Find out about all of GBO’s latest news and research!
Greetings from Observatory Director
New Version of gbtgridder
Daniela De Paulis, GBO Artist in Residence & Baruch Bloomberg Astrobiology Fellow
Greetings from Observatory Director
As we move from the splendid multi-color autumn to the monochromatic winter here at Green Bank, I have been charged to present my reflections on the past 6 months at the Observatory. I am happy to report that the Green Bank Observatory has made excellent progress and we have a lot to be proud of.
For example, radar measurements collected at the GBT were the first to demonstrate that NASA’s DART mission successfully deflected the asteroid Dimorphos and changed its orbital period around the larger asteroid Didymos from 11 hours 55 minutes to 11 hours 23 minutes. Our own Jay Lockman and collaborators showed that the high-velocity atomic cloud called the “Smith Cloud” is slamming into the Milky Way Galaxy. Using Breakthrough Listen data, Michael Garrett of the University of Manchester and Andrew Siemion of the University of Berkeley extended the search for technosignatures to other galaxies and placed stringent limits on the luminosity function of radio transmissions from extragalactic civilizations. Finally, the GOTHAM project continues to identify more and more complex molecules, e.g., 2-cyanoindene found in the Taurus Molecular Cloud TMC-1 by M.L. Sita and collaborators.
During the summer and fall, it was great to see campus busy again, with a large number of school groups and tourists. We also hosted two scientific workshops: one on High-Velocity Clouds and the other on the future of K-band Science and an excellent colloquium series to celebrate our 65th anniversary.
The summer, however, was not without its challenges. A piece of fabric was inadvertently snagged in the mechanism that deploys and retracts the GBT’s prime focus boom arm, and halted operations until it could be removed and the boom fully retracted. Our engineers and technicians worked hard to solve this problem. Ultimately, at the suggestion of our then-intern Dylan White, weed burners (actually, small flame throwers) were used to melt the fabric and enable finally enable its removal. I was so impressed with the flame thrower solution that I am considering issuing them as standard gear to solve many additional problems, pending a safety review of course!
The Observatory staff also recently completed the Data Center, a new, shielded building near the Jansky Lab that will store GBT data and help enable archival science. We are initially equipping the Data Center with 3 Petabytes of storage, but can expand this capacity as our data storage needs grow. Eventually, GBT data will be ingested into the NRAO data archive tools to allow users to search for and more easily use GBT data.
The next few months will see the testing and commissioning of two new instruments: the Ultra-Wideband Receiver and the new X-band receiver. We will be testing new approaches to take more and better observations at high frequencies. We will also be hosting a special session on the future of the GBT at the winter AAS meeting in Seattle. The future looks bright, but its exact shape depends on feedback from the community. Please stop by the special session, take our surveys, drop me an email, or visit us at Green Bank. We look forward to hearing from you.
Find out everything there is to know about GBO at AAS 241! See a list of GBO and GBT related presentations, our latest publications, a digital swag bag, and more.
GBO AAS 241 Special Session New Windows onto the Universe: Asteroids, Exotic Stars, Gaseous Filaments and More
Join us at our AAS 241 Special Session Monday, January 9, 2-3:30PM PST in room 605/610. Hear from scientists including Steve Croft, Thankful Cromartie, Simon Dicker, Rachel Friesen, Anika Schmiedeke, Kristine Spekkens, and Patrick Taylor.
The GBT’s 100-meter unblocked aperture, active surface, and 0.3-116 GHz frequency coverage makes it one of the most sensitive and flexible astronomy instruments in the world. Having already made history with its myriad of discoveries, the GBT will be vital to the goals and aspirations of the next decades. New instrumentation will ensure that scientists worldwide will be able to maximize the GBT’s potential and meet the aspirational goals described in the most recent decadal plans for astrophysics. In this session we look at five areas of scientific research which would benefit from new instrumentation – the discovery and study of exotic stellar objects, detection of diffuse inter-galaxy gas, understanding star formation from sub-pc to kpc scales (including at exceptionally low gas densities), understanding the origin, dynamics, and interiors of solar system objects, and the detection of technosignatures. Here we will discuss the current state and future discoveries in these fields and the role that the GBT will have in these discoveries. The session will end with a panel discussion looking at the merits of new instruments for the GBT and the prioritization of these instruments.
