Latest W. M. Keck Observatory Stories

2006-02-02 07:45:00

Berkeley -- A bound pair of icy comets similar to the dirty snowballs circling outside the orbit of Neptune has been found lurking in the shadow of Jupiter. Astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, working with colleagues in France and at the Keck Telescope in Hawaii, have calculated the density of a known binary asteroid system that shares Jupiter's orbit, and concluded that Patroclus and its companion probably are composed mostly of water ice covered by a patina of dirt....

2006-01-10 06:25:00

WASHINGTON, D. C. -- New observations of the Orion Nebula at infrared wavelengths reveal that small dust grains located in disks around young stars are growing, taking the initial steps toward forming planets despite bathing in a flood of radiation from highly luminous stars. The properties of dust in disks around young stars plays a pivotal role in understanding star formation and determining the origins of planets in our Solar system and in extrasolar planetary systems as well. The results...

2006-01-09 17:17:18

UC Santa Cruz -- New findings from a large survey of galaxies suggest that star formation is largely driven by the supply of raw materials, rather than by galactic mergers that trigger sudden bursts of star formation. Stars form when clouds of gas and dust collapse under the force of gravity, and the study supports a scenario in which exhaustion of a galaxy's gas supply leads to a gradual decline in the star-formation rate. The results, presented this week at the American Astronomical...

2005-11-22 16:55:00

The genius of Albert Einstein, who added a "cosmological constant" to his equation for the expansion of the universe but later retracted it, may be vindicated by new research. The enigmatic dark energy that drives the accelerating expansion of the universe behaves just like Einstein's famed cosmological constant, according to the Supernova Legacy Survey (SNLS), an international team of researchers in France and Canada that collaborated with large telescope observers at Oxford, Caltech and...

2005-09-29 18:46:39

JPL -- Are we alone in the universe? Are there planets like Earth around other "suns" that might harbor life?  Thanks to a recent technology breakthrough on a key NASA planet-finding project, the dream of answering those questions is no longer light-years away. On a crystal clear, star-filled night at Hawaii's Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, NASA engineers successfully suppressed the blinding light of three stars, including the well-known Vega, by 100 times.  This breakthrough...

2005-09-21 14:30:00

NASA -- When NASA's Deep Impact mission ploughed into comet 9P/Tempel 1 on July 4th of this year, the giant telescopes on Mauna Kea had a unique view of the massive cloud of dust, gas and ice expelled during the collision. A series of coordinated observations, made under ideal conditions by the world's largest collection of big telescopes, delivered surprising new insights into the ancestry and life cycles of comets. Specifically, materials beneath the comet's dusty skin reveal striking...

2005-07-21 07:42:14

Gemini -- A relatively young star located about 300 light-years away is greatly improving our understanding of the formation of Earth-like planets. The star, going by the unassuming name of BD +20 307, is shrouded by the dustiest environment ever seen so close to a Sun-like star well after its formation. The warm dust is believed to be from recent collisions of rocky bodies at distances from the star comparable to that of the Earth from the Sun. The results were based on observations...

2005-05-24 07:25:00

The most detailed measurements to date of the dusty disks around young stars confirm a new theory that the region where rocky planets such as Earth form is much farther away from the star than originally thought. These first definitive measurements of planet-forming zones offer important clues to the initial conditions that give birth to planets. Astrobiology Magazine -- The most detailed measurements to date of the dusty disks around young stars confirm a new theory that the region where...

2005-04-09 00:45:00

RAS -- The largest ground-based optical telescopes in use today use mirrors that are 10 m (33 ft) across. But the prospects for future Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs) are looking up. According to recent studies by international teams of astronomers and leading astronomical organisations, the next generation of optical telescopes could be 50-100 metres (165 330 ft) in diameter - big enough to fill a sports stadium. This quantum leap in size has important implications, since astronomers want...

2005-04-06 07:50:00

RAS -- UK and US astronomers have used the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope to detect  light coming from some of the first stars to form in some of the most distant galaxies yet seen. Speaking today at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Birmingham, Dr. Andrew Bunker (University of Exeter) discussed new evidence that the formation of the first galaxies may have got underway earlier than previously thought. This observational work using infrared images from...

Latest W. M. Keck Observatory Reference Libraries

2004-10-19 04:45:43

Interferometry -- Interferometry is the applied science of combining two or more input points of a data type, such as optical, and combine these data to form a greater picture based on the combination of the two sources. This technique is the basis for proposed radio telescope arrays, which spread out upon a wide area of hundreds of miles, can together produce a picture with resolution similar or equivalent to a single telescope with the diameter of the combined spread of telescopes. The...

2004-10-19 04:45:40

Keck Observatory -- From a remote outpost on the summit of Hawaii's dormant Mauna Kea volcano, astronomers at the W.M. Keck Observatory probe the deepest regions of the Universe with unprecedented power and precision. Their instruments are the twin Keck Telescopes, the world's largest optical and and infrared telescopes. Each stands eight stories tall and weighs 300 tons, yet operates with nanometer precision. At the heart of each Keck Telescope is a revolutionary primary mirror. Ten...

2004-10-19 04:45:40

Mauna Kea Observatories -- Hawaii is Earth's connecting point to the rest of the Universe. The summit of Mauna Kea on the Island of Hawaii hosts the world's largest astronomical observatory, with telescopes operated by astronomers from eleven countries. The combined light-gathering power of the telescopes on Mauna Kea is fifteen times greater than that of the Palomar telescope in California -- for many years the world's largest -- and sixty times greater than that of the Hubble Space...

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