Observatory News (Various)

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Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 11th, 2015, 10:20 pm 

I thought I'd create a home for news concerning various observatories around the world.

Today's tidbit concerns the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project that's ready to begin construction atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

An unusual snowstorm moved in today, resulting in a blizzard warning for the summit, which will delay groundbreaking for the TMT.

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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 12th, 2015, 7:50 am 

A list of some observatories of interest (in alphabetical order):

Ground Based:
ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer {Chile}
Keck Observatory {USA - Hawaii, atop Mauna Kea}
Lowell Observatory {USA - Flagstaff, Arizona, atop a mesa}
Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) {USA - Hawaii, under construction atop Mauna Kea}
VLA National Astronomy Radio Observatory {USA - New Mexico}
Arecibo Radio Observatory {USA - Puerto Rico}

Space Based:
Chandra X-Ray Observatory {Space - High Earth Elliptical Orbit}
Hubble Space Telescope {Space - Low Earth Orbit}
Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) {Space - Lagrange 1}
Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) {Space - Lagrange 1}

I visit several of these sites on a semi-regular basis.

Please feel free to add to the list.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 14th, 2015, 10:57 am 

New online MAST Archive of Hubble images available ! (13-Mar-2015)

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MAST Portal
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 15th, 2015, 12:43 pm 

The SDO recorded the first x-class flare of 2015 this past week, on 11-mar-2015. This was an X 2.2.

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Image

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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 16th, 2015, 3:57 pm 

Today's observatory of interest: ESA's Gaia (orbital telescope located at L2), which is attempting a 3D map of the nearest 100 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.

The Jan 2015 blog has some interesting information on activities to date. Sounds like it's recorded 11 billion camera transits thus far, enroute to 100 billion, and they're on target for an initial map draft release later next year.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 16th, 2015, 9:54 pm 

Ok, this one's not from an observatory, but rather an amateur sky watcher ...

6th magnitude nova spotted in sagittarius tea pot (15-Mar-2015).

Image

Apparently an accreting white dwarf went boom ... proof positive that in the field of astrophysics, there is indeed death after life after death.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 17th, 2015, 6:12 pm 

The X-Flare I mentioned earlier has begun impacting us in ernest.

NOAA's space weather center is registering a G4 geomagnetic storm today.

Aurora forecast:

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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 17th, 2015, 9:30 pm 

Here's another observatory for the list at the start of this thread:

Space Based:
NOAA GOES Solar X-Ray Imager - {Space, Lagrange 1)

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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 18th, 2015, 7:40 am 

The teapot supernova is still brightening gradually.

http://www.aavso.org/apps/webobs/result ... esults=100

The space weather prediction center had a press conference yesturday on the G4 storm.

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/news/swpc-pres ... 4-activity {edit: audio not working}
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 18th, 2015, 7:31 pm 

The latest youtube offering by SpaceRip:

Published on Mar 18, 2015

In landmark observations, the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile has given astronomers the best ever three-dimensional view of the deep Universe. After staring at the Hubble Deep Field South region for a total of 27 hours the new observations reveal the distances, motions and other properties of far more galaxies than ever before in this tiny piece of the sky. The new observations are allowing astronomers to go beyond the Hubble Deep Field and reveal a host of previously unseen objects.


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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby NoChoice on March 18th, 2015, 9:00 pm 

Great threat, Darby!

Please keep them coming.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 19th, 2015, 12:55 am 

Thanks, and you are very welcome.

BTW, the Teapot supernova (PNV J18365700-2855420) has continued to brighten ... over the last several days, it has trended from 6 up to 5.5, and it's still going.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 19th, 2015, 3:46 pm 

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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 21st, 2015, 3:22 pm 

4.5** and still brightening. If it eventually makes it into the 3 range or lower sometime later next week, it's going to start making front page news, mark my words.

--------------
** Average of last 10 readings
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 24th, 2015, 2:58 am 

Another telescope for the list ...

Ground Based:
Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX) Telescope - {Chile}
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 24th, 2015, 3:07 am 

Awwwwwwww #$%^. The Teapot nova has apparently peaked as of today ... back up to 5.5. I was really hoping it would get into the 3's.

Oh, and an interesting article in NatGeo today:

17th-Century Astronomers May Have Watched Stars Collide - looks like CK Vulpeculae, which appeared to go nova in 1670, instead appears to have been the victim of a very rare head-on stellar collision that resulted in a Red Transient.

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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 26th, 2015, 1:47 pm 

Here's the light curve graph on the teapot nova, which makes the trending (and peak) more apparent.

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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 29th, 2015, 5:51 am 

Ok, that's odd ... it's rebrightening slightly.

