‘Ageless’ Silicon throughout Milky Way May Indicate a Well-Mixed Galaxy

As galaxies age, some of their basic chemical elements can also show signs of aging. This aging process can be seen as certain atoms “put on a little weight,” meaning they change into heavier isotopes — atoms with additional neutrons in their nuclei.

Surprisingly, new surveys of the Milky Way with the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia, found no such aging trend for the element silicon, a fundamental building block of rocks throughout our solar system. This “ageless” appearance may mean that the Milky Way is more efficient at mixing its contents than previously thought, thereby masking the telltale signs of chemical aging.

The Observer Vol 1 Issue 2 – April 2017

Observer masthead

DIRECTOR’S NEWS

The last few months have seen many exciting developments at the Green Bank Observatory. Two new 3-mm wavelength instruments are having an excellent first full high frequency season – ARGUS, a 16-pixel spectroscopy contend, and MUSTANG-2, a 223-pixel feedhorn bolometer – and we are looking forward to publication of the instrument’s science results. World-class science coming from both our NSF-funded “open skies” time and the telescope time used by our partner organizations continues to be outstanding. Pressure for use of the GBT’s time also continues to increase, and with 17% of the proposers being new to the GBT! We also have a major new educational initiative underway, First Two, which works to increase retention of STEM students in their first two years of college, with a particular focus on first generation college students.

Looking forward, we are preparing for the many and varied educational programs coming up, which range from REU students arriving for the summer, the PING (Physicist Inspiring the Next Generation) camp for students, a new Research Experience for Teachers program, and many, many more activities. And, of course, we are beginning to ramp up our plans for the fall workshop “Transformative Science for the Next Decades with the Green Bank Observatory,” and the accompanying 60th anniversary of sciences from our facility.

Hope to see many of you at one or more of these exciting events!

Karen O’Neil
Green Bank Observatory Director

UPCOMING EVENTS

Frank Drake at 85-1SETI Tours

Our new SETI Tour celebrates Green Bank’s historic Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. Piloted last summer, the tour sold out all but three offerings. The tour lasts about 3 hours and takes guests into the telescope control rooms where Project OZMA and Phoenix took place-just to name a few!

Check out our summer tour schedule for 2017 online at: greenbankobservatory.org/events/


Chautauqua Short Courses

May 22nd-25th, 2017

This 2.5 day course is designed to celebrate more than 50 years of contributions to the forefront of astronomy by the telescopes of the Green Bank Observatory and is open to educators of all disciplines. Presentations will emphasize recent research at Green Bank in two areas: pulsar studies, that could lead in the near future to direct detection of gravitational radiation and hydrogen studies that reveal the structure and evolution of galaxies and their dark matter halos.

Learn more: greenbankobservatory.org/education/teachers


Space Race RumpusSpace Race Rumpus

June 9th-11th, 2017

It’s a festival. It’s a race. It’s group rides. It’s a clinic. It’s a fundraiser. It’s a tradition. The 6th Annual Space Race Rumpus is a 3-day family music and cycling festival hosted by the Northern Pocahontas Wellness Center at the Green Bank Observatory. If you’ve ever wanted to bring your bike to explore the site trails or miles of scenic roads in Pocahontas County, now’s the time! Registration is now open. Find out more: www.spaceracerumpus.org


ESS Teachers from the 2016 Camp
ESS Teachers from the 2016 Camp

ESS Teacher’s Passport

June 18th-July 1st, 2017

ESS Passport is an amazing professional development program for West Virginia science teachers to prepare them to teach Earth and Space Science. Funded by the West Virginia Math Science Partnership program, the Earth/Space Science Passport workshop provides West Virginia science teachers with professional development in Geology, Meterology and Astronomy concepts that will enable them to teach a new mandated ninth grade Earth/Space Science course. Over a twoweek residential workshop teacher groups rotate through three-day directed studies in each of these content areas. The Green Bank Observatory provides the Astronomy course.

Learn more at greenbankobservatory.org/education/teachers/


Pulsar Search Collaboratory Camp

July 10th-17th, 2017

The Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC) is a joint project between the Green Bank Observatory and West Virginia University (WVU), funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The goal of the PSC is to give high school students, and their teachers experience doing real research.

Learn more at greenbankobservatory.org/education/student-research/

Just last year, a new documentary (www.lgmfilm.com) called “Little Green Men” was released. The film follows PSC high school students searching for pulsars using data from the Green Bank Telescope.


Physics Inspiring the Next Generation: Investigating the Cosmos Summer Camp Experience

Pulsar Search Collaboratory - Little Green MenJuly 30th- August 5th, 2017

Current 8th graders (rising 9th-graders) will be on location in Green Bank, WV, at NRAO’s world famous Green Bank Telescope. Students will be immersed in the research activities of this national research center. While in residence, students will work in small teams supported by an undergraduate student mentor and an NRAO staff scientist (astronomer, physicist, engineer, etc.) to conduct research by observing the universe with a 40-foot diameter radio telescope.

For more details, visit: greenbankobservatory.org/education/student-research/


Observer Training Workshop

September 18 – 23, 2017

The Green Bank Telescope (GBT) Observer Training Workshop series provides the essential skills and knowledge needed to use the GBT and maximize its scientific output. We’ve reached capacity for the Spring 2017 training, but there will be plenty of openings for the next session, set for the week of September 18th, 2017.

A separate announcement will be made when registration opens for this event.


Transformative Science for the Next Decades with the Green Bank Observatory

October 16 – 20, 2017

Big Questions, Large Programs, and New Instruments: With new instruments and excellent performance, the 100m Green Bank Telescope is only just reaching its full potential. On this 60th anniversary of the ground breaking for the Green Bank Observatory, we are holding a workshop looking toward the next 10, 20, and even 60 years of the Green Bank Observatory, and invite the community to attend and aid us in planning the future.

For more information, please visit our Web site at greenbankobservatory.org/transformative-science/

NEWS

 ten minute  snapshot using the Argus camera on the GBT.

ARGUS camera for GBT 3mm spectroscopy swings into action

Throughout the winter months of 2016-2017 the new ARGUS 16-pixel camera for 3mm spectroscopy has been in regular use on the GBT. The camera was developed by Sarah Church (Stanford University) and collaborators under a grant from the NSF. The first map made during commissioning was shown in the previous GBO newsletter (https://greenbankobservatory.org/green-bank-observer-vol-1-issue-1/). Data from a number of projects are now in the hands of the PIs for reduction and analysis.

Read full article online:
greenbankobservatory.org/newscontent/observer04.17.html


INCLUDES program

In October 2016, the Green Bank Observatory received an award from the INCLUDES initiative (NSF #1649323), to build the First Two Network. The problem First Two addresses is post-secondary attrition. Degree completion is key to producing a diverse STEM workforce: Increasing the retention of STEM majors by 25% will “generate three quarters of the targeted 1 million additional STEM degrees needed over the next decade” (PCAST, 2012). Well-shy of half of all undergraduate students who enter STEM majors complete degrees in STEM, and that it is during the first two years of college that most students drop out of the STEM The effects are worse with First Generation College (FGC) students, who not only leave STEM programs but often quit their post-secondary education altogether. Since roughly one third of all post-secondary students are FGC students, addressing the underlying challenges they face could significantly broaden participation in the STEM workforce.

The First Two Network targets rural first generation students who major in a STEM related course of study. Beginning summer 2017, we pilot two early research experiences (for rising freshmen), and an academic year course that builds science process skills, communication skills and leadership expertise. An innovative component of FIRST TWO is the creation of Hometown STEM ambassadors—students who participate will be prepared to mentor their peers, and also conduct outreach in their home school districts.

Finally, there are many studies that inquire into the factors that correlate with post-secondary retention in general, and with STEM attrition specifically but few that focus on rural students. One of our working groups is developing a rigorous educational research project that can advance understanding of the factors affecting rural students’ entry into and persistence in STEM career pathways. For more information about our INCLUDES program, please visit our Education pages at greenbankobservatory.org/education


GBT finds GBT helps find Lost Spacecraft

Finding a tiny lost space-craft at a distance of 270,000 miles away may seem impossible, but NASA scientists have done just that. Using a new radar technique, they have located India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft which has been lost since August 2009, the last time any communication was received from it.

Read full story here: greenbankobservatory.org/newscontent/observer04.17.html


GBT Observations Compound Intersellar Helium Ionization Problem

Warm ionized gas is a major constituent of the Galactic interstellar medium, observable through both optical and radio emission lines. To maintain its ionization it requires about 80% of the ionizing radiation from all OB stars in the Galaxy; this is presumably supplied by UV photons leaking from HII regions.

This UV leakage should be sufficient to fully ionize Helium in the diffuse ionized gas, but instead, the fractional ionization of He appears to be relatively low, in the range of 10-20%.

