News & Press releases

Number of entries: 107

12
November 2019

PLAZAS PERSONAL GESTION I+D+I GARANTIA JUVENIL


Proceso selectivo para formalización 152 plazas en el CSIC para toda España, dos para nuestro instituto, fecha límite 26/11/2019
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PLAZAS DE PERSONAL GESTION I+D+I GARANTIA JUVENIL
Se abre un proceso selectivo para formalización de 152 plazas en el CSIC para toda España, de las cuales 2 han sido adjudicas al Instituto de Ciencias del Espacio. Fecha límite 26/11/2019.


C19_CAT_ICE_001  Titulación exigida: TS Administración y Finanzas, TS Comercio Internacional o titulación análoga.

C19_CAT_ICE_002 Titulación exigida: TS Administración y Finanzas, TS Comercio Internacional o titulación análoga.

Son contratos en prácticas para realizar tareas administrativas tuteladas por la Gerencia del Instituto.

Requisitos imprescindibles:
  • No haber sido contratado con anterioridad con un contrato de Garantía Juvenil con la misma titulación de esta convocatoria.
  • Estar inscrito en el sistema nacional de Garantía Juvenil (http://garantiajuvenil.gencat.cat/ca/apunta-thi/)
  • A la fecha de firma contrato ser menor de 30 años.

Los interesados deberán dirigirse  para inscribirse a esta convocatoria a (https://sede.csic.gob.es/servicios/formacion-y-empleo/convocatorias-personal/-/convocatoria/37616)
Consultas y aclaraciones: 937 37 97 88 o gerencia.ice@csic.es
 
30
October 2019

Nanda Rea receives the prize "Fundación Real Academia de Ciencias al Joven Talento Científico Femenino”


Nanda Rea receives the prize
Our researcher Nanda Rea has been received the prize "Fundación Real Academia de Ciencias al Joven Talento Científico Femenino” in the field of Physics and Chemistry in the Invernadero de La Plaza de Toros in Madrid this afternoon.
28
October 2019

DESI Opens Its 5000 Eyes to Capture the Colors of the Cosmos


DESI, a new instrument designed to accurately map the universe, begins its final testing stage
Vista del plano focal completo de DESI
: DESI Collaboration
DESI Opens Its 5000 Eyes to Capture the Colors of the Cosmos
 
  • The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), a new instrument designed to accurately map the universe, begins its final testing stage.
  • Researchers from the Institut de Física d'Altes Energies (IFAE), the Institute of Space Science (ICE, CSIC), the Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (IEEC), the Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (CIEMAT) and the Instituto de Física Teórica (IFT, UAM-CSIC) participate in the project. 
A new instrument installed in a telescope in Arizona (USA) that will observe a record number of galaxies and quasars, made its first light observation by pointing its 5000 fiber-optic “eyes” towards the cosmos this past night of Monday, 28 October, to test its unique view of the universe.
 
The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, known as DESI, which installation is about to be completed. The instrument is designed to explore the mystery of dark energy, which makes up approximately 68% of the universe and is responsible for its accelerated expansion. To this end, DESI will observe for 5 years a third of the sky with the aim of mapping the distance between the Earth and 35 million galaxies, plus another 2.4 million quasars. The instrument will start scientific observations in early 2020.
 
The most detailed three-dimensional map of the Universe
 
As if it was a powerful time machine, DESI will investigate the universe's childhood and early evolution (about 11 billion years ago) to create the most detailed three-dimensional map of the Universe to date.
 
DESI will also provide very accurate measurements of the universe's rate of expansion and how it has varied over time. Gravity slowed this expansion in the early universe but, ever since, the action of dark energy has been responsible for accelerating its expansion.

“After a decade in planning and R&D, installation and assembly, we are delighted that DESI can soon begin its quest to unravel the mystery of dark energy,” says DESI Director Michael Levi of the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the U.S. institution that leads DESI's construction and operations.
 
“The mystery of dark matter and energy is a challenge to understanding how the universe behaves. State-of-the-art experiments like DESI are the best way forward to unravel these riddles,” adds Ramon Miquel, the project's principal investigator at IFAE.
 
DESI is designed to automatically target pre-selected clusters of galaxies and collect their light to then scatter it into narrow bands of color. This will make it possible to determine with great precision the speed at which galaxies move away from us, to know their distance from Earth and to measure how much the universe expanded as this light traveled to us. Ideally, DESI can measure a new set of 5000 galaxies every 20 minutes.
 
5000 robotic fiber-optic “eyes”
 
DESI collaboration involves about 500 researchers from 75 institutions in 13 countries. In the last 18 months, the components of the instrument were sent from these institutions around the world to the Nicholas U. Mayall Telescope, located at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson (Arizona, USA), where they have been installed.
 
