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See Galaxies From the Last 10 Billion Years: Hubble Captures Largest Near-Infrared Image To Find Universe's Rarest Galaxies – SciTechDaily



Galaxies from the last 10 billion years witnessed in the 3D-DASH program, created using 3D-DASH/F160W and ACS-COSMOS/F814W imaging. Credit: Lamiya Mowla

There is a patch of the sky known as the COSMOS field, a region rich with galaxies, that was chosen for the Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) project. For the first time, a complete near-infrared survey of the entire COSMOS field, imaged by the <span class="glossaryLink" aria-describedby="tt" data-cmtooltip="

Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope (often referred to as Hubble or HST) is one of NASA's Great Observatories and was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990. It is one of the largest and most versatile space telescopes in use and features a 2.4-meter mirror and four main instruments that observe in the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. It was named after astronomer Edwin Hubble.

” data-gt-translate-attributes=”["attribute":"data-cmtooltip", "format":"html"]”>Hubble Space Telescope, is being provided to researchers via 3D-DASH.

Although Hubble launched in 1990, a series of five servicing missions have kept it on the cutting edge of technology for the last 30 years. 3D-DASH will allow scientists to find rare objects that the brand new Webb Space Telescope can target for close-up study.

An international team of scientists recently released the largest near-infrared image ever taken by <span class="glossaryLink" aria-describedby="tt" data-cmtooltip="

Established in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. It's vision is &quot;To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.&quot;

” data-gt-translate-attributes=”["attribute":"data-cmtooltip", "format":"html"]”>NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, enabling astronomers to map the star-forming regions of the universe and learn how the earliest, most distant galaxies originated. Named 3D-DASH, this high-resolution survey will allow researchers to find rare objects and targets for follow-up observations with the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) during its decades-long mission.

The study will be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

3D-DASH Sky Patch

A patch of sky imaged by 3D-DASH, showing the brightest and rarest objects of the universe such as monster galaxies. Credit: Image by Gabe Brammer

“Since its launch more than 30 years ago, the Hubble Space Telescope has led a renaissance in the study of how galaxies have changed in the last 10 billion years of the universe,” says Lamiya Mowla, Dunlap Fellow at the Faculty of Arts & Science’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study.

“The 3D-DASH program extends Hubble’s legacy in wide-area imaging so we can begin to unravel the mysteries of the galaxies beyond our own.”

3D-DASH Mosaicing

The Hubble Space Telescope captured the entire COSMOS field by stitching together multiple images into one master image, a process called mosaicing. Credit: Ivelina Momcheva

For the first time, 3D-DASH provides researchers with a complete near-infrared survey of the entire COSMOS field, one of the richest data fields for extragalactic studies beyond the <span class="glossaryLink" aria-describedby="tt" data-cmtooltip="

Milky Way
The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains the Earth, and is named for its appearance from Earth. It is a barred spiral galaxy that contains an estimated 100-400 billion stars and has a diameter between 150,000 and 200,000 light-years.

” data-gt-translate-attributes=”["attribute":"data-cmtooltip", "format":"html"]”>Milky Way. As the longest and reddest wavelength observed with Hubble – just beyond what is visible to the human eye – near-infrared means astronomers are better able to see the earliest galaxies that are the farthest away.

Astronomers also need to search a vast area of the sky to find rare objects in the universe. Until now, such a large image was only available from the ground and suffered from poor resolution, which limited what could be observed. 3D-DASH will help to identify unique phenomena like the universe’s most massive galaxies, highly active black holes, and galaxies on the brink of colliding and merging into one.

3D DASH Depth Map

Zoomed-in panels on the 3D-DASH depth map reveal the wealth of bright objects that can be studied. Credit: Mowla et al. 2022

“I am curious about monster galaxies, which are the most massive ones in the universe formed by the mergers of other galaxies. How did their structures grow, and what drove the changes in their form?” says Mowla, who began working on the project in 2015 as a graduate student at <span class="glossaryLink" aria-describedby="tt" data-cmtooltip="

Yale University
Established in 1701, Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. It is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and is organized into fourteen constituent schools: the original undergraduate college, the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and twelve professional schools. It is named after British East India Company governor Elihu Yale.

” data-gt-translate-attributes=”["attribute":"data-cmtooltip", "format":"html"]”>Yale University. “It was difficult to study these extremely rare events using existing images, which is what motivated the design of this large survey.”

Lamiya Mowla

Lamiya Mowla, Dunlap Fellow at the Faculty of Arts & Science’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study. Credit: Courtesy of Lamiya Mowla

To image such an expansive patch of sky, the researchers employed a new technique with Hubble known as Drift And SHift (DASH). DASH creates an image that is eight times larger than Hubble’s standard field of view by capturing multiple shots that are then stitched together into one master mosaic, similar to taking a panoramic picture on a smartphone.

DASH also takes images faster than the typical technique, snapping eight pictures per Hubble’s orbit instead of one picture, achieving in 250 hours what would previously have taken 2,000 hours.