Recent observations with the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) compound this problem. A set of H and He recombination lines was observed toward the envelopes of three ultra-compact HII regions that are still embedded in their molecular clouds. The envelopes have emission measures an order of magnitude greater than that of the warm ionized gas, and are just a few parsecs away from the central stars, which have type O5 or earlier. The data indicate that He is not uniformly ionized in the HII region envelopes. In two cases helium in the envelope is only 30% and 50% ionized. After ruling out the possibility that the helium may be doubly ionized, the authors conclude that the most likely explanation for the discrepancy is selective absorption of helium-ionizing photons by dust.

“Helium Ionization in the Diffuse Ionized Gas Surrounding UCHHII Regions” D. Anish Roshi, E. Churchwell and L. D. Anderson, accepted by the Astrophysical Journal.


observed beam of 6.4 arcsec is the smallest beam observed to date with the GBTGBT hits new performance milestone at 109 GHz

With the installation of the Argus 16-pixel receiver covering 75-115 GHz on the Green Bank Telescope (GBT), it is now possible to characterize the antenna beam above 100 GHz, where the use of the active surface and out-of-focus holography are critical to the telescope’s performance. A recent measurement (2017 March 23) in good weather conditions at 109.4 GHz yielded a FWHM beam of 6.7 arcsec and 6.4 arcsec in azimuth and elevation, respectively. This corresponds to 1.16 Lambda/D at 109.4 GHz, which agrees well with the low-frequency value measured at 9.0 GHz. After applying the standard antenna corrections (focus and active surface), we find no measurable degradation of the beam of the GBT at its highest operational frequencies.

These results are discussed in more detail in the GBT Memo #296: library.nrao.edu/public/memos/gbt/GBT_296.pdf


Post doc Jennifer Weston wins prizeGBO Post-doc Jennifer Weston Wins dissertation prize

Jennifer Weston has just won the 2016 Robert L. Brown Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. The award presentation, and her talk on the research which led to the award, will be in Charlottesville on April 13.

The Robert L. Brown Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award is administered by AUI and the NRAO on behalf of Bob Brown’s friends and family to honor Bob’s life and career. The Award is given each year to a recent recipient of a doctoral degree from any recognized degree granting institution in the United States, and is substantially based on new observational data obtained at any AUI operated facility and considered to be of an exceptionally high scientific standard.


Featured Receiver – ASIAA 800 MHz HIM Receiver Array

In November of last year, a collaborative effort involving representatives of the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Wisconsin, NRAO, and the Green Bank Observatory gathered to review designs for a proposed focal plane array for the GBT. The proposed receiver system improves the observing efficiency in the 700 to 900 MHz band by replacing the single corrugated prime focus feed with seven short backfire antennas each with an individually cooled cryogenic dewar. The group faced many technical challenges, especially the weight and moment limits of the GBT prime focus feed arm. Some of the margins were razor thin and thus the group plans more modeling of the structure for a better understanding of the wind load analysis.

Read full story online: greenbankobservatory.org/newscontent/observer04.17.html


 L-band cryogenic Phased Array Feed (PAF) receiver dataNew Phased Array Feed Successfully Commissioned on the GBT

The L-band cryogenic Phased Array Feed (PAF) receiver, with nineteen dual-polarization crossed dipoles located in the focal plane of a reflector antenna, was commissioned on the GBT in March 2017. The testing has confirmed the predicted excellent performance of the PAF, and has also commissioned the unformatted digital link technology developed by NRAO’s Central Development Lab.

Phased Arrays employ a technique in which many small antennas can be combined together to perform the function of a single large antenna. By combining the small antennas together with adjustable phase and amplitude, the properties of the composite antenna beam can be changed (beamwidth and beam direction). Since the beamforming is accomplished by FPGA-based digital signal processing, multiple beams can be simultaneously formed increasing telescope throughput (in this case seven beams in each polarization were formed).

The PAF was developed as part of a collaboration consisting of NRAO, GBO, West Virginia University, and Brigham Young University. More information will be forthcoming as data results are analyzed.


Students track anomalies in the fading of Cassiopeia A

Every summer since 1992, Prof. Dan Reichart of the University of North Carolina (UNC) and a small group of astronomy faculty have taken 15 mostly undergraduate students through an intense, one-week workshop at the Green Bank Observatory called “Educational Research in Radio Astronomy” (ERIRA). While on site the students are engaged in several observing projects with the 40 Foot Telescope including observations of Cassiopeia A, Taurus A, and Cygnus A.

