Tagged: Kavli Foundation Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 2:24 pm on January 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Kavli Foundation, The LSST Vera C. Rubin Observatory,   

    From The Kavli Foundation: “Behold the Whole Sky” The LSST Vera C. Rubin Observatory 


    From The Kavli Foundation

    Adam Hadhazy

    Fritz Zwicky discovered Dark Matter when observing the movement of the Coma Cluster., Vera Rubin a Woman in STEM denied the Nobel, did most of the work on Dark Matter.

    Fritz Zwicky from http:// palomarskies.blogspot.com

    Coma cluster via NASA/ESA Hubble

    Astronomer Vera Rubin at the Lowell Observatory in 1965, worked on Dark Matter (The Carnegie Institution for Science)

    Vera Rubin measuring spectra, worked on Dark Matter (Emilio Segre Visual Archives AIP SPL)

    Vera Rubin, with Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) image tube spectrograph attached to the Kitt Peak 84-inch telescope, 1970.

    The LSST Vera C. Rubin Observatory

    LSST Camera, built at SLAC

    LSST telescope, Vera C. Rubin Observatory, currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

    LSST Data Journey, Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    When construction is complete, the LSST, Vera C. Rubin Observatory, will be “the widest, fastest, deepest eye of the new digital age.”

    There’s about to be a new telescope in town—in the figurative sense, that is, unless you happen to literally live more than a mile-and-a-half up on the summit of a mountain named Cerro Pachón in the foothills of the Chilean Andes.

    There, construction is humming along for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, or LSST. Slated to start science operations early next decade, LSST in all likelihood will be a gamechanger for astronomy and astrophysics.

    What makes LSST so special is how big and fast it will be compared to other telescopes. “Big” in this case refers to the telescope’s field of view, which captures a chunk of sky 40 times the size of the full Moon. “Big” also refers to LSST’s mirror size, a very respectable 8.4 meters in diameter, which means it can collect ample amounts of cosmic light. Thirdly, “big” applies to LSST’s 3.2 billion-pixel camera, the biggest digital camera ever built. Put all those bits together, and LSST will be able to record images of significantly fainter and farther-away objects than other ground-based optical telescopes.

    And finally, as for “fast,” LSST will soak up more than 800 panoramas each night, cumulatively scanning the entire sky twice per week. That means the telescope will catch sight of fleeting astrophysical events, known as transients, that are often missed because telescopes—even today’s state-of-the-art, automated networks of ‘scopes—are not gobbling up so much of the sky so quickly. Transients that last days, weeks, and months—for instance, cataclysmic stellar explosions called supernovae—are routinely spotted. But the shortest events, lasting mere hours or even minutes, are another, untold story.

    “Unfortunately, we still know relatively little about the transient optical sky because we have never before had a survey that can make observations of a very large fraction of the sky repeatedly every few nights,” says Steven Kahn, Director of the LSST project. “LSST will meet this need.”

    Kahn, the Cassius Lamb Kirk Professor in the Natural Sciences and Professor of Particle Physics and Astrophysics at Stanford University, is also a member of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC). He stepped into the director role back in 2013 when LSST was on the drawing board. Now the huge instrument is nearing the completion of its construction. Kahn and his colleagues are dearly looking forward to all that LSST will bring to the table, building on the pioneering work into gauging the transient sky underway with other, precursor projects worldwide.

    “LSST will go significantly deeper and cover the sky more rapidly,” says Kahn. “By covering more sky per unit time, we are more sensitive to very rare events, which are often the most interesting.”

    In this way, LSST is going to open up a major discovery space, for phenomena both (poorly) known and (entirely) unknown.

    “The Universe is far from static,” says Kahn. “There are stellar explosions of many different kinds that allow stars to brighten dramatically and then fade away on different timescales.” Some of these transient flashes of light are expected from the vicinities of neutron stars and black holes as they interact with matter that strays too close. Researchers hope to gain new insights into these dense objects’ properties, whose extreme physics challenge our best-supported theories.

