Archivi tag: Galaxies

CASCA 2013

The Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) will be having its annual meeting for 2013 at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, hosted by UBC Physics & Astronomy. The conference runs Tuesday May 28 through Thursday May 30. There is no specific theme for this CASCA meeting but it will feature new and exciting results from many areas of astronomical research!! Everyone is welcome. There will be general sessions on solar system, compact objects, stars, ISM, galaxies, instrumentation and education. General conference information (including the schedule, maps, restaurant information, and more) is available for download here. Your conference package will contain a hard copy of a shortened version of this document

44° Annual Division on Dynamical Astronomy Meeting

The 2013 Meeting of the Division on Dynamical Astronomy will be held from 5 – 9 May 2013 in Paraty, Brazil. The annual DDA Meeting brings together top researchers in astronomy, astrophysics, planetary science, and astrodynamics for in-depth and stimulating discussions and talks on all aspects of dynamics in the space sciences. The DDA meeting features invited talks on a range of topics, contributed talks (with no parallel sessions), and posters that can be displayed throughout the entire meeting.

TMT, the Thirty Meter Telescope seeks the final approval

Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).
Courtesy: TMT Observatory Corporation

Near the center of Pasadena, California, a team of scientists, engineers, and project specialists is busily planning and designing what eventually will become the most advanced and powerful optical telescope on Earth. When completed later this decade, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time. The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is the next-generation astronomical observatory that is scheduled to begin scientific operations in 2021 on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, working under an international collaboration from US, Canada, Japan, China and India institutions. The date Friday, April 12th 2013 marked another important step forward for the future of astronomical discovery and economic opportunity on Hawaii Island. The Hawaiian Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) announced that it has granted a permit to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project to build and operate the next-generation observatory near the summit of Mauna Kea.

With this approval, the BLNR has recognized TMT’s goal of responsible development and environmental stewardship of Mauna Kea in close partnership with local interests. The carefully considered conditions in the permit help ensure the protection of sensitive environments in Hawaii. “Over the last several years, the TMT project has welcomed the support it has received from all sectors of the Hawaiian community, from education to cultural to business to labor“, said Sandra Dawson, TMT’s Manager of Hawaii Community Affairs. “We look forward to beginning construction and becoming a neighbor of the outstanding observatories on Mauna Kea“. In February 2011, the BLNR issued a preliminary decision conditioned on the successful conclusion of a contested case. The contested hearings began later that year. The final approval followed a hearing held February 12, 2013 in Hilo, HI. At this time, the BLNR reviewed a report by the hearing officer regarding the contested case. “We are delighted that the TMT project has now been granted a Conservation District Use Permit“, said Edward Stone, the Morrisroe Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and vice chair of the TMT board. “The BLNR’s decision is a vote of confidence for TMT advancing science while benefitting the greater Hawaiian community“. TMT will now seek final approval of construction plans by Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). The project will also negotiate a sublease with the University of Hawaii. TMT plans to begin preparing the ground for construction on Mauna Kea before the end of the year with a construction start date slated for April 2014.

TMT Overview from Thirty Meter Telescope on Vimeo.

TMT Fly-Through from Thirty Meter Telescope on Vimeo.

The deaths of stars and the lives of galaxies

The meeting will cover topics related to the final stages of stellar evolution and the many important aspects of astronomy that depend on understanding how stars die and what happens to their remnants.  Topics related to the stars themselves and how their later stages of evolution proceed, as well as how their demise affects their immediate surroundings and host galaxies, will be addressed. The meeting will be unique in bringing together researchers in quite diverse areas of stellar astrophysics, but which actually have strong connections.

The broad themes to be covered by the meeting will be:

Channels of stellar death: The dichotomy between low-mass and high mass stars in their evolution and death as been established since many decades and constitutes the basis of many textbooks: low and intermediate mass stars produce a degenerate C/O core which, after a short but intriguing phase known as planetary nebula, becomes the final white dwarf; massive stars, on the other hand, will spent a much shorter but more eventful life that culminates in a final explosion, known as a supernova. Things have become more blurred in the recent years, however. It is now clear that there is a huge deficiency in the number of planetary nebulae (PNe) in the Galaxy, if indeed all low and intermediate mass stars go through this evolutionary stage. Moreover, in order to explain the 80% of aspherical PNe, it is now becoming more and more obvious that binarity is a key factor. Perhaps even to the extent that PNe won’t be produced by single stars at all! On the front of supernovae also, things have become more complicated. For example, in recent years a growing number of under-energetic and unusual supernovae (SNe) have been discovered. The faint transients SN2008S and SN2008ha represent two of these peculiar events, whose nature is still ambiguous and extensively debated, being either SN “impostors” or electron-capture SNe involving a super-AGB star. Strangely enough, recent observations have also shown that what was thought to be well known – the upper limit of the masses of stars – appeared incorrect: there are now evidence for stars whose initial mass was twice as large as the previous limit. In the last three years there has been an increasing interest in the importance of binarity for the evolution of massive stars. A striking result is the very large proportion of binaries among massive stars – up to 90%! – and the strong preference for binaries with short orbital periods of several days and less.

