News / Astronomy Articles

QPOs with a pinch of SALT

QPOs with a pinch of SALT   What is accretion? The broadest description of accretion is this: Material falls onto an object. But of course, if that were the full story, throngs of astronomers would be jobless! Accretion occurs in a diverse variety of astrophysical objects, from the supermassive black holes at the centres of […]

Laser Frequency Comb

Laser Frequency Comb   HRS is the High Resolution Spectrograph used at SALT. It can observe faint objects with extremely high accuracy, and thus can be used for most, if not all, kinds of astronomical research. As for all astronomical instruments (and in fact for all scientific equipment!), there are many steps required to go […]

ESO474-G040: (not) The Eye of Sauron

ESO474-G040: Not “the Eye of Sauron”, but still a fascinating galaxy   “Two Russians, a Finn, and a Jew come into a bar” seems like the beginning of a joke. In fact, it is really “two South Africans, a Russian and an Israeli go into the SALT dome”, and this is not a joke. Observations […]

By Dr Marissa Kotze

Remote Observing with BVIT

Remote Observing with BVIT   Imagine getting an observation with a 10m class telescope done from anywhere in the world… It’s not as far-fetched as it may sound. Remote observing gives astronomers the opportunity to use telescopes without physically being near them. Such capabilities are readily available on a number of smaller telescopes around the world via an internet […]

Darragh O’Donoghue 1957-2015

Darragh O’Donoghue 1957-2015 In Memorium Darragh O’Donoghue was a truly remarkable man and an extremely talented scientist. He contributed enormously to astronomy, South Africa and, most profoundly, to the lives of his many colleagues and friends around the world. In 1977 he came to Cape Town, from Durban where he had studied physics as an […]

Brown Dwarfs

Searching for Brown Dwarfs   Stars are massive bodies – the sun, which is a middle of the road dwarf star, has a mass of 2 billion billion billion tons. The crushing weight of all that material leads to enormous pressures and temperatures at the centres of stars – extreme enough to cause nuclear reactions, […]

Barium Central Stars

Barium Central Stars   At the heart of all planetary nebulae is a star hot enough to ionise the gaseous envelope that we see, usually a white dwarf. Curiously, some planetary nebulae only show nuclei that are cool giant or sub-giant stars at optical wavelengths. These stars are too cool to ionise the nebula. So […]

Elusive Binary System

SALT Discovers an Elusive Binary System Sculpting the Planetary Nebula NGC 5189   I wonder what James Dunlop was thinking when he stumbled across one particular nebula with his telescope from suburban Sydney in 1826. In the fledgling colonial Australian city, far from his Scottish home, Dunlop called the newly discovered nebula Delta 252 (Cozens, […]

MASTERS of the Universe

MASTERS of the Universe   The MASTER-SAAO robotic optical transient detection system consisting of two 0.4m telescopes. Following the installation of the robotic MASTER SAAO optical transient detection system in December 2015, some 27 new transients have been detected. Of these 19 are new cataclysmic variables (CVs), 2 were supernovae and 6 were unclassified transients. […]

SA Comet Discovery

First South African Comet Discovery in 37 Years The first image of Comet C/2015 G2 MASTER taken by the MASTER-SAAO telescope on 8 April 2015. The image was produced from adding together four exposures taken in different coloured filters to produce a colour image of the field. In the early hours of the 7th April, […]