AAS 241 Press Conference: The Next Generation Planetary Radar System on the Green Bank Telescope
Hear about this latest research at a press conference on Tuesday, January 10th at 10:15AM PT in room 307/308 or tune in LIVE on the AAS Press Office YouTube Channel.
With a transmitter less powerful than a microwave oven, a team of scientists and engineers used the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) to make the highest-resolution radar images of the Moon ever collected from the ground, paving the way for a next-generation radar system to study planets, moons, and asteroids in the Solar System.
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), Green Bank Observatory (GBO), and Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RIS) are designing a high-power, next generation planetary radar system for the GBT, the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope. The prototype of this system produced some of the highest resolution planetary radar images ever captured from Earth. GBO/NRAO Scientist Patrick Taylor will share his exciting work on this project.
Make your voice heard by taking this short survey and by joining us at our AAS 241 special session to discuss science enabled by a new proposed suite of instruments for the GBT!
If you’re one of the first individuals to take this survey (online or in person at AAS 241) you will receive some premium GBO swag!
PROPOSED NEW INSTRUMENTS:
- 40-Pixel L-band Phased Array Feed (ALPACA) – ALPACA on the GBT will enable searches for pulsars as well as diffuse HI mapping with both high sensitivity and high dynamic range over a wide field of view.
- Ku-Band Radar Transmitter (ngRADAR) – The ngRADAR will enable high resolution imaging of the Moon and planetary bodies, physical characterization of space debris, and detection and characterization of near-Earth asteroids.
- 225-Pixel K-Band Phased Array Feed (KPAF) – The KPAF will simultaneously observe the (1,1), (2,2), and (3,3) inversion transitions of ammonia, a critically important probe of dense molecular gas. Mapping these transitions on a large scale is crucial for understanding star formation processes but requires prohibitively large amounts of telescope time using existing hardware.
- 144-Pixel W-band Array (Argus144, Spectral Lines) – Argus-144 will deliver high-fidelity maps of fundamental transitions of molecules that are sensitive tracers of gas covering a wide range of physical conditions, over spatial scales ranging from the sub-parsec thickness of filaments and dense cores in our own Galaxy, to the ~100 pc size of molecular clouds in the spiral arms of nearby galaxies.
- 600-Pixel W-Band Bolometer (MUSTANG-3, Continuum) – MUSTANG-3 will operate from 75-105 GHz with full polarization, mapping 19 times faster than and have double the FOV of MUSTANG-2. This will enable deeper, high resolution studies of cosmology, galaxy clusters, star forming regions, and the Galactic plane.
Love the GBT and GBO? Get 10% off at the Galaxy Gift Shop using discount code GBODIG10. Grab a GBO mug, t-shirt, hat, sticker, and more!
The Green Bank Observatory invites Director’s Discretionary Time proposals for filler time observations on the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). Proposals must be submitted by January 20, 2023 at 22:00 UT.
This request is for observing time at frequencies below 8 GHz. Submissions for observations will be considered for scheduling in the 23-12 hour LST range. Requests will be restricted to using the DCR, VEGAS, and VEGAS pulsar modes unless special permission is received in advance of submission. Requests will also be restricted to using the Prime Focus 800 MHz, L-band, S-band, and C-band receivers unless special permission is received in advance of submission. We will not consider any Large Proposal requests (> 400 hours) as a part of this call.
