The 2013 NEON school in LaPalma


The 2013 edition took place in the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory (Isla de LaPalma) from July 14th to 27th.  

16 students, from 14 different nationalities, gathered in Santa Cruz de LaPalma in the afternoon of  July the 14th (French national Day!),  to go up to the Roque, where the first week of the school was taking place.
As usual, the school started with some lectures on fundaments for observations.
This started with  two lectures on telescope optics and imaging, by Richard Hook (ESO), who transmitted his
enthousiasm about the progress made in the last decades. It was complemented by two lectures on the basics
of photometry, including the various photometric systems (and the way to transform one into the other...)
by Jesus Falcon Barroso (IAC). And the introduction to spectroscopic techniques was given by Michel Dennefeld (Paris).

At the same time, the students were divided into four groups, under the leadership of their respective tutors,
to prepare the scientific program for the observations, and make the necessary technical choices for the instrument set-up. The available telescopes were the Isaac Newton 2.5m, with the IDS low dispersion spectrograph,
and the Nordic Optical Telescope 2.5m with the versatile AFOSC (imaging + Spectroscopy).
The most delicate part was the distribution of the nights among the groups, to avoid too many changes of gratings...
Each group had one night at the INT, and one night at the NOT, but imaging was only available at the NOT.

A very busy
                    class room...The NOT
                    telescope, with Magic in the foreground

             A very busy class room                                  The NOT telescope, with Magic in the foreground

Of course, having the chance to work on such an advanced observatory, visits of some of the major facilities were also organised. Besides the telescopes used for the observations, these also included the 4.2m William Herschel telescope, and the 10m Grantecan. And, to go somewhat beyond the optical/IR domain, which is the main topic of the Neon schools,  detailed presentations were also given at the Magic facility (Cerenkov detectors to detect cosmic rays sources), and the Swedish solar tower, where the role and efficiency of Adaptive Optics (which is also part now of the major optical facilities) was directly demonstrated.
On Sunday the 21th, everybody went down to SantaCruz, where the second week was taking place thanks to the kind
hospitality of the ING group. There, an intensive data reduction was going on, in view of the presentation of the results foreseen on the last day of the school. But some lectures were scheduled also, to broaden the scope and emerge a bit form the data reduction...Cecilia Farina (ING) presented the WEAVE spectrograph, a futur instrument for the WHT, mainly to do Gaia follow-up and measure Baryonic Acoustic Oscillations. Simon Tulloch (Qucam) explained  the structure and functioning of modern CCD's, something that few students learn at home, although everybody now uses CCD cameras in everyday's life...And Michel Dennefeld gave an overview of the evolution of the telescopes, from the first lenses used by Galileo to the complex optics of the VLT and the E-ELT.

   The Neon 2013 group              The visit to Grantecan

The NEON 2013 group                                                    The Grantecan telescope

After hard and intensive work, the scientific results were presented on the last day of the school.
The group lead by Jairo Mendez, with Andrea Bonfanti (Padova), Ahmet Dervisoglu (Kayseri), Mihal Kodric (Munich) and Weronika Narloch (Warsaw) studied the barred galaxy NGC 7177, to determine its speed pattern and classify is as a fast bar or a slow bar. And, as feared, the answer was inbetween, when the rotation velocity was measured at 55.5 km/s/arcsec, giving an R value of 1.4, exactly at the boundary between the two categories...

The group lead by Lorenzo Morelli (Padova), with Onelda Bardho (Nice), Martyn Bristow (Liverpool), Levente Kriskovics (Konkoly) and Jozef Nedoroscik (Tatranska Lomnica) observed the barred galaxy NGC 6585 to determine its type and structure, and analyse its stellar population. It is clearly a dusty galaxy, betweem SO and Sb, smaller than our Milky Way. The age of the bulge is around 2 to 5 Gyrs, with a low metallicity. To do a similar analysis for the disk population would in fact require better S/N data, only obtainable with a larger telescope.

The group led by Patrick Francois (Paris Observatory), with Amanda Doyle (Keele Univ.), Leonardo Gkouvelis (Valencia), Smriti Vats (Amsterdam) and Michal Zejmo (Zielona Gora) observed the globular clusters M13 and M71, to get abundances in old stars in clusters with little enrichment. By comparing their observed spectra with synthetic ones, they derived the first ever abundance for some stars in M71. For stars in M13, where some data exist in the litterature, they could measure abundances for Ca, Mg, and Fe. The comparison of their results with the litterature data  was satisfactory, although the scatter was somehwat large, du to limited S/N also a larger telescope would be required. But clearly, some of the stars had already been enriched by Supernovae.  

Finally, the group led by Tapio Pursimo (NOT), which gathered Benjamin Hendricks (Heidelberg), Jan Laur (Tartu), Marijana Smailagic (Belgrade) and Sonia Tamburri (Milano) observed a series of Gamma-rays blazars, in the hope to find some flares. While no flares were detected directly during the observations, they could classify the various candidates into real BL Lac objects, with no emission lines and redder colours, and Flat Spectrum Radio Quasars, having indeed a flat spectrum and bluer colours. And an Astronomical Telegram could be published (ATel 5221) about the flaring Blazar TXS 1100+122. They were however also pleased (or bothered...?) during their run by a ToO Alert to observe a real gamma-rays burst, which they could then analyse.   

Targets of Opportunity are novadays an important part of astronomer's lives...and the school was, as usual, keen to contribute to the classification of new objects.  As a result, two CBET telegrams could be published, confirming and classifying the Supernovae 2013 ed (CBET 3596) and 2013 ee in NGC 3079 (CBET 3597)