Latest News from: Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

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Newswise: noirlab2018a.jpg
Released: 4-Aug-2020 5:15 PM EDT
Surprisingly Dense Exoplanet Challenges Planet Formation Theories
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

New detailed observations with NSF’s NOIRLab facilities reveal a young exoplanet, orbiting a young star in the Hyades cluster, that is unusually dense for its size and age. Weighing in at 25 Earth-masses, and slightly smaller than Neptune, this exoplanet’s existence is at odds with the predictions of leading planet formation theories.

Newswise: Young Planets Bite the Dust
Released: 24-Jun-2020 12:30 PM EDT
Young Planets Bite the Dust
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

These orange swirls of dust are snapshots from the largest collection of sharp, detailed images of dusty debris disks around young stars — published this week by an international group of astronomers. The images — captured by the 8-meter Gemini South telescope using the Gemini Planet Imager — illustrate the variety of shapes and sizes that stellar systems can take during their infancy. Unexpectedly, the majority of these systems display evidence of planet formation.

Newswise:Video Embedded gemini-gets-lucky-and-takes-a-deep-dive-into-jupiter-s-clouds
VIDEO
Released: 7-May-2020 3:00 PM EDT
Gemini Gets Lucky and Takes a Deep Dive Into Jupiter’s Clouds
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

Researchers using a technique known as “lucky imaging” with the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii’s Maunakea have collected some of the highest resolution images of Jupiter ever obtained from the ground. These images are part of a multi-year joint observing program with the Hubble Space Telescope in support of NASA’s Juno mission. The Gemini images, when combined with the Hubble and Juno observations, reveal that lightning strikes, and some of the largest storm systems that create them, are formed in and around large convective cells over deep clouds of water ice and liquid. The new observations also confirm that dark spots in the famous Great Red Spot are actually gaps in the cloud cover and not due to cloud color variations.

Newswise:Video Embedded small-but-mighty
VIDEO
Released: 17-Apr-2020 4:30 PM EDT
Small but Mighty
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

Barnard’s Galaxy, a dwarf galaxy neighboring the Milky Way, is revealed in this stunning image from the Victor. M. Blanco 4-m telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, a program of NSF’s NOIRLab. The image reveals regions of intense star formation and a scattering of immense cosmic bubbles.

Newswise:Video Embedded gemini-detects-most-energetic-wind-from-distant-quasar
VIDEO
Released: 15-Apr-2020 6:30 PM EDT
Gemini Detects Most Energetic Wind from Distant Quasar
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

Researchers using the Gemini North telescope on Hawaiʻi’s Maunakea have detected the most energetic wind from any quasar ever measured. This outflow, which is travelling at nearly 13% of the speed of light, carries enough energy to dramatically impact star formation across an entire galaxy. The extragalactic tempest lay hidden in plain sight for 15 years before being unveiled by innovative computer modeling and new data from the international Gemini Observatory.

Newswise: Nighttime U.S. / International Astronomy Gets New Identity
Released: 3-Apr-2020 3:50 PM EDT
Nighttime U.S. / International Astronomy Gets New Identity
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, which in 2019 brought together NSF’s optical and infrared nighttime astronomy under one entity, will now go by the shortened name of NSF’s NOIRLab (no-wah-lab), abbreviated from its longer formal name. NOIRLab is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona and operates Kitt Peak National Observatory, the international Gemini Observatory, the Community Science and Data Center, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, and the operations of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory.

Newswise: NEID Exoplanet Instrument Sees First Light
Released: 8-Jan-2020 3:15 PM EST
NEID Exoplanet Instrument Sees First Light
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

The new NEID instrument, now installed at the 3.5-meter WIYN telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Southern Arizona, USA, has made its first observations. The NSF-NASA funded instrument is designed to measure the motion of nearby stars with extreme precision — roughly three times better than current state-of-the-art instruments — allowing us to detect, determine the mass of, and characterize exoplanets as small as Earth.

Newswise: Fast Radio Burst Observations Deepen Astronomical Mystery
Released: 6-Jan-2020 4:00 PM EST
Fast Radio Burst Observations Deepen Astronomical Mystery
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

Observations with the 8-meter Gemini North telescope, a program of the NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, have allowed astronomers to pinpoint the location of a Fast Radio Burst in a nearby galaxy — making it the closest known example to Earth and only the second repeating burst source to have its location pinpointed in the sky. The source of this burst of radio waves is located in an environment radically different from that seen in previous studies. This discovery challenges researchers’ assumptions on the origin of these already enigmatic extragalactic events.

Newswise: NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory Launched
30-Sep-2019 2:00 PM EDT
NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory Launched
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

On 1 October 2019, the nighttime astronomy facilities supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) transitioned to operating as one organization, NSF's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory. The new organization operates five scientific programs: Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, the Community Science and Data Center, Kitt Peak National Observatory (all formerly known as the National Optical Astronomy Observatory); Gemini Observatory and the upcoming Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, and is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy.

Newswise: A Stroke of Astronomical Luck for Solar Science
Released: 5-Jun-2019 4:25 PM EDT
A Stroke of Astronomical Luck for Solar Science
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

On July 2, 2019 a total solar eclipse will pass over Chile and Argentina, and through a stroke of astronomical luck, the path of totality crosses directly over the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory located in the foothills of the Andes, 7,241 feet (2200 meters) above sea level in the Coquimbo Region of northern Chile. Five science teams chosen by NSF’s National Solar Observatory will perform experiments at Cerro Tololo during the eclipse; four of them will have their equipment trained on the Sun’s elusive corona and one will study eclipse effects on the Earth itself.

Newswise: Cosmic Fireworks in the Clouds: 
Volunteer Detectives Sought for Magellanic Clouds Cluster Search
Released: 27-Mar-2019 3:55 PM EDT
Cosmic Fireworks in the Clouds: Volunteer Detectives Sought for Magellanic Clouds Cluster Search
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

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!

Newswise: Ultra-sharp Images Make Old Stars Look Absolutely Marvelous!
Released: 26-Mar-2019 8:05 AM EDT
Ultra-sharp Images Make Old Stars Look Absolutely Marvelous!
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

Using high-resolution adaptive optics imaging from the Gemini Observatory, astronomers have uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. The remarkably sharp image looks back into the early history of our Universe and sheds new insights on how our Galaxy formed.


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