e-News: December 2014

 

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e-News: November 2014

 

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CASCA’s Ethics Statement

In light of recent events, we would like to take this opportunity to inform all interested parties that CASCA has adopted an Ethics Statement.  CASCA does not condone behaviour contrary to this statement, including sexism, abusive behaviours, and harassment in the professional workplace.

Regarding conduct towards others, the Statement explicitly states, “All people encountered in one’s professional life must be treated with respect and dignity.  Discrimination, harassment and abusive behaviours, be it against colleagues, students, or members of the media or the public, are never acceptable.  Equal opportunities must be provided regardless of “race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for an offense for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered” (quoted from “The Canadian Human Rights Act”).”

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Birth of Planets Revealed in Astonishing Detail in ALMA’s ‘Best Image Ever’

Astronomers have captured the best image ever of planet formation around an infant star as part of the testing and verification process for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array’s (ALMA) new high-resolution capabilities.

https://public.nrao.edu/images/non-gallery/2014/c-blue/11-05-HL-Tau/HLTau_nrao.jpg
ALMA image of the young star HL Tau and its protoplanetary disk. This best image ever of planet formation reveals multiple rings and gaps that herald the presence of emerging planets as they sweep their orbits clear of dust and gas. Credit: ALMA (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ); C. Brogan, B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

This revolutionary new image reveals in astonishing detail the planet-forming disk surrounding HL Tau, a Sun-like star located approximately 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus.

ALMA uncovered never-before-seen features in this system, including multiple concentric rings separated by clearly defined gaps. These structures suggest that planet formation is already well underway around this remarkably young star.

“These features are almost certainly the result of young planet-like bodies that are being formed in the disk. This is surprising since HL Tau is no more than a million years old and such young stars are not expected to have large planetary bodies capable of producing the structures we see in this image,” said ALMA Deputy Director Stuartt Corder.

All stars are believed to form within clouds of gas and dust that collapse under gravity. Over time, the surrounding dust particles stick together, growing into sand, pebbles, and larger-size rocks, which eventually settle into a thin protoplanetary disk where asteroids, comets, and planets form.

Once these planetary bodies acquire enough mass, they dramatically reshape the structure of their natal disk, fashioning rings and gaps as the planets sweep their orbits clear of debris and shepherd dust and gas into tighter and more confined zones.

The new ALMA image reveals these striking features in exquisite detail, providing the clearest picture to date of planet formation. Images with this level of detail were previously only seen in computer models and artist concepts. ALMA, living up to its promise, has now provided direct proof that nature and theory are very much in agreement.

“This new and unexpected result provides an incredible view of the process of planet formation. Such clarity is essential to understand how our own Solar System came to be and how planets form throughout the Universe,” said Tony Beasley, director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Virginia, which manages ALMA operations for astronomers in North America.

HL Tau is hidden in visible light behind a massive envelope of dust and gas. Since ALMA observes at much longer wavelengths, it is able to peer through the intervening dust to study the processes right at the core of this cloud. “This is truly one of the most remarkable images ever seen at these wavelengths. The level of detail is so exquisite that it’s even more impressive than many optical images. The fact that we can see planets being born will help us understand not only how planets form around other stars but also the origin of our own Solar System,” said NRAO astronomer Crystal Brogan.

ALMA’s new high-resolution capabilities were achieved by spacing the antennas up to 15 kilometers apart. This baseline at millimeter wavelengths enabled a resolution of 35 milliarcseconds, which is equivalent to a penny as seen from more than 110 kilometers away.

“Such a resolution can only be achieved with the long baseline capabilities of ALMA and provides astronomers with new information that is impossible to collect with any other facility, including the best optical observatories,” noted ALMA Director Pierre Cox.

These long baselines fulfill one of ALMA’s major objectives and mark an impressive technological and engineering milestone. Future observations at ALMA’s longest possible baseline of 16 kilometers will produce even clearer images and continue to expand our understanding of the cosmos.

“This observation illustrates the dramatic and important results that come from NSF supporting world-class instrumentation such as ALMA,” said Fleming Crim, the National Science Foundation assistant director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences. “ALMA is delivering on its enormous potential for revealing the distant Universe and is playing a unique and transformational role in astronomy.”

Original press release: https://public.nrao.edu/news/pressreleases/planet-formation-alma

e-News: October 2014

 

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e-News: August/September 2014

 

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On-Site Construction Begins on the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii; Watch Worldwide by Webcast on October 7

On October 7, 2014, a groundbreaking and blessing ceremony for the next-generation Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will launch a multi-national $1.4 billion project near the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

Although access to the TMT construction site will be limited due to the area’s sensitive environment and harsh physical conditions, the ceremony will be fully accessible via a live-stream webcast.