Hmmm ... since the prior image went belly up, let me enter the data manually, and upload a screen shot. That should solve the broken image issue. Ok, that worked ...

teapotnova.jpg
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 29th, 2015, 6:09 am 

BTW, here's the first annual operational report for the Gaia Starmapping Mission:

http://blogs.esa.int/rocketscience/2015 ... -for-gaia/

The 6-mo commissioning phase is an interesting read, given the incredible precision requirements (sub micro-arc second !), and incidents with ice formation, sun glare, and a failed thruster.

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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Marshall on March 29th, 2015, 12:33 pm 

Impressive! In fact truly awesome, what else can I say?
Precise positions of a billion stars in our galaxy
==quote (a few excerpts)==
Gaia is a one-off, purpose-built spacecraft that is capable of mapping the positions of one billion stars to unprecedented precision (to the micro-arc-second level, comparable to the width of a smart phone on the Moon as viewed from Earth). This performance is far beyond anything previously achieved, and the Gaia spacecraft is a marvel of engineering in its own right.
...

Gaia’s camera is the most impressive ever flown in space, containing 106 CCDs, which are around 90% light efficient (a CCD in a typical digital camera is around 20% efficient).
...
Gaia must rotate once every 6 hours to scan the heavens and this rate is so precisely controlled that the error is equivalent to one rotation every 410 years. There are (and can be) no moving parts on board, so the data is downlinked through a novel electromagnetically steerable antenna.
...
==endquote==

As it rotates we have to know precisely which direction the camera is pointing, to correctly log the positions of stars that it sees.

Even the smallest moving part could disturb the steadiness of this rotation. Nothing must move. This is really a precision instrument!

It is located 1.5 million km further out from the sun, than Earth is. Running neck and neck with Earth at the same angular rate. (Lagrange point "L2"). Same one-year orbital period. This is the same general place that the famous CMB mappers WMAP and Planck were stationed. Ideally, something stationed at L2 would be in the Earth's shadow, permanently eclipsed. But things drift around a bit. So the craft needs a sun shield and also micro thrusters to cancel the effect of the pressure of the sunlight impinging on it (a precision instrument indeed :^))
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Marshall on March 29th, 2015, 1:10 pm 

If I remember correctly, the mass of our galaxy has been estimated at least 400 billion solar masses. On the order of 400 billion stars. This Gaia instrument will map on the order of a billion stars? And it will map their MOTIONS as their positions change over time!
So this potentially gives an exquisitely accurate grip on the DYNAMICS of our galaxy. Perhaps on issues like:

How their gravitational forces interact, how they influence each other.
What could have kicked off the hypervelocity ones speeding in unusual directions.
What causes spiral arms to bunch together and take on the shapes we see in other galaxies.
Past histories of star formation.
Role of matter concentrations that we cannot directly see.

This is top-grade engineering IMHO, if they gave a Nobel-like prize to teams of engineers these Gaia people would be in line for one I guess. Let's hope it all works out as planned. Apparently they arrived at L2 in Jan 2014 and spent the first 6 months getting started with normal operation. So as of Jan 2015 they had only been taking data for 6 months.

Darby do you know anything about the timetable for releasing data? Does the ESA have an assigned group of Astrophysics people who get first crack at analyzing interpreting and reporting?
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 29th, 2015, 3:31 pm 

Am on cell ATM ... will answer when get home to PC.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 29th, 2015, 5:18 pm 

Marshall » March 29th, 2015, 1:10 pm wrote:If I remember correctly, the mass of our galaxy has been estimated at least 400 billion solar masses. On the order of 400 billion stars. This Gaia instrument will map on the order of a billion stars? And it will map their MOTIONS as their positions change over time!
So this potentially gives an exquisitely accurate grip on the DYNAMICS of our galaxy. Perhaps on issues like:

How their gravitational forces interact, how they influence each other.
What could have kicked off the hypervelocity ones speeding in unusual directions.
What causes spiral arms to bunch together and take on the shapes we see in other galaxies.
Past histories of star formation.
Role of matter concentrations that we cannot directly see.

This is top-grade engineering IMHO, if they gave a Nobel-like prize to teams of engineers these Gaia people would be in line for one I guess. Let's hope it all works out as planned. Apparently they arrived at L2 in Jan 2014 and spent the first 6 months getting started with normal operation. So as of Jan 2015 they had only been taking data for 6 months.


Yes, I've been following it since launch, and fist posted about it on this site back on Mar 16th, right after Pi Day. It's an exciting project. They had some intial issues with solar light wrapping around the lip of the detector, which was intially imparing sensitivity, but the info about the reserve chemical thruster in the latest Blog entry was new info for me. Glad to see they're now into the meat of the mapping effort.

