NOAO Home Page Image Archive
The last 5 images that have appeared on the NOAO Home Page.
April 02, 2014
Stephen Mack & NOAO/AURA/NSF
Sakurai’s Object: Stellar Evolution in Real Time
Stellar lifetimes are measured in billions of years, so changes in their appearance rarely take place on a human timescale. Thus an opportunity to observe a star passing from one stage of life to another on a timescale of months to years is very exciting, as there are only a very few examples known. One such star is Sakurai’s Object (V4334 Sgr). First reported by a Japanese amateur astronomer in 1996 as a “nova-like object,” Sakurai’s Object had been only a few years before the faint central star of a planetary nebula.
Using the Altair adaptive optics (AO) system with the Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawai’i to compensate for distortions to starlight caused by the Earth’s atmosphere, two NOAO astronomers, Dr. Kenneth Hinkle & Dr. Richard Joyce, were able to observe the shell of escaping material around the star. Read more in NOAO Press Release 14-02.
February 26, 2014
On the Cover
NOAO is embarking on a path to better serve the community in the use and analysis of big data. The cover image is the beginning panel of "Tales of the Modern Astronomer: ANTARES Rising," which tells the story of one young researcher in the near future benefiting from such development to exploit "open access to data and real-time astronomy tools" in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) Era (read the full story about ANTARES in the Science Highlights section of this Newsletter). Development is starting now to establish this expertise at NOAO on behalf of the community.
February 19, 2014
Click images above to fade between images taken at different telescopes.
Astronomers at the National Observatory Continue to Watch Sn 2014J
The astronomical community was very excited by the appearance of a supernova in a relatively nearby galaxy in late January 2014. Observations of this supernova, located in the galaxy M 82, and referred to as SN2014J revealed that it is a type Ia. These occur in a binary star system composed of a dense white dwarf star and a companion star, either another white dwarf or a bloated red giant star. These supernovae are especially interesting because they provide one of the best ways to measure distances to faint galaxies, and therefore calibrate the expansion of the universe. At Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), two different teams have been observing SN2014J.
Read more in NOAO Press Release 14-01.
February 14, 2014
D. Caminha & SOAR/NOAO/AURA/NSF
SAM images gravitational arcs in the Abel 370 cluster of galaxies
Nearly every "star" in this image is actually a galaxy. The SOAR Adaptive Module (SAM), built by CTIO/NOAO-S, is mounted on the SOAR 4.1 meter telescope: it creates an artificial laser guide star which enables the exquisite resolution seen here. The dark shadow on the left ( as seen in the full image) is produced by the SAM guide probe. Data were taken in September 2013 for the SAM science verification proposal by D. Caminha et al.
February 06, 2014
D. Harbeck/WIYN M82 Team/WIYN/NOAO/AURA/NSF
Supernova in M82
The recent supernova explosion (named SN2014J) in the galaxy M82 is particularly exciting because this galaxy is relatively close ("only" about 12 million light years distant). This enables astronomers to independently measure the distance of this type Ia supernova, and thus calibrate the distance to other type Ia supernovae.
The image shows SN2014J (arrow) in M82 as it was observed by the WIYN 3.5m telescope on January 28, a few days before reaching maximum brightness. The observation used WIYN’s newest camera, the One Degree Imager. The WIYN aperture and spatial resolution will be essential as the team follows the fading supernova during the months ahead.
Link to all previous images .