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SWINDON, 27-Feb-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — A new agreement has guaranteed continued access to two world-class telescopes for astronomers in the UK. The future of the William Herschel and Isaac Newton telescopes on La Palma has been secured for the next decade thanks to a new operation agreement between the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the current owner of the telescopes, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC). STFC and NWO signed the agreement in 2016, and the new arrangement came into effect this week with the final signature from IAC in a ceremony at the headquarters of the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING) on February 20. Under the 10-year agreement, telescope time will be shared between the three partners, who will each also contribute toward maintenance costs. The STFC will continue to manage the operation of the telescopes through the ING base on La Palma, which has been in charge of the telescopes since their installation in the mid-1990s. Speaking about the new agreement Professor Grahame Blair, STFC’s Director of Programmes said “We are very pleased the UK astronomy research community will continue to be a major partner in the far reaching scientific programme of research taking place at the ING. The next decade will be very exciting for UK astronomers working with the ING and the next-generation facility multi-fibre spectrograph known as WEAVE will offer researchers an unparalleled opportunity to learn more about the origins of the Milky Way.” The agreement ensures the continuation of the successful collaboration of the UK and the Netherlands in the operation of telescopes on La Palma, which dates back to 1981, and the extension of the 14-year partnership with IAC. For the William Herschel Telescope, the partners are finalising the construction of WEAVE, a next-generation facility multi-fibre spectrograph, which will be used to help us understand more about the formation of galaxies and the expansion dynamics of the universe. For the Isaac Newton Telescope, a new high-resolution stabilised spectrograph will allow the detection of Earth-like planets around nearby stars. The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING) operates three telescopes on the island of La Palma in the Spanish Canary Islands. They are the: The ING is operated under a tripartite arrangement on behalf of the UK, the Nederlanse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk (NWO) of the Netherlands and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) in Spain. The Director of the ING is Dr Marc Balcells. The ING’s aim is to develop collaboration between astronomers in the UK, the Netherlands and Spain and ensure that, through continual maintenance and development, these telescopes remain at the forefront of world astronomy.

Trujillo I.,Institute of Astrophysics of Canarias | Trujillo I.,University of La Laguna | Ferre-Mateu A.,Subaru Telescope | Balcells M.,Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes | And 3 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal Letters | Year: 2014

As early as 10 Gyr ago, galaxies with more than 1011 M of stars already existed. While most of these massive galaxies must have subsequently transformed through on-going star formation and mergers with other galaxies, a small fraction (≲0.1%) may have survived untouched until today. Searches for such relic galaxies, useful windows to explore the early universe, have been inconclusive to date: galaxies with masses and sizes like those observed at high redshift (M ≳ 1011 M; Re ≲ 1.5 kpc) have been found in the local universe, but their stars are far too young for the galaxy to be a relic galaxy. This paper explores the first case of a nearby galaxy, NGC 1277 (at a distance of 73 Mpc in the Perseus galaxy cluster), which fulfills many criteria to be considered a relic galaxy. Using deep optical spectroscopy, we derive the star formation history along the structure of the galaxy: the stellar populations are uniformly old (>10 Gyr) with no evidence for more recent star formation episodes. The metallicity of their stars is super-solar ([Fe/H] = 0.20 ± 0.04 with a smooth decline toward the outer regions) and α-enriched ([α/Fe] = 0.4 ± 0.1). This suggests a very short formation time scale for the bulk of the stars in this galaxy. This object also rotates very fast (Vrot 300 km s-1) and has a large central velocity dispersion (σ > 300 km s-1). NGC 1277 allows the exploration in full detail of properties such as the structure, internal dynamics, metallicity, and initial mass function as they were at 10-12 Gyr ago when the first massive galaxies were built. © 2014. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Fuhrmann K.,Ruhr University Bochum | Fuhrmann K.,Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes | Chini R.,Ruhr University Bochum | Chini R.,Católica del Norte University
Astrophysical Journal, Supplement Series | Year: 2012