The instrument's primary mirror, 4 metres in diameter, and the set of corrective lenses, each about one metre in diameter, provide DESI with a large field of vision. The focal plane of the instrument is composed of 10 wedge-shaped petals, each containing 500 robotic positioners and a small camera that allows the telescope to be focused, aligned and pointed to optimally collect light from galaxies. The small positioning robots, which hold each of the optical fibers that collect the light, serve as the eyes of DESI.
 
DESI is able, in just 10 seconds, to automatically reposition all the optical fibers and focus on a new set of galaxies. Thanks to this speed, it will be able to map more than 20 times more cosmic objects than any previous instrument.
 
“DESI will not only contribute to substantially improving our understanding of dark energy, but it will also mean new knowledge about neutrinos, the most elusive particles known, since it is capable of measuring their influence on the evolution of the universe”, qualifies Eusebio Sánchez, DESI's principal researcher at CIEMAT.
 
Among the last components installed is the set of spectrographs designed to divide the collected light into three separate colour bands and, thus, allow precise measurements of the distance of the observed galaxies. These spectrographs, which allow DESI's robotic eyes to "see" even distant and faint galaxies, are designed to measure the redshift, which is a change in the color of cosmic objects to longer and redder wavelengths as they move away from us.
 
“The possibility of being able to simultaneously observe so many galaxies and measure their distance by obtaining their spectrum has required technological development to be able to produce such a high-precision instrument,” adds Francisco Castander, as principal investigator of ICE-CSIC and IEEC.
 
Contribution of the Barcelona-Madrid group to the DESI project
 
The instrumental contribution to DESI of the Barcelona-Madrid Regional Participation Group, made up of researchers from IFAE, ICE-CSIC, IEEC, CIEMAT and IFT-UAM, has been the design, construction and installation of the complete Guiding, Focusing and Alignment system (GFA). This system is made up of 10 cameras, each of them installed in one of the focal plane petals of the instrument which, as its name indicates, are in charge of focusing, guiding and aligning the telescope so that the robotic positioners can collect the light from the galaxies under optimum conditions. This contribution has been led by IFAE, where the construction of the cameras has been carried out, with the collaboration of ICE, IEEC, CIEMAT and IFT. In addition, ICE and IEEC have led the production of the software to be able to point the whole instrument properly.
 
“The production of the self-guided cameras has required a great effort from all our team, where we have had to overcome many technological challenges in very tight times”, points out Laia Cardiel-Sas, from IFAE and coordinator of the engineering team. “Our team is very satisfied with the performance of our cameras once installed on the instrument,” adds IFAE engineer Otger Ballester.
 
“It is a huge satisfaction to be able to point a telescope that weighs 260 tons with a precision of microns, with our cameras and the software we have developed”, concludes Santiago Serrano, ICE-CSIC and IEEC engineer. “After several years of working within the big family of the DESI collaboration, we are excited to see the first successful tests of the instrument and are looking forward to the scientific results that will come after starting operations,” says Ricard Casas, also a researcher at ICE-CSIC and IEEC.
 
More information
 
DESI is funded by the following institutions: the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy; the U.S. National Science Foundation; the Division of Astronomical Sciences under contract to the National Observatory of Optical Astronomy; the UK Council for Scientific and Technological Facilities; the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; the Heising-Simons Foundation; the French Commission for Alternative Energy and Atomic Energy (CEA); the National Council for Science and Technology of Mexico; the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities of Spain; and DESI member institutions. DESI scientists are honored to be allowed to conduct astronomical research at lolkam Du'a (Kitt Peak, Arizona), a mountain of particular significance to the Tohono O'odham nation.
 
The Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (CIEMAT), the Institute of Space Science (ICE-CSIC), the Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (IEEC), the Institut de Física d'Altes Energies (IFAE) and the Instituto de Física Teórica (UAM-CSIC) participate in DESI through the Barcelona-Madrid RPG. The Instituto Astrofísica Andalucía (IAA), the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the Instituto de Física Teórica (UAM-CSIC) participate in DESI through the Granada-Madrid-Tenerife RPG. Researchers from the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the Universitat de Barcelona (ICCUB) also participate in the DESI project.
 
The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC  — Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya) promotes and coordinates space research and technology development in Catalonia for the benefit of society. IEEC fosters collaborations both locally and worldwide and is an efficient agent of knowledge, innovation and technology transfer. As a result of over 20 years of high-quality research, done in collaboration with major international organisations, IEEC ranks among the best international research centers, focusing on areas such as: astrophysics, cosmology, planetary science, and Earth Observation. IEEC’s engineering division develops instrumentation for ground- and space-based projects, and has extensive experience in working with private or public organisations from the aerospace and other innovation sectors. 
 
IEEC is a private non-profit foundation, governed by a Board of Trustees composed of Generalitat de Catalunya and four other institutions that each have a research unit, which together constitute the core of IEEC R&D activity: the University of Barcelona (UB) with the research unit ICCUB — Institute of Cosmos Sciences; the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) with the research unit CERES — Center of Space Studies and Research; the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) with the research unit CTE — Research Group in Space Sciences and Technologies; the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) with the research unit ICE — Institute of Space Sciences. IEEC is integrated in the CERCA network (Centres de Recerca de Catalunya).
 