Please state that your DDT submission is in response to this Special Proposal Call (SPC) by beginning your proposal’s title using “SPC: ”. All proposals should be submitted through the Proposal Submission Tool at https:/my.nrao.edu/
Proposers who need assistance with proposal preparation or have questions regarding the Call or GBT capabilities should contact Observatory staff via the Helpdesk at https://help.nrao.edu/
The Green Bank Observatory (GBO) invites scientists to participate in the 2023B Semester Call for Proposals for the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). The submission deadline for Semester 2023B proposals is Wednesday, 01 February 2023, at 17:00 EDT (22:00 UTC).
GBO would like to highlight the following two special opportunities for observing with the GBT.
1) Low frequency (below 8 GHz) projects, especially those that may require significant amounts of observing time per source or field, are strongly encouraged. Observations up to 200 hours per source or field at low frequencies is not unreasonable for the less subscribed LST ranges. Please see the LST pressure plots in the Proposal Results for previous semesters at https://greenbankobservatory.org/science/gbt-observers/proposals/past-proposal-calls/
2) Drift scans. There could be up to 678 hours available for drift scan observations in the 23A semester and another 604 hours could be available in the 23B semester.
We would like to remind proposers that their submissions will be peer reviewed by a panel with a wide ranging background in astronomy.
Virtual Proposal Planning Office Hours will be held January 25, 26, and 30.
The Ultrawideband Receiver (UWBR) will be offered for shared-risk observing in the 23B semester.
Proposal preparation and submission remain via the NRAO Proposal Submission Tool (PST) available at NRAO Interactive Services. Proposers who need assistance with proposal preparation or have questions regarding the Call or GBT capabilities should contact Observatory staff via the Helpdesk. Note that use of the PST and Helpdesk requires registration.
The entire proposal call can be found here.
We strongly encourage proposers to carefully read through the ews and Opportunities section in the full proposal call.
The week before the 23B proposal deadline, Green Bank Observatory staff are hosting a series of virtual office hours via Zoom. Proposers can attend to ask questions about and get help with the technical aspects of their 23B proposals. The office hours are listed below (all in Eastern Time):
- Wednesday, January 25th – 9:00-10:00
- Thursday, January 26th – 16:00-17:00
- Thursday, January 26th – 20:00-21:00
- Monday January 30th – 13:00-14:00
GBT Training Workshop, February 8-10, 2023
Open to GBT users and the scientific community: Applications for this fully virtual workshop will close on January 18, 2023. This will be a 2.5 day virtual training workshop. We have a limited number of spaces and will prioritize applicants with upcoming GBT projects. This workshop is meant for people who will need to control the GBT for an observing project over the next year. The application can be found here.
Single Dish Summer School + GBT Training Workshop, August 7-11, 2023
Open to GBT users and the scientific community: The Single Dish Summer School will be hosted by the Green Bank Observatory and include a week of astronomy tutorials. This workshop is perfect for astronomy/physics graduate students and professionals looking to get experience in single dish astronomy. The Single Dish Summer School will run from August 7-11 (hybrid), and a GBT Training Workshop will follow from August 12-14 (in-person). Applications for both workshops will be open from March 1 – April 1, 2023, and applicants will be informed of their acceptance by mid-April. The application can be found here. The Single Dish Summer School can be attended either in-person or remotely, but the GBT training workshop requires in-person participation.
Join us at GBO May 5-7, 2023 for the second Blumberg Astrobiology workshop, following the first held in 2019. This 3-day workshop at the Green Bank Observatory will focus on topics related to the role of oxygen in the universe, planets, and life, and how the rise of oxygen on Earth may (or may not) likely have analogs on other planets. Attendance is limited to 50 participants, by application only, and all registration and travel expenses will be covered.
Abstract submission and registration applications coming soon! Check the workshop website.
The Green Bank Blumberg Astrobiology workshops are supported by a grant from Unither Bioelectronique, in honor of Dr. Barry Blumberg, the late Chairman of its corporate parent’s Scientific Advisory Board.