Read Full Story online: greenbankobservatory.org/newscontent/observer04.17.html


Student art exhibitStudent Art Exhibit

To show support for the Green Bank Telescope, Green Bank Middle School students created some amazing 2-D and 3-D art projects. From intricate Popsicle-stick GBT models to precise blueprint-style charcoal drawings, works included a wide variety in chosen mediums. This project was lead by the art teacher, Alison Flegal, who created the project as a way for students to voice their support for the Green Bank Telescope in response to 2016’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Call for Public Comments. In fact, a few of the works were submitted formally and included among the hundreds of letters. In March, the Green Bank Science Center hosted an art exhibit opening for these works, which are now on display in the lobby. During the opening, these young artists presented their work to both staff and the public. The Green Bank Observatory is an education partner of the Green Bank Elementary Middle School as part of our outreach program.


New online reservation system coming soon!

Coming Soon! The Green Bank Software Development Division will soon release the new Green Bank Observatory Reservation System (GBORS), replacing the previous BOS system and offering expanded capabilities. GBORS will accept reservation requests for everything from an overnight stay to planning a conference. When launched, look for it on our website!

Proposal NEWS

Upcoming call for GBT proposals (18A)

The Green Bank Observatory (GBO) will invite scientists to participate in the next Call for Proposals for the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). The deadline is August 1st, 2017 for Semester 2018A.

Response to the 17B Call for GBT proposals

The 1 February 2017 call for proposals to use the GBT beginning the second semester of 2017 elicited requests for 6647 hours in 100 individual proposals. In the 3mm band there were requests for 1,148 hours for spectroscopy and continuum using the new ARGUS and MUSTANG2 cameras, as well as an additional 191 hours for spectroscopy and VLBI with the 2-pixel”W band” receiver which covers the lower part of the band. Demand for the7-pixel “K-band” camera that covers 18-26 GHz continued to be strong, at 645 hours. More than 3,000 hours were also requested at frequencies below 2 GHz for programs of spectroscopy and pulsar studies.

There were a number of proposals for joint observations with ALMA, the JVLA,Fermi, and other instruments.
More than 17% of the proposers had not previously been on a GBT proposal, showing the continued strong growth of the scientific community’s interest in the GBT. Proposals are now undergoing review and results should be available in early May.

HISTORY

A bit of history: The Green Bank Interferometer confirmed Einstein’s theory

Einstein’s theory of gravity (also known as General Relativity) predicts that the path of a ray of light (or that of a radio wave) will bend when it passes near a massive object. This was first tested in 1919 by Sir Arthur Eddington, who organized an expedition to observe star positions during an eclipse of the Sun from islands near the coast of Africa.

Observing stars close to the edge of the Sun is normally impossible, but during an eclipse, the Sun is blocked out and stars nearby can be observed. The 1919 experiment confirmed the theory and made an instant celebrity of Einstein and of General Relativity.

Read full story online: greenbankobservatory.org/newscontent/observer04.17.html

MEET THE STAFF

Sotware engineer Thomas Chamberlin working in the kitchen
Thomas prepping to help cook the Rec Board Greek lunch

Thomas Chamberlain, Software Engineer

How long have you worked at GBO?
Just under two years now; I started February 23rd, 2015, right after I graduated.

What led you to applying for the position?
Well, I guess there’s some backstory here. My grandfather worked here in the late fifties and early sixties as an operator before moving on to JPL, Socorro, and later Charlottesville. My mother was actually born in Marlinton in 1961, although they left early enough that she doesn’t remember it. She’s an accountant and she was looking for jobs online when, as she tells it, just happened to think of checking out the NRAO for any openings. She’s wanted to get out of the Atlanta suburbs for a while, and I think she has fond memories of this area, going to the summer picnic as a kid and such. She saw a software engineering position open, thought “I think Thomas does that”, and passed it along to me.