    Another primary goal for LSST is to advance our understanding of the “dark universe” of dark matter and dark energy. Together, these entities compose 95 percent of the cosmos, with the “normal” matter that makes up stars, planets, and people registering as the remaining rounding error. Yet scientists have only stabs in the dark, as it were, on what exactly dark matter and dark energy really are. LSST will help by acquiring images of billions of galaxies, stretching back to some of the earliest epochs in the universe. Analyzing the shapes and distributions of these galaxies in space as well as time (recall that the farther away you see something in the universe, the farther you’re seeing back in time) will better show dark matter’s role in building up cosmic structure. The signature of dark energy, a force that is seemingly accelerating the universe’s expansion, will also be writ across the observed eons of galactic loci.

    Closer to home, LSST will vastly expand our knowledge of our own Solar System. It will take a census of small bodies, such as asteroids and comets, that fly by overhead, too faint for us humans to notice but there all the same—and in rare instances, potentially dangerously so; just ask the dinosaurs.

    “LSST will measure everything that moves in the sky,” says Kahn. “Of particular interest, we will provide the most complete catalogue of potentially hazardous asteroids, those objects whose orbits might allow them to impact the Earth.”

    Not done yet, LSST will also extend our catalogue of stars in the galaxy, aiding in charting the history and evolution of our own Milky Way galaxy. Furthermore, LSST will be a premier instrument for discovering the sources of gravitational waves, the ripples in spacetime first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1915 and finally directly detected in 2015 by the LIGO experiment. It can be a tough business today, even with the rich array of telescopes in operation, to rapidly pinpoint the visible light that gravitational wave-spawning neutron star collisions give off. LSST should aid in that regard admirably.

    The wait is nearly over. The LSST building is nearly complete, the large mirrors are on site, and the camera is being integrated at the at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California, which co-hosts KIPAC along with Stanford.

    “Basically, everything that needed to be fabricated for the LSST telescope and camera has been fabricated,” says Kahn. “The remaining work largely involves putting the system together and getting it working.”

    Kahn has been to the telescope site recently, in both September and October. He likes what he sees.

    “Visiting the site in Chile is a remarkable experience,” Kahn says. “It is a beautiful site, and the LSST facility sits prominently atop the edge of a cliff on Cerro Pachón. The sheer size of the building and its complexity is striking.”

    Before long, the impressiveness of the building will recede into the background as the profundity of the science LSST generates takes center stage.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work.

    The Foundation’s mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, professorships, and symposia in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics as well as prizes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

  • richardmitnick 2:59 pm on April 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Kavli Foundation, Kavli Summer Program in Astrophysics,   

    From UC Santa Cruz: “UC Santa Cruz hosts summer program on machine learning in astronomy” 

    UC Santa Cruz

    From UC Santa Cruz

    April 19, 2019
    Tim Stephens

    The Kavli Summer Program in Astrophysics brings together an international group of scientists and students for a six-week program of learning and research


    An international group of students participated in the 2016 Kavli Summer Program in Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz.

    The 2019 Kavli Summer Program in Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz will focus on “Machine Learning in the Era of Large Astronomical Surveys,” bringing together scientists and students from a broad range of backgrounds to learn about machine learning techniques and their applications in astronomy.

    The Kavli Summer Program in Astrophysics combines the concept of a long-term workshop with graduate student training through research projects. Up to 15 established faculty, 15 post-doctoral researchers, and 15 graduate students come from around the world to join local scientists at the host institution for the six-week program, which alternates between UC Santa Cruz and various institutions world-wide.

    The program begins with a one-week workshop on the topic of the year, after which the students are teamed with the senior participants and are expected to make significant progress on their selected project. Each year, the program tackles a different topic in astrophysics.