“3D-DASH adds a new layer of unique observations in the COSMOS field and is also a stepping stone to the space surveys of the next decade,” says Ivelina Momcheva, head of data science at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and principal investigator of the study. “It gives us a sneak peek of future scientific discoveries and allows us to develop new techniques to analyze these large datasets.”

3D-DASH covers a total area almost six times the size of the moon in the sky as seen from Earth. This record is likely to remain unbroken by Hubble’s successor, JWST, which is instead built for sensitive, close-up images to capture fine detail of a small area. It is the largest near-infrared image of the sky available to astronomers until the next generation of telescopes launch in the next decade, such as the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope and Euclid.

Until then, professional astronomers and amateur stargazers alike can explore the skies using an interactive, online version of the 3D-DASH image created by Gabriel Brammer, a faculty member at the Cosmic Dawn Center in the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen.

Reference: “3D-DASH: The Widest Near-Infrared Hubble Space Telescope Survey” by Lamiya A. Mowla, Sam E. Cutler, Gabriel B. Brammer, Ivelina G. Momcheva, Katherine E. Whitaker, Pieter G. van Dokkum, Rachel S. Bezanson, Natascha M. Forster Schreiber, Marijn Franx, Kartheik G. Iyer, Danilo Marchesini, Adam Muzzin, Erica J. Nelson, Rosalind E. Skelton, Gregory F. Snyder, David A. Wake, Stijn Wuyts and Arjen van der Wel, Accepted, The Astrophysical Journal.
DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ac71af

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and European Space Agency (ESA). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.

The full image is available at the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes.

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7 Amazing Dark Sky National Parks – AARP



James Ronan/Getty Images/Steve Burns

Great Basin, Arches, and Voyageurs National Park

Can’t afford to join a commercial space mission offered by Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson? Consider the next best thing: seeing a starry, starry night in a sea of darkness, unimpeded by artificial light, at one of the International Dark Sky Parks in the U.S. It’s a rare treat, since light pollution prevents nearly 80 percent of Americans from seeing the Milky Way from their homes.

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDSA) has certified 14 of the nation’s 63 national parks as dark sky destinations. So visitors can take full advantage of such visibility, many of them offer specialized after-dark programs, from astronomy festivals and ranger-led full-moon walks to star parties and astrophotography workshops. If you prefer to stargaze on your own at a park, the National Park Service recommends bringing a pair of 7-by-50 binoculars, a red flashlight, which enhances night vision, and a star chart, which shows the arrangement of stars in the sky.

Here are seven of the IDSA-certified parks where you can appreciate how the heavens looked from the Earth before the dawn of electric light.

AARP Membership -Join AARP for just $9 per year when you sign up for a 5-year term

Join today and save 43% off the standard annual rate. Get instant access to discounts, programs, services, and the information you need to benefit every area of your life. 

Award-winning travel writer Veronica Stoddart is the former travel editor of USA Today. She has written for dozens of travel publications and websites.​​

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A Mystery Rocket Left A Crater On The Moon – Forbes



While we think of the moon as a static place, sometimes an event happens that reminds us that things can change quickly.

On March 4, a human-made object (a rocket stage) slammed into the moon and left behind a double crater, as seen by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission.

Officials announced June 23 that they spotted a double crater associated with the event. But what’s really interesting is there’s no consensus about what kind of rocket caused it.

China has denied claims that the rocket was part of a Long March 3 rocket that launched the country’s Chang’e-5 T1 mission in October 2014, although the orbit appeared to match. Previous speculation suggested it might be from a SpaceX rocket launching the DISCOVR mission, but newer analysis has mostly discredited that.

On a broader scale, the value of LRO observations like this is showing how the moon can change even over a small span of time. The spacecraft has been in orbit there since 2009 and has spotted numerous new craters since its arrival.

It’s also a great spacecraft scout, having hunted down the Apollo landing sites from orbit and also having tracked down a few craters from other missions that slammed into the moon since the dawn of space exploration.

It may be that humans return to the moon for a closer-up look in the coming decade, as NASA is developing an Artemis program to send people to the surface no earlier than 2025.

LRO will also be a valuable scout for that set of missions, as the spacecraft’s maps will be used to develop plans for lunar bases or to help scout safe landing sites for astronauts.

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A new planet hunter awakens: NIRPS instrument sees first light – News | Institute for Research on Exoplanets



The Near InfraRed Planet Searcher (NIRPS) instrument, developed in part at the Université de Montréal and the Université Laval, has successfully performed its first observations. Mounted on ESO’s 3.6-m telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, NIRPS’s mission is to search for new exoplanets around stars in the solar neighbourhood.

This photograph shows the NIRPS instrument and its adaptive optics system, which is installed at ESO’s 3.6-metre telescope. The light collected from the telescope is aimed through a series of mirrors before being injected into an optical fibre. Thanks to this adaptive-optics system, disturbances in the Earth’s atmosphere can be corrected for, allowing for sharper observations. Credit: N. Blind (Observatoire de Genève)/NIRPS consortium/ESO.

“NIRPS has been a long time in the making, and I’m thrilled with how this mission has come together!” says René Doyon, Director of the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic and Institute for Research on Exoplanets, Université de Montréal, and co-Principal Investigator of NIRPS. “This incredible infrared instrument will help us find the closest habitable worlds to our own Solar System.”

