3/29/16: Earth-space telescope system produces hot surprise

RadioAstron - v2The astronomers’ achievement produced a pair of scientific surprises that promise to advance the understanding of quasars, supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies.

Astronomers using an orbiting radio telescope in conjunction with four ground-based radio telescopes have achieved the highest resolution, or ability to discern fine detail, of any astronomical observation ever made. Their achievement produced a pair of scientific surprises that promise to advance the understanding of quasars, supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies.

The scientists combined the Russian RadioAstron satellite with the ground-based telescopes to produce a virtual radio telescope more than 100,000 miles across. They pointed this system at a quasar called 3C 273, more than 2 billion light-years from Earth. Quasars like 3C 273 propel huge jets of material outward at speeds nearly that of light. These powerful jets emit radio waves.

Published by Astronomy Magazine.  See more at: http://www.astronomy.com/news/2016/03/earth-space-telescope-system-produces-hot-surprise

03/25/2016: For Some, Einstein’s Space-Time Ripples Have Yet To Break Their Silence

inside_science_2016When leaders of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, announced in February the first-ever direct detection of a gravitational wave, astrophysicists Scott Ransom from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Andrea Lommen at Franklin and Marshall University in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had mixed feelings.

On the one hand, it meant that the team they and others lead, which searches for gravitational waves using radio telescopes aimed at special stars called pulsars, would not score the first detection. “We loved the idea of being kind of a dark horse,” Ransom admitted.

On the other hand, they were thrilled for their colleagues at LIGO—and for gravitational wave astronomy. “I was really excited, for a whole day I think, before I got jealous,” said Lommen. “We’ve all been working in this field that’s had no detections for 20, 30 years—and now we have a detection. People can no longer make fun of us.”

Above all, Ransom, Lommen and their colleagues hope that, like a rising tide, the excitement around the finding will boost all gravitational wave research—including their own.

Published by Inside Science.  See more at: https://www.insidescience.org/content/some-einsteins-space-time-ripples-have-yet-break-their-silence/3811

03/11/2016: Berthoud students discover space anomaly

Berthould_Students_2016Collin Miller describes the slate of speakers at the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers Western Regional Conference in Arizona this weekend: “There’s doctor this, and doctor someone, PhDs, then you have Berthoud High School STEM students.”

Miller and fellow high school senior, Xander Pickard, will present the research of a team of six Berthoud students, working under five mentors, before an international audience at the conference Saturday .

They will talk about how, using radio astronomy, they discovered that two nebula appear to be moving in two different directions at the same time. That movement would be expected if the nebula were rotating, but they were not.

The students checked their data and calculations, again and again.

Their mentors — University of Colorado research scientist Terry Bullett, science teacher Scott Kindt, Dave Eckhardt, who worked as a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Jay Wilson, who worked in telecommunications for federal agencies, and Meinte Veldhuis, president of the Little Thompson Observatory — also double checked the data, then searched journals and publications far and wide.

Published by the Colorado Register-Herald.  See more at: http://www.reporterherald.com/news/ci_29627325/berthoud-students-discover-space-anomaly

03/09/2016: All We Are is Dust in the Interstellar Wind

GMMRadio_CompWide_nraoCosmic dust is not simply something to sweep under the rug and forget about. Instead, National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded astronomers are studying and even mapping it to learn more about what it might be hiding from us, where it comes from, and what it’s turning into.

Some researchers are delving deep down to see how dust comes together at the atomic level, while others are looking at the big picture to see where stars and planets might be forming in dusty stellar nurseries. Recent discoveries, such as that of a very young galaxy containing much more dust than expected, have shown us that we still have much to learn about where exactly all this dust comes from

Published by Eureka Alert.  See more at: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/nsf-awa030916.php

02/25/2016: Mysterious radio burst pinpointed in distant galaxy

Cardinal_FRBs_2016For the first time, astronomers have traced an enigmatic blast of radio waves to its source.

Since 2007, astronomers have detected curious bright blasts of radio waves from the cosmos, each lasting no more than a few milliseconds. Now scientists have been able to pinpoint the source of one of these pulses: a galaxy 1.9 billion parsecs (6 billion light years) away. It probably came from two colliding neutron stars, says astronomer Evan Keane, a project scientist for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). Keane, who works at the SKA Organization’s headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory outside Manchester, UK, led the team that reports the detection in Nature.

The discovery is the “measurement the field has been waiting for”, says astronomer Kiyoshi Masui of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. By finding more such fast radio bursts (FRBs) and measuring the distance to their source, astronomers hope to use the signals as beacons to shed light on the evolution of the Universe.

Published by Nature News.  See more at: http://www.nature.com/news/mysterious-radio-burst-pinpointed-in-distant-galaxy-1.19441