Post date: 1 year 8 months ago

The Dark Energy Survey has now mapped one-eighth of the full sky (red shaded region) using the Dark Energy Camera on the Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile (foreground). This map has led to the discovery of 17 dwarf galaxy candidates in the past six months (red dots), including eight new candidates just announced. Several of the candidates are in close proximity to the two largest dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, both of which are visible to the unaided eye. By comparison, the new stellar systems are so faint that they are difficult to “see” even in the deep DES images and can be more easily visualised using maps of the stellar density (inset). Fourteen of the dwarf galaxy candidates found in DES data are visible in this particular image. Illustration credit: Dark Energy Survey Collaboration.

Post date: 1 year 8 months ago

Honolulu, Hawai’i (9 August 2015) – Today, at the International Astronomical Union meeting, the International Dark-Sky Association announced that the site of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) Observatory in the Elqui Valley of northern Chile will be recognized and designated as the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary in the world. The site will be known as the “Gabriela Mistral Dark Sky Sanctuary” after the famed Chilean poet.

 "The Gabriela Mistral Dark Sky Sanctuary will serve as an example of how collaboration among governmental and non-governmental stakeholders can preserve one of the most special places on the planet”, IDA Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend said.  (See Spanish Version - Ver Versión en Español)

Post date: 2 years 1 month ago

Scientists on two continents have independently discovered a set of celestial objects that seem to belong to the rare category of dwarf satellite galaxies orbiting our home galaxy, the Milky Way.

Dwarf galaxies are the smallest known galaxies, and they could hold the key to understanding dark matter and the process by which larger galaxies form.

A team of researchers with the Dark Energy Survey, headquartered at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and an independent group from the University of Cambridge jointly announced their findings today. Both teams used data taken during the first year of the Dark Energy Survey, all of which is publicly available, to carry out their analysis.

Post date: 2 years 4 months ago
Image Credit: Dane Kleiner

Galaxies – spirals laced with nests of recent star formation, quiescent ellipticals composed mainly of old red stars, and numerous faint dwarfs – are the basic visible building blocks of the Universe. Galaxies are rarely found in isolation, but rather in sparse groups – sort of galactic urban sprawl. But there are occasional dense concentrations, often found in the center of giant clusters, but also, intriguingly, as more isolated compact groups (and yes, called Compact Galaxy Groups or CGs). The galaxies in these Compact Groups show dramatic differences in the way they evolve and change with time compared with galaxies in more isolated surroundings. Why is this? Collisions between galaxies in these dense groups are common, leading to rapid star formation, but there seems to be more to the puzzle.



Galaxias - espirales entrelazadas, con recientes nidos de formación de estrellas, elipses inmóviles compuestas principalmente de antiguas estrellas rojas, y numerosas enanas tenues  - son los bloques básicos visibles de la construcción del universo. Las galaxias rara vez se encuentran en forma aislada, sino  más bien en grupos dispersos: una especie de expansión galáctica urbana. Pero ocasionalmente existen concentraciones más densas, las cuales a menudo se encuentran en el centro de grandes grupos, pero también, curiosamente, como grupos compactos más aislados (y sí, llamados Grupos Compactos de Galaxias o CGs ).  Las galaxias en estos grupos compactos muestran diferencias dramáticas en la forma en que evolucionan y cambian con el paso del tiempo en comparación con las galaxias en un entorno más aislado. ¿Por qué es esto? Las colisiones entre galaxias en estas agrupaciones densas son comunes, lo que lleva a la rápida formación de estrellas, pero parece que hay más para el rompecabezas.
Post date: 2 years 5 months ago

The prize, for the unexpected discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, rather than slowing as had been long assumed, is a shared honor with Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt, and Adam Riess leading a collaboration of 51 total prize recipients splitting $3 million. Significant work on this project was done at the CTIO Blanco 4-meter telescope by current NOAO staff members Chris Smith and Tom Matheson, and former NOAO employees Bob Schommer, Nick Suntzeff, Mark Phillips, and Alejandro Clochiatti along with various other current and former AURA employees.

See the Breakthrough Prize Announcement


El grupo del Staff de NOAO recibe el Premio en Física Fundamental “Breakthrough” 2015

El Premio, por el inesperado descubrimiento de que la expansión del universo se está acelerando, en vez de desacelerando como había sido asumido por largo tiempo, es un honor compartido con Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt y Adam Riess quienes lideraron una colaboración total de 51 receptores del premio, distribuyéndose los tres millones de dólares del galardón.  Un significativo trabajo en este proyecto fue hecho en el telescopio Blanco 4-m de CTIO por los actuales miembros del staff de NOAO Chris Smith y Tom Matheson y los ex-empleados de NOAO Bob Schommer, Nick Suntzeff, Mark Phillips y Alejandro Clocchiatti, en conjunto con otros tantos empleados activos y antiguos de AURA.

