NOAO Home Page News Archive
The last 5 news items that have appeared on the NOAO Home Page.
August 06, 2018
Animation Credit: Gemini Observatory, artwork by Lynette Cook
A Blast from the Past
200 Year Old “Message in a Bottle” from a Star that Survived
Light echoes — starlight reflected toward us by interstellar dust clouds — are the next best thing to time travel. Light echoes from the “Great Eruption” in the mid-1800’s of eta Carinae reveal critical details about a centuries-old event: material ejected from the star at extremely high velocity. The blast released as much energy as a typical supernova explosion, although in this case the star survived! Observations made with the CTIO Blanco and Gemini South telescopes led to the discovery.
Read more in the press release from Gemini Observatory. See also this press release from the Space Telescope Science Institute.
July 30, 2018
Credit: Carnegie Science
Twelve More Jovian Moons — One’s an Oddball
Observations made with DECam on the CTIO Blanco Telescope have led to the discovery of 12 additional moons of Jupiter, including its smallest known moon, Valetudo, less than one kilometer in diameter. Jupiter is now known to have 79 moons, a staggeringly large number compared to Earth’s single moon. In addition to its small size, Valetudo is also unusual because it orbits out of the plane of the other moons.
Click the image to view a video of these newly discovered moons’ orbits.
Read more in the Carnegie Science press release.
July 23, 2018
Image Credit: Pat Jelinsky/LBNL
First DESI Spectrograph Delivered to Kitt Peak Telescope
Light from a flashlight is dispersed into a spectrum by one of the spectrographs that will be integrated into the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) at the 4-m Mayall telescope. Designed to acquire spectra of 5000 astronomical objects simultaneously, DESI will be equipped with ten three-armed spectrographs. DESI will explore the mysterious physics of dark energy, which is believed to accelerate the expansion of the Universe.
July 16, 2018
Image Credit: NASA, ESA and Patrick Kelly/University of Minnesota
A Star Seen Halfway Across the Universe
Nine billion light years away, the blue supergiant Icarus is the most distant star ever seen. In 2016 it briefly flared to 2000 times its original brightness as its light was magnified fortuitously by the gravity of a passing star in a foreground galaxy. The result, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, was carried out by an international team of astronomers that includes NOAO astronomer Tom Matheson.
Read more in the UCLA Press Release.
July 09, 2018
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Few Common Ancestors for Solar System Asteroids
The millions of asteroids in the Solar System are thought to be the shattered remains of colliding planetesimals, the large rocky bodies that were the building blocks of the planets. New results suggest that most, if not all, of the known asteroids originate from only a few “common ancestors”, i.e., a small number of very large planetesimals. The study, published in Nature Astronomy, was carried out by a team that includes NOAO astronomer Dan Li.