Observing Saturn
Published 7/6/2011 in David Barrado Author dbarrado
Amazing experience! With my student Jorge Lillo, I have been observing Saturn with the 2.2m telescope and Astralux, a lucky imaging camara capable of delivering images with resolution almost similar to those of the Hubble Space Telescope. If you do not beleive, have a look... read more ❯

A tour in Paranal, including an earthquake
Published 1/9/2011 in David Barrado Author dbarrado
Alien, as I said before. As a token, a couple of videos, with the landscape and the residence. The first time I visited, it looked like a research station in Mars. I still have the same feeling. I cannot avoid remembering a science fiction story by John Varley: In the Hall of the Martian Kings. Perhaps the most impressive thing is the way down to the residence, below the dome. The external ambient is extremely dry. But once you cross the second door, everything changes. Watch and try to imagine the experience: Anyway, this morning when we were working, preparing the observations... read more ❯

The best proto-brown dwarf candidate so far: PR from Spitzer
Published 11/28/2009 in David Barrado Author dbarrado
SPITZER TELESCOPE OBSERVES BABY BROWN DWARF PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has contributed to the discovery of the youngest brown dwarf ever observed -- a finding that, if confirmed, may solve an astronomical mystery about how these cosmic misfits are formed. Brown dwarfs are misfits because they fall somewhere between planets and stars in terms of their temperature and mass. They are cooler and more lightweight than stars and more massive (and normally warmer) than planets. This has generated a debate among astronomers: Do brown dwarfs form like planets or like stars? [caption id="attachment_133" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="This image shows two young... read more ❯

The best proto-brown dwarf candidate so far: PR from Calar Alto
Published 11/26/2009 in David Barrado Author dbarrado
Brown dwarfs are sometimes called "failed stars". They are born from interstellar clouds following processes closely related to the formation of normal stars. But brown dwarfs lack mass enough to light up nuclear reactions in their interiors. Thus, they cannot be considered true stars and in fact some properties reassemble those shown by giant planets. Uncovering proto-brown dwarfs, i.e., brown dwarfs in their very first evolutionary stages, is a long-sought hit. A recent study has found the best proto-brown dwarf candidate known to date. Calar Alto has contributed key data to this finding… * * * The first brown dwarfs were discovered... read more ❯

The results of the effort...
Published 9/1/2009 in David Barrado Author dbarrado
If months ago (sorry for not being able to write more often: work, trips, vacations...) I wrote about writing proposals and the efort it implied, now I am collecting the benefits: the observing time. I applied and obtained a fair amount of hours in service mode with the new and shine Spanish 10 m telescope GTC. I submitted the Observing Blocks (the instructions about how to observe) yesterday and since the proposal was approved with a good ranking, the data will be collected during the incoming months And I am now at the William Herschel Telescope, observing very young objects we... read more ❯

Submitting proposals: is it worth the effort?
Published 6/4/2009 in David Barrado Author dbarrado
Astronomy, like any other science, works under the system of peer-review. It means that nothing is published in a prestigious journal without having the external examination of at least one specialist in the field, a person who is not connected directly with the research described in the paper. The same system is valid for the observing proposals. Most observatories (at least the important ones) have a panel of experts which read all the submitted proposals and grade them, granting time to the best and feasible ideas. See Franck Marchis' description about how it works with the European Southern Observatory. The... read more ❯