Learn more about Thomas here:
greenbankobservatory.org/newscontent/observer04.17.html

ENGAGE

Become a Member

Want to help support the Green Bank Observatory? We now have a new Membership and Donation program! Check out the variety of opportunities found at greenbankobservatory.org/engage/

Careers

The Green Bank Observatory employs 100 people on a year round basis, and an additional 40 people in the summer time. While most people tend to think of Green Bank as hiring scientists and astronomers, it takes a village to run the scientific and educational programs. While we have staff from all around the world, the majority of our employees (80%) were born in West Virginia, and roughly 60% of the staff are from Pocahontas County. Of the astronomy staff, 40% are female (compared to the national average of less than 30%). We are committed to a diverse and inclusive work place culture that accepts and appreciates all individuals.
Career opportunities can be found at a new website!Please check out our current listings here: greenbankobservatory.org/careers/

 

ESS Passport Teacher Workshop

June 18, 2017 – July 1, 2017

Green Bank Observatory

View MapMap and Directions | Register

Description:

The Earth and Space Science (ESS) Passport is an exciting, two-year professional development program for West Virginia teachers who are or who plan to teach Earth and Space Science– from the ninth grade course, down through the middle school grades.

(more…)

Young Astronomer Shines at Astronomy Meeting

Cannan Hue-You at the AAS
Just 11 years old (but already a high-school senior), Cannan Huey-You explains what’s happening to a massive gas cloud called Complex A at last week’s meeting of professional astronomers.
American Astronomical Society

Cannan Huey-You, just 11 years old, impressed professional astronomers in January with his research on a massive intergalactic gas cloud.

When astronomers and astrophysicists descended on Grapevine, Texas, this past January for the semiannual conference that many call the “Super Bowl of Astronomy,” they were joined by the meeting’s youngest participant ever.

On Friday, 11-year-old Cannan Huey-You walked up to his poster and described research on the object known as Complex A, a massive gas cloud destined to crash into the Milky Way.

Read the Full story on Sky & Telescope

UPDATE – 02/2017

A video on his presentation is now available on Newswise.

Green Bank Observer Vol 1, Issue 1

Print version – Observer Newsletter Q1

IN THIS ISSUE

  • Director’s Notes
  • Upcoming Events
  • News
  • History
  • Meet the Staff
  • Career Opportunities

Director’s Notes

Welcome to the first issue of The Observer, the Green Bank Observatory’s quarterly newsletter.  As many of you are aware, after almost 60 years in the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, we have branched off to become a separate organization – the Green Bank Observatory.  While the separation entails many changes for the facility and staff, we are endeavoring to keep the changes as smooth as possible for our user community.  As a result, the proposal process for the GBT will remain synchronized with that of our sister organizations the NRAO and the Long Baseline Observatory.  Many of the other changes we are undergoing, such as the website transition, are described within this newsletter.

2016 was a busy year for the Green Bank Observatory.  In addition to transitioning to a separate organization, we have two new high frequency instruments coming online this winter – MUSTANG2, a 70-105 GHz, 210 element bolometer array, and ARGUS, a 75-116 GHz, 16 element focal plane array.  Both instruments have been through their initial science commissioning and are already taking early science data.  Also in 2016 we began two exciting new contracts with the Breakthrough Foundation and with NANOGrav.  Breakthrough Listen is the largest ever scientific research program aimed at finding evidence of civilizations beyond Earth. The scope and power of the search are on an unprecedented scale – the program includes a survey of the 1,000,000 closest stars to Earth. It scans the center of our galaxy and the entire galactic plane. Beyond the Milky Way, it listens for messages from the 100 closest galaxies to ours.  NANOGrav monitors a set of pulsars that together form a Galactic scale gravitational-wave observatory. The data collected is also used to study supermassive black hole binaries in order to understand the morphology, kinematics, gas content, and feedback mechanisms of galaxies.

In the next few months we will be seeing quite a few improvements to the Green Bank Observatory. This winter will be our first excellent season for high frequency observing with ARGUS and MUSTANG2. Additionally, the first few pulsar observing modes with VEGAS, our FPGA/GPU signal processing system, will be released. And over the next few months we will be releasing a new reservations system for visitors coming to the site.

Finally, I am excited to announce that this fall we will be having both a celebration of 60 years as a world class astronomical facility and a workshop looking toward the long term future of our facility and its instruments. Information on the workshop is given later in this newsletter, and information on the 60th anniversary celebration will be forthcoming.

Wishing all of you a fantastic 2017,
Karen O’Neil
Green Bank Observatory Director

Upcoming Events

Observer Training Workshop (May 15-19)

The Green Bank Observatory’s Observer training schools provide an introduction to general radio astronomical techniques as well as onsite training for GBT observers. These training schools will replace the single-dish summer schools which have held in the past, and will be scheduled two to three times each year. The next training school will be held May 15-19, 2017 in Green Bank, with the following school September 18-22, 2017.

