February 21st 2019
Astronomers used CALIFA data to study the rotation of galaxies and found that the direction in which a galaxy rotates is influenced by its moving companions, even distant ones.
Most galaxies rotate: their billions of stars orbit around a center, or nucleus of the galaxy, like a spinning wheel. In the case of spiral galaxies, the rotation and its direction are obvious, thanks to well-visible spiral arms. But even irregular-shaped galaxies like the Large Magellanic Cloud, or “smooth”, apparently featureless elliptical and lenticular galaxies show signs of rotation when observed with integral field spectrographs, like the PMAS instrument mounted on the Calar Alto 3.5-m telescope.
Also, galaxies are rarely isolated in the Universe, being usually surrounded by various companions. These may be satellites, small galaxies orbiting close by (like the Magellanic Clouds around our Milky Way), or large ones. These neighbor galaxies can interact strongly, or even merge, with the central galaxy, affecting its shape and kinematics.
December 19th 2018
The last update of the CAFE instrument on the 2.2-m telescope will provide a higher accuracy for the studies of stars and exoplanets
The Calar Alto observatory has enhanced the accuracy of the CAFE (Calar Alto Fiber-fed Échelle spectrograph) instrument, installed since 2011 on the 2.2-m telescope. The improvement is based on a new temperature control system and the renewal of a key element of the instrument.
CAFE is a high-resolution spectrograph, an instrument that spreads the light coming from an astronomical object into many colors so as to analyze it. With CAFE, various international teams of astronomers have performed studies mainly focused on stellar physics and on exoplanets that is, planets around stars different from the Sun.
November 27th 2018
LUCA is proposed as a new generation instrument for the Calar Alto Observatory (CAHA) 3.5-m telescope.
The project, conceived at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC), has been selected by the observatory's advisory committee to finance the feasibility study, managed by the University of Almería (UAL).
Calar Alto Observatory remains at the forefront of Astronomy thanks to its firm commitment with technological renovation, which resulted this year in the call for the development of a new instrument for the 3.5-m telescope. The selected project has been LUCA (Local Universe from Calar Alto), which aims to unravel physical processes at small enough scale to study how the star formation and evolution affects the formation and evolution of galaxies in our local universe.
The "planet-hunter" CARMENES studies evaporating atmospheres and water vapor beyond the Solar System
December 6th 2018
Three studies with the infrared channel of the CARMENES instrument, developed at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC), are published in the journals "Science" and "Astronomy & Astrophysics"
CARMENES opens a door to the study from the ground of the composition of exoplanetary atmospheres, their escape processes and their clouds and aerosols
With more than three thousand eight hundred extrasolar planets detected to date, the next step is to describe their characteristics and know these worlds in detail. And CARMENES, a high-resolution spectrograph co-developed by the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia and installed at the Calar Alto Observatory (CAHA, Almería), is positioning itself as a leading instrument: it has analyzed the proportion of helium and water vapor in the atmospheres of several exoplanets, offering data with better resolution than those of the Hubble Space Telescope and opening new avenues in atmospheric studies.
November 14th 2018
An international team finds an exoplanet with three times the mass of the Earth around the red dwarf Barnard, the closest star to the Sun after the Alpha Centauri system
The team has used observations taken in 18 years combined with the CARMENES planet-hunter spectrograph at Calar Alto Observatory
Just six light-years away, Barnard's star moves in Earth's night sky faster than any other star. This red dwarf, smaller and older than our Sun, is among the least active red dwarfs known, so it represents an ideal target to search for exoplanets. Now, an international team led by researchers from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) has found a cold Super-Earth orbiting around the Barnard´s star, the second closest star system to Earth. It is the first time that astronomers have discovered this type of exoplanet using the radial velocity method. The results of the study are published in the journal Nature.
November 30th 2018
Calar Alto Observatory has just installed a new computer infrastructure based on the virtualization of the servers
In an astronomical observatory, like Calar Alto, IT is fundamental: Control of telescopes and scientific instrumentation, data acquisition, data storage and its efficient management and making them available to the scientific community relays on the IT infrastructure. Besides the correct exploitation of last generation instruments like CARMENES or PANIC, needs a huge amount of IT resources, as well as the research or administrative activity of the center. In order to proportionate an adequate IT infrastructure, the Calar Alto server virtualization has just been finished, a project executed by Calar Alto engineering staff and funds with ERDF.
November 7th 2018
Solving a decades-old mystery, an international team of astronomers have discovered an extremely hot magnetosphere around a white dwarf, a remnant of a star like our Sun. The work, making use of Calar Alto data, was led by Dr Nicole Reindl, Research Fellow of the Royal Commission 1851, based at the University of Leicester, and is published today (7 November) in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
White dwarfs are the final stage in the lives of stars like our Sun. At the end of its life, these stars eject their outer atmospheres, leaving behind a hot, compact and dense core that cools over billions of years. The temperature on their surfaces is typically around 100,000 degrees Celsius (in comparison the surface of the Sun is 5800 degrees).
Some white dwarfs though challenge scientists, as they show evidence for highly ionised metals. In astronomy ‘metals’ describe every element heavier than helium, and high ionisation here means that all but one of the outer electrons usually in their atoms have been stripped away. That process needs a temperature of 1 million degrees Celsius, so far higher than the surface of even the hottest white dwarf stars.