Friday, March 27, 2009

Surveys, Novae and more

I haven't talked much about actual research news in a while. . . . . I'll be giving much more info on that side of the observatory from time to time.

Last December I mentioned that Mosiac, the new camera in the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope, had achieved first light. It was installed for the new Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) observing program. Their initial shakedown of the camera, data transfer, etc. is nearly complete and their first results are coming in.

Expect to hear a lot more about PTF here soon.

In other news, the Palomar 60-inch telescope is being used for a program called Palomar 60-inch Fast Transients In Nearby Galaxies (P60-FasTING). They just discovered a nova in spiral galaxy NGC 2403.

To give you some eye candy, here's a near-infrared shot of NGC 2403 taken with the 200" a few years ago.

Finally, former Caltech astronomer Avishay Gal-Yam (now with Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel - a PTF partner) was able to use old images from the Hubble Space Telescope to identify the location of a star before it blew up. The supernova, known as SN 2005gl, seems to have been too young to blow up in that fashion. Findings like this one, where observation and theory do not agree may seem like just what astronomers do not want to find. Actually, they are great, because the new observations pose a mystery that needs to be solved. Anytime you get unexpected results you always end up learning something. That's the point.

No comments: