Observational Astronomy

Breaking the Seeing Barrier for Planetary Astronomy

planets When Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope toward Jupiter in 1609 and discovered what we now call the Galilean moons, he did not realized that he had just established a new research field in astronomy.

On the road to extragalactic transient discoveries

Surveys for radio pulsars serve as excellent historical records of the Galactic and extragalactic radio sky on sub-second time scales.

Adventures of a Vatican Astronomer

No scientist is a Spock-like android; a scientist's work is as intuitive, and just as full of human foibles, as a painting, a symphony, or a prayer. But most of us don't have the opportunity (or training) to reflect on the human dimensions of our work. Br.

Optics tricks to image and study habitable exoplanets

exoplanetsDirectly imaging exoplanets is both scientifically exciting but notoriously challenging. Scientifically, obtaining images of rocky planets in the habitable zones of stars is key to finding if and how life developed outside the solar system.

Star Formation through Radio Eyes: Probing Magnetic Fields with CARMA

carma telescopeHow do stars form?  How can we use radio waves to probe the origins of stars within their cold, dusty natal clouds?  And how do magnetic fields affect the star-formation process?  Come and find out how I use CARMA, a millimeter-wave radio telescope in the Eastern Sierras, to find answers to these questions.  I will begin by discussing the basics of radio astronomy, radio telescopes, and star formation.

Exploring the Dark Side of the Universe

In this talk Dr. Fassnacht will show how the powerful combination of sensitive, high-resolution imaging with gravitational lensing can provide direct observational tests of galaxy formation scenarios under the cold dark matter paradigm as well as interesting constraints on cosmology. In particular, he will discuss the following two subjects. (1) Placing constraints on the Hubble Constant, curvature, and the dark energy equation of state parameter that are independent of and complementary to those obtained by other observational probes.

Kepler Mission: Past, Present, and Future (Video)

Dr. Bill Borucki is the principal investigator and head of the Kepler Mission to find 'exoplanets' around other stars.

Coronal heating and acceleration and NASA's Solar Probe Plus mission

The thermodynamic temperature of the Sun's atmosphere rises from ~6000K at the visible surface to millions of degrees in its outer atmosphere, the corona. This hot coronal plasma then expands supersonically to become the solar wind; this wind acceleration process is ongoing to very high altitudes (~10 solar radii) There is no sufficient thermal energy source for this heating and expansion, however remote sensing measurements of the coronal magnetic field suggest that the magnetic energy density is more than enough.

Space Buckyballs

Fullerenes are a class of large and remarkably stable carbonaceous molecules in the shape of a hollow sphere or ellipsoid; the best known member of the class is the archetypical “buckminsterfullerene” C60 that resembles a soccer ball (and is therefore often called “buckyball”). Dr. Cami and colleagues have recently discovered the unmistakable spectral signatures of the fullerene species C60 and C70 in Spitzer observations of a young planetary nebula, and these are now the largest molecules known to exist in space.

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