Contacts
 
IEEC Communication Office
Barcelona, Spain
Rosa Rodríguez Gasén
E-mail: comunicacio@ieec.cat
 
Principal Investigators of ICE-CSIC/IEEC at DESI
Barcelona, Spain
Francisco J. Castander
Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (IEEC)
Institute of Space Science (ICE, CSIC)
E-mail: fjc@ieec.cat  
 
Enrique Gaztañaga
Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (IEEC)
Institute of Space Science (ICE, CSIC)
E-mail: gazta@ieec.cat 

Press Release adapted by the IEEC Comunication Office with the collaboration of Science Wave
03
October 2019

Twin baby stars grow in complex network of gas and dust


Twin baby stars grow in complex network of gas and dust
Pretzel-type filaments
Credit: Felipe O. Alves (MPE)
  • For the first time, high-resolution images obtained with the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) show a young stellar binary system in which a complex network of accretion filaments is nurturing two proto-stars. 
  • Each star has a circumstellar disk of its own and together, the stars and their disks, have another, larger, circumbinary disk. 
  • The team was led by Felipe Alves, currently at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, who did his doctoral studies at the Institute of Space Sciences (CSIC), under the coordination of IEEC member Dr. Josep Miquel Girart, who is also the third author of the study.
  • The results appear in the journal Science.
Most stars in the Universe come in the form of pairs – binaries – or even multiple star systems. Now, the formation of such a binary star system has been observed for the first time with high-resolution ALMA (Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array) images.

An international team of astronomers targeted the system [BHB2007] 11, the youngest member of a small cluster of young stellar objects in the Barnard 59 dark nebula, which is part of the cloud of dust and gas called the Pipe nebula. While previous observations showed a rotating and infalling envelope surrounding a circumbinary disk, the new observations now also reveal its inner structure.

“We see two compact sources, that we interpret as circumstellar disks around the two young stars,” explains Felipe Alves from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE). The stars grow bigger by pulling matter from these disks. “The size of each of these disks is similar to the asteroid belt in our Solar System and their separation is slightly smaller than our Solar System as a whole.” In addition, both protostars and their circumstellar disks are surrounded by a bigger disk, called a circumbinary disk, with a total mass of about 80 Jupiter masses, which shows a complex network of dust structures distributed in spiral shapes, resembling a pretzel.

Astronomers have observed an accretion process in two stages. In the first stage, mass is transferred from the big, circumbinary disk to the circumstellar disks. In the second stage, mass is transferred from the circumstellar disks to the stars. 
“Thanks to the power of ALMA, we have managed to peer deeper into the complex system of young binary stars and gain a better understanding of how such systems form, as well as find out that the formation of rocky planets in such environments may be possible. Using this knowledge, we can now study more similar systems to further describe the conditions that allow for multiple star systems to form,” declared Dr. Josep Miquel Girart, a researcher from the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) at the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE, CSIC) and third author of the study.

Observatories and Instruments
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of ESO, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI). ALMA construction and operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

Links
More information
This research is presented in a paper entitled “Gas flow and accretion via spiral streamers and circumstellar disks in a young binary protostar”, by F. O. Alves, P. Caselli, J. M. Girart  et al., to appear in the journal Science on 4 October 2019.

The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC  — Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya) promotes and coordinates space research and technology development in Catalonia for the benefit of society. IEEC fosters collaborations both locally and worldwide and is an efficient agent of knowledge, innovation and technology transfer. As a result of over 20 years of high-quality research, done in collaboration with major international organisations, IEEC ranks among the best international research centers, focusing on areas such as: astrophysics, cosmology, planetary science, and Earth Observation. IEEC’s engineering division develops instrumentation for ground- and space-based projects, and has extensive experience in working with private or public organisations from the aerospace and other innovation sectors. 

IEEC is a private non-profit foundation, governed by a Board of Trustees composed of Generalitat de Catalunya and four other institutions that each have a research unit, which together constitute the core of IEEC R&D activity: the University of Barcelona (UB) with the research unit ICCUB — Institute of Cosmos Sciences; the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) with the research unit CERES — Center of Space Studies and Research; the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) with the research unit CTE — Research Group in Space Sciences and Technologies; the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) with the research unit ICE — Institute of Space Sciences. IEEC is integrated in the CERCA network (Centres de Recerca de Catalunya).

