Science Release: 15 Sept. 2020 — noirlab2023
A White Dwarf’s Surprise Planetary Companion
For the first time, an intact, giant exoplanet has been discovered orbiting close to a white dwarf star. This discovery shows that it is possible for Jupiter-sized planets to survive their star’s demise and settle into close orbits around the remaining stellar ember, near the habitable zone. This foretells one possible future for our own Solar System when the Sun ages into a white dwarf.
Organization Release: 25 Aug. 2020 — noirlab2022
Report Offers Roadmap to Mitigate Effects of Large Satellite Constellations on Astronomy
A report by experts representing the global astronomical community, concludes that large constellations of bright satellites in low Earth orbit will fundamentally change ground-based optical and infrared astronomy and could impact the appearance of the night sky for stargazers worldwide. The report is the outcome of the recent SATCON1 virtual workshop, which brought together more than 250 scientists, engineers, satellite operators, and other stakeholders.
Photo Release: 24 Aug. 2020 — noirlab2021
A Dizzying Show by Comet NEOWISE
When Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) sped through the inner Solar System during the middle of 2020, astronomers and the general public watched in awe as this “dirty snowball” shed gas and dust into space, producing a striking show visible to the naked eye. Close-up observations, led by Michal Drahus and Piotr Guzik of Jagiellonian University in Krakow, used the international Gemini Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab, to observe the materials escaping from the comet over time. One set of observations, obtained on 1 August 2020 from the Gemini North telescope on Hawai‘i’s Maunakea, displays a spiraling stream of molecular gas that reveals the rotation of the comet’s nucleus. The timelapse sequence, compressed to only a few seconds, represents about one fifth of the approximately 7.5-hour rotation period of the comet.
Science Release: 18 Aug. 2020 — noirlab2020
Cool New Worlds Found in Our Cosmic Backyard
How complete is our census of the Sun’s closest neighbors? Astronomers using NSF’s NOIRLab facilities and a team of data-sleuthing volunteers participating in Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, a citizen science project, have discovered roughly 100 cool worlds near the Sun — objects more massive than planets but lighter than stars, known as brown dwarfs. Several of these newly discovered worlds are among the very coolest known, with a few approaching the temperature of Earth — cool enough to harbor water clouds.
Science Release: 5 Aug. 2020 — noirlab2019
Astronomers Sink Their Teeth Into Special Supernova
Astronomers using several telescopes at NOIRLab, including the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) Telescope, have obtained critical data on a particular type of exploding star that produces copious amounts of calcium. The calcium produced in this unique type of supernova explosion is the same calcium found in our bones and teeth and these events account for up to half of the calcium found in the Universe.
Coronavirus COVID-19 Measures at NOIRLab
As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, NOIRLab is actively responding to the situation and taking measures to ensure the safety of its staff and the public.
Rubin Sensors Capture First Image in the Lab
The Vera C. Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) Camera team at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) has released the first 3200-megapixel digital photo taken using the array of imaging sensors that will be integrated into th...
New Website for NSF’s NOIRLab
After receiving its new short name, NSF’s NOIRLab, earlier in 2020, a targeted effort was started to move NOIRlab’s public Internet presence from the interim website at nationalastro.org to a new domain at noirlab.edu. This public site has now been lau...
Coronavirus COVID-19 Measures at NOIRLab
As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, NOIRLab is actively responding to the situation and taking measures to ensure the safety of its staff and the public. These measures are being taken out of precaution: no COVID-19 case has been confirmed at any...
Media advisory: Press Conference to Unveil Conclusions from Satellite Constellations 1 (SATCON1) Workshop
On Tuesday 25 August, astronomers will release the final report from the Satellite Constellations 1 workshop during a virtual press conference hosted by the National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab and the American Astronomical Society (AAS). The briefin...
Joint Statement Regarding the Submission of the “Planning and Design for a US Extremely Large Telescope Program” Proposals to the National Science Foundation
In collaboration with its US-ELTP partners, NSF’s NOIRLab has successfully submitted a Planning and Design Proposal to the NSF, see joint statement below. The US Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP) is a joint endeavor of NOIRLab and the organ...
The NOIRLab Mirror Launched
The inaugural edition of The NOIRLab Mirror is now available. Our new, twice-yearly newsletter with information focusing on NOIRLab’s user communities showcases the science, technology, and program developments across the five NOIRLab Programs: Communi...
NOIRLab Update on COVID-19 Implications
Following is an update on the impact of the COVID-19 virus on NSF’s NOIRLab. Since the night of Tuesday, 19 May 2020, the Gemini North telescope has been conducting observations from Maunakea. Operations continue at the Gemini North Base facility with...
