SAURON Receives 2013 Group Achievement Award of the Royal Astronomical Society
Three ESO staff and one former ESO fellow among team members
4 July 2013
The Royal Astronomical Society (UK) has awarded the 2013 RAS "A" Group award to the SAURON team, including Tim de Zeeuw, Harald Kuntschner and Eric Emsellem from ESO, as well as Davor Krajnović, a recent ESO fellow. This prize honours groups that have made an outstanding contribution to astronomy. The prize was presented at the 2013 UK National Astronomy Meeting, in St Andrews, Scotland on 3 July 2013.
SAURON is an integral field spectrograph with a 33 x 44 arcsecond field of view, custom-built at the Observatoire de Lyon for the 4.2-metre William Herschel Telescope on the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma, Spain. The particular science focus of the team that set up the SAURON project was to understand the evolution of elliptical galaxies by making detailed observations of samples of nearby objects.
The SAURON initiative combines an optimised instrument design, refined analysis and modelling methods to interpret the results, and a high degree of organisation across the collaboration. The SAURON team focussed on observations of a representative sample of 72 early-type galaxies (elliptical, lenticular and Sa spiral galaxies). The follow-up ATLAS3D project expanded on this work to analyse a volume-limited sample of 260 elliptical and lenticular galaxies.
Science highlights of the SAURON project include: the finding of a clear correlation between mass-to-light ratio and velocity dispersion linked to the dark matter content of early-type galaxies; the finding that the warm gas in a substantial fraction of early-type galaxies must have an external origin; a new kinematic classification for early-type galaxies based on a proxy for specific angular momentum indicating that slow and fast rotators are physically distinct and a clear demonstration that young stellar populations are more prevalent in lower mass,more rapidly rotating early-type galaxies.
SAURON has been a private instrument at the William Herschel Telescope since 1999, and is still in use by scientists from the UK, the Netherlands and Spain. It is open to the whole community on a collaborative basis.
The full list of SAURON team awardees is: M. Cappellari, R.L. Davies (Oxford University), R. Bacon (Observatoire de Lyon), E. Emsellem, H. Kuntschner, D. Krajnović (European Southern Observatory), P.T. de Zeeuw (ESO and Leiden Observatory), J. Falcón-Barroso (Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias), R.M McDermid (Gemini Observatories), R.F. Peletier (Kapteyn Astronomical Institute Groningen), M. Sarzi (University of Hertfordshire), R.C.E. van den Bosch, G. van de Ven (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie).
Associates and former team members include: M. Bureau (Oxford University), C.M. Carollo (ETH Zürich), Y. Copin (Institut de physique nucléaire de Lyon), H. Jeong (Yonsei University), G. Monnet (ESO), B. Miller (Gemini Observatory), N. Scott (Oxford University), K. Shapiro-Griffin (Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems), E. Verolme (Leiden Observatory) and A. Weijmans (Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics).
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