Astronomy Colloquia

Using artificial intelligence to find pulsars

Speaker: 
Aaron Berndsen, UBC Physics & Astronomy
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2012-09-17 16:00 - 17:15
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews
Intended Audience: 
Graduate
I'll start with a quick review of the many areas of physics which pulsars help us 
explore. Then I'll describe the typical current (and expected future) observing 
modes for pulsars (transitioning from single dishes to interferometers (EVLA, ASKAP, 
MeerKat, SKA, Lofar).  Finally, I'll report on a project to use artificial 
intelligence to help find pulsars, with an introduction to the principles of machine 
learning, and a presentation of some of our recent results.

A UBC saga - the first Doppler search for extra-solar planets

Speaker: 
Gordon Walker
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2012-09-10 16:00 - 17:15
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews
Intended Audience: 
Graduate
Hundreds of extra-solar planetary systems are known now, most confirmed or detected
by the Doppler reflex motion of the primary star. The development of digital
detectors and more powerful spectrographs in the 1970s improved the precision of
radial velocity measurements by orders of magnitude making it possible to detect
such tiny reflexes. In 1978 Bruce Campbell and I successfully introduced hydrogen
fluoride into the telescope beam of the DAO 1.2-m telescope to act as a wavelength
fiducial.

Hitting the JACPOT: Probing Accretion Disk - Radio Jet Coupling Over Entire Outbursts of X-ray Binaries

Speaker: 
Gregory Sivakoff (University of Alberta)
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2011-10-24 16:00 - 17:15
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews
Intended Audience: 
Graduate

Accretion disks and jets are ubiquitous astrophysical phenomena. Given the potential feedback between supermassive black holes and galaxy evolution, understanding the physics of accretion discs and relativistic radio jets around Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) has gained increased motivation; however, the outbursts of AGN likely last millions of years.

Extrasolar parents

Speaker: 
Kaspar von Braun (NASA Exoplanet Science Institute and Caltech)
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2011-10-17 16:00 - 17:15
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews
Intended Audience: 
Graduate

We currently know of more than 500 extrasolar planets orbiting a variety of different host stars. These stars almost always represent the only visible component in the system, they are the dominant energy source for the orbiting planets, and they influence every aspect of planetary physics and evolution. Most astrophysical parameters of extrasolar planets are actually functions of equivalent stellar parameters, whose values are not always accurately known. The importance of "understanding the parent stars" cannot be overstated in the quest of exoplanet exploration.

Highlights from the southern High Time Resolution Universe pulsar survey

Speaker: 
Linda Levin (Swinburne University, Australia)
Event Date and Time: 
Fri, 2011-10-07 16:00 - 17:15
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews and Ingrid Stairs
Intended Audience: 
Graduate

Using the Parkes radio telescope, we have been searching for pulsars and fast transients within the High Time Resolution Universe survey since November 2008. With a higher time and frequency resolution than the earlier Parkes surveys, we are able to probe deeper into the Galactic plane for short duration signals. Still underway, the survey has so far revealed over a hundred previously unknown sources. I will give an update on the survey status and present some of the more interesting objects discovered, including a radio magnetar and the "diamond planet" pulsar.

GAMA: from little blue fuzzies to massive red monsters and beyond

Speaker: 
Sarah Brough (Anglo-Australian Observatory)
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2011-10-03 16:00 - 17:15
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews and David Woods
Intended Audience: 
Graduate

The Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey is currently a 144-square-degree multi-wavelength survey including optical spectra being collected at the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT). I will present some of my work to date with the GAMA survey, characterising the lowest star-forming systems in the sample - the little blue fuzzies. I will then outline how GAMA is ideally placed to answer questions remaining about the evolution of Brightest Cluster Galaxies (BCGs) - massive red monsters.

The Potential to Form Planets in the Orion Nebula

Speaker: 
Rita Mann (Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics)
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2011-09-26 16:00 - 17:15
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews
Intended Audience: 
Graduate

The formation of planetary systems is intimately connected to the properties of the circumstellar disks in which they are born. Disk studies to date have focused on regions like Taurus and Ophiuchus for their proximity, however, stars rarely form in such isolated environments. Most stars form in massive star forming regions and there is even clear evidence that our Sun formed near an OB association like that found in Orion. Using the Submillimeter Array (SMA), we surveyed 67 protoplanetary disks ("proplyds") at 850 microns in the Orion Nebula to determine their masses.

The Gravitational Interaction of Baryons and Dark Matter in Galaxy Formation

Speaker: 
Alexia Schulz (Los Alamos National Laboratory)
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2011-09-19 16:00 - 17:15
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews and Douglas Scott
Intended Audience: 
Graduate

The regularity in the shape of dark matter profiles is one of the most robust predictions of hierarchical structure formation in the LCDM paradigm. Drawing a meaningful comparison between N-body simulations and observations requires understanding how baryonic physics affects the distribution of dark matter in galaxies. Accurately modeling the shape of galaxy profiles is also very important for estimating the rates for direct and indirect detection of dark matter.

A superexotic super-Earth orbiting a naked-eye star

Speaker: 
Jaymie Matthews (UBC Physics & Astronomy)
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2011-09-12 16:00 - 17:15
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews
Intended Audience: 
Graduate

Super-Earths are solid planets more massive than Earth but less massive than ice giants like Neptune. There are no analogues for this type of planet in our own Solar System but ground- and spacebased exoplanet searches started turning up super-Earths a few years ago.

A Hubble Adventure: Repairing the Telescope and Its Exciting New Discoveries

Speaker: 
Dr. John Grunsfeld, Deputy Director, Space Telescope Science Institute and Former NASA Astronaut
Event Date and Time: 
Sat, 2012-02-11 20:15 - 21:30
Location: 
Lecture Hall No. 2 in the Woodward Instructional Resources Centre, UBC
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews and Harvey Richer
Intended Audience: 
Public

Dr. Grunsfeld’s research has covered x-ray and gamma-ray astronomy, high-energy cosmic ray studies, and development of new detectors and instrumentation. He studied binary pulsars and energetic x-ray and gamma ray sources using the NASA Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, x-ray astronomy satellites, radio telescopes, and optical telescopes including the NASA Hubble Space Telescope. Dr. Grunsfeld has logged over 58 days in space, including 58 hours in 8 space walks.

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