    This year’s topic addresses the challenges of big data in astronomy. Large astronomical surveys now collect unprecedented amounts of data, while large-scale computer simulations of astrophysical phenomena can also generate enormous datasets. To cope with this torrent of data, astronomers are adopting tools developed in the data science industry, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

    “This field is very rapidly emerging in astronomy,” said J. Xavier Prochaska, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Indeed, some of the students attending have more experience than the organizers.”

    Prochaska is a co-director of the 2019 program, along with UCSC astronomers Alexie Leauthaud and Brant Robertson. Prochaska is also a co-founder of the Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute at UC Santa Cruz, one of the sponsors of the summer program. Pascale Garaud, professor of applied mathematics at UC Santa Cruz, started the program in 2010 as the International Summer Institute for Modeling in Astrophysics (ISIMA). The Kavli Foundation has been supporting the program since 2016.

    “The Kavli Foundation is pleased to support innovative projects, and this year’s focus on big data addresses an issue of growing importance to astronomy,” said Christopher Martin, senior science program officer for the Kavli Foundation.

    In Santa Cruz, the Kavli Summer Program in Astrophysics is associated with TASC (Theoretical Astrophysics at Santa Cruz), a multi-departmental research group of UCSC scientists from Applied Mathematics, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Physics. Additional support for the 2019 program is provided by the National Science Foundation, UC Santa Cruz, and the UCSC Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UCSC Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)


    UCO Lick Shane Telescope
    UCO Lick Shane Telescope interior
    Shane Telescope at UCO Lick Observatory, UCSC

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA

    UC Santa Cruz campus
    The University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    Lick Observatory's Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building
    Lick Observatory’s Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow
    The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch) UCSC Lick Nickel telescope

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego who led the development of the new instrument while at the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by UC Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will be fully operational by early summer and will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

    The NIROSETI team also includes Geoffrey Marcy and Andrew Siemion from UC Berkeley; Patrick Dorval, a Dunlap undergraduate, and Elliot Meyer, a Dunlap graduate student; and Richard Treffers of Starman Systems. Funding for the project comes from the generous support of Bill and Susan Bloomfield.

  • richardmitnick 4:44 pm on June 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Entanglement on Demand, Kavli Foundation, , , TU Delft   

    From The Kavli Foundation and TU Delft: “Delft Scientists Make First ‘On Demand’ Entanglement Link” 


    From The Kavli Foundation


    TU Delft

    June 13, 2018
    Contact details:
    Prof. dr. ir. Ronald Hanson
    QuTech, Delft University of Technology
    Lorentzweg 1, 2628 CJ Delft, Netherlands
    +31 15 27 86133

    Researchers at QuTech in Delft have succeeded in generating quantum entanglement between two quantum chips faster than the entanglement is lost. Entanglement – once referred to by Einstein as “spooky action” – forms the link that will provide a future quantum internet its power and fundamental security. Via a novel smart entanglement protocol and careful protection of the entanglement, the scientists led by Prof. Ronald Hanson are the first in the world to deliver such a quantum link ‘on demand’. This opens the door to connect multiple quantum nodes and create the very first quantum network in the world. They publish their results on 14 June in Nature.

    Quantum Internet

    By exploiting the power of quantum entanglement it is theoretically possible to build a quantum internet that cannot be eavesdropped on. However, the realization of such a quantum network is a real challenge: you have to be able to create entanglement reliably, ‘on demand’, and maintain it long enough to pass the entangled information to the next node. So far, this has been beyond the capabilities of quantum experiments.

    Researchers from QuTech in Delft working on the ‘entanglement on demand’ experiment’. The pictures show prof. Ronald Hanson, dr. Peter Humphreys and dr. Norbert Kalb, all from the group of prof Ronald Hanson of Delft University.

    Scientists at QuTech in Delft have now been the first to experimentally generate entanglement over a distance of two metres in a fraction of a second, ‘on demand’, and subsequently maintain this entanglement long enough to enable -in theory- further entanglement to a third node. ‘The challenge is now to be the first to create a network of multiple entangled nodes: the first version of a quantum internet’, professor Hanson states.

