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The Orion Nebula is home to hundreds of young stars and even younger protostars known as proplyds. Many of these nascent systems will go on to develop planets, while others will have their planet-forming dust and gas blasted away by the fierce ultraviolet radiation emitted by massive O-type stars that lurk nearby.
A team of astronomers from Canada and the United States, including the IfA's Jonathan Wiliams, has used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to study the often deadly relationship between highly luminous O-type stars and nearby protostars in the Orion Nebula. Their data reveal that protostars within 0.1 light-years (about 600 billion miles) of an O-type star are doomed to have their cocoons of dust and gas stripped away in just a few millions years, much faster than planets are able to form.
University of Arizona researchers snapped images of a planet outside our solar system with an Earth-based telescope using essentially the same type of imaging sensor found in digital cameras instead of an infrared detector. Although the technology still has a very long way to go, the accomplishment takes astronomers a small step closer to what will be needed to image earth-like planets around other stars. IfA astronomers provided some near-infrared data taken with the Gemini Near Infrared Coronagraphic Imager (NICI) that was used in the analysis.
The American Physical Society web page, “Physics Newsmakers of 2013” says under the heading “Exoplanets,” “2013 was another banner year for the search for another Earth” and specifically mentions two discoveries that IfA astronomers participated in: Nader Haghighipour was part of the team that found three planets orbiting star Gliese 667C in the habitable zone, and Erik Petigura and Andrew Howard were among the authors of a study that estimated that one in five stars like the sun has planets about the size of Earth and a surface temperature conducive to life, making it statistically likely that the nearest sun-like star with an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone is only 12 light-years away.
The Victor and Peggy Brandstrom Pavel Director’s Chair in Astronomy at the IfA has been established with a $2 million gift that is part of an overall $10 million estate gift to UH. These funds will give the IfA director flexibility to enhance the IfA's programs, and advance the education and research missions of IfA. Funds will be used to recruit and retain talented faculty, support quality research and provide seed research funding, particularly among promising junior faculty.
This gift was originally announced in early 2013 without the donors being named, but the Pavels gave the UH Foundation permission to acknowledge them posthumously and to explain the reason for the gift: They believed deeply in the value of science education.
IfA Director Dr. Günther Hasinger said, "With an endowed chair we will be able to bring some of the best faculty members and graduate students here because it gives flexibility that otherwise is not possible." Hasinger continued, "IfA contributes to our very understanding of the universe. It also excites young people and inspires them to think about careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields."
Dr. Christoph Baranec of the University of Hawaii at Manoa Institute for Astronomy (IfA) has been selected as one of 126 recipients of a 2014 Sloan Research Fellowship, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced today in New York. Awarded annually since 1955, the two-year fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as the next generation of scientific leaders.
University of Hawaii at Manoa astronomer David Sanders is one of a group of scientists who have combined observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer and Herschel infrared space telescopes, and ground-based telescopes in Hawaii to assemble a coherent picture of the formation history of the most massive galaxies in the universe, from their initial burst of violent star formation through their appearance as high stellar-density galaxy cores and to their ultimate destiny as giant ellipticals.
University of Hawaii at Manoa astronomer Regina Jorgenson has obtained the first image that shows the structure of a normal galaxy in the early universe. The results were presented at the winter American Astronomical Society meeting being held this week near Washington, DC.
The galaxy, called DLA2222-0946, is so faint that it is virtually invisible at all but a few specific wavelengths. It is a member of a class of galaxies thought to be the progenitors of spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way.
Solar telescope reflects his forward-thinking commitment to scientific education, research
The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) have renamed the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope under construction in Maui, Hawaii, the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. The name memorializes the late senator’s profound commitment to fundamental scientific research and discovery, particularly in astronomy.
When completed in 2019, the Inouye telescope will be the world’s premier ground-based solar observatory – more powerful than any other in the world. Armed with this new instrument, astronomers will be equipped to glean new insights into solar phenomena and discover new information for understanding how our nearest star works, and for protecting the nation’s vital space-based assets, the power grid and communication and weather satellites.
