The Submillimeter Array


Mach 12, 2021 NASA Press Release: Scientists Sketch Aged Star System Using Over a Century of Observations Astronomers have painted their best picture yet of an RV Tauri variable, a rare type of stellar binary where two stars – one approaching the end of its life – orbit within a sprawling disk of dust. Their 130-year dataset spans the widest range of light yet collected for one of these systems, from radio to X-rays.

February 19, 2021 Science Update: Cold Dust Cores in the Central Zone of the Milky Way The Milky Way's central molecular zone (CMZ) spans the innermost 1600 light-years of the galaxy (for comparison, the Sun is 26,600 light-years away from the galactic center) and includes a vast complex of molecular clouds containing about sixty million solar-masses of molecular gas.

October 16, 2020 Science Update: Planet Formation in Stellar Infancy CfA astronomer Ian Stephens was a member of a team that used the ALMA millimeter facility to image the object IRS63 whose disk had been identified by the Submillimeter Array but with insufficient resolution to see rings. The infrared emission from this system indicates it is younger than about five hundred thousand years.

September 23, 2020 Press Release: M87*'s Shadow Is Wobbling and Has Been for a While Analysis of previously unpublished data from observations of M87* between 2009 and 2013 by scientists at the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) has revealed that the crescent shadow of the black hole is wobbling, and has rotated significantly over the past ten years of observation.

February 14, 2020 Science Update: A Submillimeter Survey of Protostars The lack of a large, systematic survey of such sources has made it hard for astronomers to sort out the multiple processes at play. CfA astronomers Ian Stephens, Tyler Bourke, Mike Dunham, Phil Myers, Sarah Sadavoy, Katherine Lee, Mark Gurwell, and Alyssa Goodman led a team using the Submillimeter Array to compile and publish the largest public, high resolution submillimeter spectral line survey of young protostars.

December 27, 2019 Science Update: Blazar Variability CfA astronomer Mark Gurwell was a member of a large team of astronomers that monitored variability of the blazar CTA102 from 2013-2017 spanning the electromagnetic spectrum from radio to gamma rays, in particular using the Submillimeter Array to measure crucial short (mm/submm) wavelength radio emission.

December 16, 2019 Press Release: Capturing Shooting Stars Over Hawai'i Astronomers now have a new pair of eyes to detect meteors over Hawaiʻi using a state-of-the-art monitoring system installed on the rooftops of existing buildings on Maunakea and Haleakalā. The high-speed video devices are now fully operational and part of an expanding network of identical cameras in the Automated Meteor Observation System (AMOS).

Septempter 5, 2019 Press Release: EHT Collaboration Awarded the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration Director Shep Doeleman of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian will accept the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics on behalf of the EHT collaboration. The $3 million prize will be shared equally with the 347 scientists co-authoring any of the six papers published by the EHT on April 10, 2019, which can be found here:

April 11, 2019 Science Update: The Event Horizon Telescope and the Submillimeter Array The 2017 observing run required upgrading and connecting a worldwide network of eight pre-existing telescopes deployed at a variety of challenging high-altitude sites. One of the telescopes in the EHT is the Submillimeter Array (SMA), which is a joint project between the Smithsonian Institution and the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA) in Taiwan.

April 11, 2019 Press Release: CfA Plays Central Role in Capturing Landmark Black Hole Image The Event Horizon Telescope, or EHT, is a global array of radio telescopes involving dozens of institutions and hundreds of scientists. The breakthrough discovery by the EHT is an image of Messier 87’s (M87’s) supermassive black hole in the center of the Virgo galaxy cluster, 55 million light years away. This black hole contains 6.5 billion times the mass of our Sun.

March 29, 2019 Science Update: Star Formation in Galactic Centers Stars form from the gas and dust in molecular clouds via a series of complex processes that are currently only partly understood, and the evolution of these clouds drives the evolution of the stellar populations in the universe. Astronomers studying the formation of stars have, over the past decades, concentrated on a few select regions of active star formation: the solar neighborhood, the disc of the Milky Way, and the neighboring Magellanic Cloud galaxies.

February 22, 2019 Science Update: Simultaneous X-Ray and Infrared Observations of the Galactic Center CfA astronomers Steve Willner, Joe Hora, Giovanni Fazio, and Howard Smith joined their colleagues in undertaking a systematic campaign of simultaneous multiwavelength observations of flaring in SagA* using the Spitzer and Chandra observatories (the Submillimeter Array was also used in some of the series).

