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NOAO News & Reports


May 29, 2019

Commemorating 100 years of General Relativity

Credit: T. Abbott & NOAO/AURA/NSF; Inset, right: S. Pompea & NOAO/AURA/NSF

On May 29, 1919, Arthur Eddington performed an experiment during a total solar eclipse that confirmed Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, expanding our understanding of space, time, and mass. On July 2, another solar eclipse will pass over the telescopes at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile. A team of students from the University of La Serena, along with Juan Seguel (CTIO) and Rob Sparks (NOAO), will perform a commemorative experiment and attempt to replicate Eddington’s results.

Read more in NOAO press release 19-06.


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March 27, 2019

Cosmic Fireworks in the Clouds: Volunteer Detectives Sought for Magellanic Clouds Cluster Search

Credit: Anja von der Linden / Stony Brook University; Inset: SMASH survey

Caught in a cosmic dance, our nearest neighbor galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds, are cartwheeling and circling each other as they fall toward our galaxy, the Milky Way. The gravitational interaction between the Clouds sparks cosmic fireworks—bursts of star formation as new clusters of stars flame on. How many and what kind of star clusters have been born this way over the history of the Clouds? A new project, the Local Group Cluster Search, invites citizen scientists to help find out!

Read more in NOAO Press Release 19-05.


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February 19, 2019

Citizen Scientists Invited to Join Quest for New Worlds

Credit: P. Marenfeld & NOAO/AURA/NSF, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger

“Backyard Worlds: Planet 9” re-launches this week, with a call to volunteer citizen scientists to join the search for cold worlds near the Sun—both planets lurking in the outer reaches of the Solar System as well as nearby brown dwarfs. The re-launch coincides with the publication of the project’s latest discovery: a record-setting white dwarf star whose mysterious dusty rings challenge our understanding of the long-term evolution of planetary systems. NOAO astronomer Aaron Meisner is a co-founder of Backyard Worlds and a science team member.

Read more in the NOAO Press Release 19-04.


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January 22, 2019

Milky Way's Neighbors Pick Up the Pace

Image credit: Ryan Trainor (Franklin and Marshall College)

After slowly forming stars for the first few billion years of their lives, the Magellanic Clouds, near neighbors of our own Milky Way galaxy, have upped their game and are now forming new stars at a fast clip. This new insight into the “activity history” of the Clouds comes from the first detailed chemical maps made of galaxies beyond the Milky Way. The project, carried out by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), was led by NOAO Astronomer David Nidever.

Read more in NOAO Press Release 19-03.


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January 10, 2019

Unusual Supernova Opens a Rare Window on the Collapse of a Star

D. Maturana & NOAO/AURA/NSF; Overlay (top left): NASA/Penn State University/C. Reed; (top right): NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

An unusual supernova studied by multiple telescopes, including the SOAR telescope and other telescopes at CTIO and KPNO, is thought to herald the birth of a new black hole or neutron star, caught at the exact moment of its creation.The event gives astronomers a rare glimpse into the physics at play during the creation of a black hole or neutron star.

Read more in NOAO Press Release 19-02.


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January 8, 2019

A Survey Machine and a Data Trove: Dark Energy Survey’s Rich Legacy

Image Credit: J. Najita, M. Newhouse & NOAO/AURA/NSF

Over the past six years the Dark Energy Survey has collected a rich trove of data, mapping nearly a billion objects over one-fourth of the southern sky! Carried out at CTIO, the survey explores the nature of dark energy, the mysterious form of energy that is accelerating the expansion of the Universe. Although the survey is now ending, with the final images taken this month, both the camera built for the survey and the survey data itself will continue to yield new discoveries.

Read more in NOAO Press Release 19-01.


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