As part of a homogeneous all-sky volume-complete sample of half a thousand solar-type stars within 25pc we present a census for the subset of the 150 - mostly F-type stars - in the mass range 1.1 M ≤ M ≤ 1.7 M in terms of their observed multiplicities. The major obstacle, as expected, arises from the onset of stellar rotation in this mass range for it continues to support many hidden companions. Yet, a solid increase of the fraction of binary and higher level systems as a function of the primary mass is manifest. There is even the prospect that on account of many companion candidates the single-star fraction may already converge to zero at the transition to the A-type stars. © 2012. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved..

Fuhrmann K.,Ruhr University Bochum | Fuhrmann K.,Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes | Chini R.,Ruhr University Bochum | Chini R.,Católica del Norte University
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2015

In continuation of our previous study we present an updated census of new companions and model atmosphere analyses for some 50 southern dwarfs, mostly in the mass range 0.90 ≤ M ≤ 1.10 M⊙. For the common-ropermotion companions μ Vir B, HR 2225 B, HD 67199 B, and HD 114853 B, we confirm their physical association from their radial velocities. We report the discovery of the F-type visual binary α For as a field blue straggler and confirm (ζ Ret, HR 5864) or identify (HD 67199, HR 4013, HR 8843) another five mass transfer systems or candidates. For the F stars T1 Eri and 111 Tau, we present 10σ and 7σ cases for astrometric binaries by virtue of the very accurate van Leeuwen Hipparcos parallaxes. Following the work of Shaya and Olling, we suggest the F-type star ι Vir to be a wide (0.37 pc) hierarchical quadruple system. We confirm the visual binary NLTT 23781/2 as a common-proper-motion object to the very wide (0.54 pc) F star 40 Leo, but discard the G star HD 128987 as an ultra-wide (1.01 pc) physical companion to the α Lib quadruple system on account of a diverse metallicity. The improved statistics of our sample establishes the previously discovered positive correlation of stellar multiplicities with primary mass. For the F star multiplicity census in the mass range 1.10 ≤ M ≤ 1.70 M⊙, we find that at least a quarter consists of triple or higher level systems and at least two out of three F stars are non-single. © 2015. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

News Article | December 24, 2015

An extraordinary ribbon of hot gas trailing behind a galaxy like a tail has been discovered using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. This ribbon, or X-ray tail, is likely due to gas stripped from the galaxy as it moves through a vast cloud of hot intergalactic gas. With a length of at least 250,000 light years, it is likely the largest such tail ever detected.  In this new composite image, X-rays from Chandra (blue) have been combined with data in visible light from the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (yellow) in the Canary Islands, Spain. The tail is located in the galaxy cluster Zwicky 8338, which is almost 700 million light years from Earth. The length of the tail is more than twice the diameter of the entire Milky Way galaxy. The tail contains gas at temperatures of about 10 million degrees, about 20 million degrees cooler than the intergalactic gas, but still hot enough to glow brightly in X-rays that Chandra can detect. The researchers think the tail was created as a galaxy known as CGCG254-021, or perhaps a group of galaxies dominated by this large galaxy, plowed through the hot gas in Zwicky 8338. The pressure exerted by this rapid motion caused gas to be stripped away from the galaxy. In images from Chandra and the NSF's Karl Jansky Very Large Array (not shown in composite), the galaxy CGCG254-021 appears to be moving towards the bottom of the image with the tail following behind. There is a significant gap between the X-ray tail and the galaxy, the largest ever seen. The significant separation between the galaxy and the tail might be evidence that the gas has been completely stripped off the galaxy. Astronomers were also able to learn more about the interactions of the system by carefully examining the properties of the galaxy and its tail. The tail has a brighter spot, referred to as its “head.” Behind this head is the tail of diffuse X-ray emission. The gas in the head may be cooler and richer in elements heavier than helium than the rest of the tail. In front of the head there are hints of a bow shock, similar to a shock wave formed by a supersonic plane and in front of the bow shock is the galaxy CGCG254-021. Independent research involving observations at infrared wavelengths indicates that CGCG254-021 has the highest mass of all galaxies in Zwicky 8338. The infrared observations, together with models for how galaxies evolve, also imply that among the galaxies in the cluster, CGCG254-021 had by far the highest rate of stars forming in the recent past. However, there is no evidence for new star formation, possibly because gas has been depleted in forming the tail. The paper describing these results was published in the November 2015 issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics and is also available online. The authors of the paper are Gerrit Schellenberger and Thomas Reiprich from the University of Bonn in Germany. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra's science and flight operations. Swift is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Smith A.M.S.,Keele University | Anderson D.R.,Keele University | Skillen I.,Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes | Cameron A.C.,University of St. Andrews | Smalley B.,Keele University
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2011

We report ground-based observations at 0.91μm of the occultation of the hot Jupiter WASP-33b by its A5 host star. We measure the planet to be 0.109 ± 0.030per cent as bright as its host star at 0.91μm. This corresponds to a brightness temperature, TB= 3620+200 - 250K, significantly higher than the zero-albedo equilibrium temperature for both isotropic re-radiation (2750 ± 37K) and uniform day-side-only re-radiation (3271 ± 44K), but consistent with the zero-redistribution temperature (3515 ± 47K). This indicates that the heat redistribution from the day side of WASP-33b to the night side is inefficient and further suggests that there is immediate re-radiation, and therefore little or no redistribution, of heat within the day side. We also detected the stellar pulsations of WASP-33, which we model as the sum of four sinusoids, with periods of between 42 and 77min and amplitudes of 0.5-1.5 mmag. © 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS.

Fuhrmann K.,Ruhr University Bochum | Fuhrmann K.,Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2011

This fifth in a series of papers finishes the model atmosphere analyses of an unbiased, volume-complete sample of more than 300 nearby solar-type stars. The sample first disintegrates into thick-disc and thin-disc stars on account of their different distributions in the [Mg/H]-[Fe/Mg] chemical abundance plane. Detailed stellar age-datings of the locally few, but very relevant, subgiants show this map to be the sequel of a major star formation gap and hence the legacy for the two stellar populations. Among the stars of the thin disc the subgiant 70 Vir with τ= 8.1 ± 0.6Gyr remains the best case to constrain the age of this comparatively young population. Uncertainties for the existing thick-disc subgiants are about twice as much, but they consistently promote ages of 12-13Gyr. The unbiased thin-disc metallicity distribution functions of magnesium and iron average at 〈[Mg/H]〉=-0.009 ± 0.012 dex and 〈[Fe/H]〉=-0.034 ± 0.015dex, thereby demonstrating that the Sun is a typical thin-disc star in terms of these two elements. The small but likewise unbiased sample of thick-disc stars leads to 〈[Mg/H]〉=-0.207 ± 0.049 dex and 〈[Fe/H]〉=-0.584 ± 0.057 dex, which implies that about two-thirds of the α-element magnesium was already synthesized in the early Milky Way. Similarly, the age-metallicity relations for the thin disc result in Δ[Mg/H]=+0.006dexGyr-1 and Δ[Fe/H]=+0.017dexGyr-1 and lead to the conclusion that a similar percentage of iron was synthesized before the birth of the thin disc. In comparison with the considerable metallicity dispersions σ[Mg/H]= 0.151dex and σ[Fe/H]= 0.191dex for the stars of the thin disc, this immediately explains the coexistence of old, metal rich as well as young, fairly metal poor stars within this stellar population. The stellar multiplicities of the solar-type thin-disc stars show a minority of less than 47per cent to be single and at least 15per cent to belong to triple and higher level systems. More concisely, in terms of the primary masses there is a clear correlation with mass with a cross-over of preferentially single to binary stars at M≃ 1.25M⊙ and a fraction of 21per cent of triple and higher level systems at this particular mass. The steady record of new discoveries of nearby companion stars renders these numbers, however, as yet provisional, with an ever-decreasing fraction of single objects. For the thick disc the multiplicity statistics are necessarily weak, yet tentatively imply even less single stars and eventually more triple or higher level systems. Most importantly, and as already addressed in the previous papers of this series, the rigorous census of the long-lived stars of the sample uncovers the thick disc as a massive, dark population with a 20per cent local normalization, and, on account of its larger scaleheight, a mass comparable to that of the thin disc. With the ages of its stars at or above 12 Gyr the thick-disc epoch then leads to a very different star formation rate and qualifies this stellar population as a single-burst component, much at variance with the thin disc whose stars cover the complete stellar age range of 1Myr up to 8 Gyr. Such information conveyed by the stars of the solar neighbourhood then clearly do not support a gradual build-up scenario, a hierarchical cold-dark-matter-dominated formation picture for our parent spiral. Provided the Milky Way is not an unusual spiral galaxy, it implies that this paradigm is also challenged in a much broader context. © 2011 The Author Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS.