Vea el anuncio del Premio Breakthrough

Post date: 2 years 8 months ago
This image of the NGC 1398 galaxy was taken with the Dark Energy Camera. This galaxy lives in the Fornax cluster, roughly 65 million light-years from Earth. It is 135,000 light-years in diameter, just slightly larger than our own Milky Way galaxy, and contains more than 100 billion stars. Credit: Dark Energy Survey.

See the video of Fermilab


Esta imagen de la galaxia NGC 1398 fue captada con la Cámara de Energía Oscura (DECam).  Esta galaxia está  en el cúmulo Fornax, a aproximadamente 65 millones de años luz de la Tierra.  Tiene un diámetro de 135.000 años luz, un poco más grande que nuestra galaxia Vía Léctea y contiene más de 100 billones de Estrellas. (Crédito de la imagen:  Investigación de la Energía Oscura)

Ver el video de Fermilab

Post date: 3 years 1 month ago

These images show the discovery of the new inner Oort cloud object 2012 VP113 taken about 2 hours apart on UT November 5, 2012 with the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the CTIO 4 meter telescope in Chile. The motion of 2012 VP113 clearly stands out compared to the steady state background of stars and galaxies. (Credit: Scott S. Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science)

For more information go to:

Press release of Carnegie Institution for Science

Post date: 3 years 2 months ago

The SAM science verification program is finished in the January 2014 run. The picture shows gravitational arcs in the galaxy cluster Abel 370 as seen by the SDSS, HST, and SAM (from SV proposal by G.~Caminha et al.)

Post date: 3 years 8 months ago

A major milestone was reached on August 23:
The Blanco f/8 secondary has been mounted on the telescope for the first time since the accident.
Recovery of the f/8 secondary and mirror cell was a joint NOAO South / North effort.

In the picture: proud crew, with repaired f/8 secondary back on the telescopes.

This week work on the f/8 system and supporting equipment continues.
Stay tuned for more news on the commissioning of the f/8.

Post date: 3 years 9 months ago

DECam is presently in a scheduled engineering shutdown. During these two weeks improvements are being made to most of the systems associated with the instrument. For instance, the cooling system for the prime focus cage electronics is being hardened by plumbing in a complete spare chiller than will allow rapid changeover in case of a pump failure, the liquid nitrogen pumping system is being placed on a devoted UPS and the controller changed to allow this, the calibration unit (DECal) is having a software upgrade, and there are improvements to the telemetry that will better allow us to monitor instrument performance, amongst a host of other changes.

Post date: 3 years 9 months ago

Friday, July 19th, the clouds broke and gave way to a light sprinkling of snow. Here is the snow with the sun shining on it--just beautiful!

Credit: Leonardo Paredes (CTIO/NOAO)

Post date: 3 years 10 months ago
This image of emission nebula NGC6334 (the Cat’s Paw Nebula), a star-forming region in the constellation Scorpius, was taken in 2007 using the Mosaic-2 imager on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. The colors of the nebula are reddened by intervening dust in the plane of the Milky Way galaxy. The image was taken as part of a continuing campaign of public-release images using both NOAO 4-meter telescopes. Credit: T.A. Rector / University of Alaska Anchorage, T. Abbott and NOAO / AURA/NSF.

See more on the NOAO Press Release

This is a David Walker test, this image is copyright, David Walker
Post date: 3 years 12 months ago

Globular cluster NGC 6496, observed with the SOAR Adaptive Module (SAM).

Post date: 4 years 5 months ago

Astronomers at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile hope to unlock secrets of our changing universe with the most powerful sky-mapping camera ever built.  A five-year study beginning in December aims to discover some 300 million galaxies and 4,000 supernovae.

See the REUTER's video

A full-scale image of the Fornax galaxy cluster taken with the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera
Post date: 4 years 7 months ago
Scientists in the international Dark Energy Survey collaboration announced this week that the Dark Energy Camera has achieved first light. The first pictures of the southern sky were taken by the 570-megapixel camera on Sept. 12, 2012.  Image: A full DECam image of the Fornax cluster of galaxies, which lies about 60 million light years from Earth.  The prominent galaxy in the lower right is the barred spiral galaxy NGC1365.  For more information, see NOAO Press Release.

Post date: 4 years 8 months ago

DECam's imager is visible for the last time (blue, left of center) before it is inserted into the instrument, meeting the optical corrector for the first time.

Image credit: T. Abbott CTIO/NOAO/AURA.

Post date: 4 years 8 months ago

Patricio Schurter (CTIO) and Ken Schultz (Fermilab) install the filter changer and shutter assembly in DECam while Andrés Montané (CTIO) and Adam Sypniewski (Michigan) install BCAM fine alignment sensors in the telescope.