The instrument will focus its search on rocky worlds, which are key targets for understanding how planets form and evolve, and are the most likely planets where life may develop. NIRPS will search for these rocky exoplanets around small, cool red dwarf stars — the most common type of stars in our Milky Way galaxy, which have masses from about two to ten times smaller than our Sun.

NIRPS will search for exoplanets using the radial velocity method. As a planet orbits a star, its gravitational attraction causes the star to “wobble” slightly, causing its light to be redshifted or blueshifted as it moves away from or towards Earth. By measuring the subtle changes in the light from the star, NIRPS will help astronomers measure the mass of the planet as well as other properties.

NIRPS will search for these spectral wobbles using near-infrared light as this is the main range of wavelengths emitted by such small, cool stars. It joins the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) in the hunt for new rocky worlds. HARPS, which has been installed on ESO’s 3.6-m telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile since 2003, also uses the radial velocity method, but operates using visible light. Using both instruments simultaneously will provide a more comprehensive analysis of these rocky worlds.

Another key difference between the two instruments is that NIRPS will rely on a powerful adaptive optics system. Adaptive optics is a technique that corrects for the effects of atmospheric turbulence, which cause stars to twinkle. By using it, NIRPS will more than double its efficiency in both finding and studying exoplanets.

“NIRPS joins a very small number of high-performance near-infrared spectrographs and is expected to be a key player for observations in synergy with space missions like the James Webb Space Telescope and ground-based observatories,” adds François Bouchy, from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and co-Principal Investigator of NIRPS.

Discoveries made with NIRPS and HARPS will be followed up by some of the most powerful observatories in the world, such as ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the upcoming Extremely Large Telescope in Chile (for which similar instruments are in development). By working together with both space- and ground-based observatories, NIRPS will be able to gather clues on an exoplanet’s composition and even look for signs of life in its atmosphere.

To be able to operate in the infrared, the Near Infrared Planet Searcher (NIRPS) instrument needs to be kept extremely cool, to prevent heat from interfering with the observations. Here we see the cylindrical cryogenic chamber within which the instrument’s optical parts are installed. The cryogenic chamber keeps the components in a vacuum environment and cooled down to a freezing -190 degrees Celsius. Credit: F. Bouchy (Observatoire de Genève)/NIRPS consortium/ESO.

NIRPS was built by an international collaboration led by the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic and the Institute for Research on Exoplanets team at the Université de Montréal in Canada and the Observatoire Astronomique de l’Université de Genève in Switzerland. Much of the mechanical and optical assembly and testing of the instrument was performed over the last few years at Université Laval’s Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers (COPL) laboratories by Prof. Simon Thibault and his team. The National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre contributed to the conception and construction of the spectrograph.

“After two years of integrating and testing the instrument in the lab, it is amazing for the optical engineering team to see NIRPS on the sky.” mentions Prof. Simon Thibault who is affiliated with the COPL and iREx and who overviewed optical integration and test phases at Université Laval.

Here we see the first raw data from the NIRPS instrument, the spectrum of Barnard’s star. Each horizontal line corresponds to a narrow region of light where both the absorption lines from the star and the absorption from the Earth’s atmosphere are visible. The dotted lines correspond to the so-called comb spectrum, a “ruler” that is used as a reference for the horizontal lines, so scientists can know which wavelengths of light they correspond to. Credit: ESO/NIRPS consortium.

Many Canadian members of the NIRPS have been working on site at La Silla for the instrument’s commissioning period and will continue to do so over the next several months to ensure the NIRPS’s scientific operations. The NIRPS science team, which includes several Canadian astronomers, is guaranteed 720 nights on the instrument during its first 5 years of operations due to their important contribution to the project. While the whole team was excited for NIRPS’s first light, it is safe to say that the best is yet to come!

More Information

The institutes involved in the NIRPS consortium are the Université de Montréal, Canada; the Université de Genève, Observatoire Astronomique, Switzerland; the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço, Porto, Portugal; the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain; the Université de Grenoble, France; and the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil.

The Canadian NIRPS team, led by Université de Montréal/The Institute for Research on Exoplanets/Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic and including Université Laval, the National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre, and the Royal Military College, was awarded funding by the Canadian Fund for Innovation to build the NIRPS instrument.


René Doyon
Professor, NIRPS co-Principal Investigator
Institute for Research on Exoplanets and Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic — Université de Montréal
Tel: +1 514 343 6111 x3204

Frédérique Baron
NIRPS Deputy Project Manager
Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic — Université de Montréal
Tel: +1 514 277 2858

Simon Thibault
Professor, NIRPS optical engineering team
Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers — Université Laval
Tel: +1 418 656 2131 x 412766

Anne-Sophie Poulin-Girard
Research Associate, NIRPS optical engineering team
Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers — Université Laval
Tel: +1 418 656 2131 x 404646

Nathalie Ouellette
Institute for Research on Exoplanets — Université de Montréal
Tel: +1 613 531 1762


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