We still encourage new observers to visit the Observatory, where their projects will receive priority scheduling and where local staff are on hand to assist in the observations. For further information, please see:
greenbankobservatory.org/observer-training/

Transformative Science for the Next Decades with the Green Bank Observatory

Big Questions, Large Programs, and New Instruments (October 16-20): With new instruments and excellent performance, the 100m Green Bank Telescope is only just reaching its full potential. On this 60th anniversary of the ground breaking for the Green Bank Observatory, we are holding a workshop looking toward the next 10, 20, and even 60 years of the Green Bank Observatory, and invite the community to attend and aid us in planning the future. For further information, please see: greenbankobservatory.org/transformative-science

Skynet Junior Scholars

The Skynet Junior Scholars program will host a 7-week guided, online professional development workshop from January 12th to February 23rd. The workshop will enable program participants to lead informal educational experiences for students in the SJS program. Skynet Junior Scholars (SJS) is designed to engage young explorers in the study of the universe using the same tools as professionals. The SJS web portal connects middle and high-school aged youth with activities, resources and guidance to become scholars of the sky. Workshop participants will receive educational kits and online access to optical and radio telescopes, data analysis tools, and professional astronomers. Upon completion, workshop participants must lead a group of students through the program by June to complete the leadership program. Find out more at:  greenbankobservatory.org/education/student-research/

Pulsar Search Collaboratory

For all teachers, informal STEM educators who work with high school students, and students in grades 9-12. Join the Pulsar Search Collaboratory! Learn all about pulsars and how to analyze data taken by the Green Bank Telescope from renowned pulsar astronomers during our next online workshop! The workshop begins January 12 with a meeting just for teachers. Then, the six-week workshop begins for everybody the following week: January 19 at 7:30.
Learn more about the program and sign up here: pulsarsearchcollaboratory.com/home/join-the-psc/

Proposal News

Green Bank Telescope Time Allocation for Semester 17b

The Green Bank Observatory (GBO) invites scientists to participate in the GBO’s 2017B Semester Call for Proposals for the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). Proposals requesting the GBT as part of High Sensitivity Array (HSA), and Global 3mm VLBI Array (GMVA) should be submitted through the Long Baseline Observatory’s call (available here).
The submission deadline for Semester 2017B proposals is Wednesday, 1 February 2017, at 17:00 EST (22:00 UTC).
The GBO wishes to remind proposers of continuing opportunities for joint observations with the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission and the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
The GBO strongly encourages proposers to carefully read through the News and Opportunities section of the proposal as there have been a number of changes made to instrument availability.
Proposal preparation and submission remain via the NRAO Proposal Submission Tool (PST) available at NRAO Interactive Services. Note that the PST use requires registration. Proposers who need assistance with proposal preparation or have questions regarding the Call or GBT capabilities should contact Observatory staff via the Helpdesk.

News

A Wide Range of Black Hole Masses in Spiral Galaxies

Many spiral galaxies have circumnuclear accretion disks whose properties can be determined through observations of H2O megamasers. The Green Bank Telescope has been systematically discovering such accretion disks, and through participation in VLBI network observations, measuring the mass of the central black hole. Black hole masses derived this way can be extremely accurate, with uncertainties at the level of 5% to 10%, and follow from Keplerian rotation of the accretion disk at radii of 0.2-1 pc.

Green et al (2016) have used the results of this work for spiral galaxies to consider the connection, if any, between galaxy properties and the mass of the central black hole. They conclude that no galaxy property correlates tightly with the mass of the black hole as traced by megamaser disks in L* spiral galaxies.

They find that megamaser disk galaxies have a MBH-sigma* relationship that differs significantly from that established for the early-type galaxies. At a given sigma*, the disk galaxies have significantly smaller black hole masses, with a larger scatter, than the early-type galaxies.

The disk galaxy properties like total mass and central velocity dispersion also lie within a much narrower range than the black hole masses. It appears that the relationship between nuclear black hole mass and other properties of late-type galaxies remains to be understood.

Greene, J.E. et al, 2016, ApJ, 826, L32

MUSTANG 2: an extremely sensitive, 100 ghz bolometer array

MUSTANG 2 image of Orion
Maps of the Orion “Integral Shaped Filament” region made with MUSTANG-1 (left; 14.9 hours integration time) and MUSTANG-2 (right; 40 minutes integration time). Images represent the sky brightness at a wavelength of 3mm.

The performance of the newly completed MUSTANG-2 bolometer camera has been verified on the 100-meter Green Bank Telescope and astronomical observations have begun.

