole was burbling along for years before this more abrupt flare,” says Matthew Graham, a research professor of astronomy at Caltech and the project scientist for ZTF. “The flare occurred on the right timescale, and in the right location, to be coincident with the gravitational-wave event. In our study, we conclude that the flare is likely the result of a black hole merger, but we cannot completely rule out other possibilities.” Graham is lead author of the new study, published today, June 25, in the journal Physical Review Letters.

    “ZTF was specifically designed to identify new, rare, and variable types of astronomical activity like this,” says NSF Division of Astronomical Science Director Ralph Gaume. “NSF support of new technology continues to expand how we can track such events.”

    How do two merging black holes erupt with light? In the scenario outlined by Graham and his colleagues, two partner black holes were nestled within a disk surrounding a much larger black hole.

    “At the center of most galaxies lurks a supermassive black hole. It’s surrounded by a swarm of stars and dead stars, including black holes,” says co-author K. E. Saavik Ford of the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). “These objects swarm like angry bees around the monstrous queen bee at the center. They can briefly find gravitational partners and pair up but usually lose their partners quickly to the mad dance. But in a supermassive black hole’s disk, the flowing gas converts the mosh pit of the swarm to a classical minuet, organizing the black holes so they can pair up,” she says.

    Once the black holes merge, the new, now-larger black hole experiences a kick that sends it off in a random direction, and it plows through the gas in the disk. “It is the reaction of the gas to this speeding bullet that creates a bright flare, visible with telescopes,” says co-author Barry McKernan, also of the CUNY Graduate Center, BMCC, and AMNH.

    Such a flare is predicted to begin days to weeks after the initial splash of gravitational waves produced during the merger. In this case, ZTF did not catch the event right away, but when the scientists went back and looked through archival ZTF images months later, they found a signal that started days after the May 2019 gravitational-wave event. ZTF observed the flare slowly fade over the period of a month.

    The scientists attempted to get a more detailed look at the light of the supermassive black hole, called a spectrum, but by the time they looked, the flare had already faded. A spectrum would have offered more support for the idea that the flare came from merging black holes within the disk of the supermassive black hole. However, the researchers say they were able to largely rule out other possible causes for the observed flare, including a supernova or a tidal disruption event, which occurs when a black hole essentially eats a star.

    What is more, the team says it is not likely that the flare came from the usual rumblings of the supermassive black hole, which regularly feeds off its surrounding disk. Using the Catalina Real-Time Transient Survey, led by Caltech, they were able to assess the behavior of the black hole over the past 15 years, and found that its activity was relatively normal until May of 2019, when it suddenly intensified.

    “Supermassive black holes like this one have flares all the time. They are not quiet objects, but the timing, size, and location of this flare was spectacular,” says co-author Mansi Kasliwal (MS ’07, PhD ’11), an assistant professor of astronomy at Caltech. “The reason looking for flares like this is so important is that it helps enormously with astrophysics and cosmology questions. If we can do this again and detect light from the mergers of other black holes, then we can nail down the homes of these black holes and learn more about their origins.”

    The newly formed black hole should cause another flare in the next few years. The process of merging gave the object a kick that should cause it to enter the supermassive black hole’s disk again, producing another flash of light that ZTF should be able to see.

    The Physical Review Letters paper was funded by the NSF, NASA, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the GROWTH (Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen) program. Other co-authors include: K. Burdge, S.G. Djorgovski, A.J. Drake, D. Duev, A.A. Mahabal, J. Belecki, R. Burruss, G. Helou, S.R. Kulkarni, F.J. Masci, T. Prince, D. Reiley, H. Rodriguez, B. Rusholme, R.M. Smith, all from Caltech; N.P. Ross of the University of Edinburgh; Daniel Stern of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, managed by Caltech for NASA; M. Coughlin of the University of Minnesota; S. van Velzen of University of Maryland, College Park and New York University; E.C. Bellm of the University of Washington; S.B. Cenko of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; V. Cunningham of University of Maryland, College Park; and M.T. Soumagnac of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

    In addition to the NSF, ZTF is funded by an international collaboration of partners, with additional support from NASA, the Heising-Simons Foundation, members of the Space Innovation Council at Caltech, and Caltech itself.

