Armagh Observatory Hosts "FLAMES" Consortium

Tarantula Nebula

Tarantula Nebula
(TRAPPIST national telescope at La Silla)

Approximately 30 astronomers from European countries including the UK, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands, as well as some participants from the NASA Hubble Space Telescope Space Science Institute in Baltimore, USA, will visit Armagh from Monday 30th May to Wednesday 1st June to attend the 2011 "FLAMES" Consortium meeting. A Mayoral reception will be hosted for the group on the evening of the first day of the meeting at around 6.30pm.

The FLAMES Consortium is an international collaboration of astronomers who are using the powerful multi-object FLAMES spectrograph (used for analysing the light emitted by a large number of stars simultaneously) installed on one of the 8-metre telescopes at the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory at Paranal, Chile.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss new ideas on the formation of massive stars in the so-called Tarantula Nebula located in a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way, called the Large Magellanic Cloud. This nebula provides us with our closest view (still 160,000 light years away!) of a star-burst region, one of the most active star-forming regions in the local Universe. It provides a unique laboratory to study stellar and star-cluster evolution, as it is both massive and young, less than a few million years old. In fact, it is a rich stellar nursery, showing many examples of the short-lived evolutionary phases of the most massive stars in the Universe. Such stars are of interest to astronomers because of their complex and relatively rapid evolution compared with stars like the Sun. They are also the source of many of the observed elements heavier than carbon, nitrogen and oxygen in the Universe, and because they are very bright, can be seen to distances as great as the most distant galaxies observed, providing probes of the most distant parts of the Universe.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; jmfat

Last Revised: 2011 May 17th