MUSTANG-2 sensitively maps broad-spectrum emission on the sky in the 70 to 105 GHz range using 210 individual bolometric detectors, each coupled to the sky with its own feed horn. It will be used for many different types of astronomical studies ranging from detailed imaging of galaxy clusters in the early universe to mapping areas of star formation in our own Galaxy. MUSTANG-2 is the successor to the GBT’s pathfinder 3mm bolometer camera, MUSTANG, and represents a large step forward in sensitivity, fidelity, and robustness. To verify the performance of MUSTANG-2 the instrument team spent 40 minutes mapping a region of star formation in the Orion nebula that had previously been studied by MUSTANG (a press release on the original MUSTANG result can be found here). The new and old maps are very similar even though the old map required over 20 times more telescope time to acquire. Nearly 230 hours of highly-oversubscribed hours of GBT 3mm observing time have been allocated for MUSTANG-2 observing in the 2016/2017 season.

The receiver was developed by a collaboration consisting of the University of Pennsylvania, NRAO, NIST, the University of Michigan, the University of Kwazulu-Natal, and Cardiff University, with support from the NSF’s ATI program.

Science Fair

2016 Pocahontas County Science Fair participants
2016 Pocahontas County Science Fair participants

In December, the Green Bank Science Center hosted our 4th Annual Pocahontas County Science Fair. What a fun day for everyone! We had over 40 volunteers from GBO staff, the Forest Service and the local schools serve as judges and activity leaders. This year, 104 students entered 79 group and individual projects! Students not only competed for top project awards, but enjoyed a day of science and engineering activities. In the star lab, activity leaders challenged students to build a bridge that could hold weight with nothing more than index cards. In the classroom, students designed and built their own robot that could replicate similar scribbles made by our top-secret prototype scribblebot. In another collaborative activity, students moved a small ball from one can to another-using only strings! Being a judge this year was no easy task with so many creative and well-designed projects, however, the top prizes went to some very deserving students.

The top overall winners were: Willie O’Ganian from GBEMS in the elementary competition with “Give Primates a Hand!”, Jaryd Friel from Marlinton Middle School in the middle school division with “Cleaning Coins”, and Pocahontas County High School student Abram Leyzorek won in the high school division with “The effect of Microwaved Water on Feed Corn Growth”.

16 Element Focal Plane Array, ARGUS

Argus is a new 16-element 75-116 GHz focal plane array instrument installed on the GBT. The instrument has successfully completed its initial phases of commissioning and is ready for shared-risk science observations with the GBT.
The image is the result of an early test map taken using all 16 beams of Argus. ARGUS

The image shows the integrated emission from the 13CO molecule associated with the star-formation region DR21.
This 10’x3’ map required about 40 minutes of telescope time and was taken in non-optimal weather conditions (zenith opacity of 0.42). The image is the result of the default data processing without any data editing. The beam size of the GBT is shown in white at the lower-right of the image for comparison.

Argus is a collaboration between Stanford University (PI Sarah Church), Caltech, JPL, University of Maryland, Universtiy of Miami, and the Green Bank Observatory. Information about the instrument can be found on the ARGUS web-page.

Boy Scout Merit Badge Weekends

Scouts taking data in the 40-ft. Control Room
Scouts taking data in the 40-ft. Control Room

Our new Boy Scout Merit Badge Weekends received such a positive response, the event has become a monthly offering for 2017!

Often reserved months in advance, scout groups of all ages book their weekend here in Green Bank, earning their badges in astronomy or electronics. Scouts learn constellations in the star lab, use the 40-ft Telescope to perform a hands-on research experiment, investigate radio frequency interference and learn about motion of stars and planets. Each weekend, the science center hosts up to 60 or more scouts, often from several troops for the program.

Find out more at: www.greenbankobservatory.org/scoutweekends

Website Transitions

As many of you are likely aware, the Green Bank Observatory has a new website, greenbankobservatory.org

The new website will provide all information about the Observatory, from science news through educational events. However, transitioning to the new website will take time. As a result, you will find that much of the material relevant to scientists interested in taking scientific data with the Green Bank Telescope still resides at its former web address:
science.nrao.edu/facilities/gbt

As content is migrated, the links will be updated to reflect the new web addresses.