Contacts

IEEC Communication Office
Barcelona, Spain
Rosa Rodríguez Gasén
Email: comunicacio@ieec.cat 

Lead Scientist
Garching bei München, Germany
Felipe Alves
Center for Astrochemical Studies
Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics
Tel: +49 89 30000 3897
Email: falves@mpe.mpg.de

Third author
Cerdanyola del Vallès, Catalonia, Spain
Josep Miquel Girart
Institute of Space Sciences (ICE, CSIC) / IEEC
Email: girart@ice.cat

Press Release elaborated by the IEEC Comunication Department
26
September 2019

CARMENES: Giant exoplanet around a small star challenges our understanding of how planets form


CARMENES: Giant exoplanet around a small star challenges our understanding of how planets form
Infographic of GJ3512 orbit comparison
Credit: Guillem Anglada-Escude - IEEC, using SpaceEngine.org. Distribution license: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).
  • A study from the CARMENES consortium led by IEEC researchers at ICE (CSIC) reports the discovery of an anomalous planetary system around the nearby red dwarf GJ 3512, located at approximately 30 light-years from us. Although the star is only about a tenth of the mass of the Sun, it possesses at least one gas giant planet.
  • This planet probably formed from an unstable disc around the young star which broke up into clumps. This contrasts with how the majority of massive planets are believed to form, where a planet grows slowly as gas falls onto a solid core.
  • The signal of the planet is clearly detected with both the visible and infrared arms of the CARMENES spectrograph at the Calar Alto Observatory . This makes it the first exoplanet unambiguously discovered by a new-generation infrared high-resolution spectrometer.
  • For this discovery, the CARMENES consortium used, among others, IEEC’s 80-cm diameter Joan Oró Telescope (TJO) at the Montsec Observatory and the facilities at Observatorio de Sierra Nevada (IAA, CSIC).
  • The result will be published in the forthcoming issue of the journal Science.
Astronomers from the CARMENES consortium, led by Juan Carlos Morales, a researcher from the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) at the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE, CSIC) have discovered one, possibly even two, gas giant planets orbiting the nearby red dwarf star GJ 3512.

To discover the planets, the astronomers used the Doppler technique, which monitors the back-and-forth motion of a star when it is orbited by one or more planets. The star however almost did not make it into the list of observational targets.

“CARMENES was built to find planets around the smallest stars, but we also wanted them as bright as possible. Initially, this star was not included in our observation list because it was too faint,” declares Ignasi Ribas, CARMENES project scientist and Director of IEEC. “We then realised we didn’t have enough small stars in the sample and we added a few, at the very last minute. We were lucky to do so because otherwise we would have never made this discovery”.

The 140 observations clearly reveal a motion of the star caused by a massive companion in both the optical and infrared arms of the CARMENES spectrograph. The infrared arm of CARMENES was the core contribution of the Spanish institutes to the consortium and it was built at CSIC's Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía. The instrument is in operation since 2016 at the 3.5 meters telescope in the Calar Alto Observatory in Almeria (Spain).

“As their name indicates, red dwarfs emit most of their light in the red and near infrared parts of the spectrum. CARMENES was designed to make optimal use of all the light wavelengths where the stars are brighter,” explains Ansgar Reiners, from the Institute for Astrophysics Göttingen, in Germany. “Despite the fact that optical high-resolution and stabilised spectrographs have existed for a while, for example HARPS, near-infrared ones represent a new technology.”

With this discovery, CARMENES achieves the first detection of an exoplanet solely using a new-generation near-infrared precision instrument, highlighting again the leading role played by European researchers in the field of exoplanets. An earlier detection of an exoplanet using an infrared spectrometer required the use of several other facilities to confirm it [2].

After a few initial observations, this target caught the attention of scientists and triggered further monitoring. “The star was showing a rather strange behaviour very early on. Its velocity was changing very rapidly, and consistently in both wavelength channels of the instrument, indicating the presence of a massive companion, an anomalous feature for a red dwarf,” explains Juan Carlos Morales.

GJ 3512 is almost identical to Proxima Centauri and only a bit more massive than Teegarden’s star and TRAPPIST-1 , which all host terrestrial planets in temperate orbits, but no gas giants. “It is becoming the norm to expect small planets around these small stars, so we initially thought this large motion had to be caused by another star in a very long orbital period. We kept observing it, but on low priority. To our surprise, the motion started to repeat again in the next season, indicating that it was actually produced by a planet. At that point, GJ 3512 finally made it to the top priority list,” explains Dr. Morales.

“IEEC’s 80-cm diameter Joan Oro Telescope at the Montsec Observatory played a significant role in the discovery, allowing the astronomers to derive the rotational period of the system at 87 days, an important step to confirm that the signal is a planet and not stellar activity, as well as to estimate the age of the system”, declared Enrique Herrero, IEEC researcher.

Planet formation models should be able to explain how planetary systems come into existence around stars like our Sun, but also around smaller stars. Until now, the so-called “core accretion model” for planet formation was considered sufficient to explain Jupiter and Saturn in our Solar System, and many other gas giant planets discovered around other stars.

The “core-accretion” model assumes that planets form in two phases: at first, rocky cores, the size of a few Earth masses, form a nucleus within the protoplanetary disk and then, when a critical mass is reached, they start to accumulate and retain large amounts of gas until they reach the mass of Jupiter or more.