What could have kicked off the hypervelocity ones speeding in unusual directions.


That's something I can take a preliminary stab at. As best I can tell, the easiest and most likely source for many (but not all) hypervelocity ejections are probably rogue collapsed stellar bodies that fell into the galactic core, and due to the nuances of their orbital path, rate and direction of spin, whipped around Sgr A*, absorbed some of the former's orbital momentum, and were then ejected at hypervelocity. Normal stars normally get shredded by passing close enough to be ejected, but collapsed bodies have enough gravitational density to maintain their structures under vastly higher orbital stresses, and thus many tend to be white dwarfs, neutron stars, pulsars, magnetars, and stellar mass black holes. Larger SMBHs and IMBHs could also account for some of the ejections, but it seems logical that the faster the ejection speed, the more massive the stellar body responsible, and nothing's heftier than Sgr A* in the Milky Way.

Darby do you know anything about the timetable for releasing data?


I recall them mentioning that it'll take about a year for them to get their intial map completed, and that they'll release it somehow, in some TBD format, while they continue to further refine the data on each star with additional multiple passes that further refine the data on motion, composition, changes in luminosity, etc. I'm guessing it's going to require a huge effort to integrate it with already existing star designations, etc ... someby computer, some by human effort. Hello low-paid college interns. Anyway, if they're 6 months along in the initial mapping phase, that means the earliest we'd see the preliminary map they hinted at would be a minimum of 6 months from now (probably longer), so that implies Fall 2015, at the earliest.

Does the ESA have an assigned group of Astrophysics people who get first crack at analyzing interpreting and reporting?


I don't know because no results have been released yet, but I've been keeping my eyes peeled for it.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 29th, 2015, 9:52 pm 

Just to get a head start on April Fool's Day ...

Astronomers Discover New Planet That Really Makes Earth Look Like Shit

Image

... and, back on topic.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 30th, 2015, 7:23 pm 

Lunar Eclipse Alert for USA for 4-Apr-2015 ...



Partial eclipse East of Mississippi, Total Eclipse West (including a blood moon).

More into on other sights to see in the sky ...

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015 ... r-eclipse/
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Braininvat on March 31st, 2015, 10:00 am 

We are traveling 400 miles east the weekend, but will still be west of miss, both ouri and ippi.*


btw, I bet the gravity sucks on that newly discovered planet, if it has a similar density to earth. Funny stuff, tho.


* (in case any alert reader did the math on 400 miles east of the Black Hills, yes, we would be east of the Missouri if we traveled due east...however, a southward vector means we end up in Lincoln, Nebr. which is still west of the Muddy Mo. This route also means driving through the Sandhills, the largest fixed-dune landscape in the world, quite beautiful...)
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 31st, 2015, 10:19 am 

Braininvat » March 31st, 2015, 10:00 am wrote:I bet the gravity sucks on that newly discovered planet, if it has a similar density to earth. Funny stuff, tho.


If it has a similar density to Earth, then yes, the gravity would be considerably heavier.

However, it bears keeping in mind that per the giant impact hypothesis, the Earth inherited an oversize iron core by merging with Theia sometime 4-4.5 bn yrs ago (the debris from which is believed to have resulted in the formation of our Moon), and as a result, our average density (and protective magnetic field) is on the high side of average for a planet of our size and age.

Image

A similar primordial impact for Mercury could explain it's oversize iron core as well.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Braininvat on March 31st, 2015, 12:11 pm 

I had heard something like that, re earth's density. The Onion's planet might also prove to have a smaller ferrous core and thus a weaker magnetic field that resulted in more ionizing radiation getting to the surface - which might explain why no sentient species had arisen to spoil its pristine qualities. Also, a lesser axial tilt could mean less challenging seasonal shifts which, in turn, could exert less selective pressure towards intelligence and tech innovation. If the place is so paradisical, then you could end up with "Eloi" species....I realize I'm getting too much mileage out of a pre-April Fool posting.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on March 31st, 2015, 12:18 pm 

Braininvat » March 31st, 2015, 12:11 pm wrote:I realize I'm getting too much mileage out of a pre-April Fool posting.


Hey, if anyone could be trusted to help run an April Fools posting further upfield, I'd definitely pick a Coalescing Metachron of Zembla.

;^)
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on April 1st, 2015, 11:57 am 

Surprisingly, the light curve on the Teapot nova is still rebounding ... if the current average increase continues, we could see it match it's earlier peak from last week sometime Fri or Sat.

If that happens, I'll capture and post a new copy of the light curve chart.
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