Using the Fiber-Multi-Object Spectrograph (FMOS) mounted on the Subaru Telescope, a team of astronomers participating in the Cosmological Evolution Survey (COSMOS) has found that galaxies, over nine billion years ago, provided a nurturing environment for the birth of new stars at remarkable rates while doing so in an orderly manner.
"FMOS has clearly revolutionized our ability to study how galaxies form and evolve across cosmic time," says David Sanders, the principal investigator of the FMOS-COSMOS project at the IfA. "It is currently the most powerful instrument we have to study the large numbers of objects needed to understand galaxies of all sizes, shapes and masses -- from the largest ellipticals to the smallest dwarfs."
This segment aired on CBS This Morning on November 30. It is an interview with Bob Parks, executive director of the International Dark Sky Association. They start off talking about Comet ISON and then move into the interview with Parks.
Dr. Donald N. B. Hall of the University of Hawaii at Manoa has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as a AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. As part of the astronomy section, Hall was elected as an AAAS Fellow “for distinguished contributions to the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomy at the University of Hawaii and on Mauna Kea, and infrared telescope, instrument, and sensor technology.”
Astronomers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the University of California, Berkeley now estimate that one in five stars like the sun have planets about the size of Earth and a surface temperature conducive to life. This conclusion is based on a statistical analysis of all observations from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope.
A team of astronomers has found the first Earth-sized planet outside the solar system that has a rocky composition like that of Earth. This exoplanet, known as Kepler-78b, orbits its star very closely every 8.5 hours, making it much too hot to support life. The results are being published in the journal Nature.
Dr. George H. Herbig, astronomer emeritus at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, has died at the age of 93. He joined the faculty of the UH Institute for Astronomy in 1987 after a long and distinguished career at the Lick Observatory, now part of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and he attained emeritus status at UHM in 2001.
An international team of astronomers has discovered an exotic young planet that is not orbiting a star. This free-floating planet, dubbed PSO J318.5-22, is just 80 light-years away from Earth and has a mass only six times that of Jupiter. The planet formed a mere 12 million years ago—a newborn in planet lifetimes.
If your cell phone is dropping calls, the problem may be radio waves from the sun. Our nearest star sometimes unleashes huge eruptions of hot gas, called solar storms, that carry billions of tons of matter in our direction. These storms can be accompanied by solar radio bursts, which can damage many of the technologies that we rely on in our everyday lives.
The top scientific conference in the fields of space optics, imaging and surveillance is being held on Maui this week, with the participation and support of the University of Hawai‘i. The 14th Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference or AMOS opened September 10, 2013 and runs through September 13, 2013. Watch the video.
Brendan Bowler and Andrew Mann are the winners of the 2013 University Research Council student awards for research excellence. Both winners are doctoral students, and each has been awarded a $1,000 prize from the University Research Council and the Research Corporation of the University of Hawai‘i (RCUH).
The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project announced on July 25 that all of the scientific authorities of the TMT partners have signed a Master Agreement. The Master Agreement document establishes a formal agreement amongst the international parties defining the project goals, establishing a governance structure and defining member party rights, obligations and benefits.
On July 15, the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope on Haleakalā discovered an asteroid about the size of a football field that will make its closest approach to Earth—at a distance about 11 times that of the Moon—on July 22.
Former NASA astronaut Ed Lu, CEO of the B612 Foundation, will give the next Sheraton Waikiki Explorers of the Universe public lecture, “Astronomy Saves the World: Protecting the Planet from Asteroid Impacts,” at 7:30 p.m. on August 15 at the UH Mānoa Kennedy Theatre. Tickets are free but required. To obtain them, go to http://uhifa.ticketbud.com. Do not call Kennedy Theatre.
Gemini Observatory’s Planet-Finding Campaign finds that, around many types of stars, distant gas-giant planets are rare and prefer to cling close to their parent stars. The impact on theories of planetary formation could be significant.
