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 ❯

Stellar Death
Published 12/22/2009 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
When I was close to the end of my Master in Astronomy at the University of Padua, I do not exactly remember why I decided to do my thesis work on Supernovae, under the supervision of prof. Roberto Barbon. So, sometime in early 1991 I got a date with him and his collaborators to discuss a possible project. At the end of the meeting, one of his two assistants (the inseparable duo Turatto&Cappellaro/Cappellaro&Turatto) gave me four reviews and told me: "Here is all what you need to know about Supernovae".... read more ❯

Catastrophic Explosions seen through Interstellar Clouds
Published 11/26/2009 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
I realized that I never wrote about my scientific research (which actually is one of the two sides of my professional life, the other being my functional duties for the European Organization for Astronomical Research). As you may have noticed from my short resumee in the CosmicDiary, I mainly work on Supernovae. Soon there will be a Feature Article on this, so I will not insist too much on this here. Supernovae are the dramatic fate of some stars and are amongst the most energetic phenomena we know. The bottom line is that they eject all (or a large... read more ❯

A bright optical transient in NGC300 or "how to put and end to a nice vacation"
Published 11/17/2009 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Last year, while spending a nicely warm morning in Northern Italy, I got a phone call from Avik Harutyunyan, a post-doc working in La Palma at the Italian National Telescope "Galileo". He was quite excited. The discovery of a bright optical transient in the nearby galaxy NGC300 had just been announced in one of the electronic telegrams issued by CBAT. The word "optical transient" is normally used to indicate a new source, whose nature is yet unknown. ... read more ❯

A visit to Oxford
Published 7/7/2009 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Working at ESO gives great professional and social opportunities. Being at the center of European experimental astronomy, is the place where many new and exciting things take place. For this reason it attracts scientists and engineers from all over the world and this gives ESO staff the chance to exchange ideas, share views and start new and productive collaborations. Not only. ESO supports its Faculty members in traveling around the world to attend international conferences, and it encourages them to spend some of their time in science leaves... read more ❯

Light echo allows astronomers to type a 400 years old supernova
Published 12/10/2008 in Fernando Patat Author Ferdinando
Taking advantage of the light echo phenomenon, an international team of astronomers has been able to observe the spectrum of a supernova exploded 400 years ago, and it was able to determine its type. read more ❯