Image credit: T. Abbott CTIO/NOAO/AURA.

Post date: 4 years 8 months ago
The Cassegrain cage of the V. M. Blanco telescope has been modified to carry 5.5 tons of lead to counterweight the new DECam installed on the prime focus. The DECam installation is nearing completion with first light expected near the end of September.

Image Credit: Timothy Abbott (CTIO/NOAO/AURA)

Post date: 4 years 10 months ago
This image was obtained with the wide-field view of the Mosaic II camera on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo on Jan 12th and Feb 7th, 2012. An array of dark Bok globules, known as Thackeray's Globules, can be seen in silhouette against the emission nebula IC 2944 in the constellation Centaurus. The image was generated with observations in the B (blue), I (orange) and Hydrogen-Alpha (yellow) filters. In this image, north is to the right, and east is up.Credit: T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage) and N.S. van der Bliek (NOAO/AURA/NSF)
Post date: 4 years 11 months ago

On May 3, 2012 the new prime focus cage for DECam was installed. The assembly (or “Camera”) includes the cage, hexapod, cabling, optics, and (for now) dummy imager.

The yellow and red supergiants in the Large Magellanic Cloud. C. Smith, S. Points, the MCELS Team & NOAO/AURA/NSF
Post date: 5 years 1 week ago

Using NOAO facilities, astronomers from Lowell Observatory have acted as "stellar paparazzi", managing to identify hundreds of rare yellow and red supergiants in two neighboring galaxies. Shown is an image of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) galaxy with positions of the supergiant stars overlaid. The observations will provide strong constraints on the late evolution of massive stars, the progenitors of core-collapse supernovae (Image Credit: C. Smith, S. Points, the MCELS Team and NOAO/AURA/NSF). 

Post date: 5 years 2 months ago

These images reveal light from a massive stellar outburst in the Carina Nebula reflecting off dust clouds, a phenomenon called a light echo. The image was taken by the U.S. NOAO’s Blanco 4-meter Telescope and Curtis-Schmidt Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile. Credit: NASA, NOAO, N. Smith (U. Arizona) and A. Rest (STScI).

Post date: 5 years 3 months ago

On January 9 and 10, the director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Subra Suresh visited NSF optical astronomy facilities in Northern Chile.

Post date: 5 years 4 months ago

The BRAVA fields are shown in this image montage. For reference, the center of the Milky Way is at coordinates L= 0, B=0. The regions observed are marked with colored circles. This montage includes the southern Milky Way all the way to the horizon, as seen from CTIO. The telescope in silhouette is the CTIO Blanco 4-m.

Post date: 5 years 5 months ago

The Nobel Prize committee announced that the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics has been won by three astronomers, for the discovery that the expansion of the Universe is speeding up. Both the Supernova Cosmology Project and High-Z Supernova Search team used the Blanco telescope between 1994 and 1998 for some of their most critical observations, CTIO staff members were members of the High-z team.

Post date: 5 years 7 months ago

A wide angle photograph of the V. M. Blanco 4-m telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory.

Post date: 5 years 9 months ago

An interesting report of the MIlls expedition in the North of Chile during 1909 and onwards, written by H.D. Curtis

Post date: 5 years 9 months ago

Welcome to the new CTIO web site, after a lot of effort by David Walker and especially by Jackie Seron in transfering information from the old site to this new one, we are ready to go live internally.

Bombing of Coquimbo Harbour 1931
Post date: 5 years 10 months ago

On the night of August 31 to September 1, 1931, while the fleet was in the port of Coquimbo, the sailors of the Chilean battleship Almirante Latorre mutinied, taking prisoners all the officers of the ship, who were kept confined in their cabins. The insurrection immediately spread to the rest of the fleet in Coquimbo, and all 14 units were soon in the hands of the sailors.

Post date: 6 years 2 weeks ago

April 16, 2011. The loop was closed on the laser guide star on April 15.

Post date: 6 years 2 weeks ago

The Bucaniers depart from the Port of Hilo, and sail unto that of Coquimbo. They are descryed before their arrival. Notwithstanding they land: are encountred by the Spaniards, and put them to flight. They take, plunder, and fire the City of la Serena.

Post date: 6 years 3 weeks ago

The Blanco 4-m telescope primary mirror, cleaned of its old coating of aluminum prior to installation in the vacuum chamber used to apply a new coating.

Post date: 6 years 1 month ago

“First Blast”, detonated on the El Peñón summit March 8th at 8:56:00 (MST) in preparation for the LSST.

Post date: 6 years 2 months ago

Large Synoptic Survey Telescope gets Top Ranking, "a Treasure Trove of Discovery" In a report released this morning.

Post date: 6 years 2 months ago

The Allsky camera is back, it was installed on Wednesday the 10th of November 2010, but officially went online on the 18th after some testing.