Astronomy Colloquia

Fast Radio Bursts: Lessons in Deduction

Speaker: 
Sarah Burke Spolaor (Caltech)
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2015-11-16 15:30 - 16:30
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews
Intended Audience: 
Graduate
Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are millisecond-duration radio signals shrouded in mystery and a deficit of informative data. Still, FRB science has been building rapidly since their first discovery in 2007. Until recently, only circumstantial evidence allowed statements on what progenitors FRBs might arise from, and whether they are local, Galactic, or extragalactic. We are now detecting FRB events in real-time, and have the capability to detect FRBs with radio interferometers.

Common Envelope and the Formation of Close Neutron Star Binaries

Speaker: 
Morgan MacLeod (UCSC)
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2015-10-26 15:30 - 16:30
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Harvey Richer, Jaymie Matthews
Intended Audience: 
Graduate

How do close neutron star binaries form? Many aspects of our understanding of the complex channels through which compact binaries form remain uncertain. This talk focuses on a crucial phase in the formation of close binary pairs of neutron stars: a common envelope episode. During the common envelope phase, one star evolves to engulf its companion in a shared gaseous envelope. Before this envelope is ejected, drag forces pull the two stellar cores into a tighter orbit. But the neutron star can also accrete from the surrounding gas.

Theoretical Challenges in the Dark Energy Program

Speaker: 
Andrew Zentner
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2015-09-28 15:30 - 16:30
Location: 
Hennings 318

Many experiments are seeking to constrain the dark energy that drives contemporary cosmological acceleration using a variety of techniques. One of the techniques with the greatest potential is weak gravitational lensing. Gravitational lensing by large-scale structure in the Universe has the statistical power to constrain the dark energy equation of state to better than 1%. Recognized systematic errors are a significant challenge to this program.

The Diversity and Demographics of Distant Rocky Worlds

Speaker: 
Leslie Rogers (Caltech)
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2015-11-23 15:30 - 16:30
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews
Intended Audience: 
Graduate
The discovery of exoplanets (planets outside our Solar System) has brought the settings of many science fiction stories within reach of scientific inquiry. Astronomers’ ever increasing sensitivity to smaller and smaller planets has opened the opportunity for empirical insights into the nature and demographics terrestrial worlds. Up to what size and mass do planets typically have rocky compositions? How Earth-like are these distant rocky worlds? How common are rocky planets in the Habitable Zones of their host stars?

The Coolest Place in the Solar System: Opportunistic Science with the Dark Energy Survey

Speaker: 
David Gerdes (U. Michigan)
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2015-10-19 15:30 - 16:30
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews
Intended Audience: 
Graduate

The Dark Energy Survey is in the middle of a five-year mission to map one-eighth of the sky with unprecedented area and depth using the 4-meter Blanco telescope in Chile. The main goal of the survey is to understand the accelerating expansion of the Universe by imaging hundreds of millions of galaxies and thousands of Type Ia supernovae. But to collect these data we must look out through our own galaxy and Solar System.

Astronomy in the era of the LSST: Understanding our universe a bit at a time.

Speaker: 
Andrew Connolly (University of Washington)
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2015-11-02 15:30 - 16:30
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews
Intended Audience: 
Graduate

With the development of new detectors, telescopes and computational facilities, survey astrophysics is entering an era where deep optical surveys are possible for a large fraction of the visible sky. One of the largest of these surveys, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), will comprise an 8.4 m primary mirror with a 9.6-square-degree field-of-view and a 3.2 Gigapixel camera.

Bayesian planet searches for the 10 cm/s radial velocity era

Speaker: 
Phil Gregory (UBC Physics & Astronomy)
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2015-10-05 15:30 - 16:30
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Jaymie Matthews
Intended Audience: 
Graduate

Intrinsic stellar variability has become the main limiting factor for planet searches in both transit and radial velocity (RV) data. New spectrographs are under development like ESPRESSO and EXPRES that aim to improve RV precision by a factor of approximately 100 over the current best spectrographs, HARPS and HARPS-N. This will greatly exacerbate the challenge of distinguishing planetary signals from stellar-activity-induced RV signals. At the same time good progress has been made in simulating stellar activity signals.

Seesaw transits and anti-transits with Kepler

Speaker: 
Eric Agol
Event Date and Time: 
Tue, 2015-04-28 13:00 - 14:00
Location: 
Hennings 318

TBD

Eccentricities of planets in multi-planet extra-solar systems: Insights from classical secular theory.

Speaker: 
Christa Van Laerhoven
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2015-03-02 15:30 - 16:30
Location: 
Hennings 318
In planetary systems with more than one planet, gravitational
interactions cause orbital eccentricity variations. For non-resonant
systems, classical secular theory reveals that the eccentricities are
vector sums of contributions from several eigenmodes. The structure of
these secular eigenmodes can be calculated from the star and planet
masses and the planets' semi-major axes. Thus, the secular eigenmodes
can offer valuable insight into the long-term eccentricity behavior of
planets, even without knowing the current eccentricities.

An Overview of Canadian Astronomy

Speaker: 
Greg Fahlman
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2015-04-13 15:30 - 16:30
Location: 
Hennings 318

The Government of Canada recently announced an unprecedented award of $243.5M to enable Canada’s participation in the construction and operation of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). This international project has its origins in a community-based Long Range Plan presented in 2000. A subsequent Plan in 2010 further amplified that case for this project among a suite of “World Observatories” that were planned for the early decades of the 21’st century.

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