    See the full article here .


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


    Stem Education Coalition

    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus

     
  • richardmitnick 10:23 am on January 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "First Asteroid Found Inside Orbit of Venus", 2020 AV2 belongs to a small class of asteroids known as Atiras., , it is the first "Vatira" asteroid with the "V" standing for Venus, The Palomar Observatory's 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope., ZTF-Zwicky Transient Facility   

    From Caltech: “First Asteroid Found Inside Orbit of Venus” 

    Caltech Logo

    From Caltech

    January 15, 2020

    Whitney Clavin
    (626) 395‑1944
    wclavin@caltech.edu

    3
    2020 AV2 orbits entirely within the orbit of Venus. Credit: Bryce Bolin/Caltech

    Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) instrument installed on the 1.2m diameter Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory in California. Courtesy Caltech Optical Observatories

    1
    ZTF is installed at the Palomar Observatory’s 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope. Credit: Palomar/Caltech

    A rare asteroid orbiting snugly within the inner confines of our solar system has been discovered by Caltech’s Zwicky Transient Facility, or ZTF, a survey camera based at Palomar Observatory. The newfound body, named 2020 AV2, is the first asteroid found to orbit entirely within the orbit of Venus.

    “Getting past the orbit of Venus must have been challenging,” says George Helou, executive director of the IPAC astronomy center at Caltech and a ZTF co-investigator, who explains that the asteroid must have migrated in toward Venus from farther out in the solar system. “The only the way it will ever get out of its orbit is if it gets flung out via a gravitational encounter with Mercury or Venus, but more likely it will end up crashing on one of those two planets.”

    2020 AV2 belongs to a small class of asteroids known as Atiras, which are bodies with orbits that fall within the orbit of Earth. More specifically, it is the first “Vatira” asteroid, with the “V” standing for Venus. Vatira asteroids, which were only hypothesized until now, have orbits that fall entirely inside the orbit of Venus.

    The ZTF camera is particularly adept at finding asteroids because it scans the entire sky rapidly and thus can catch the asteroids during their short-lived appearances in the night sky. Because Vatiras orbit so close to our sun, they are only visible at dusk or dawn.

    2020 AV2 is the third Atira discovered by ZTF as part of its Twilight program developed by Wing-Huen Ip of the National Central University in Taiwan, and Quanzhi Ye, formerly of Caltech and now at the University of Maryland. The asteroid, which was initially designated ZTF09k5, was first flagged as a candidate on January 4, 2020, by Bryce Bolin, a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech. Soon thereafter, an alert was posted by the Minor Planet Center, the official organization for cataloging small solar system bodies such as asteroids, and this piqued the interest of the astronomical community. Several telescopes around the globe followed up on the target, helping to pin down the body’s unusual orbit and narrow down estimates of its size.

    The asteroid spans about 1 to 3 kilometers and has an elongated orbit tilted about 15 degrees relative to the plane of our solar system. During its 151-day orbit around the sun, it always travels interior to Venus, but at its closest approach to the sun, it comes very close to the orbit of Mercury.

    “An encounter with a planet probably flung the asteroid into Venus’s orbit,” explains Tom Prince, the Ira S. Bowen Professor of Physics at Caltech and a senior research scientist at JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA, as well as a co-investigator of ZTF. “It’s the opposite of what happens when a space mission swings by a planet for a gravity boost. Instead of gaining energy from a planet, it loses it.”

    Members of the ZTF team says they look forward to hunting for more Vatira asteroids in the future. “We have no idea how many more there are like this or if it’s unique,” says Helou.

    ZTF is funded by the National Science Foundation and an international collaboration of partners. Additional support comes from Caltech and the Heising-Simons Foundation. ZTF data are processed and archived by IPAC. NASA supports ZTF’s search for near-Earth objects through the Near-Earth Object Observations program.

    See the full article here .