Products of stellar death:  Mass loss from evolved stars, both high and low mass, profoundly affects their host galaxies, leaving imprints that can be detected throughout the age of the universe.  Theories and observations of the chemical evolution of galaxies both rely on and inform theories of stellar evolution.  Quasars at redshifts of >6 are observed to contain hundreds of millions of solar masses of dust, only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.  The known sources of dust cannot account for this enormous quantity. Meanwhile in the local universe, studies have found that the combined contributions of high mass and low mass stars to the dust budget of galaxies fall short of the observed totals.  Where is the dust in the universe coming from?  Low mass stars are the dominant source of nitrogen in the universe, while high mass stars are the main source of oxygen, but the question of which type of stars produce the universe’s carbon is still unresolved.

Stellar death in an extragalactic context: Finally dying stars provide tools with which to examine the evolution of the universe, with the Type Ia supernovae being the most prominent example, used to reveal the acceleration of the universe’s expansion.  Despite their fundamental importance, the progenitors of Type Ia supernovae have not been unambiguously identified, and nor has the relative importance of single and double degenerate channels been quantified.  Recent years have seen great advances in studies of recurrent novae, as their outbursts have been predicted in advance and consequently observed in great detail.  However, controversy still exists as to whether each eruption ultimately increases or reduces the mass of the white dwarf for any of the handful of known recurrent novae.  Nova-like events observed inside planetary nebulae also suggest that in some cases, these objects could be potential supernovae progenitors, a finding which illustrates the potential benefits of bringing together researchers from fields as nominally distinct as novae, planetary nebulae and cosmology.

All these developments clearly illustrate the timeliness of a review of these topics, and more importantly, of the need to link them together, so as to gain new insights from this wide, rather than traditional, approach.

ESLAB 2013: The Universe as seen by Planck

The objective of the conference is to present and discuss the initial science results from Planck, ESA’s mission to map the anisotropies of the Cosmic Microwave Background. It is the first scientific forum where these results will be addressed, following Planck’s first major release of data products and scientific papers in early 2013. It will cover both cosmology (based on analysis of the Cosmic Microwave Background) and astrophysics (based on analysis of foreground emission sources). The Planck satellite was launched on 14 May 2009, and has been surveying the sky continuously since August 2009. The nominal duration of the mission was completed in November of 2010, but Planck still continues to gather data. Data processing has been progressing and a first set of cosmological-grade data products will be released to the astronomical community in early 2013. These products will consist mainly of temperature maps of the whole sky at nine frequencies between 30 GHz and 857 GHz, which allow us to extract a map of the temperature anisotropies of the Cosmic Microwave Background, as well as maps of many astrophysical foregrounds. The latter most importantly include synchrotron, free-free and dust emission from the Milky Way, radio and far-infrared emission from external galaxies, the characteristic signatures due to the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect in clusters of galaxies, and the Cosmic Infrared Background. The Planck data therefore provide for an extremely broad range of cosmological and astrophysical science.

More info: ESLAB 2013

The Next Generation CFHT: A 10m, Wide-Field, Spectroscopic Telescope for the Coming Decade

For over 30 years the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and its international community have developed innovative capabilities to support advanced research. CFHT was among the first on Mauna Kea to develop a facility class adaptive optics system, multi-object and integral field spectrographs, and wide field panoramic imagers. Today we look to a future that builds upon our past, including the possibility of replacing the current 3.6 m telescope with a 10 m facility dedicated to wide field spectroscopy. If pursued, the next-generation CFHT (ngCFHT) would re-use the existing facility except for the telescope and dome, which would be replaced. While this concept is in infancy from a technical development perspective, considerable work has been completed in defining the science objectives for such a facility and we look forward to hosting members of the international astronomy community in Hawaii to discuss ngCFHT.

More information on ngCFHT is available at: The Next Generation CFHT, A Study

Infrared and Submillimeter Probes of Gas in Galaxies: From the Milky Way to the Distant Universe

Hosted by IPAC with support from the NASA Herschel and Spitzer Projects. This conference aims to explore the formation and evolution of galaxies using mostly gas tracers. Infrared and submillimeter observations gauge not only the quantity and distribution of gas in galaxies, but also the thermal and dynamical state of its various phases. Star formation and feedback involve physics that can be constrained with long wavelength observations: photoelectric heating, UV excitation, turbulence, cosmic rays, shock waves, atomic and molecular line emission, and thermal emission from dust. The conference will begin with what we know about the physical conditions of gas in the nearby universe out to z = 1, and then push outwards to earlier epochs when galaxies were forming most of their stars. Among the topics under discussion will be the mystery of dark gas, the conditions of gas in both isolated and interacting galaxies, and the role of gas in the origin of the galaxy main sequence. As we explore the results from current facilities, we hope to lay the groundwork for understanding future observations of gas and dust.