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Posts Tagged ‘Observatory’

NOAO: One Degree Imager debuts At WIYN Telescope At Kitt Peak National Observatory

September 11, 2012 Leave a comment

The days when professional astronomers peered through telescopes are long gone. Today, the camera or other instrument that is attached to the telescope is as important as the telescope itself. Over the life of a telescope, new instruments are added that greatly enhance its capabilities. So the new camera known as the One Degree Imager, or ODI, that is being commissioned at the WIYN 3.5-meter telescope on Kitt Peak is of great excitement to astronomers. When fully operational, the ODI camera will be able to image an area of the sky five times that of the full moon – far larger than any previous camera at the WIYN telescope. Sensitive to visible light, the camera will be able to resolve objects as small as 0.3 arc seconds – about the equivalent of seeing a baseball at a distance of 30 miles away.

ODI Principal Investigator Dr. Todd Boroson said of some of the first images, “It has been very exciting to examine the first ODI images. I see distant galaxies everywhere, but they don’t look like faint smudges. They have spiral arms and bright knots of star formation and distinct nuclei. It’s almost like looking at Hubble Space Telescope images.”

Full Story: http://www.noao.edu/news/2012/pr1203.php

Private Foundations Fund New Astronomy Tool


The W. M. Keck Observatory has been awarded two major grants to help build a $4 million laser system as the next leap forward in a technology which already enables ground-based telescopes to exceed the observational power of telescopes in space. The new laser, when installed on the current adaptive optics system on the Keck II telescope, will improve the performance of the system and advance future technology initiatives.

“Ever since Galileo, astronomers have been building bigger telescopes to collect more light to be able to observe more distant objects,” said Peter Wizinowich, who leads the adaptive optics developments at Keck Observatory. “In theory, the larger the telescope the more detail you can see. However, because of the blurring caused by Earth’s atmosphere, a 10-inch or a 10-meter telescope see about the same amount of detail.”

There are two solutions to this problem, Wizinowich said: put a telescope in space or use adaptive optics technology to cancel out the distortions of the atmosphere. W. M. Keck Observatory helped pioneer the astronomical use of adaptive optics in the 1990’s, and now delivers images three to four times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope.

Full Story: http://keckobservatory.org/news/1.5_million_for_next_generation_laser

NASA Hosts Media Teleconference on Solar Flare Characteristics

September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 7, to discuss new observations about solar flares that can impact communication and navigation systems.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, is providing new data and images for scientists to better understand the sun’s dynamic processes, which can affect Earth. The spacecraft launched in February 2010.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/sep/HQ_M11-183_SDO_Telecon.html

The Star That Should Not Exist

September 1, 2011 Leave a comment

A star that should not exist

Image Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2

A team of European astronomers has used ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to track down a star in the Milky Way that many thought was impossible. They discovered that this star is composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium, with only remarkably small amounts of other chemical elements in it. This intriguing composition places it in the “forbidden zone” of a widely accepted theory of star formation, meaning that it should never have come into existence in the first place. The results will appear in the 1 September 2011 issue of the journal Nature.

A faint star in the constellation of Leo (The Lion), called SDSS J102915+172927, has been found to have the lowest amount of elements heavier than helium (what astronomers call “metals”) of all stars yet studied. It has a mass smaller than that of the Sun and is probably more than 13 billion years old.

Full Story: http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1132/

Discovery Sheds Light on Ecosystem of Young Galaxies

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

A team of scientists, led by Michael Rauch from the Carnegie Observatories, has discovered a distant galaxy that may help elucidate two fundamental questions of galaxy formation: How galaxies take in matter and how they give off energetic radiation. Their work will be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Full Story: http://carnegiescience.edu/news/new_discovery_sheds_light_ecosystem_young_galaxies

Uncovering the Secrets of the Great Supernova

August 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: Peter Nugent and the Palomar Transient Factory

Credit: Peter Nugent and the Palomar Transient Factory

A once-in-a-lifetime nearby stellar explosion now unfolding in a neighboring galaxy has astronomers at the W. M. Keck Observatory scrambling to ask questions that can’t be answered at any other ground-based telescope in the world. The first big question: What causes this pivotally important type of stellar cataclysm?

Observing this spectacular supernova, dubbed PTF11kly, began on August 24, with the detection of the explosion in the nearby Pinwheel Galaxy, a.k.a. M101, by the automated Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) survey. That survey is designed to detect short-lived astronomical events as they happen.

Full Story: http://keckobservatory.org/news/secrets_of_supernova/

New Ohio Park Protects Nighttime Environment

August 24, 2011 Leave a comment

An overcast sky in Geauga County, Ohio, did not dampen the enthusiasm of the 1,500 people attending Observatory Park’s dedication on 20 August, when it announced its full status as an International Dark Sky Park (IDSPark). The new park is the latest member of the growing IDSPlaces program, the flagship of the International Dark-Sky Association’s ongoing efforts to promote stewardship of the night sky.

Full Story: http://bit.ly/nDotyn