Low-mass stars should have proportionately low-mass disks, so the amount of available material in the disk to form planets is also significantly reduced. The presence of a gas giant around a low-mass star indicates that either the original disk was anomalously massive [3] or that the core-accretion scenario does not apply in this case. Moreover, this planet is on an eccentric orbit, which is the smoking gun of a past event indicating the presence of another massive planet that was ejected from the system in a chaotic interaction with the current planet, adding a wandering planet in the galactic void.

Researchers from IEEC, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) and other CARMENES institutes established a collaboration with the planet formation groups at Lund Observatory in Sweden and Bern University in Switzerland , all of them world leaders in planet formation theory, to study plausible formation scenarios for this system.

“After running multiple simulations and long discussions among the different groups to try to explain the system, we concluded that our most up-to-date models could never allow the formation of even one massive planet, let alone two,'' explains Alexander Mustill, a Senior Research Fellow at Lund Observatory.

But there is a possible alternative planet formation scenario that could save the day. The “disk-instability model” advocates that some or maybe all gas giant planets can directly form from the gravitational self-accumulation of gas and dust instead of requiring a “seed” core. Although this scenario is plausible, it has been mostly ignored so far because it fails to explain other trends observed for the population of gas giant planets. This new CARMENES discovery is bound to change this.

“I find it fascinating how a single anomalous observation has the potential to produce a paradigm shift in our thinking, in something as essential as the formation of planets and, therefore, in the big picture of how our own Solar System came into existence,'' declares Juan Carlos Morales.

The CARMENES consortium keeps monitoring the star in order to confirm the existence of a second, possibly a Neptune-like object, in a longer orbital period. Besides, the scientists have not discarded the presence of temperate terrestrial planets orbiting GJ 3512. More data will tell if it turns out to be a small scale Solar System.

Notes
[1] Technically speaking, the first solid exoplanet detection reported using a high resolution infrared spectrometer was done with CSHELL at IRTF, and corresponds to a massive object at the limit between a planet and a brown dwarf (~13 Mjup) in orbit around CI Tau . CARMENES is a new-generation instrument specifically built for exoplanet searches. Since CARMENES started operations, a number of similar instruments came on-line at top world observatories, such as the Subaru Telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, both in Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
[2] The existence of such anomalously massive disks is currently not confirmed by observations of star forming regions.

Observatories and Instruments
The CARMENES ( Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exoearths with Near-infrared and optical Échelle Spectrographs) instrument is a high-resolution optical and near infrared spectrograph built in collaboration by various Spanish and German research institutions, and it is operated by the Calar Alto observatory (Spain) .

Links
- CARMENES
- Calar Alto Observatory
- IEEC
- Montsec Observatory

More information
This research is presented in a paper entitled "A giant exoplanet orbiting a very-low-mass star challenges planet formation models", by J. C. Morales et al., to appear in the journal Science on 27 September 2019.

The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC — Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya) promotes and coordinates space research and technology development in Catalonia for the benefit of society. IEEC fosters collaborations both locally and worldwide and is an efficient agent of knowledge, innovation and technology transfer. As a result of over 20 years of high-quality research, done in collaboration with major international organisations, IEEC ranks among the best international research centers, focusing on areas such as: astrophysics, cosmology, planetary science, and Earth Observation. IEEC’s engineering division develops instrumentation for ground- and space-based projects, and has extensive experience in working with private or public organisations from the aerospace and other innovation sectors.

IEEC is a private non-profit foundation, governed by a Board of Trustees composed of Generalitat de Catalunya and four other institutions that each have a research unit, which together constitute the core of IEEC R&D activity: the University of Barcelona (UB) with the research unit ICCUB — Institute of Cosmos Sciences; the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) with the research unit CERES — Center of Space Studies and Research; the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) with the research unit CTE — Research Group in Space Sciences and Technologies; the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) with the research unit ICE — Institute of Space Sciences. IEEC is integrated in the CERCA network (Centres de Recerca de Catalunya).

Contacts
IEEC Public Communication Office Barcelona, Spain
Rosa Rodríguez Gasén
E-mail: comunicacio@ieec.cat

Institute of Space Sciences (ICE, CSIC) Barcelona, Spain
Juan Carlos Morales
IEEC member, researcher
E-mail: morales@ice.cat

Press Release elaborated by the IEEC Communication Office in collaboration with Science Wave.
24
September 2019

PAZ Radio Occultation profiles being operationally assimilated into a numerical weather prediction model


PAZ Radio Occultation atmospheric profiles being operationally assimilated into the USA Navy numerical weather prediction model
Reduction of the weather forecast error due to PAZ radio occultation observations.
NRL and FNMOC
Helsinør, Denmark, September 24, 2019,

