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NOAO News & Reports


August 14, 2019

Automated Observing Network Inaugurated at SOAR Telescope: New telescope network to rapidly follow up on the changing night sky

Credit: SOAR/Bruno Quint

While the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will soon discover millions of time varying sources—such as supernovae and erupting young stars—quick follow up observations are needed to understand these events. To meet the challenge of developing a network of telescopes that can be accessed with a touch of a button, four observatories have joined forces to create the Astronomical Event Observatory Network (AEON). The SOAR telescope at CTIO has just completed the first observing night for the network.

Read more in NOAO Press Release 19-08.


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July 24, 2019

Fastest Eclipsing Binary: A valuable target for gravitational wave studies

Credit: P. Marenfeld & NOAO/AURA/NSF; Inset animation: Robert Hurt

Observations made with KPED, a new instrument developed for use at the Kitt Peak 2.1-meter telescope, have led to the discovery of the fastest eclipsing white dwarf binary yet known. Clocking in with an orbital period of only 6.91 minutes, the rapidly orbiting stars are expected to be one of the strongest sources of gravitational waves detectable with LISA, the future space-based gravitational wave detector.

Read more in NOAO press release 19-07.


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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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