Observing supernovae with the Gran Telescopio Canarias

We are just about to finish our second night at the world’s largest optical telescope, the 10.4m Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) on the summit of the island of La Palma. For me personally, observing surely confirms that the only difference between children and scientists are the prices of their toys. The pricetag of the GTC is roughly 650000 times more than the telescope I got in the 8th grade, but on the other hand it also has about 10000 times light collecting capability.

Dissipative photospheres in gamma-ray bursts

One of the many research topics at OKC is the study of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). Several aspects of them are studied, such as the gamma-ray and X-ray emission, the afterglow emission, and the interaction between the bursts and the circumburst medium.

In a recent paper based on observations with the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope it is argued that the main emission during the first few minutes of GRBs is dominated by the jet photosphere and that there is significant amount of energy dissipation close to the photosphere. This result is significant for our understanding of physics of GRB jets.

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is one of the most known and diffused creativity boosting techniques used for getting fresh ideas. While brainstorming can also be done by individuals, it is most effective when done in a group of 10-12 people.
The technique is in principle very simple. A topic of discussion should be clarified and well defined at the beginning of a brainstorming session, possibly in terms of a question to answer. The definition of the task is important and one of the key of a successful brainstorming session.

Spring time for LOFAR Sweden

As the Sun is finally warming up both the nature and people this far north, also the efforts to construct the Swedish LOFAR station awake from their winter sleep. From November until now snow and frozen soil stopped the work in its tracks, but today at Onsala near Göteborg on the west coast of Sweden, the building activities will recommence.

LOFAR is a European wide radio telescope consisting of stations spread out over the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, France and Sweden, with possibly more countries joining in the future.

Collaboration between OKC and Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies

Last week, Jan Conrad and I spent a couple of days in Dublin, Ireland, invited by Felix Aharonian and his colleagues at DIAS. We had interesting dicussions around many topics, the most interesting being the possibility to obtain a lower energy threshold for gamma-rays at imaging air Cherenkov telescopes, for instance by using large mirrors at high altitude.

Cosmology, astrophysics, astroparticle physics