Telephone: +34 922 425400
Fax: +34 922 425401

Apartado de Correos, 321
38700 Santa Cruz de La Palma
Canary Islands; SPAIN
The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes 
The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes is an establishment of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council of the United Kingdom and the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek of the Netherlands.


Press Release ING 1/2001
Date: Friday 4 May 2001
Embargo: For immediate release
Other available formats: PDF | Text


Astronomers from all over the world will be meeting on La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain from 7 to 11 May to attend an international conference on the central kiloparsecs of nearby active galaxies. This conference will review recent progress and discuss the future strategies on this very active research field.

The title of the conference is: "The central kiloparsec of starbursts and active galactic nuclei: The La Palma connection". A press conference will take place at Hotel Hacienda San Jorge, Los Cancajos on 8 May at 12:00am.

Recent advances in high-resolution observations, theory and modeling have focused our attention on the central kiloparsec regions of nearby disk galaxies, which often show profound starburst and highly energetic phenomena, accompanied by intricate gas and dust morphologies and kinematics. The origin and evolution of the phenomena occurring in the cores of these galaxies is currently under intense study. New information has come available from telescopes in space and from the ground. This has fueled new ways of thinking on how the observed phenomena are linked to the intense formation of stars and to the evolution of these enigmatic galaxies.

The 4.2 metre William Herschel Telescope plays a significant role in this research field. Its instruments facilitate the study of galaxies at optical and infra-red wavelenghts. The quality of the La Palma skies allow astronomers to study the centres of these galaxies in the finest detail. In order to improve the capability of the telescope for these studies, the Isaac Newton Group is developing an advanced adaptive optics system, which in the future will allow scientist to study distant galaxies with a clarity that could otherwise only be achieved by space observatories.

The conference, which is the first scientific conference organised by the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes,  is co-sponsored by the Excmo. Cabildo Insular de La Palma (local government) and the Patronato de Turismo de La Palma (local tourist board). 

The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING) is an establishment of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) of the United Kingdom and the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) of the Netherlands. The ING operates the 4.2 metre William Herschel Telescope, the 2.5 metre Isaac Newton Telescope, and the 1.0 metre Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope. The telescopes are located in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de Los Muchachos on La Palma which is operated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC). 


M95 Galaxy
Caption:. M95 galaxy. This is a barred spiral galaxy in Leo constellation. M95 is presented almost face-on to us, displaying a central bar and tightly wrapped spiral arms that together create the shape of a Greek theta. This image was obtained using the Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope.
Picture credit: Dr. Johan Knapen (Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes and University of Hertfordshire).
Available formats:
LZW TIFF (20.0cm × 19.2cm at 300dpi, 15,741K)
LZW TIFF (10.0cm × 9.6cm at 300dpi, 1,978K)
JPEG (1000 × 963 pixels, 553K)
JPEG (800 × 772 pixels, 107K)

The William Herschel Telescope
Caption:. The William Herschel Telescope (WHT). The WHT is part of the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes and it's the largest telescope of its kind in Western Europe.
Picture credit: Rainer Girnstein. 
Available formats:
LZW TIFF (16.5cm × 25.0cm at 300dpi, 11,241K)
LZW TIFF (10.0cm × 15.1cm at 300dpi, 3,657K)
JPEG (800 × 1,210 pixels, 331K)
JPEG (400 × 605 pixels, 58K)

The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes
Caption: The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes. The big dome on the left is the William Herschel Telescope. The farthest domes on the right and the Isaac Newton Telescope (left) and the Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope (right).
Picture credit: Nik Szymanek and Ian King. 
Available formats:
LZW TIFF (14.1cm × 10.1cm at 300dpi, 3,275K)
LZW TIFF (10.0cm × 7.1cm at 300dpi, 1,673K)
JPEG (1,000 × 712 pixels, 170K)
JPEG (800 × 570 pixels, 76K)


Dr. Johan Knapen
Chair of the Local Organising Committee
Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes and University of Hertfordshire
Phone: +34 922 425434
Fax: +34 922 425401

Mr. Javier Méndez 
Public Relations Officer
Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes 
Phone: +34 922 425464, +34 616 464111 
Fax: +34 922 425401 

More information on the conference:  (UK mirror)

More information on the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes:  (UK mirror)


Kiloparsec. A parsec is a unit of distance commonly used by astronomers. It is the distance at which a star would have an annual parallax of exactly one second of arc; from this distance, the Earth's orbit would have an apparent radius of one second of arc. One parsec is equivalent to 3.26 light-years (3.09×1013 km) or 206,265 astronomical units. A kiloparsec is 1,000 times a parsec.

Starburst galaxy. A starburst galaxy is one undergoing a brief episode of intense star formation, usually in its central region. The massive stars in the burst generate most of the total luminosity of the entire galaxy. Starburst galaxies are fascinating objects in their own right and are the sites where roughly 25% of all the massive stars in the local universe are being formed. They offer unique laboratories for the study of the formation and evolution of massive stars, the effects of massive stars on the interstellar medium and the physical processes that were important in building galaxies and chemically enriching the intergalactic medium.

Active galactic nucleus. The central region of an active galaxy within which exceptionally large amounts of energy are being generated. An active galactic nucleus (AGN) emits strongly over a wide range of wavelengths, from x-ray to radio, the most powerful examples radiating a thousand times as much energy as the galaxies within which they are embedded. The spectrum of the radiation emitted by an AGN is markedly different from that of an ordinary galaxy (which shines with the combined light of its constituent stars and nebulae) and implies that some mechanism other than stellar radiation is needed to explain its copious output of energy. Many AGNs appear to be ejecting jets of highly energetic particles. In some cases one jet is seen, in others two oppositely directed jets are visible.