October 5, 2018 Science Update: Remarkable Flares from the Galactic Center Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, is 100 times closer to us than any other SMBH and therefore a prime candidate for studies of how matter radiates as it accretes onto black holes.

July 27, 2018 Science Update: Galaxies in the Early Universe CfA astronomer Glen Petitpas was a member of a large team of astronomers who used the SCUBA-2 (Submillimeter Common User Bolometer Array) instrument to confirm 188 of the reddest of these sources as indeed being distant, dusty star formation galaxies, typically so far away that their light has been traveling towards us for over eleven billion years, and so bright that they must be making stars at a rate many thousands of times faster than does the Milky Way.

February 28, 2018 Press Release: High Pressure Star Formation in the Galactic Center Some galaxies in the universe are as much as a thousand times more luminous than our Milky Way galaxy, with most of their light being emitted in the infrared. Astronomers attribute that ultra-intense luminosity to warm dust heated by massive bursts of star formation that are often concentrated in the galaxy's center, near the supermassive black hole. The Milky Way also has a supermassive black hole, and its inner region (called the Central Molecular Zone, CMZ) has plenty of the gas needed to form new stars. But the star formation rate there is not only not intense, it is less than average given the amount of mass present. There are several notable exceptions, like the dramatic Arches Cluster, but these serve to highlight the strange inactivity everywhere else.

December 8, 2017 Press Release: Dusty protoplanetary disks "Planetary systems form out of disks of gas and dust around young stars. How the formation proceeds, however, is complex and poorly understood. Many physical processes are involved including accretion onto the star, photoevaporation of material of the disk, interactions of the disk with planetary embryos, growth of the dust grains, settling of the dust to the midplane of the disk, and more. To unravel these various factors, observations of protoplanetary disks at multiple wavelengths are used; the submillimeter wavelength range in particular offers a way to peer through most of the disk to estimate dust masses directly."
Article courtesy of PHYS.ORG

November 27, 2017 Press Release: Why is massive star formation quenched in galaxy centers? "A study led by a researcher at the IAC and published today in Nature Astronomy points to the role of the magnetic field as responsible for decelerating the formation of massive stars in the center of galaxies. Without this process the Big Bang would be questioned."
Article courtesy of Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias -IAC

April 5, 2017 Press Release: Earth-Sized Telescope May Let Us See Black Hole for the First Time "We hope to see the un-seeable," says Shepard Doeleman, director of this Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). "We want to see something that by its very nature tries to do everything it can not to be seen. It's the ultimate cloaking device."

November 21, 2016 Press Release: A Stellar Circle of Life A snapshot of the stellar life cycle has been captured in a new portrait from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Smithsonian's Submillimeter Array (SMA). A cloud that is giving birth to stars has been observed to reflect X-rays from Cygnus X-3, a source of X-rays produced by a system where a massive star is slowly being eaten by its companion black hole or neutron star. This discovery provides a new way to study how stars form.
Photo: Cyg X-3's Little Friend
Movie: Cygnus X-3s's Little Friend
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April 21, 2016 Paul Yamaguchi receives Smithsonian Unsung Hero for 2016 SAO Event Paul is the Microwave Electronics Technician at the Maunakea Summit. He installs and maintains the fiber optics transmission and IF/LO systems. We congratulate Paul for his tireless efforts to make the SMA successful!

January 12, 2016 "A Microwave-operated Bolometric Detector for Terahertz Radiation," IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity, vol. 25, 2300604, June 2015. SAO Event Dr. Edward Tong is one of the recipients of the 2015 Secretary's Research Prizes which recognizes excellence in research conducted by employees of the Smithsonian Institution.

December 3, 2015 Event Horizon Telescope Reveals Magnetic Fields at Milky Way's Central Black Hole
Press Release: "For the first time, astronomers have detected magnetic fields just outside the event horizon of the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy."

September 10, 2015 Comedy Central: Drunk History: New Jersey: Sound In Space Time:5m 20s
Press Release This is a short comedy clip introducing Bob Wilson and Arno Penzias during the early days of discovering cosmic microwave background radiation in New Jersey. NOTE: This is Comedy Central .. viewer discretion advised.