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The fastest stars in the universe

teaser smallStars exist, normally, inside galaxies: huge stellar accumulations containing many thousand millions of members. The Sun itself belongs to one of such systems, normally called the Galaxy. For this reason, from the Solar System we contemplate a night-sky full of stars: we are seeing the closest companions of the Sun inside the Galaxy. But several astrophysical mechanisms are capable of ejecting stars from inside a galaxy directly into the intergalactic space. Those stars, the so-called hyper-velocity stars, reach speeds of hundreds of kilometres per second. Recently, the first hyper-velocity star from an external galaxy has been detected in a research leaded at the Ruhr-University (Bochum, Germany), and Calar Alto telescopes and instruments have played a key rule in this discovery…

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A new type of stellar death

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Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are brief and intense flashes of gamma-ray radiation that occur randomly in any direction of the sky. After some decades of study, these very violent phenomena still give astronomers reasons for surprise. A new type of GRB-related explosion has been discovered recently, and Calar Alto telescopes have played their role in this story…

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Aluminising mirrors at Calar Alto: top technology at shine
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Calar Alto Observatory facilities offer forefront technology for first-line astronomical research. But the German Spanish Astronomical Centre has its resources available, too, for external, even non-astronomical, institutions or enterprises. Maybe the best example of this is the Observatory’s service of mirror coating and aluminising. Mirrors from telescopes and other devices all around the world, or even “outside this world”, have come to Calar Alto since the beginning of the Observatory to get their reflecting surfaces renewed…

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The fingerprint of the stars: the new CAFÉ spectrograph for Calar Alto
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After passing the commissioning phase, the latest newcomer among the spread of instruments of Calar Alto Observatory is already at work: the high-resolution spectrograph known as CAFÉ. This device, designed and built at Calar Alto for its 2.2 m reflecting telescope, analyses in detail the light coming from celestial bodies in order to extract from it a rich wealth of astrophysical information of many kinds. CAFÉ will be one of the battle horses of the 2.2 m Calar Alto telescope from now on…

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The scientific archives of Calar Alto Observatory: a World of discoveries at everybody’s reach

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In the internet era, data archiving constitutes a key tool to multiply the efficiency, competitiveness and scientific yield of astronomical observatories. From July 2011 Calar Alto Observatory is providing its users and the general scientific community with a more efficient and safer data access, through a new in situ data archiving system. At the same time, the Centre for Astrobiology (CAB) has set up a system for Calar Alto data archiving compatible with the Virtual Observatory standard. The outstanding performance of these systems, mutually complementary and continuously updated, offers resources that will contribute to maintain the German-Spanish Astronomical Centre at the forefront of observational astronomy in Europe…

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