New Version of gbtgridder
GBO has released a new version of the gbtgridder, the observatory supported tool used to grid GBT mapping observations into data cubes readable by, e.g., CASA. This new version provides more control over the input parameters, such as the telescope beam size, and it now uses cygrid (Winkel, Lenz & Flöer 2016) to do the gridding, which makes it 10 times faster than the previous version. The new gbtgridder can be used at GBO through the gbtgridder command. The previous version is still available through the gbtgridder-classic command. The source code and documentation can be found on the GBO github repositories. If you have any questions please reach out to Kasey Purcell (ude.o1709041327arn@l1709041327lecru1709041327pk1709041327) and Pedro Salas (ude.o1709041327arn@s1709041327alasp1709041327). Happy gridding!
Are you an undergraduate or graduate student looking for an opportunity this summer to expand your academic and professional experience, working alongside scientists and staff in the field? Apply for one of our research student opportunities! Green Bank Observatory has several programs that offer a research experience during a 10-12 week summer residency. Students receive a stipend to offset housing and living expenses during their experience onsite in Green Bank.
These programs include:
The Undergraduate Summer Student Research Intern program is for undergraduate students or graduating college seniors who are U.S.citizens, are from an accredited U.S. Undergraduate Program, or are otherwise eligible to work in the United States. This experience is funded by the National Science Foundation as part of the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program.
The Physicists Inspiring the Next Generation (PING) program was created to expose traditionally underrepresented minorities to radio astronomy science and engineering. As part of this program, PING mentors will also have an intensive education outreach experience, serving as instructors and mentors for middle school students during a 2-week physics/astronomy research camp with the Green Bank Science Center. PING mentors will also work directly with a Green Bank scientist or engineer for an 8-10 week research experience, very similar to the REU program. The PING program can also support students who do not meet the REU guidelines, such as foreign undergraduate students.
The Graduate Summer Student Research Intern program is for graduate students who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States, enrolled in an accredited U.S. Graduate Program. Graduate intern funds are subject to availability, and we do not host graduate interns in Green Bank every Summer.
Starting dates for REU and internship positions are flexible, usually beginning in late May. These positions can run 10-12 weeks, based on the arrangement made between the student participant and their mentor. Applications are now open and the deadline is February 1, 2023 – both for student applications and recommendation letters.
Brandon Irvin joined the Digital Group of the Electronics Division this week as a Digital Engineer. He has previously worked at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as well as Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. He will be working on the GBT Active Surface, the various telescope servo systems, and other projects.
We give a hearty and official welcome to Evan Smith as a Scientific Data Analyst this October. Evan previously worked at GBO as a tour guide, worked with Richard Prestage on RFI mitigation techniques, along with being an REU student. Evan recently received his PhD from West Virginia University where he continued his work on RFI mitigation with DJ Pisano.
Adam Taylor has accepted the position of GBO Facilities Engineer/Maintenance Division Head. Adam is a licensed Professional Engineer, and has been previously employed with the USDA Forest Service as a Civil Engineer since 2012. He will start his new position in January 2023.
Marilyn Creager, who was previously hired as a technical trainee, is now a permanent member of the GBO Computer Information Systems team.
Angela Damery is the new Public Outreach Manager of the Green Bank Science Center. She previously served in education, administration, and development for several science education organizations including the Montshire Museum of Science, the Wade Institute for Science Education, and the Museum of Science in Boston.
The Science Center welcomes the public with interactive exhibits in the Catching the Wave Exhibit Hall and shopping and dining in the Galaxy Gift Shop and the Starlight Café. Presentations and site tours are offered at regular intervals throughout the day, and additional programs are scheduled throughout the month, including High Tech tours of the Jansky Lab, SETI tours, star parties, indoor StarLab programs, family science labs, and other special events. Classrooms and a computer lab are available for hosting school groups. Visitors are also welcome to take a self-guided walking tour of the Observatory. The Science Center is free, but fees are charged for all tours and some special events. Advanced registration is required for field trips and large groups. Days of operation and hours change seasonally. Learn more at our website.
