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News 2009

Discovery of the most distant object known
McGill University researchers have participated in the discovery of the most distant stellar object ever found - "a beacon from the cosmic dark ages" - Gamma-ray Burst 090423. The burst, emitted by a massive star exploding into a supernova, was detected on April 23 by an international consortium of institutions including NASA, using telescopes positioned in the northern and southern hemispheres. The burst sheds light on the very origins of the universe, researchers said. Their results are published the journal Nature.

An international team of astronomers discovers the first very high energy gamma rays from the Cigar Galaxy, M82
McGill University researchers and their colleagues in VERITAS, an international collaboration of astronomers, have discovered the first example of a very-high-energy gamma-ray source associated with a starburst galaxy - a discovery that provides fundamental insight into the origin of cosmic rays. Their results which provide critical evidence to help scientists understand the origin of cosmic rays by clearly linking the processes related to the life-cycle of stars with the acceleration of cosmic rays, will be published in the journal Nature.

The Université de Montréal participates to the moving of a 1m professional telescope to Burkina Faso.
An international team, composed of researchers of the CRAQ (Physics Department of the Université de Montréal - UdeM), of the Observatoire Astronomique de Marseille Provence, and of the Université de Ouagadougou (UdeO, Burkina Faso), just packed for shipping to Burkina Faso the Marly telescope, previously located at the European Southern Observatory (La Silla, Chila).

The Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic offer new services to international and national community of professional astronomers.
As of December 2009, the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM) offers a new way for researchers to obtain their observation data: “the queue-mode observing”. This mode is very different from the classical way of obtaining astronomical data at the observatory. In the classical mode, the researcher reserves the telescope for several nights and performs the observations on site. In the case of queue-mode observing, the main goal is to favour small projects that cannot justify a full observing mission spread over several nights.

The world most sensitive astronomical camera was developed at the Université de Montréal. NASA is the first buyer.
An international team composed of researchers of the LAE (CRAQ and physics department of the UdeM), of the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (France) and of the Québec company Photon Etc., recently developed the world most sensitive camera for use at the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic, amongst others. During his PhD project under the supervision of Prof. Claude Carignan, Olivier Daigle created a new type of controller for an imagery chip (CCD) built by the company E2V Technologies. This camera is commercialized by a young Québec company, Photon Etc., and will be used at the OMM and by NASA, who bought the first of these cameras.

Astronomers from France and Québec are probing the interior of stars using their seismic waves
The analysis of stellar pulsations allowed a team composed of researchers from the Université de Montreal and the Université of Toulouse (France) to explore the interior of a star. This observation led to the discovery that stars undergo an important internal spin-down before they reach the white-dwarf stage, the last stage of evolution for Sun-like stars.

An Asteroid discovered by Denis Bergeron, an amateur astronomer from Quebec, is named after the three astronomers names scientists of the year 2009 by Radio-Canada
The asteroid 1999DN4, discovered in 1999 by the amateur astronomer Denis Bergeron from Val-des-Bois, Quebec, has now an IAU official name: MADOLA. This name has been formed by the first syllable from the names of the three 2009 Radio-Canada scientists of the year: MA for Christian Marois, who did his graduate studies at UdeM, DO for the Rene Doyon, who is professor at UdeM and member of the CRAQ and LA for the UdeM post-doctoral researcher and member of CRAQ David Lafrenière. Those three scientists were part of the team that obtained the first image of a planetary system around the star HR 8799.

Funding for the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic
On June 12th 2009, at Mégantic, the honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Public Works and Governmental Services announced that the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic would have guaranteed funding at the current level for the two upcoming years. A subsidy of almost $520 000 has been granted by Canada Economic Development to the OMM.

“Recycling” observed in space
An international team of researchers, including CRAQ members from McGill Anne Archibald and and her supervisor Vicky Kaspi, observed for the first time the evidence of “cosmic recycling”. Using the Green Bank radio-telescope, located in West-Virginia, they monitored the transformation of an ordinary pulsar, condemned to slow-down and to become invisible, into a fast-rotating pulsar, which life expectancy is quasi-infinite.

First Discovery of a slowly rotating bar in a spiral galaxy
Recent observations performed by Olivier Hernandez, astrophysicist at UdeM and member of the CRAQ, and by Laurent Chemin from the Observatoire de Paris, showed the first evidence of a stellar bar in slow rotation inside a spiral galaxy. The observed galaxy, UGC 628, is quite particular: its mass is dominated by dark matter and it emits less light than normal galaxies.

Toward the definite termination of activities at the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic?
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) announced, on March 31st 2009, that the subsidy allocated to the Observatoire du Mont Mégantic will be reduced by 40% and will terminate at the end of the year 2009. The decision is presented as definitive.

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