Researchers of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) announced that data acquired by the Radio Occultation and Heavy Precipitation experiment aboard PAZ (ROHP-PAZ) are being assimilated operationally into the US Navy Global Environmental Model (NAVGEM) which is run operationally by Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC) since 15t August 2019. Real time monitoring of the innovations are available to the public at: https://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/metoc/ar_monitor/. The announcement was made at the 7th International Radio Occultation Working Group (IROWG-7) meeting and EUMETSAT ROM-SAF User Workshop held in Helsingør, Denmark. NRL provided the capability to assimilate PAZ ROHP-PAZ to FNMOC, and continues to contribute to the development and maintenance of the NAVGEM system for weather forecasts and related services. The present quality levels of the PAZ data have shown consistent positive impact to weather analysis and forecasts similar to the other radio occultation missions. This effort is extremely useful to the RO community, and a significant step towards the assimilation of PAZ data into other operational weather prediction models.

The ROHP-PAZ experiment is led by the Earth Observation group at the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC) and Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC). Signals transmitted by the Global Positioning System (GPS) are acquired at the PAZ satellite when these transmitters are setting behind the limb of the Earth (‘occulting’). These signals contain information about the vertical structure of thermodynamic variables of the atmosphere, improving the weather forecast when injected into the prediction models. PAZ radio occultation data are downloaded to the ground and processed to intermediate products in near-real time by the USA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research (UCAR), through agreements with the ICE-CSIC/IEEC. These products, suitable for assimilation into the numerical weather prediction models, are currently being disseminated in near real time to NOAA related centers, while waiting for prompt dissemination to weather services worldwide through the Global Telecommunication System of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

ROHP-PAZ is an opportunistic experiment aboard PAZ low Earth orbiter, a satellite owned, operated and exploited by HISDESAT. The experiment is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.

 
23
September 2019

Investigadores del CSIC participan en la mayor expedición científica al Ártico


Investigadores del CSIC participan en la mayor expedición científica al Ártico
El rompehielos alemán Polarstern, que transporta a la expedición MOSAIC
Instituto Alfred Wegener
  • La misión MOSAIC, a bordo del rompehielos Polarstern, quedará varada en la banquisa de hielo durante un año para medir los cambios ambientales debidos al cambio climático
  • Investigadores del CSIC estudiarán la interacción de la vida marina en la formación de nubes y el uso de tecnología satélite para medir el estado y el grosor del hielo
  • La expedición está formada por un consorcio internacional con el CSIC como socio español financiado por la Agencia Estatal de Investigación
Tres equipos de investigadores del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) participa en la mayor expedición científica al Ártico de la historia. Se trata del proyecto MOSAIC, que, a bordo del rompehielos de investigación alemán Polarstern, partió de Tromso (Noruega) el viernes para pasar un año atrapado en el hielo a la deriva a través del Océano Ártico. El objetivo de la misión es estudiar el Ártico como epicentro del calentamiento global para obtener datos que permitan comprender mejor el cambio climático global. El proyecto reúne 600 investigadores de 19 países que trabajarán de forma rotativa, e incluye tres equipos de investigación españoles, todos del CSIC, procedentes del Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y del Instituto de Ciencias del Espacio/Instituto de Estudios Espaciales de Cataluña, y financiados por la Agencia Estatal de Investigación.

El plan de la expedición MOSAIC prevé que el rompehielos Polarstern, del Instituto Alfred Wegener (Alemania), navegue en dirección noreste hacia el mar de Laptev, en la Siberia central, y se adentre en la banquisa de hielo, en un emplazamiento seleccionado a partir de datos de satélite y radar, para quedar allí deliberadamente atrapado en el hielo. Una vez fijado, el rompehielos viajará con el hielo a lo largo de una ruta conocida como deriva transpolar hacia el polo norte, lo cruzará y luego se dirigirá hacia el sur para desembocar en el estrecho de Fram, entre Groenlandia y el archipiélago de las Svalbard (Noruega), entre 12 y 14 meses después.

De este modo, el Polarstern se convertirá en un centro de investigación itinerante, el llamado MOSAIC, o Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (Observatorio multidisciplinar a la deriva para estudiar el clima ártico). La expedición contará con un equipo de 60 investigadores expertos en investigación ártica, más unos 40 tripulantes (en turnos de unos dos meses), que operarán su instrumental a bordo y en el hielo. Allí los científicos estudiarán la atmósfera, el mar y el hielo, y cómo interactúan entre ellos, con el objetivo de comprender mejor cómo afectará el calentamiento global a la región ártica.

Desde el Instituto de Ciencias del Mar, el investigador del CSIC Manuel Dall’Osto viajará a bordo del Polarstern entre julio y septiembre de 2020 para realizar mediciones atmosféricas y estudiar el impacto de la vida marina en la formación de las nubes. “Las nubes son clave para regular la temperatura del planeta. Sin nubes tendríamos una Tierra mucho más cálida. Pero no entendemos suficientemente bien cómo se forman y se destruyen, y eso nos está limitando mucho en las proyecciones de clima y de cambio climático”, añade.  “Con nuestra campaña queremos saber qué sinergia se establece entre la materia de origen biológico y las nubes, qué tipo de plancton favorece más la formación de nubes y en qué regiones del océano esta relación es más importante”, explica Dall’Osto.