Radio Astronomy Update celebrates more than 60 years of contributions to the forefront of astronomy by the telescopes of the Green Bank Observatory at Green Bank. During this time researchers using these telescopes have made major advances in our understanding of topics as diverse as chemical processes in interstellar space, the early phases of star formation, the assembly of galaxies and galaxy clusters at high redshift, the properties of black holes, and SETI. Participants will also have the opportunity to use two radio telescopes on site. Dates: June 5,6,7, 2023.
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence explores the current state of the art in SETI experiments focusing on the Breakthrough Listen project conducted at the GBT and other telescopes around the world. Participants will engage in a project using radio data. Dates: June 8,9,10, 2023.
Find more information and registration here.
Physics Inspiring the Next Generation (PING): Exploring the Cosmos began as a collaboration between the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) and Green Bank Observatory to expose traditionally underrepresented minorities to science and engineering with a focus on physics and radio-astronomy. While the program targets two former White House initiatives, My Brother’s Keeper which is working to address the education needs of young men of color, and a second effort to promote interest in science among girls, all current 8th graders are welcome to apply.
Students will be immersed, on location, in the research activities of this national research center. Students will work in small teams supported by an undergraduate student mentor and an Observatory staff scientist (astronomer, physicist, engineer, etc.) to conduct research by observing the universe with a 40-foot diameter radio telescope. Supplemental educational activities including bench experiences complement the primary research theme. In addition, educational seminars and fun whole group activities like games and outdoor recreation will be incorporated to achieve a fulfilling and valuable camp experience. Application deadline May 23, 2023. Open to current 8th graders (rising 9th graders).
Daniela De Paulis, GBO Artist in Residence & Baruch Bloomberg Astrobiology Fellow
Daniela de Paulis is a former contemporary dancer and a media artist exhibiting internationally. She is also a licensed radio operator. Her artistic practice is informed by Space in its widest meaning. Since 2009 she has been implementing radio technologies and philosophies in her art projects. She is currently Artist in Residence at the SETI Institute and Artist in Residence at the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia, with the support of the Baruch Blumberg Fellowship in Astrobiology. For her latest project, she is collaborating with the European Space Agency, INAF (Italian Research Institute for Radio Astronomy), SETI, and the Green Bank Observatory, among others, for an artistic project to debut in 2023. Learn more about Daniela and her work at her website.
Analysis of radar images and optical data obtained by NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) investigation team shows the spacecraft’s kinetic impact with its target asteroid, Dimorphos, successfully altered the asteroid’s orbit. This marks the first time that humanity has purposely changed the motion of a celestial object and the first full-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology. The GBT’s large collecting area makes it extremely sensitive and a prime receiving station for detecting faint radar echoes. Read more.
The GBT has revealed new information about mysterious radio bubbles surrounding a supermassive black hole. In a new paper studying the galaxy cluster MS0735, “We’re looking at one of the most energetic outbursts ever seen from a supermassive black hole,” says Jack Orlowski-Scherer, lead author on this publication, “This is what happens when you feed a black hole and it violently burps out a giant amount of energy.”
MS0735 was observed using the MUSTANG-2 receiver on the GBT. This allowed astronomers to use the Sunyaev-Zeldovich (SZ) effect, a distortion of the relic radiation from the Big Bang, to develop a model for the gas pressure in the galaxy cluster and the cavities. “With the power of MUSTANG-2, we are able to see into these cavities and start to determine precisely what they are filled with, and why they don’t collapse under pressure,” elaborates Tony Mroczkowski, an astronomer with the European Southern Observatory who was part of this new research. Read more.
The search for technosignatures, signals created by extraterrestrial intelligent life, often focuses on relatively nearby stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. A new approach will review existing data, but rather than looking at single stars, the new technique will instead focus on distant galaxies, galaxy groups and galaxy clusters containing hundreds of billions of stars that could host potentially habitable planets. By placing new limits on the prevalence of very powerful radio transmitters in galaxies and other cosmic objects, a very bright signal created by extraterrestrial intelligence just might be revealed. Read more.