    Higher performance

    In 2015, Ronald Hanson’s research group already became world news: they were the first to generate long-lived quantum entanglement over a distance (1.3 kilometres), , allowing them to providefull experimental proof of quantum entanglement for the first time. This experiment is the basis of their current approach to developing a quantum internet: distant single electrons on diamond chips are entangled using photons as mediators.

    However, so far this experiment has not had the necessary performance to create a real quantum network. Hanson: ‘In 2015 we managed to establish a connection once an hour, while the connection only remained active for a fraction of a second. It was impossible to add a third node, let alone multiple nodes, to the network.’

    Entanglement on demand

    The scientists have now made multiple innovative improvements to the experiment. First of all, they demonstrated a new entanglement method. This allows for the generation of entanglement forty times a second between electrons at a distance of two metres. Peter Humphreys, an author of the paper, emphasises: ‘This is a thousand times faster than with the old method.’ In combination with a smart way of protecting the quantum link from external noise, the experiment has now surpassed a crucial threshold: for the first time, entanglement can be created faster than it is lost.

    Through technical improvements, the experimental setup is now always ready for ‘entanglement-on-demand’. Hanson: ‘Just like in the current internet, we always want to be online, the system has to entangle on each request.’ The scientists have achieved this by adding smart quality checks. Humphreys: ‘These checks only take a fraction of the total experimental time, while allowing us to ensure that our system is ready for entanglement, without any manual action’.


    The researchers already demonstrated last year that they were able to protect https://qutech.nl/one-step-closer-to-the-quantum-internet-by-distillation/a quantum entangled link while a new connection was generated. By combining this and their new results, they are ready to create quantum networks with more than two nodes. The Delft scientists now plan to realize such a network between several quantum nodes. Hanson: ‘In 2020, we want to connect four cities in the Netherlands via quantum entanglement. This will be the very first quantum internet in the world.’

    This work was supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) through a VICI grant and by the European Research Council through a Starting Grant and a Synergy Grant.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work.

    The Foundation’s mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, professorships, and symposia in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics as well as prizes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

    Delft University of Technology (Dutch: Technische Universiteit Delft) also known as TU Delft, is the largest and oldest Dutch public technological university, located in Delft, Netherlands. It counts as one of the best universities for engineering and technology worldwide, typically seen within the top 20.[7] It is repeatedly considered the best university of technology in the Netherlands.[8]

    With eight faculties and numerous research institutes,[9] it hosts over 19,000 students (undergraduate and postgraduate), more than 2,900 scientists, and more than 2,100 support and management staff.[5]

    The university was established on 8 January 1842 by William II of the Netherlands as a Royal Academy, with the main purpose of training civil servants for the Dutch East Indies. The school rapidly expanded its research and education curriculum, becoming first a Polytechnic School in 1864, Institute of Technology in 1905, gaining full university rights, and finally changing its name to Delft University of Technology in 1986.[1]

    Dutch Nobel laureates Jacobus Henricus van ‘t Hoff, Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, and Simon van der Meer have been associated with TU Delft. TU Delft is a member of several university federations including the IDEA League, CESAER, UNITECH International, and 3TU.

  • richardmitnick 9:58 am on March 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A 'Living Dead' Star that Could Shed Light on the Early Universe, , , , , Kavli Foundation   

    From KAVLI: “A ‘Living Dead’ Star that Could Shed Light on the Early Universe” 


    The Kavli Foundation

    Adam Hadhazy

    An artist’s impression of a supernova involving a massive star. (Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Bacon (STScI))

    A newfound star in a nearby galaxy appears to have cheated death by blowing up at least twice as a supernova. It could be a throwback to the first stars that ever formed.