También desde el Instituto de Ciencias del Mar, otro equipo de investigadores estudiará la masa y el grosor del hielo marino mediante mediciones vía satélite. Los científicos desplegarán un novedoso radiómetro de microondas, montado sobre un trineo, que permitirá medir el espesor del hielo durante todo el año. El radiómetro opera en la frecuencia 1.4GHz y ha sido diseñado y construido por la empresa española Balamis. “El Ártico es una de las regiones más remotas del planeta, y de más difícil acceso, por lo que para monitorizar de forma continua el estado del hielo es imprescindible recurrir a la información vía satélite”, explica la investigadora del CSIC Carolina Gabarro, directora del estudio. “Nuestro radiómetro permitirá mejorar los modelos de transferencia radiativa del hielo marino y la nieve para lograr estimaciones más fiables del espesor del hielo desde los satélites”, añade.

“La información proporcionada por estos satélites sobre el hielo marino son cruciales para comprender los cambios que afronta el Ártico bajo la amenaza del cambio climático y, en particular, para estudiar la evolución de la masa de hielo marino y el equilibrio ártico”, detalla Gabarro. “Todas estas medidas permitirán mejorar los modelos matemáticos, y por lo tanto la información geofísica que nos ofrecen los satélites SMOS (de la Agencia Espacial Europea) y SMAP (de la NASA) que miden el grosor del hielo marino”, detalla la investigadora.

El tercer equipo español que trabaja en la expedición MOSAIC pertenece al Instituto de Ciencias del Espacio (ICE, CSIC) y al Instituto de Estudios Espaciales de Cataluña (IEEC) y estudiará la interacción entre el hielo marino y las señales de navegación transmitidas desde satélite (como los GPS). “Estas señales, después de reflejarse en el hielo, pueden ser detectadas y analizadas para extraer información del hielo marino: su grosor, rugosidad, cantidad de sal, presencia de agua en superficie, etc”, explica la investigadora del CSIC Estel Cardellach, del ICE/IEEC.

El estudio del ICE/IEEC se realizará mediante dos experimentos: uno instalado en la banquisa de hielo y otro a bordo de un avión de investigación que sobrevolará la zona y recogerá grandes cantidades de datos, que se sumarán a los datos obtenidos por otros grupos de investigación de MOSAIC. “Si los estudios confirman que esta técnica de medición mediante señales de navegación proporciona una gran precisión, se podría aplicar desde satélites de bajo coste para monitorizar los polos de forma continua”, señala Cardellach.

El Ártico, centinela del cambio climático
Las temperaturas ascienden en todo el planeta, debido principalmente a la actividad humana que emite gases de efecto invernadero a la atmósfera, pero en el Ártico las temperaturas ascienden el doble de rápido que en otras regiones, y sus efectos son más evidentes que en ningún otro lugar. Por ejemplo, el hielo se reduce y se hace más delgado a medida que el Ártico se calienta.

El Ártico es una de las zonas más remotas del planeta, sólo accesible durante unos pocos meses en verano, cuando el hielo se derrite. Como la expedición MOSAIC viajará a la deriva durante un año, permitirá obtener datos a lo largo de todo el ciclo anual del hielo, desde su crecimiento hasta que se derrita.

Nota de prensa redactada por el Departamento de Comunicación del CSIC
16
September 2019

Mysteriously in-sync pulsar challenges existing theories


Mysteriously in-sync pulsar challenges existing theories
Transitional millisecond pulsar PSR J1023+0038
ESA
Researchers from the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) at the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE, CSIC) have contributed to a research study that, for the first time, detected synchronised pulses of optical and X-ray radiation from a mysterious pulsar. The observations indicate that a new physical mechanism might be needed to explain the behaviour of fast-spinning sources like this one, known as transitional millisecond pulsars.

The discovery was made as part of a two-day observation campaign spearheaded in 2017 by ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray observatory and other telescopes. The group of IEEC researchers at ICE, CSIC — Francesco Coti Zelati, Nanda Rea, Santiago Serrano, and Diego Torres — have taken part in both the X-ray and optical observations, using, among others, the Montsec Observatory (Observatori Astronòmic del Montsec, OAdM) managed by IEEC. The combination of various space- and ground-based facilities [1] allowed the international team of astronomers to measure with very high temporal resolution the two types of radiation coming from the ultrafast rotating pulsar. 

The pulsar [2] analysed in this study, known as PSR J1023+0038, spins around its axis within a few thousandths of a second. Such pulsars are classed as millisecond pulsars, some of which are also sucking in matter from a companion star – as is the case of this pulsar. 

