Rock Star Paul Young encounters the Stars @ ESO
Published 10/18/2011 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
I am sick, at home. Stomach not working as originally designed. Therefore I find some time to blog. These last days have been very busy with the organization of the ESO Observing Programmes Committee, the board that selects the scientific projects that make to the ESO telescopes, including the VLT. I'll tell you more about that; for the time being it suffices to say that we have received 969 valid proposals for the next semester, with all what this entails... Today I finished the review of a PhD Thesis from the Australian National University. A very good one, a pleasure to... read more ❯

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2011 goes to Supernovae!
Published 10/4/2011 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Great news! The Nobel Prize in Physics 2011 goes to Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess,"for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae". This was somehow in the air since 2007, when they were assigned the Gruber Cosmology Prize. But now is real. No matter what the physical explanation for the observed effect is, the finding is striking, and probably constitutes one of the most important scientific results of the past century. Truly enough there is probably another branch of astrophysics that has achieved great results in the last 20 years, and... read more ❯

Exploding Stars in Leiden
Published 9/19/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Just arrived in Leiden. Tomorrow, at the Lorentz Center, an international workshop on Supernova explosions will start. It will focus on the progenitors of one specific class of SNe, called Type Ia. They became famous because of the implications they had on the acceleration of the universe. During the last few years, my collaborators and  I have been trying to find something in the surroundings of Ia that would tell us about the stellar system/s that produce/s these powerful explosions. Of course other researchers had other ideas to tackle this problem, which Mario Livio has defined as "embarrassing". So, in the... read more ❯

A walk into the desert
Published 9/1/2010 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
A view of the desert from Paranal's residencia This is now the 8th night of this run at the Very Large Telescope. I have been observing at Kueyen, the second 8.2m unit telescope (UT2 for friends). At the moment it is equipped with three spectrographs, UVES, FLAMES, and X-Shooter. All nights where good, very stable and quiet. But tonight the wind is blowing strong, from the north. So strong that we had to close down after some hours of operations. The unit telescopes are huge, 400 tons,  earthquake-proof metallic structures, but still you can move them... read more ❯