NOAO Home Page News Archive
The last 5 news items that have appeared on the NOAO Home Page.
August 19, 2016
Image Credit: NASA/Tim Pyle, inset: C. Baranec
A five-planet system revealed by NASA's Kepler K2 mission
Astronomers using data from the Kepler spacecraft have discovered five planets in orbit around a nearby bright star. The planets have orbital periods ranging from 15 days to 1 year and sizes from 2.5 times the radius of the Earth to approximately the size of Jupiter. Because the central star is bright, future transit observations may be able to characterize the atmospheres of the planets. The Robo-AO adaptive optics system on the Kitt Peak 2.1m telescope was used to rule out a non-planetary origin for the transit signals.
Read more from AAS Nova.
August 09, 2016
Image Credit: R. Lafever, J. Moustakas/DESI Collaboration, P. Marenfeld/NOAO/AURA/NSF & E. Acosta/LSST/AURA/NSF
Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument Enters Construction Phase
The 3-D spectroscopic sky-mapping project, DESI (Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument), has received formal approval from the US Department of Energy to begin construction. Installation at the Kitt Peak Mayall telescope will begin in 2017. Designed to measure the role of dark energy in the expansion history of the Universe, DESI will measure the redshifts of more than 30 million galaxies and quasars and create a map of the Universe out to a distance of 10 billion light years.
Read more in the LBL Press Release.
July 20, 2016
Image Credit: Karen Teramura/IfA, Miloslav Druckmüller, NASA
Trove of Planets Discovered with Kepler and Earth-based Observatories
Once thought to be damaged beyond repair, NASA’s Kepler telescope survives and thrives, discovering new worlds beyond the solar system. A team of astronomers has reported over 100 new planets found in recent Kepler data. Extensive ground-based observations were carried out to sift the real planets from false positives. The team, which includes NOAO’s own Mark Everett, used a suite of facilities, including Gemini North and Keck Observatory, in the study.
July 07, 2016
Image Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute (JHUAPL/SwRI) & S. Sheppard, et. al.
Kuiper Belt Edge
Two new Kuiper Belt objects, 2014 FZ71 and 2015 FJ345, are among the most distant bodies in the Solar System. They are always further than 50AU from the Sun, and only Sedna and 2012 VP113 have larger perihelia. The discovery was made using data from DECam on the Blanco 4-m telescope at CTIO.
June 20, 2016
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Young Super-Neptune Offers Clues to the Origin of Close-In Exoplanets
A team of astronomers has confirmed the existence of a young planet, only 11 million years old, that orbits very close to its star (at 0.05 AU), with an orbital period of 5.4 days. Approximately 5 times the size of the Earth, the new planet is a “super-Neptune” and the youngest such planet known. Observations with ARCoIRIS, the new infrared spectrograph on the 4-m Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), played a critical role in measuring the size of the planet. NOAO astronomer David James is a coauthor on the study.
Read more in NOAO Press Release 16-02