Earlier studies had shown that this pulsar belongs to the rare category of so-called ‘transitional millisecond pulsars’ that periodically switch between two different modes of emissions – in X-rays and radio waves. 

According to the leading model explaining this behaviour, the accretion of matter from the companion star gives rise to the pulsed X-ray emissions, while the radio signal is thought to result from the rotation of the pulsar’s magnetic field. 

Further observations of PSR J1023+0038, however, revealed that an entirely different explanation might be needed to understand this class of sources. 

“PSR J1023+0038 is the very first milisecond pulsar discovered with pulsations also in the optical band,” said Alessandro Papitto from INAF in Rome, Italy, lead author of the new study. 

The latest data show that the optical pulses in PSR J1023+0038 appear and disappear at exactly the same time as the X-ray ones. 

Conventional models could not explain the synchronised pulses so the team had to identify a new scenario that could explain the data. IEEC researcher Diego Torres was part of the group that put forward this new model to explain the detection, while also highlighting the existence of a small lag between the two emissions, yet to be further confirmed observationally.

“​Until now, we thought that the pulsed X-ray emissions originated in a different process than the optical radiation. We also expected these processes to take place one after the other, but this is not the case for PSR J1023+0038. The synchronised pulses are an indication that they have the same origin​,” says Diego Torres. 

The new model states that the pulsar might be emitting a strong electromagnetic wind, which then interacts with the accretion disc around the system. As the pulsar wind hits matter in the accretion disc, it creates a massive shock, which accelerates electrons in the wind to extremely high speeds. The electrons then interact with the wind’s magnetic field, producing powerful beams of synchrotron radiation that can be observed in the optical and X-ray bands at the same time. All of this would happen at a very close distance from the pulsar, giving rise to the concept of mini pulsar wind nebula.

“​The transitional pulsar J1023 + 0038 is one of the most interesting sources we know. Its multi-frequency variability is incredibly rich, and allows us to study the relationship between the magnetic field and matter in extreme conditions​," concludes Torres as he is looking forward to further observations with future technologies. 

For more information on this study, please visit ESA​'s press release and/or ​access the scientific paper “​Pulsating in unison at optical and X-ray energies: Simultaneous high-time resolution observations of the transitional millisecond pulsar PSR J1023+0038”​ by A. Papitto, F. Ambrosino, L. Stella, D. F. Torres, F. Coti Zelati et al.; published in The Astrophysical Journal. 

Notes
[1] The study combines X-ray observations from ESA’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s NuSTAR and NICER X-ray observatories with ultraviolet observations from NASA’s Swift, optical observations from INAF’s optical Galileo National Telescope (TNG), equipped with the fast photometer SiFAP, and the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT), both located at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, in La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain, as well as from the Telescopi Joan Oró (TJO), located at the Montsec Observatory in the Catalan pre-Pyrenees, Spain, and infrared observations from the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), also on the island of La Palma.

[2] Pulsars are highly magnetised, fast spinning neutron stars – the relics of massive stars. They are very dense objects, comprising up to two times the mass of the Sun within a radius of only ten km. 

This Press Release has been elaborated by IEEC Comunication Department

Contacts
IEEC Communication Office 

Barcelona, Spain
Rosa Rodríguez Gasén
E-mail: ​comunicacio@ieec.cat 

Lead Scientist at ICE Barcelona, Spain
Diego Torres
Institute of Space Science
E-mail: ​dtorres@ice.csic.es 
17
July 2019

Regular release of RHOP-PAZ dual-polarization data starts today


Regular and continuous release of the RHOP-PAZ experiment data has started on July 17, 2019. The access point is at UCAR CDAAC servers.
Snapshot of PAZ access point at UCAR's CDAAC server
The first dual-polarized GNSS radio occultation data, acquired by ICE-CSIC/IEEC experiment aboard PAZ (RHOP-PAZ), have been released by UCAR. The initial batch of files covers the period from May 10, 2018 to April 29, 2019, and it will be regularly updated from this moment on. The post-processing products will be continuously provided with several weeks latency. The data access point is at:

https://cdaac-www.cosmic.ucar.edu/cdaac/products.html
05
July 2019

EXTP Wide Field Monitor (WFM) meeting + EXTP Science Requirements meeting (9-12 July 2019)


International meeting of the WFM instrument team in the Institut de Ciències de l'Espai (ICE, CSIC)
Artist impression of the eXTP satellite
https://www.isdc.unige.ch/extp/
International meeting of the WFM instrument team will be celebrated in the Institut de Ciències de l'Espai (ICE, CSIC) in Barcelona (Spain), in order to prepare the documentation package to be submitted to ESA at the end of July 2019, and to discuss the tasks related to phase B1.

The WFM team meeting will be followed by the international meeting for the finalization of the eXTP Science Requirements documents.

More information about the project in https://www.isdc.unige.ch/extp/
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An institute of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
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