History

John Findlay’s Golf Story

300 ft groundbreaking
300-Foot Groundbreaking, April 27th, 1961.
From left: M. Howell, BS&I Erection Manager; John Hawkins, BS&I VP for sales; Jim Tilley, BS&I Executive VP; E.R. Faelten, Engineer; J.W. Findlay; Otto Struve, Director NRAO; Charlie Bush, BS&I Engineer.

John Findlay, NRAO’s first head of engineering and electronic design, supervised the construction of the 300-foot telescope during 1961-62. He recounts the 300-foot construction project in a paper he gave at the 300-foot 25th birthday celebration in September 1987, which is reprinted in “But it was Fun”, page 145.

The contractor that built the telescope was Bristol Steel and Iron, of Bristol, Virginia. Findlay made frequent trips to Bristol to review the project and disuss changes. The head of BS&I, Jim Tilley, made sure the meetings ended at 12:30 so they could play golf in the afternoon.

Findlay recalls a plan he made for the opening ceremony of the 300-foot telescope:

“Since we are telling stories, I told you that we had to play golf every day we went to Bristol when we were building [the 300 Foot]. And Jim Tilley was not a very good golfer and he had never made a hole-in-one …

I took a nine-iron to the 300 Foot to see if I could hit a ball high enough to get it into the dish. If I had been able to do so I would have offered Jim the opportunity of making a hole-in-one. If this had worked then at the opening ceremony I would have allowed the golf ball to run down the dish and fall through the hole in the middle and with any luck break some small receptacle containing an alcoholic liquid and that would have completed the circuit. But I couldn’t hit a ball into the dish! “

Meet the Staff

A Full Complement of Post Docs

Post Docs
From Left: Nichol Cunningham, Natalia Lewandowska
and Jennifer Weston

The Green Bank Scientific division has employed a full complement of Post Docs. Our three Post Docs Nichol Cunningham, Jennifer Weston and Natalia Lewandowska are quickly settling into their roles as part of the Scientific team by coordinating colloquia, working with visiting student groups, supporting the GBT observers and doing their own research.

Nichol is from the United Kingdom and a scholar from Leeds University started at the GB site in September 2015. Nichol has already been a prominent addition to Rec Board by being the official party organizer for the Spring Party, organizing the Post Doc Symposium and coordinating volunteers for the Space Race Rumpus. Nichol’s research is focused on star and galaxy formations.

Jennifer arrived in March after finishing her PhD at Columbia University. Jennifer too has joined the Rec Board and taught during the Research Student Boot Camp. Her research is focused on using radio observations of novae and symbiotic systems to examine the evolution of accreting dwarf galaxies among other things.

Natalia is our newest arrival just joining us in April. She came directly from defending her PhD in Germany at the University of Wurzburg. Natalia’s research is focused on the study of giant radio pulses. Natalia just returned from a conference at the VLA and will be settling into her new role in Green Bank.

Career Opportunities

Education Specialist

The Education Specialist assists the Green Bank Senior Education Officer in designing, funding, and implementing formal and informal education program, and leads, develops, and actively participates in the K-12 education, public outreach, and visitor center programs at the Green Bank Observatory

View posting online: go.nrao.edu/gbo-ed-specialist

Summer Student Opportunities

Since its inception in 1959, the Green Bank Observatory Summer Student Research Assistantship program has engaged over 1,000 young people in scientific research, and many of our summer students have gone on to distinguished careers in astronomy, physics, and other sciences. The list of former NRAO summer students includes women and men who represent a wide range of careers, research interests, geographic locations, and backgrounds.

Required application materials include the following:

  • Completed on-line application form
  • Copies of transcripts (unofficial) from all colleges or universities you attended. You will be prompted at the end of the application process to attach a single PDF file containing your transcripts.
  • Letters of recommendation, submitted using our online form, from three people who can evaluate your ability, experience, and potential.

View posting online: go.nrao.edu/gbo-summer-research

Engage

The Green Bank Observatory now has membership and other donation opportunities.  On the new “Engage” page (greenbankobservatory.org/engage) guests can make a donation, volunteer, or become a member of the Green Bank Observatory.

Contacts

Green Bank Observatory
155 Observatory Rd
P.O. Box 2
Green Bank, WV 24944 (USA)
(304) 456-2011

General Contacts

Reservations, Field Trips, Tours, Events, and General Information
Reception; (304) 456-2011;
reservations@gbobservatory.org

Newsletter Information, submissions
pvosteen@nrao.edu

Public RFI Questions:
nrqz@gb.nrao.edu

The Green Bank Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation and is operated by Associated Universities, Inc.