George Takei, noted actor, director and author, known for his role in the television series Star Trek, will present pre-recorded science segments during the live webcast. Dr. Robert Hurt, researcher, science podcaster and lecturer, will host the webcast, available at tmt.org/buildingTMT .

Next-Generation Discoveries from a Next-Generation Observatory

“This is an exciting moment as we begin construction of TMT. Its giant mirror, nearly 100 feet across, promises the highest definition views of planets orbiting nearby stars and the first stars and galaxies in the distant universe,” said Edward Stone, Executive Director, TMT International Observatory.

The TMT International Observatory (TIO) is an international partnership with members comprised of the California Institute of Technology, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Japan, and the University of California. India recently received approval from the Union Cabinet of India to join the TMT project this fall, and Canada is aiming to join as a member in spring 2015.

Initial activities in Hawaii include site preparation and grading, and offsite work has begun in earnest as well. In China, partners are designing the telescope’s fully articulated main science steering mirror system and developing the laser guide star system. Japan has produced over sixty special zero thermal-expansion glass mirror blanks for the main mirror and is designing the telescope structure in detail. Fabricating the mirror support system is ongoing in India. The adaptive optics facility is in final design and the enclosure is ready for construction in Canada. The mirror control system is in final design in California.

“With profound respect for the culture, environment, and values, and thanks to the people of Hawaii, we appreciate the opportunity to build this revolutionary facility for expanding our understanding of the universe,” said TIO Board Chair Henry Yang. “This is a remarkable partnership among institutions in five nations, in cooperation with the University of Hawaii, to achieve a shared, visionary goal. We are grateful for the hard work and outstanding support of so many, including the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, over the past decade to reach this important and meaningful milestone.”

Traditional Hawaiian Groundbreaking and Blessing Ceremony

Henry Yang, TIO Board Chair and Chancellor of the University of California Santa Barbara, will deliver the October 7 groundbreaking and blessing program’s opening remarks followed by Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor William Kenoi. A traditional Hawaiian ceremony will conclude the program.

“TMT has made a commitment to the people of Hawaii to work within a plan created by the Office of Mauna Kea Management for responsible development on Mauna Kea,” said Sandra Dawson, TMT’s Manager of Hawaii Community Affairs. “Respect for the community and Mauna Kea is the cornerstone of our continuing stewardship.”

Webcast Viewing of the Ceremony

The webcast will begin at 11:15 a.m. HST on October 7, 2014. Visit TMT.org/buildingTMT to watch the ceremony live stream, explore event information, connect via social media, and view the multimedia archive of the event afterwards. Viewers worldwide may send greetings to TMT (@TMTHawaii) via the hashtag #buildingTMT .

Original press release: http://www.tmt.org/news-center/site-construction-begins-thirty-meter-telescope-hawaii-watch-worldwide-webcast

Début de la construction du Télescope de Trente-Mètres à Hawaii Accès audiovisuel par Webcast le 7 octobre

Le 7 octobre 2014 auront lieu l’inauguration et une cérémonie de bénédiction pour le télescope du trente mètres (TMT), un projet de $1.4 milliard situé près du sommet du Mauna Kea à Hawaii.

Bien que l’accès au chantier du TMT sera limité en raison de l’environnement précaire et des conditions physiques imposantes du site, la cérémonie sera retransmise en direct par internet.

L’éminent acteur, metteur en scène et auteur, George Takei, bien connu pour sa participation à la série Star Trek, présentera des segments à saveur scientifique durant la presentation. Le chercheur, vulgarisateur scientifique, et chargé de cours, Dr. Robert Hurt, sera l’hôte de cette présentation que l’on pourra suivre à tmt.org/buildingTMT .

Découvertes anticipées d’un observatoire de nouvelle génération

“Nous vivons des moments de grande intensité alors que nous entamons la construction du TMT. Avec son mirroir géant de plus de 30m de diamètre, le TMT offrira des images d’une résolution inégalée pour des systèmes planétaires autour d’étoiles proches et des premières étoiles et galaxies dans l’univers lointain” disait Edward Stone, Directeur Exécutif de l’Observatoire international TMT.

L’Observatoire international TMT (TIO) est un partenariat international dont les membres proviennent de l’Institut de technologie de Californie, les Observatoires astronomiques nationaux de l’académie chinoise des sciences, les Instituts de sciences naturelles au Japon, et l’Université de Californie. L’Inde a récemment reçu l’approbationde son cabinet d’union pour joindre le project TMT cet automne; le Canada a le but de se joindre en tant que membre au printemps 2015.

