Calar Alto Astronomical Observatory

SN2015bh: end of star or supernova “impostor”?

EtaCarinae mini

March 14th 2017

Astronomers spot an intense explosion of a massive star, which, according to records, experienced frequent eruptions for at least 20 years

The analysis of the outburst does not allow to discern between a real supernova - an explosive event marks the end of a star - or a giant eruption implying a massive change in the star’s evolutionary course

Massive stars end their lives in supernova explosions, highly energetic events that can be as luminous as the entire starlight from their host galaxies. However, there are events called "supernova impostors“ which, despite their intensity, are not the end of the star’s life. This could very well be the case of SN 2015bh, a star which had suffered at least 21 years of violent eruptions and which, together with a number of other objects, could be a member of a new class.




Calar Alto Observatory on strike

CA-logo STRIKE lowCalar Alto Observatory is on strike from March the 27th to April the 2nd, 2014. The call for strike was made by Calar Alto workers, to show their disagreement with the severe cut offs in the Observatory's budget decided by the Spanish Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and the German Max Planck Society (MPG).


Stellar formation shoots are observed in a type of galaxy where, in theory, stars are no longer born


January 19th 2017

CALIFA project allowed to detect, in three early-type galaxies, a very tenuous arms where stars are being formed.

The data, obtained with Calar Alto Observatory 3.5m telescope, contradict the widespread belief that in old galaxies stars are no longer born.



A stellar burst reveals the formation mechanism of massive stars


November 14th 2016

An outburst from a massive star in formation produced due to the sudden intake of material coming from its accretion disk, has been detected for the very first time.

This discovery is the most solid evidence so far that high mass stars are formed through a similar process to that which gives rise to the low mass ones.

Stars with low mass, like the Sun, are formed from big fragments of clouds of gas and dust, which condense until a central object, or proto star, is formed, growing it up by absorbing gas from a surround disk, and expelling the surplus material through a couple of jets located on both poles. However, it was not known if the most massive stars, with tens of the Sun mass, are formed through the same mechanism. The study of an outburst detected on the massive star in formation NIRS 3, and published today in Nature Physics, has provided the most solid evidence that, in effect, all stars are formed the same.



The peculiarities of the big equatorial jet stream of Saturn’s atmosphere revealed


November 8th 2016

A study shows how are the structure and the temporal variations of the biggest jet stream of the Solar System.

The research, carried out by the Group of Planetary Sciences of the University of País Vasco, has used the PlanetCam camera installed at the Calar Alto Observatory 2.2m Telescope.

The atmosphere of Saturn has the wider and more intense jet stream of all the planets in the Solar System, with winds up to 1.650 km/h, thirteen times the value of the Earth’s hurricane winds, and with an extension of 70.000 km, more than five times our planet’s size. A study lead by University of País Vasco (UPV/EHU) using data from Calar Alto Observatory 2.2m telescope, has just revealed the peculiarities of this jet stream, which nature and energy are still unknown.




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