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


    Stem Education Coalition

    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus

     
  • richardmitnick 7:37 am on October 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NSF invests in cyberinfrastructure institute to harness cosmic data", Cyberinfrastructure, , SCIMMA-Scalable Cyberinfrastructure Institute for Multi-Messenger Astrophysics, , ZTF-Zwicky Transient Facility   

    From University of Washington: “NSF invests in cyberinfrastructure institute to harness cosmic data” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    The National Science Foundation awarded the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and nine collaborating organizations, including the University of Washington, $2.8 million for a two-year “conceptualization phase” of the Scalable Cyberinfrastructure Institute for Multi-Messenger Astrophysics.

    1
    The night sky at Palouse Falls in southeastern Washington.Mark Stone/University of Washington

    SCIMMA’s goal is to develop algorithms, databases and computing and networking cyberinfrastructure to help scientists interpret multi-messenger observations. Multi-messenger astrophysics combines observations of light, gravitational waves and particles to understand some of the most extreme events in the universe. For example, the observation of both gravitational waves and light from the collision of two neutron stars in 2017 helped explain the origin of heavy elements, allowed an independent measurement of the expansion of the universe and confirmed the association between neutron-star mergers and gamma-ray bursts.

    The institute would facilitate global collaborations, thus transcending the capabilities of any single existing institution or team. It is directed by Patrick Brady, a professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and director of the Center for Gravitation, Cosmology and Astrophysics. One of three co-principal investigators on the project is Mario Jurić, a UW associate professor of astronomy and senior data science fellow at the UW eScience Institute.

    As part of SCIMMA, UW researchers will work to develop a “transient alert” system that will alert researchers around the world about cosmic events picked up, for example, by astronomical observatories.

    “These events could include phenomena like collisions between black holes and neutron stars detected via gravitational waves, exploding supernovae detected by neutrino emissions, and other energetic phenomena detected in visible wavelengths of light,” said Jurić, who is also a faculty member with the UW DIRAC Institute. “UW researchers have demonstrated these technologies as part of the Zwicky Transient Facility project, where the UW-built ZTF Alert Distribution System transmitted more than 100 million alerts over the past two years.”

    Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) instrument installed on the 1.2m diameter Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory in California. Courtesy Caltech Optical Observatories

    Caltech Palomar Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope, located in San Diego County, California, United States, altitude 1,712 m (5,617 ft)

    W researchers will also help develop a prototype remote analysis platform, which will allow scientists to analyze archived multi-messenger astrophysics using future resources provided by SCIMMA, said Jurić.

    SCIMMA’s two-year conceptualization phase began Sept. 1. Among its goals are enabling seamless co-analysis of disparate datasets by supporting the interoperability of software and data services. In addition, over the next two years SCIMMA will develop education and training curricula designed to enhance the STEM workforce, according to an announcement by the NSF.

    “Multi-messenger astrophysics is a data-intensive science in its infancy that is already transforming our understanding of the universe,” said Brady. “The promise of multi-messenger astrophysics, however, can be realized only if sufficient cyberinfrastructure is available to rapidly handle, combine and analyze the very large-scale distributed data from all types of astronomical measurements. The conceptualization phase of SCIMMA will balance rapid prototyping, novel algorithm development and software sustainability to accelerate scientific discovery over the next decade and more.”

    Additional project collaborators include Columbia University; the Center for Advanced Computing and Department of Astronomy at Cornell University; Las Cumbres Observatory, a California-based network of observatories; Michigan State University; Pennsylvania State University; the University of California, Santa Barbara; the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:46 pm on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Caltech Palomar Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope, , , LINER galaxies-low ionization nuclear emission line region galaxies, , ZTF-Zwicky Transient Facility   

    From University of Maryland: “UMD-led Study Captures Six Galaxies Undergoing Sudden, Dramatic Transitions” 

    From University of Maryland

    September 18, 2019

    Matthew Wright
    301-405-9267
    mewright@umd.edu

    Zwicky Transient Facility observations reveal surprising transformations from sleepy LINER galaxies to blazing quasars within months.

    Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) instrument installed on the 1.2m diameter Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory in California. Courtesy Caltech Optical Observatories

    Edwin Hubble at Caltech Palomar Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope, (credit: Emilio Segre Visual Archives/AIP/SPL)

    Caltech Palomar Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope, located in San Diego County, California, United States, altitude 1,712 m (5,617 ft)

    1
    A new study led by University of Maryland astronomers documented six sleepy, low-ionization nuclear emission-line region galaxies (LINERs; left) suddenly transforming into blazing quasars (right), home to the brightest of all active galactic nuclei. The researchers suggest they have discovered an entirely new type of black hole activity at the centers of these six LINER galaxies. Image credits: (Left; infrared & visible light imagery): ESA/Hubble, NASA and S. Smartt (Queen’s University Belfast); (Right; artist’s concept): NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Galaxies come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and brightnesses, ranging from humdrum ordinary galaxies to luminous active galaxies. While an ordinary galaxy is visible mainly because of the light from its stars, an active galaxy shines brightest at its center, or nucleus, where a supermassive black hole emits a steady blast of bright light as it voraciously consumes nearby gas and dust.

    Sitting somewhere on the spectrum between ordinary and active galaxies is another class, known as low-ionization nuclear emission-line region (LINER) galaxies. While LINERs are relatively common, accounting for roughly one-third of all nearby galaxies, astronomers have fiercely debated the main source of light emission from LINERs. Some argue that weakly active galactic nuclei are responsible, while others maintain that star-forming regions outside the galactic nucleus produce the most light.

    A team of astronomers observed six mild-mannered LINER galaxies suddenly and surprisingly transforming into ravenous quasars—home to the brightest of all active galactic nuclei. The team reported their observations, which could help demystify the nature of both LINERs and quasars while answering some burning questions about galactic evolution, in The Astrophysical Journal on September 18, 2019. Based on their analysis, the researchers suggest they have discovered an entirely new type of black hole activity at the centers of these six LINER galaxies.

    “For one of the six objects, we first thought we had observed a tidal disruption event, which happens when a star passes too close to a supermassive black hole and gets shredded,” said Sara Frederick, a graduate student in the University of Maryland Department of Astronomy and the lead author of the research paper. “But we later found it was a previously dormant black hole undergoing a transition that astronomers call a ‘changing look,’ resulting in a bright quasar. Observing six of these transitions, all in relatively quiet LINER galaxies, suggests that we’ve identified a totally new class of active galactic nucleus.”

    All six of the surprising transitions were observed during the first nine months of the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), an automated sky survey project based at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California, which began observations in March 2018. UMD is a partner in the ZTF effort, facilitated by the Joint Space-Science Institute (JSI), a partnership between UMD and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

    Changing look transitions have been documented in other galaxies—most commonly in a class of active galaxies known as Seyfert galaxies. By definition, Seyfert galaxies all have a bright, active galactic nucleus, but Type 1 and Type 2 Seyfert galaxies differ in the amount of light they emit at specific wavelengths. According to Frederick, many astronomers suspect that the difference results from the angle at which astronomers view the galaxies.

    Type 1 Seyfert galaxies are thought to face Earth head-on, giving an unobstructed view of their nuclei, while Type 2 Seyfert galaxies are tilted at an oblique angle, such that their nuclei are partially obscured by a donut-shaped ring of dense, dusty gas clouds. Thus, changing look transitions between these two classes present a puzzle for astronomers, since a galaxy’s orientation towards Earth is not expected to change.

    Frederick and her colleagues’ new observations may call these assumptions into question.

    “We started out trying to understand changing look transformations in Seyfert galaxies. But instead, we found a whole new class of active galactic nucleus capable of transforming a wimpy galaxy to a luminous quasar,” said Suvi Gezari, an associate professor of astronomy at UMD, a co-director of JSI and a co-author of the research paper. “Theory suggests that a quasar should take thousands of years to turn on, but these observations suggest that it can happen very quickly. It tells us that the theory is all wrong. We thought that Seyfert transformation was the major puzzle. But now we have a bigger issue to solve.”

    Frederick and her colleagues want to understand how a previously quiet galaxy with a calm nucleus can suddenly transition to a bright beacon of galactic radiation. To learn more, they performed follow-up observations on the objects with the Discovery Channel Telescope, which is operated by the Lowell Observatory in partnership with UMD, Boston University, the University of Toledo and Northern Arizona University.


    Discovery Channel Telescope, operated by the Lowell Observatory in partnership with UMD, Boston University, the University of Toledo and Northern Arizona University, at Lowell Observatory, Happy Jack AZ, USA, Altitude 2,360 m (7,740 ft)

    These observations helped to clarify aspects of the transitions, including how the rapidly transforming galactic nuclei interacted with their host galaxies.

    “Our findings confirm that LINERs can, in fact, host active supermassive black holes at their centers,” Frederick said. “But these six transitions were so sudden and dramatic, it tells us that there is something altogether different going on in these galaxies. We want to know how such massive amounts of gas and dust can suddenly start falling into a black hole. Because we caught these transitions in the act, it opens up a lot of opportunities to compare what the nuclei looked like before and after the transformation.”

    Unlike most quasars, which light up the surrounding clouds of gas and dust far beyond the galactic nucleus, the researchers found that only the gas and dust closest to the nucleus had been turned on. Frederick, Gezari and their collaborators suspect that this activity gradually spreads from the galactic nucleus—and may provide the opportunity to map the development of a newborn quasar.

    “It’s surprising that any galaxy can change its look on human time scales. These changes are taking place much more quickly than we can explain with current quasar theory,” Frederick said. “It will take some work to understand what can disrupt a galaxy’s accretion structure and cause these changes on such short order. The forces at play must be very extreme and very dramatic.”

    ###

    In addition to Frederick and Gezari, UMD-affiliated co-authors of the research paper include Adjunct Associate Professor of Astronomy Bradley Cenko, former Neil Gehrels Prize Postdoctoral Fellow Erin Kara and astronomy graduate student Charlotte Ward.

    “A New Class of Changing-look LINERs,” by Sara Frederick, Suvi Gezari, Matthew Graham, Bradley Cenko, Sjoert Van Velzen, Daniel Stern, Nadejda Blagorodnova, Shrinivas Kulkarni, Lin Yan, Kishalay De, Christoffer Fremling, Tiara Hung, Erin Kara, David Shupe, Charlotte Ward, Eric Bellm, Richard Dekany, Dmitry Duev, Ulrich Feindt, Matteo Giomi, Thomas Kupfer, Russ Laher, Frank Masci, Adam Miller, James Neill, Chow-Choong Ngeow, Maria Patterson, Michael Porter, Ben Rusholme, Jesper Sollerman and Richard Walters, was published in The Astrophysical Journal on September 18, 2019.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Maryland Campus

    Driven by the pursuit of excellence, the University of Maryland has enjoyed a remarkable rise in accomplishment and reputation over the past two decades. By any measure, Maryland is now one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities and on a path to become one of the world’s best. To fulfill this promise, we must capitalize on our momentum, fully exploit our competitive advantages, and pursue ambitious goals with great discipline and entrepreneurial spirit. This promise is within reach. This strategic plan is our working agenda.

    The plan is comprehensive, bold, and action oriented. It sets forth a vision of the University as an institution unmatched in its capacity to attract talent, address the most important issues of our time, and produce the leaders of tomorrow. The plan will guide the investment of our human and material resources as we strengthen our undergraduate and graduate programs and expand research, outreach and partnerships, become a truly international center, and enhance our surrounding community.

    Our success will benefit Maryland in the near and long term, strengthen the State’s competitive capacity in a challenging and changing environment and enrich the economic, social and cultural life of the region. We will be a catalyst for progress, the State’s most valuable asset, and an indispensable contributor to the nation’s well-being. Achieving the goals of Transforming Maryland requires broad-based and sustained support from our extended community. We ask our stakeholders to join with us to make the University an institution of world-class quality with world-wide reach and unparalleled impact as it serves the people and the state of Maryland.

     
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