CFHT has discovered a new dwarf planet orbiting in the disk of small icy worlds beyond Neptune.

CFHT has discovered a new dwarf planet orbiting in the disk of small icy worlds beyond Neptune.

About IMAGE: Rendering of the orbit of RR245 (orange line). Objects as bright or brighter than RR245 are labeled. The Minor Planet Center describes the object as the 18th largest in the Kuiper Belt. Credit: Alex Parker, OSSOS [source] An international team of astronomers including researchers from the University of British Columbia has discovered a new dwarf planet orbiting in the disk of small icy worlds beyond Neptune. The new object is about 700 km in diameter — roughly one-and-a-half times the size of Vancouver Island — and has one of the largest orbits for a dwarf planet. Designated 2015 RR245 by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, it was found using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Maunakea, Hawaii, as part of the ongoing Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS). “Finding a new dwarf planet beyond Neptune sheds light on the early phases of planet formation,” said Brett Gladman, the Canada Research Chair in planetary astronomy at UBC. “Since most of these icy worlds are incredibly small and faint, it’s exciting to find a bright one that is easier to study, and which is on an interesting orbit.” RR245 was first spotted in February 2016 by astronomer JJ Kavelaars of the National Research Council of Canada. The OSSOS project uses powerful computers to hunt the images, and Kavelaars was presented with a bright object moving at such a slow rate that it was clearly at least twice as far from Earth Neptune and 120 times further from the Sun than Earth. The exact size of RR245 is not yet exactly known, as its surface properties need further measurement. “It’s...
Juno orbits Jupiter!

Juno orbits Jupiter!

Normally this space on our site is for information related to discoveries from Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, but the successful orbit (click on this article’s title to see the animation) of Jupiter by Juno effects everyone on the planet.  Jupiter is one of the first planets to form in our system and what is inside this planet that almost became a sun is a mystery.  We are hopeful Juno can  unlock some of the deep secrets of how our planets formed and how a gas planet like Jupiter works.  Follow along on NASA’s page all about the Juno Mission....
30 Hawaiian Akamai interns advance their education this summer

30 Hawaiian Akamai interns advance their education this summer

From West Hawaii Today “So, what are you doing this summer?” is one of the most commonly asked questions students are asked when walking out of their final exams. But instead of replying with a casual shrug of the shoulders, Hawaii residents Nicole Tabac, Kyle Mauri and Daryl Albano had the unique opportunity to proudly say, “I’m a Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Akamai intern.” While these students are akamai by every stretch of the word, they are among 30 college students interning in STEM related organizations throughout the Big Island and Maui as a part of the Akamai Internship Program. The program’s mission is to provide college students the opportunity to gain work experience at an observatory, company or technical facility in Hawaii for seven weeks. It has had tremendous success, with an 81 percent retention rate of students staying on the STEM pathway in college and beyond. The program includes housing, travel fees and a stipend to interns. Such is possible through generous funding from sponsors such as Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory and The Air Force Office of Scientific Research based in Arlington, VA. Yet, unlike other similar internships, the program has a variety of sites and jobs available for each student based on their aptitudes and interests. The list includes more than 50 different fields of STEM ranging from biology to computer programming. Students are placed with a project and mentor that best suits their interests, according to Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope’s outreach program manager, Mary Beth Laychak. “You want to make sure the intern, mentor and project are all very well aligned,” she said. “And that’s something that Lisa...
Maunakea telescope UKIRT presents rare infrared view of the deep Universe

Maunakea telescope UKIRT presents rare infrared view of the deep Universe

Astronomers at The University of Nottingham have released spectacular new infrared images of the distant Universe, providing the deepest view ever obtained over a large area of sky. The team, led by Omar Almaini, Professor of Astrophysics in the School of Physics and Astronomy, is presenting their results at the National Astronomy Meeting taking place this week at the University’s Jubilee Campus. The final data release from the Ultra-Deep Survey (UDS) maps an area four times the size of the full Moon to unprecedented depth. Over 250,000 galaxies have been detected, including several hundred observed within the first billion years after the Big Bang. Astronomers around the world will use the new images to study the early stages of galaxy formation and evolution. The release of the final UDS images represents the culmination of a project that began taking data in 2005. The scientists used the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) on Hawaii to observe the same patch of sky repeatedly, building up more than 1000 hours of exposure time. Observing in the infrared is vital for studying the distant Universe, as ordinary starlight is “redshifted” to longer wavelengths due to the cosmological expansion of the Universe. Because of the finite speed of light, the most distant galaxies are also observed very far back in time. Professor Almaini said: “With the UDS we can study distant galaxies in large numbers, and observe how they evolved at different stages in the history of the Universe. We see most of the galaxies in our image as they were billions of years before the Earth was formed.” The UDS is the deepest...
Astronomers at CFHT in Hawaii discover giant young planet

Astronomers at CFHT in Hawaii discover giant young planet

Latest From the Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) For the last 20 years the giant planets known as hot Jupiters have presented astronomers with a puzzle. How did they settle into orbits 100 times closer to their host stars than our own Jupiter is to the Sun? An international team of astronomers has announced this week1 the discovery of a newborn hot Jupiter, orbiting an infant sun — only 2 million years old, the stellar equivalent of a week-old human baby. The discovery that hot Jupiters can already be present at such an early stage of star-planet formation represents a major step forward in our understanding of how planetary systems form and evolve. Alternative artist view of V830 Tau and the newborn giant planet like the one recently discovered. Infant stars are very active making the detection of planets around them challenging. Image was created by student artist from Hawaii. (credit Michael Ho)   For this discovery, the team monitored a 2 million-year-old infant star called V830 Tau, located in the Taurus stellar nursery, some 430 light-years away. Over the 1.5 months of the campaign, a regular 4.9-day “wobble” in the velocity of the host star revealed a giant planet almost as massive as Jupiter, orbiting its host star at a distance of only one-twentieth that of the Sun to the Earth distance. “Our discovery demonstrates for the first time that such bodies can be generated at very early stages of planetary formation, and likely play a central role in shaping the overall architecture of planetary systems” explains Jean-François Donati, CNRS astronomer at IRAP / OMP2  and lead author of...
Internship program relies on TMT: Loss of key contributor would impact aspiring scientists, engineers

Internship program relies on TMT: Loss of key contributor would impact aspiring scientists, engineers

By TOM CALLIS Hawaii Tribune-Herald University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Science and Technology Building was about as quiet as could be expected Wednesday given the summer break. That’s except for two rooms on the second floor where nearly 30 students were busy at work solving problems related to renewable energy and optics. And this was just the one-week preparatory course. The students from across Hawaii next will spend seven weeks at telescopes or technology businesses in the state working with mentors and gaining some valuable real-world experience. It’s all part of the Akamai Internship Program that for 14 years has acted as a launching pad for aspiring scientists and engineers in Hawaii. Akamai director Lisa Hunter estimates 81 percent of the 328 students who have come through the program have jobs in science and technology fields or are continuing their education. But despite its track record, Hunter said the program could face significant cutbacks. Since 2009, she said the program’s largest contributor has been the TMT International Observatory, the nonprofit organization behind the Thirty Meter Telescope, a controversial $1.4 billion project proposed for Mauna Kea. If the next-generation observatory, which has faced strong opposition from some Native Hawaiians who consider the mountain sacred, moves elsewhere, the program stands to be one of the most impacted. “When TMT started contributing money, that pretty much rescued us from having almost no interns on the Big Island,” Hunter said. “That was a big relief for us.” The $150,000 a year that TMT contributes makes up a third of the program’s funding. Additional funding sources include the Hawaii Community Foundation, Air Force Office...