More than 10,000 asteroids and comets that can pass near Earth have now been discovered. The 10,000th near-Earth object, asteroid 2013 MZ5, was first detected on the night of June 18, 2013, by the Pan-STARRS-1 telescope, located on the 10,000-foot (convert) summit of the Haleakala crater on Maui. Managed by the University of Hawaii, the PanSTARRS survey receives NASA funding.
The James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT), one of the world's leading astronomical observatories, has served the UK and international communities with unique and forefront capabilities that have blazed the trail in submillimetre astronomy, consistently leading the world in productivity and impact for more than 25 years. Despite these successes, the UK’s funding agency for astronomy, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), can no longer support the JCMT beyond 30th September 2014. The observatory, its instrumentation and its support equipment are therefore being offered to the global astronomical community through this Announcement of Opportunity.
An international team of researchers, including University of Hawaii at Manoa astronomer Brent Tully, has mapped the motions of structures of the nearby universe in greater detail than ever before. The maps are presented as a video, which provides a dynamic three-dimensional representation of the universe through the use of rotation, panning, and zooming.
Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa NASA Astrobiology Institute (UHNAI) have discovered high concentrations of boron in a Martian meteorite. When present in its oxidized form (borate), boron may have played a key role in the formation of RNA, one of the building blocks for life.
By comparing infrared and X-ray background signals across the same stretch of sky, an international team of astronomers, including University of Hawaii at Manoa astronomer Guenther Hasinger, has discovered evidence of a significant number of black holes that accompanied the first stars in the universe.
IfA astronomers Karen Meech and Jacqueline Keane talk about the latest data.
IfA astronomers Karen Meech and Jacqueline Keane talk about the latest data.
A Time video featuring IfA astronomer Nader Haghighipour and the W. M. Keck Observatory.
Does intelligent life exist beyond Earth? If so, how might we find it? These will be some of the questions discussed at the second Sheraton Waikiki Explorers of the Universe lecture when Dr. Jill Tarter, chair of the SETI Institute, speaks at the UH Manoa Kennedy Theatre on May 3 at 7:30 p.m.
The cancellation of earmarks by the U.S. Congress in 2011 left Pan-STARRS, one of Hawai‘i’s flagship programs, $10M short of the funds needed to complete the historic 2-telescope system — and on the verge of folding. Thanks to an anonymous $3M gift, Pan-STARRS will survive the cuts and continue astronomy research of global import.
After nearly a decade of careful observations, an international team of astronomers, including two from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, has measured the distance to our neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, more accurately than ever before.
A new experiment simulating conditions in deep space reveals that the complex building blocks of life could have been created on icy interplanetary dust and then carried to Earth, jump-starting life. Dr. Ralf Kaiser, a chemist who is a team member of the UH NASA Astrobiology Institute, participated in the research.
In the realm of potential planetary disasters, asteroids are among the ones to fear—like the meteorite that hit Russia today, they can inflict serious damage on Earth. With the aid of a $5-million grant from NASA, a University of Hawaii team of astronomers is developing ATLAS, a system to identify dangerous asteroids before their final plunge to Earth.
A video of this Frontiers of Astronomy Community Event is now available.
A team of astronomers from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Hawaii at Manoa has found that 17 percent of all sun-like stars have planets 1 to 2 times the diameter of Earth in close orbits. The finding, based on an analysis of the first three years of data from NASA’s Kepler mission, was announced January 8 at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, California.
Part of the gift will give the IfA Director flexibility to enhance the IfA's programs, and advance the education and research missions of IfA. Funds will be used to recruit and retain talented faculty, support quality research and provide seed research funding, particularly among promising junior faculty.
IfA astronomers made new observations of asteroid 2011 AG5 that show that this asteroid, previously thought to have a significant potential to threaten Earth, no longer poses a significant risk of impact.
Using computer simulations, scientists from Hawaii and Finland have figured out how wide binary stars—two stars that orbit each other at a distance up to a light-year—form.
A group of astronomers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the U.S. Mainland, Canada, and Europe recently used the twin telescopes of the W.M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, to conduct a census of the brightest, but until now unseen, galaxies in the distant Universe, bringing astronomers one step closer to understanding how galaxies form and evolve.
