Observational Astronomy

Cosmic Microwave Background Measurements with the QUaD Experiment

The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation has enabled us to probe conditions in the early universe with incredible precision. The QUaD experiment is one of the first to report detailed measurements of the polarization of the CMB, which provides extra information that complements temperature measurements. Dr. Church will discuss the implications of the QUaD data and set the stage for what we can expect from future, more sensitive experiments. 

Kepler: Are There Any Good Worlds Out There?

The Kepler Mission began its science observations just one year ago on March 12, 2009, initiating NASA’s first search for Earth-like planets. Initial results and light curves from Kepler are simply breath-taking, and they reveal as much about the instrument as they do about the stars Kepler observes. I will discuss how much we’ve learned over the past year about the instrument and the stars and how we are modifying the Science Pipeline to reveal small Earth-like planets. 

PAHs and the Diffuse Interstellar Bands: From the Laboratory to Space

The diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs) are absorption features that are seen toward reddened stars. They are caused by the absorption of light by the interstellar medium. Numbering hundreds of bands, the DIBs vary in strengths and in profiles and are detected in the near ultraviolet to the near infrared range. The bands are the signature of carriers that are ubiquitous in the interstellar medium making their identification an essential element for a correct understanding of the nature and the evolution of the interstellar medium.

Asteroseismology in the era of CoRoT and Kepler space missions

After a general introduction into the research field of asteroseismology, we review the highlights achieved from multi-site ground-based campaigns dedicated to carefully selected targets. We show how asteroseismology has the potential to improve stellar evolution models to a level that cannot be achieved by any other method so far.

Mongolian and other Historic Solar Eclipses

Dr. Doyle will discuss some simple solar and lunar eclipse observations (including a new one known as the "Emerald Tiara") as well as some of the historic eclipses that have occurred over the past several millennia, and what we have learned from them. Emphasis will be placed on special eclipse events -- eclipses that stopped wars, that proved the general theory of relativity, and so on. Dr. Doyle will spend some time discussing a special Mongolian eclipse that occurred in the 13th Century that helped to determine the modern rate of rotation of the Earth.

Finding Planets Around Nearby Stars: The Lick-Carnegie Extrasolar Planet Search Program

 There are currently over 350 known extrasolar planets, the vast majority discovered through detection of periodic barycentric reflex motion of the planet's host star via high-precision Doppler radial velocity measurements. The Lick-Carnegie Extrasolar Planet Search Program is one such precision Doppler-based planet survey. It is currently monitoring over 1330 nearby F,G,K, and M stars for planets at 2-3 m/sec precision, and has contributed over 70% of the presently-known exoplanets.

Fermi-LAT Observing the Universe with high-energy gamma-ray eyes

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, formerly called GLAST, is a satellite mission designed to measure gamma-rays in the energy range 20 MeV to >300 GeV, with supporting measurements for gamma-ray bursts from 8 keV to 30 MeV. In addition to breakthrough capabilities in energy coverage and localization, the very large field of view enables observations of 20% of the sky at any instant, and the entire sky on a timescale of a few hours.

Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections Observed with STEREO

 The STEREO mission, launched in 2006, consists of two identical spacecraft with EUV and white-light imagers that circle around the Sun in opposite direction and provide us for the first time a true stereoscopic view of solar flares and coronal mass ejections. We show some scientific highlights of this mission, including 3D reconstructions of the coronal plasma in active regions, eruptive flares, and mass ejections that propagate through the heliosphere.

HST Imaging of Fomalhaut: Direct detection of an exosolar planet and Kuiper Belt around a nearby star

 Advances in high-contrast imaging have produced a new sample of spatially resolved debris disks with morphologies attributed to the dynamical effects of planets.  I will briefly review several cases, including our recent non-detection of Beta Pictoris b using Keck adaptive optics at L-prime.  Then I will focus on the case for a planetary system around the nearby A star Fomalhaut.  Optical coronagraphic observations using the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard HST shows a vast dusty debris belt offset from the star and cleanly sculpted at its inside border.  Follow-up HST imag

Kepler's First Peek

The Kepler Mission is designed to find Earth-sized exoplanets by staring at the same star field for the entire mission and continuously and simultaneously monitoring the brightnesses of more than 100,000 stars for the life of the mission—3.5 or more years. In this way, it will determine the fraction of stars that have habitable planets - a key part of the Drake Equation. Kepler was launched on March 6th on a Delta II rocket. Dr. Batalha will talk about the first stunning results from Kepler showing the phases of the atmosphere of a known gas giant planet with incredible accuracy. 


Subscribe to RSS - Observational Astronomy