A nearby green pea galaxy, analog to the first galaxies, shows how the young Universe became illuminated
March 25th 2019
A team of astronomers have used PMAS on the 3.5-m telescope to study a nearby star-forming galaxy, emitting energetic photons in a similar way to the first generation of galaxies
These first galaxies turned the Universe transparent, less than one billion years after the Big Bang
The young Universe was a dark place. A few hundred million years after the Big Bang, the first stars formed, and their ultraviolet radiation ionized the hydrogen atoms that populated the Universe and absorbed the radiation. This is called the Era of Reionization, and marks the time when the Universe became transparent to light (and, hence, observable). Now, a team of astronomers have used the PMAS instrument at Calar Alto Observatory to study a green pea, a local analog to the first galaxies, to better understand how ultraviolet light escapes and ionizes distant areas, in a process similar to that of Reionization.
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.
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.
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