Les activités préliminaires à Hawaï comprennent la préparation du site et son nivellement; le travail hors site est aussi en plein essor. En Chine, les partenaires s’affairent à concevoir le système d’alignement du telescope équipé de miroirs entièrement articulés et de développer le système de guidage au laser. Le Japon a produit plus de soixante segments en verre à expansion thermique nulle pour le miroir principal et conçoit la structure du télescope en détail. La fabrication du système de soutien du miroir est en cours en Inde. Le module d’optique adaptative est en conception finale et la coupole est prête à être construite au Canada. Le système de contrôle des miroirs est dans sa conception finale en Californie.

“C’est avec un profond respect pour la culture, l’environnement et les valeurs des habitants d’Hawaii, que nous entrevoyons la possibilité de construire cette installation révolutionnaire pour élargir notre compréhension de l’univers, » a déclaré le président du Conseil d’administration OTI, Henry Yang. “Il s’agit d’un partenariat remarquable entre les institutions de ces cinq pays, en coopération avec l’Université d’Hawaï, pour atteindreun objectif visionnaire commun. Nous sommes reconnaissants pour le travail hardu et les contributions remarquables de tant de gens et organismes, y compris le Gordon et Betty Moore Foundation, depuis plus de dix ans, pour atteindre ce jalon si important et significatif”.

Inauguration hawaïenne traditionnelle et la cérémonie de benediction

Le président du Conseil OTI et chancelier de l’Université de Californie à Santa Barbara, Henry Yang, livrera le 7 octobre l’allocution d’ouverture pour l’inauguration et le programme de benediction, suivie du gouverneur d’Hawaii Neil Abercrombie et du maire du comté d’Hawaii, William Kenoi. Une cérémonie traditionnelle Hawaïenne est prévue pour conclure le programme.

“Le TMT s’est engagé auprès du peuple Hawaïen pour respecter le plan créé par le Bureau de gestion de Mauna Kea pour un développement responsible sur le Mauna Kea,”a déclaré Sandra Dawson, directrice au TMT des affaires communautaires Hawaïenne. “Le respect de la communauté et du Mauna Kea est la pierre angulaire de notre gérance harmonieuse.”

Transmission sur l’internet de la cérémonie

Le webcast débutera à 11:15, heure d’Hawaii, le 7 octobre 2014. Visitez TMT.org/buildingTMT pour assister à la cérémonie en direct, découvrir des informations pertinentes, communiquer via les réseaux sociaux, et explorer les archives multimédia de l’événement par la suite. Les téléspectateurs du monde entier peuvent envoyer leurs voeux au TMT (@TMTHawaii) via le hashtag # #buildingTMT.

Traduction du communiqué de presse original: http://www.tmt.org/news-center/site-construction-begins-thirty-meter-telescope-hawaii-watch-worldwide-webcast

 

Dr. Sara Ellison awarded the Rutherford Memorial Medal in Physics by the Royal Society of Canada (September 24, 2014)

This is an official CASCA Press Release.

It is with great pleasure that the Canadian Astronomical Society / Société Canadienne d’Astronomie recognizes and applauds Dr. Sara Ellison of the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia for being awarded the prestigious Rutherford Memorial Medal in Physics by the Royal Society of Canada.

As Canada’s senior National Academy, the RSC exists to promote Canadian research and scholarly accomplishment in both of Canada’s official languages, to mentor young scholars and artists, to recognize academic and artistic excellence, and to advise governments, non-governmental organizations, and Canadians generally on matters of public interest (http://rsc-src.ca/en/about-us/our-purpose/mandate-mission-and-vision).

Dr Ellison received her PhD in astronomy from Cambridge University in 2000,  then moved to the European Southern Observatory in Chile as an ESO fellow.  She joined the University of Victoria in 2003, and was promoted to associate professor in 2008 and full professor this year. Amongst other honours, she was given the Annie Jump Cannon award by the American Astronomical Society in 2004. Her research focuses on understanding galaxy evolution through cosmic time.

Contacts:
Leslie Sage
CASCA Press Officer
+1 (301) 675 8957
cascapressofficer@gmail.com

Dr. Christian Marois elected to the College of New Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada (September 17, 2014)

This is an official CASCA Press Release.

It is with great pleasure that the Canadian Astronomical Society / Société Canadienne d’Astronomie recognizes and applauds the election of Dr. Christian Marois of the NRC Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics in Victoria, British Columbia to the College of New Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada.

The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists is Canada’s first national system of multidisciplinary recognition for the emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership (http://rsc-src.ca/en/college-new-scholars-artists-and-scientists ).

Dr Marois received his PhD in astronomy from the Université de Montréal in  2004, then moved to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California as  a post-doc. He joined the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in 2008. He was awarded CASCA’s Plaskett Medal in 2005 for the best PhD thesis in astronomy in the preceding year, and the CBC named him their scientist of the year in 2008. His research is focused on the direct imaging of exoplanets.

Contacts:
Leslie Sage
CASCA Press Officer
+1 (301) 675 8957
cascapressofficer@gmail.com