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NOAO News & Reports


June 20, 2016

Young Super-Neptune Offers Clues to the Origin of Close-In Exoplanets

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A team of astronomers has confirmed the existence of a young planet, only 11 million years old, that orbits very close to its star (at 0.05 AU), with an orbital period of 5.4 days. Approximately 5 times the size of the Earth, the new planet is a “super-Neptune” and the youngest such planet known. Observations with ARCoIRIS, the new infrared spectrograph on the 4-m Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), played a critical role in measuring the size of the planet. NOAO astronomer David James is a coauthor on the study.

Read more in NOAO Press Release 16-02


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May 25, 2016

Young Mammoth Cluster of Galaxies Sighted in the Early Universe

Image Credit: Dr. Rui Xue, Purdue University

Astronomers have uncovered evidence for a vast collection of young galaxies 12 billion light years away. The newly discovered “proto-cluster” of galaxies, observed when the universe was only 1.7 billion years old (12% of its present age), is one of the most massive structures known at that distance. The discovery was made using telescopes at KPNO and Keck Observatory. NOAO Astronomer Arjun Dey is the lead author of the study.

Read more in NOAO Press Release 16-01.


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November 23, 2015

Oodles of Faint Dwarf Galaxies in Fornax
Shed Light on a Cosmological Mystery

Left: Image of the inner 3 square degrees of the NGFS survey footprint compared with the size of the Moon. Low surface brightness dwarf galaxies are marked by red circles. Gray circles indicate previously known dwarf galaxies. The dwarf galaxies, which vastly outnumber the bright galaxies, may be the “missing satellites” predicted by cosmological simulations.

Right: Image of the Blanco 4-m telescope on CTIO. Credit: T. Abbott and NOAO/AURA/NSF

An astonishing number of faint low surface brightness dwarf galaxies recently discovered in the Fornax cluster of galaxies may help to solve the long-standing cosmological mystery of “The Missing Satellites”. The discovery, made by an international team of astronomers led by Roberto Muñoz and Thomas Puzia of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, was carried out using the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the 4-m Blanco telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO). CTIO is operated by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO).

Read more in NOAO Press Release 15-09.


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November 11, 2015

Some of the images from the book Coloring the Universe. Clockwise from top left: The Rosette Nebula, the book cover featuring an image of the Elephant Trunk Nebula, the Moon, the Horsehead Nebula, with Pickering’s Triangle in the background.

A new book will give readers a behind-the-scenes look at how spectacular images of space are made by the world’s largest and most powerful telescopes. Featuring over three hundred large-format pictures, Coloring the Universe is an insider’s guide at what happens at the professional observatories (including NOAO) when we release color images of space. The book focuses on how the images are made, why they look the way they do, and what scientists learn from them.

Read more in NOAO Press Release 15-08.


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October 12, 2015

A Sharp-Eyed Future for Historic Kitt Peak Telescope

The 2.1 meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, where Robo-AO will be installed. Image Credit: P. Marenfeld & NOAO/AURA/NSF

Inset: Robo-AO mounted on the Palomar Observatory 1.5m telescope. The adaptive optics and camera systems are in the box mounted on the back end of the telescope. The large box on top of the telescope is the support electronics rack, and the UV laser guide star system is mounted on the bottom of the telescope. Image credit: C. Baranec

A team led by the California Institute of Technology has been selected to transform the venerable 2.1 meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory into the first dedicated adaptive optics (AO) observatory for astronomy. This system, named Robo-AO KP, will allow astronomers to study, at high angular resolution, large numbers of astronomical objects, spanning science from planetary to stellar, and exoplanetary to extragalactic.

Read more in NOAO Press Release 15-07.


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