On November 30, construction at the ATST site began following a formal Hawaiian Blessing. The event was attended by Board Chair Dan Clemens, AURA President William Smith, IfA Director Gunther Hasinger, ATST co-investigator Michael Knoelker, and others.
An international team of astronomers known as the SEEDS project has taken images of a very large planet around a star in the constellation Andromeda. This star, called Kappa Andromedae b (Kappa And b, for short), is 2.5 times as massive as the Sun and only about 30 million years old. The images were obtained with two infrared cameras mounted on the Subaru Telescope, HiCIAO and IRCS that were built at the IfA by K. Hodapp and A. Tokunaga, respectively.
Taking an image of a faint planet very close to an overwhelmingly bright star requires a combination of several advanced technologies: adaptive optics to sharpen up the images, coronographic optics to block most of the star's light, infrared cameras to detect the faint glow of the planet, and sophisticated data reduction software to separate the planet's image from the residual glare of the star. The paper describing this work, soon to be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, points out that the newly discovered super-Jupiter is just at the upper mass limit for planets (13 times the mass of Jupiter), and may actually produce some energy by the nuclear fusion of deuterium.
IfA astronomer Michael Liu and IfA graduate student Brendan Bowler have worked with Evgenya Shkolnik, a former postdoctoral fellow at IfA who is now an astronomer at Lowell Observatory, to create a set of directions for finding exoplanets (planets around other stars). Their paper, recently published in The Astrophysical Journal, examined new and existing data from stars and brown dwarfs that are less than 300 million years old. Two telescopes on Mauna Kea (Keck and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope) played significant roles in the project.
A decision of the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources, issued November 9, 2012, reaffirms the granting of the December 2, 2010 Conservation District Use Permit for the construction of the ATST on Haleakalā.
Following the announcement, IfA Director Günther Hasinger said, "The ATST will lead to tremendous advances in our understanding of the Sun, including those aspects of its variable activity that affect life on Earth. We are very pleased that the Land Board recognized these benefits in reaffirming the permit that it granted in December 2010."
Combining observations from Mauna Kea with data taken by telescopes in space, astronomers at the Institute for Astronomy (University of Hawaii at Manoa) and their collaborators have developed a technique that allows them to map collisions of giant galaxy clusters in three dimensions.
In this season of ghosts, goblins, and zombies, the UH NASA Astrobiology Institute (UH NAI) and the Institute for Astronomy (IfA) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa present “It’s Not a Zombie Apocalypse: Scientific Views of Threats to Humanity.” This Frontiers of Astronomy Community Event will take place on Tuesday, October 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the UH Manoa Art Building Auditorium. Admission is free, parking on campus costs $6, and costumes are optional.
Axes and machetes might protect us from imaginary zombies, but what about real threats to human existence? They might come from the sky, from natural phenomena on Earth, from human activities, or from some combination thereof. These are real, though not necessarily immediate.
The beautiful PS1 image of the Lagoon-Trifid region is the October 12 Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD).
Dr. Olivier Guyon, who worked at IfA during the final years of his PhD thesis research, has received one of 23 MacArthur Fellowships, also known as the “genius grants.” Recipients receive a $500,000 no-strings-attached grant over five years. While at IfA, Guyon worked with IfA faculty member François Roddier. He received his PhD from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in 2002 and now works at both the Subaru telescope on Hawai‘i island and at the University of Arizona, where he is an assistant professor. He specializes in designing telescopes and the instruments for them.
An international research team used images from the Pan-STARRS 1 survey telescope at Haleakalā Observatories on Maui to probe a distant galaxy some 9.5 billion light-years away. The dying star is the most distant stellar explosion of its kind ever studied.
A team of astronomers that includes Dr. Nader Haghighipour of the University of Hawaii at Manoa has discovered the first two-planet system orbiting two stars. The announcement was made today at a symposium taking place as part of the triennial International Astronomical Union meeting being held in Beijing.