Fuhrmann K.,Ruhr University Bochum | Fuhrmann K.,Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2011

This work presents the first quantitative composite model atmosphere analysis of Capella, the brightest near-equal-mass spectroscopic binary and principal star of the constellation Auriga. Its high-resolution spectrum leads to a slightly metal-rich object at [Fe/H] = +0.05 ± 0.08dex. In line with its young age and its kinematics, this consistently associates Capella with the Hyades moving group. The measured projected rotational velocities, vsin i Aa = 3.5 ± 0.8kms-1 and vsin iAb = 35.4 ± 3.2kms-1, both agree with rotational and orbital coplanarity and synchronous orbital rotation for the Aa component. At an orbital period P = 104d the primary's bound rotation together with the almost zero orbital eccentricity are both key characteristics of this binary and clearly imply that the Aa component must have passed the tip of the giant branch. Whether in that phase Capella also became a mass transfer system remains inconclusive at present, though the high rotational velocity of the less evolved Hertzsprung gap secondary and the very diverse lithium abundances of both its components render this a plausible case. © 2011. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Schirmer M.,Gemini Observatory | Schirmer M.,Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes | Schirmer M.,University of Bonn
Astrophysical Journal, Supplement Series | Year: 2013

The last 15 years have seen a surge of new multi-chip optical and near-IR imagers. While some of them are accompanied by specific reduction pipelines, user-friendly and generic reduction tools are uncommon. In this paper I introduce THELI, an easy-to-use graphical interface driving an end-to-end pipeline for the reduction of any optical, near-IR, and mid-IR imaging data. The advantages of THELI when compared to other approaches are highlighted. Combining a multitude of processing algorithms and third party software, THELI provides researchers with a single, homogeneous tool. A short learning curve ensures quick success for new and more experienced observers alike. All tasks are largely automated, while at the same time a high level of flexibility and alternative reduction schemes ensure that widely different scientific requirements can be met. Over 90 optical and infrared instruments at observatories world-wide are pre-configured, while more can be added by the user. The Appendices contain three walk-through examples using public data (optical, near-IR, and mid-IR). Additional extensive documentation for training and troubleshooting is available online. © 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Benn C.R.,Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2014

The ING runs the highly-productive 4.2-mWilliam Herschel Telescope (WHT) and 2.5-m Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) on La Palma in the Canary Islands. I give an overview of the current operational model, commenting on how the model has evolved since the mid-1980s, and on the experience gained with e.g. instrument development; adaptive-optics/LGS deployment; hosting visiting instruments; scheduling; fault handling; student vs staff support of observers; and performance monitoring. © 2014 SPIE.

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