Great news everybody!
We applied for radio observations with the e-MERLIN network of radio telescopes in the UK. The e-MERLIN network can link up radio dishes across the UK to form a really, really large radio telescope using the interferometry technique. Linking all these radio dishes means you get the resolution equivalent to a country-sized telescope. You don’t alas get the sensitivity, as the collecting area is still just that of the sum of the dishes you are using.
Our proposal was to observe the Voorwerpjes. We wanted to take a really high resolution look at what the black holes are doing right now by looking for nuclear radio jets. The Voorwerpjes, like their larger cousin, Hanny’s Voorwerp, tell us that black holes can go from a feeding frenzy to a starvation diet in a short time scale (for a galaxy, that is). We really want to see what happens to the central engine of the black hole as that happens. There’s a suspicion that as the black hole stops gobbling matter as fast as it can, it starts “switching state” and launches a radio jet that starts putting a lot of kinetic energy (think hitting the galaxy with a hammer).
So, we want to look for such radio jets in the Voorwerpjes. We asked for a LOT of time, and the e-MERLIN time allocation committee approved our request…
… partially. Rather than giving us the entire time, they gave us time for just one source to prove that we can do the observations, and that they are as interesting as we claimed. So, we’re trying to decide which target to pick (argh! so hard).
3000 astronomers will bring down the wireless in any building, so I have been a bit behind in posting from the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach CA…
Yesterday, Bill Keel presented a poster with the latest Hubble observations of the Voorwerpjes in the Giant Room Full of Posters, where astronomers, pretty much ALL of who work on absolutely cool stuff, present their results. So, anything you can do to get peoples’ attention helps! I decided to bring along some chocolates from Switzerland. If any unwary astronomer walked past and took one, they then had to at least look at the poster… ; )
AAS meeting update!
The last 24 hours have been good for Zoo team member Bill Keel (@ngc3314) is based at the University of Alabama. Not only did his University football team win some sort of championship (they all look the same to Europeans) last night, but the Hubble Space Telescope observed the final Voorwerpje in our approved programme! That means Bill was probably glued to the TV and downloading and reducing the data at the same time!
He’ll add the reduced image to his poster at the AAS meeting, so if you want to see the image, come join us at the poster tomorrow! He may also blog it some time later, but for the FIRST look, you’ll have to come to the poster! There may be chocolates too….
The poster is: 339.47. HST Imaging of Giant Ionized Clouds Around Fading AGN, up all of Wednesday from 9-6.
Quick note to let you know that we’ve been granted time on XMM-Newton to observe three of the “top” Voorwerpjes. This follows the proposal we submitted earlier this year. The allocation is for priority “C” which means that they will take our observations if they fit into the schedule, but there is no guarantee.