NOAO < NOAO Home Page News Archive

NOAO Home Page News Archive

The last 5 news items that have appeared on the NOAO Home Page.

September 19, 2016

Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Pluto Spray Paints its Moon Red

The red color near the north pole of Charon, Pluto’s largest moon, originates on Pluto. Once a mystery, it now appears that the red color of “Mordor Macula” arises as methane gas escapes from Pluto’s atmosphere and freezes onto the icy surface of Charon’s north pole. UV light from the Sun then transforms the methane into reddish organic materials. The New Horizons team that reported this result includes NOAO astronomer Tod Lauer.

Read more in the NASA Press Release.

September 12, 2016

Image Credit: K. Vivas & CTIO/NOAO/AURA/NSF

Ultra-faint stellar systems discovered toward the Sagittarius stream

Astronomers have discovered ultra-faint stellar systems in the direction of the Sagittarius stream, the stream of stars that is being pulled out of the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy as it orbits our own Milky Way galaxy. Similar in size to globular clusters but much fainter, the new stellar systems straddle the fuzzy boundary between dwarf galaxies and stellar clusters. The discovery was made by a team of astronomers using data from the Dark Energy Survey being carried out at CTIO. Team members include NOAO astronomers Kathy Vivas, Tim Abbott, David James, Chris Smith, and Alistair Walker. Read More...

September 02, 2016

Image Credit: L. Huang, P. Marenfeld, and K. Olsen/NOAO/AURA/NSF.

September 2016
NOAO Newsletter

The September 2016 NOAO Newsletter is online and ready to download. It contains sections on Science Highlights, System Science Capabilities, System Observing: Telescopes and Instruments, and NOAO Operations & Staff.

On the Cover
This map, created using the NOAO Data Lab Data Discovery Tool, shows the total exposure in science frames taken with any of the DECam, or KPNO and CTIO Mosaic imagers. The sky has been rotated to center on the Dark Energy Survey “footprint.”

August 29, 2016

Image Credit: Pieter van Dokkum, Roberto Abraham, Gemini Observatory/AURA.

More Than Meets the Eye: A Massive Galaxy That’s Nearly All Dark Matter

The ultra-diffuse galaxy Dragonfly 44, located in the Coma Cluster of galaxies, has the mass and size of the Milky Way galaxy, but very few stars. The other 99.99% of the mass is a form of dark matter. Observations made with the Gemini and Keck Observatories were used to infer the mass of the galaxy from the motions of its stars and to take a census of its globular cluster population.

Read more in the Gemini Press Release.

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.

Link to all previous news items [326].