Since the GBT’s completion in 2000, staff perform annual maintenance to ensure the structural integrity of the telescope, but many components are nearing the end of their planned lifetime, including the track’s top layer of “wear plates” and epoxy grout between the plates and foundation. To revitalize the GBT and allow it to operate for the next twenty years, its track and grout must be replaced. Thanks to a new award from the NSF, this work will take place over the next four years. $5.3 million dollars will be used to purchase 48 new wear plates, and grout will be replaced in sections through 2026. Read more.
Associated Universities, Inc. and NRAO have awarded the 2022 Karl G. Jansky Lectureship to Professor Françoise Combes, Chair of Galaxies and Cosmology at the College of France and Astronomer at the Paris Observatory. The Jansky Lectureship is an honor established by the trustees of AUI to recognize outstanding contributions to the advancement of radio astronomy.
Professor Combes is being honored for her significant contributions to the fields of galaxy evolution, the interstellar medium, dark matter, and radio astronomy. Her expertise in a wide range of fields over the course of an outstanding scientific career has extended her influence to the entire breadth of astronomy. She is the author of more than 1,200 publications and more than 20 books.
She received a Ph.D in astrophysics from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, and her work has been recognized by numerous honors and awards. These include Fellowship in the American Astronomical Society, the R.M. Petrie Prize of the Canadian Astronomical Society, the Tycho Brahe Prize from the European Astronomical Society, the Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award, and an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Astronomical Society.
A longtime scientific editor of Astronomy & Astrophysics, she has served in advisory roles for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, the Square Kilometer Array, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the International Astronomical Union.
Combes will deliver her Jansky Lectures, entitled, “Symbiosis between black holes and galaxies,” in Charlottesville, VA, on Feb. 14, 2023; the Green Bank Observatory in Green Bank, WV, on Feb. 15, 2023; and in Socorro, NM, on Feb. 17, 2023.
First awarded in 1966, the Jansky Lectureship is named in honor of the man who, in 1932, first detected radio waves from a cosmic source. Karl Jansky’s discovery of radio waves from the central region of the Milky Way started the science of radio astronomy.
Other recipients of the Jansky award include eight Nobel laureates (Drs. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Edward Purcell, Charles Townes, Arno Penzias, Robert Wilson, William Fowler, Joseph Taylor, and Reinhard Genzel) as well as Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, discoverer of the first pulsar, and Vera Rubin, discoverer of dark matter in galaxies.
A complete list of past recipients is here.
Frank Drake, one of the first scientists to come to Green Bank and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, died at his home in Aptos, California on September 2, 2022.
After receiving his PhD from Harvard, Frank joined the NRAO in 1958. Using the new 85-foot radio telescope in Green Bank to study radio emission from planets, he observed the remarkably high temperature on the surface of Venus due to the greenhouse effect and then the non-thermal radiation from Jupiter which he correctly suggested was due to Van Allen type radiation belts. During his time in Green Bank, Frank initiated Project Ozma, the first serious and scientific search for signs of extraterrestrial life, and developed the famous and now-eponymous Drake equation.
Find a list of our most recent refereed papers with previously unpublished GBT data (original or archival), or a “significant” reanalysis of previously published data.
GBO has been sharing news and information about its operations and science in bi-weekly Zoom meetings every other Wednesday at 1 pm EST (except where noted). The recordings are linked at our website, and include a description of topics and presenters in the recording descriptions. If you would like to watch live, you can also register at our website to be subscribed to the presentations.
If you ever need images of GBO or the GBT, or any of the Observatory’s major events, you can find them on the GBO Flickr account page, which is accessible from the GBO homepage and links embedded here. You can also watch our bi-monthly GBO Community Zooms, science lunches, and recordings from meetings and workshops on the GBO YouTube Channel.