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Researchers at the CfA have released a new paper studying the halo of our Milky Way, using data from the MMT's Hectospec of more than five thousand stars. The global motions of the stars help decode information about the mass, structure and formation of the Milky Way. They find a strange "discontinuity" region about 30,000 light years away, which may be attributable to a star stream, an association of orbiting stars that may once have been a globular cluster or dwarf galaxy that has been torn apart by tidal forces. Read more here.
Astronomers have recently learned more about an unusual old star, using data from the MMT, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Magellan Observatory. The new observations show a disk of material around the star - something that has not been found around any stars of the same type. Read more.
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Realuminization of the MMT's primary mirror has been deferred until summer 2016. Two factors guiding this decision were the state of the current coating and the status of a full-scale aluminizing test chamber being assembled at FLWO basecamp. Read more.
The MMT and Magellan Infrared Spectrograph (MMIRS) will be returning to the MMTO from Magellan this June. Observers interested in proposing for its spectroscopic capabilities may find this new paper of interest, which lists suggested observing guidelines and describes the publicly available data reduction pipeline.
Arizona State Univ. astronomers have recently completed MinMs (M-dwarfs in Multiples) - a new survey of 245 late-K to mid-M dwarfs within 15 parsecs. The survey uses, in part, the MMT adaptive optics system and ARIES to search for binary star and brown dwarf companions at close separations from the host star. They found a total of 65 co-moving stellar companions, of which four are newly resolved in this study. MinMs provides a benchmark data set for understanding how often these low mass stars form with companions. Read more here.
The final lecture in this series will be held Wed., March 25. Dr. Emilio Falco of the F.L. Whipple Observatory will give a talk entitled "Galaxies Almost Everywhere." Please join us at the Green Valley Recreation Center at 9:00am-10:30am. The talk is free and open to the public.
This series continues with Professor Edward Olszewski, University of Arizona, who will give a talk on "Modern, Changing Views of the Magellanic Clouds." Prof. Olszewski is also a frequent observer at the MMTO. The series is held at the Green Valley Recreation Center from 9:00am-10:30am and is free and open to the public. Please join us there!
Astronomers from Peking University in China and the University of Arizona have discovered the most luminous quasar known at a redshift of greater than 6. The ultra-luminous quasar has a black hole that clocks in with a mass of about 12 billion times the mass of the Sun. This incredible object was discovered and characterized in part with the Red Channel Spectrograph at the MMT. Its existence is a challenge for current theories of black hole formation and growth and may support claims that supermassive black holes grew much more quickly in the early universe in comparison to their host galaxies. Read more here.
A recent paper by reserachers at Arizona State University shows the discovery of the coldest variable brown dwarf published to-date. The astronomers used the SWIRC instrument to monitor four brown dwarfs over multiple epochs. One of those showed significant variability. These ultracool dwarfs are important evolutionary links between giant planets and the lowest mass stars, and their atmospheres will continue to be investigated further with larger surveys. Read more here.