NOIRLab response to #ShutDownSTEM
#ShutDownSTEM, Wednesday 10 June 2020, is a day of international protest of systemic racism in research and academia. STEM and research professionals are asked to stop their normal activities of research, teaching and meetings for one day, in the wake ...
Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument Passes Major Milestone
The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) on the Nicholas U. Mayall telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab, has passed a major milestone en route to mapping tens of millions of galaxies in its quest to unde...
Galaxy Formation at Cosmic Noon
A project started ten years ago by NSF’s NOIRLab Director Patrick McCarthy, then an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science, and fellow Carnegie scientist Daniel Kelson, has come to fruition this month with the results of theCarnegie-Spitzer...
Gemini North to Restart Observations
After an internal Operations Restart Readiness Review on Friday, 15 May, the northern telescope of the international Gemini Observatory, Gemini North in Hawai‘i, has been given the green light on their plan to restart nighttime observations on the nigh...
Joan Najita from NOIRLab Awarded John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship
Joan Najita from NSF’s NOIRLab, headquartered in Tucson, has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in astronomy & astrophysics for 2020. Guggenheim Fellows are appointed on the basis of past achievement and exceptional promise for future ...
North American Regional Office of Astronomy for Development Launched
The North American Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (NA ROAD) became a reality today at a signing ceremony in Cape Town, South Africa. This milestone brings the vision of the global Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) to North America...
Planning for a New Era in Astronomy Communication
In early November, the GEMMA (Gemini in the Era of Multi-Messenger Astronomy) project brought together science communications professionals to explore the unique opportunities and challenges of communicating Multi-Messenger and Time-Domain Astronomy, t...
Gemini Helps Map Larger than Expected Structure of Ancient Supercluster
In a recent collaborative study, Gemini Observatory and Subaru Telescope uncover the massive (and larger than expected) structure of a distant supercluster. Mapping the formation of these ancient superclusters is a critical step in understanding the da...
2020 Breakthrough Prize Awarded to Event Horizon Telescope Team
The 347-person team that made the first image of a supermassive black hole has been awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, one of the “Oscars of Science.” By synchronizing 8 radio telescopes, the team created a virtual telescope the siz...
Revealing the Intimate Lives of MASSIVE Galaxies
Every galaxy has a story, and every galaxy has been many others in the past (unlike for humans, this is not purely metaphorical, as galaxies grow via hierarchical assembly). Generally speaking, the most massive galaxies have led the most interesting li...
A Whirlpool Warhol
It all depends on how you look at it—galaxies appear different in visible light (i.e., wavelengths that our eyes are sensitive to) than at longer wavelengths, in the infrared. In visible light (panel a), the Whirlpool galaxy M51 and its companion show ...
Discovering Patterns in Io's Volcanoes
Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io brought astronomers and geologists together to reveal that this moon’s hot spots fluctuate on unexpected timescales. The team utilized the Gemini North telescope and the W.M. Keck Observatory, both located on Maunakea, Hawai...
What’s Your Moonshot?
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Newsweek is highlighting pioneers in science and technology, their moonshots, and how they hope to change the world. This week’s issue features NOAO Astronomer Aaron Meisner, who describes the insp...
16 Sept. 2020 — iotw2038
Sky Aglow at CTIO
9 Sept. 2020 — iotw2037
2 Sept. 2020 — iotw2036
Follow the Yellow Lit Road
26 Aug. 2020 — iotw2035
A Lonely Spiral in a Tapestry of Galaxies
19 Aug. 2020 — iotw2034
An Astronomer’s Crystal Ball
12 Aug. 2020 — iotw2033
Trails Through the Night Sky
5 Aug. 2020 — iotw2032
One Half of a Whole
29 July 2020 — iotw2031
Under the Dome
22 July 2020 — iotw2030
Glistening Spiral Galaxy
15 July 2020 — iotw2029
Comet NEOWISE Over Gemini North
From the first observations in 1965, Cerro Tololo, located in Chile, has served as the principal platform for U.S. astronomical investigation of the southern skies.
Community Science & Data Center
Programs within the Community Science and Data Center support and enable a broad range of astronomical community science activities across the US ground-based optical and infrared system.
Founded in 1958, Kitt Peak National Observatory is home to one of the largest arrays of optical and radio telescopes in the world.
The Gemini Observatory consists of twin 8.1-meter diameter optical/infrared telescopes located on two of the best observing sites on the planet.
Vera C. Rubin Observatory, currently under construction on Cerro Pachón in Chile, is an 8-meter-class telescope coupled to a 3.2-gigapixel camera – the world’s largest digital camera ever fabricated for optical astronomy.