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Las Cumbres Observatory’s Unique Capabilities Help Identify First ProgenItor OF A Stripped-Envelope Supernova

October 18, 2013 Leave a comment

In June of this year, supernova iPTF13bvn, surprised astrophysicists by revealing its parentage. To date, Type Ib supernovae have appeared to come from nowhere. Type Ib supernovae explosions appear in surveys, but a search back through the archived data has so far resulted in no evidence of a progenitor, likely because they are simply too faint. A recently documented search for progenitors on a dozen Type Ib supernovae resulted in a dozen non-detections.

Because this is the first detected progenitor for a stripped envelope supernova (SNe Ib), the research was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Using radio, optical and spectroscopic sensors, a global team of astrophysicists led by Dr Yi Cao of Caltech began the work of tracking and characterizing the new supernova. The team from Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope, organized by D. Andrew Howell, gathered several spectra of the supernova as it evolved using the robotic FLOYDS spectrographs on 2-meter LCOGT telescopes in Hawaii and Australia. The LCOGT 1-meter telescope were activated by Dr. Melissa Graham to observe the SN continuously. Dr. Stefano Valenti reduced the data in real time from both the LCOGT 1-meter telescope network and the FLOYDS spectrograph, and worked with Caltech to analyze and characterize the data. The LCOGT data helped categorize the event as a Type Ib.

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NASA’s Hubble Sees Comet ISON Intact

October 18, 2013 Leave a comment

 

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

A new image of the sunward plunging comet ISON suggests that the comet is intact despite some predictions that the fragile icy nucleus might disintegrate as the sun warms it. The comet will pass closest to the sun on Nov. 28.

In this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image taken on Oct. 9, the comet’s solid nucleus is unresolved because it is so small. If the nucleus broke apart then Hubble would have likely seen evidence for multiple fragments.

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High-Contrast Infrared Scan Of Saturn And Its Rings

October 18, 2013 Leave a comment

This high-contrast, colorized mosaic from NASA’s Cassini mission shows an infrared view of the Saturn system, backlit by the sun, from July 19, 2013. Exaggerating the contrast of the data brings out subtleties not initially visible. For example, structures in Saturn’s wispy E ring — made from the icy breath of the moon Enceladus — reveal themselves in this exaggerated view.

The image, made from data obtained by Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, covers a swath of Saturn and its rings about 340,000 miles (540,000 kilometers) across that includes the planet and its rings out to the E ring, Saturn’s second most distant ring. The mosaic covers an area about 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) from top to bottom.

When Saturn is blocking the direct light of the sun, scientists can get a better look at the fainter rings. When small particles are lit from behind, they show up like fog in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. Conversely, a ring that is easily seen from Earth because it is densely packed with chunks of bright water ice looks dark in these images because it is so thick that it blocks almost all of the sunlight shining behind it.

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Fat Black Holes Grown Up In Cities: “Observational” Result Using Virtual Observatory

October 18, 2013 Leave a comment

A research team, led by reseacher at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), discovered that the more massive black holes tend to be located in galactic environments with higher density . This finding indicates that galaxies in a dense area often merge together, causing the growth of massive black holes.

The research team investigated environment in which a galaxy with a massive black hole at its center exists. The team’s research extended over data for approximately 70 million galaxies, with approximately 10,000 massive black holes researched. This vast amount of data was collected through the Virtual Observatory; it connects a variety of astronomical databases around the world via the Internet, making it possible to comprehensively use the collected data.

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Most Distant Gravitational Lens Helps Weigh Galaxies – But Also Deepens A Galactic Mystery

October 18, 2013 Leave a comment

From a serendipitous discovery made with the Large Binocular Telescope, a team of astronomers led by Arjen van der Wel from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) has found the most distant gravitational lens yet – a galaxy that, as predicted by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, deflects and intensifies the light of an even more distant object. The discovery provides a rare opportunity to directly measure the mass of a distant galaxy. But it also poses a mystery: Lenses of this kind should be exceedingly rare. Given this and recent other finds, astronomers either have been phenomenally lucky – or, more likely, they have underestimated substantially the number of small, very young galaxies in the early universe.

Light is affected by gravity, and light passing a distant galaxy will be deflected as a result. Since the first find in 1979, numerous such gravitational lenses have been discovered. In addition to providing tests of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, gravitational lenses have proved to be valuable tools. Notably, one can determine the mass of the matter that is bending the light – including the mass of the still-enigmatic Dark Matter, which does not emit or absorb light and can only be detected via its gravity. Also, the lens magnifies the background light source, acting as a “natural telescope” that allows astronomers a more detailed look at distant galaxies than what is normally possible.

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