    IT’S BREAKING ALL THE RULES. Ordinarily, a supernova marks the death of a mammoth star, which then briefly outshines an entire galaxy before fading away. Not so for a baffling supernova that went off in a nearby galaxy in 2014. Instead of being the end of the story, the stellar explosion inexplicably began to brighten and has since dimmed, then brightened up again four more times.

    If that weren’t odd enough, it turns out a supernova blew up in the same place in the sky more than 60 years ago. Somehow, a star that apparently died around the time Elvis Presley released his first record endured only to die again—truly a “living dead” star.

    Astrophysicists suspect this apparent stellar zombie was a rare, colossal type of star with 50 to 100 times the mass of our Sun. The universe’s first stars were similarly huge, they think, though these distant objects lie beyond the reach of even our most powerful telescopes. The re-exploding star could, therefore, be a cosmic anachronism, offering scientists an unprecedented glimpse into the primeval universe.

    To discuss the major scientific potential of this supernova, The Kavli Foundation reached out to two scientists key to its discovery, as well as an astrophysicist who specializes in massive stars.

    The participants were:

    IAIR ARCAVI – is an observational astronomer and NASA Einstein Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the Las Cumbres Observatory, as well as a former researcher at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP). He is the lead author of a Nature paper describing the strange supernova.
    LARS BILDSTEN – is the Director of KITP and a Professor in the Physics Department at UCSB. A co-author of the new paper, Bildsten’s specialty is developing theories that explain supernovae.
    EMILY LEVESQUE – is an Assistant Professor of Astronomy at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on massive stars, such as the one implicated in this re-exploding supernova.

    The following is an edited transcript of their roundtable discussion. The participants have been provided the opportunity to amend or edit their remarks.

    THE KAVLI FOUNDATION: Iair, you’ve called this supernova the biggest puzzle you’ve seen in your career studying stellar explosions. What makes it so puzzling?

    IAIR ARCAVI: Most supernovae get bright over a few days or weeks, then fainter over a few weeks and months, and then they disappear and we never see them again. This supernova has gone bright-faint, bright-faint about five times over the course of three years! We’ve never seen that before.

    Another weird thing is when we took a spectrum, or fingerprint, of this supernova, which is useful for identifying what type it is, we got very ordinary results. Despite the supernovae’s strange behavior, the spectrum matched that of the most typical supernovae, which have a lot of hydrogen in them. We’ve seen hundreds of those. A normal spectrum was the last thing we were expecting to see.

    The third puzzling thing: We found this photographic plate from 1954 with an image of this supernova’s host galaxy, and we can see a supernova going off at the same position. We’ve never seen the same place in the sky explode twice before—let alone 60 years apart.

    TKF: How exactly did you locate that crucial piece of evidence?

    ARCAVI: It was paper co-author Peter Nugent, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and at Berkeley Lab, who thought to look back to see if there was any information in the historical surveys. Interestingly, the 1954 image was taken by the same telescope that discovered the supernova in 2014! In 1954, the telescope surveyed the entire sky, and it did so again in 1993. All of the photographic plates from both of those surveys were scanned, digitized, and put online. You can go to a website, type in any position in the sky, and it’ll show you the images from those past surveys. When Peter punched in the coordinates of this unusual supernovae, he discovered in the 1954 survey a bright source of light at that same position. We were all very surprised when we saw that!

    TKF: Emily and Lars, what were your reactions to the discovery of this supernova?

    EMILY LEVESQUE: I learned about it when the paper came out. Students in my research group immediately started pitching around ideas about what this supernova could be. We study massive stars and are really interested in their death throes, their final evolutionary states before they become supernovae. The more we read about this new supernova, the weirder it got.

    LARS BILDSTEN: Over the past few years, Iair had shared with me and some colleagues the news about the strange rebrightening of this supernova. We had started trying to do theoretical work to understand it, but the fun part was, none of our ideas were working!

    The big question remains, what is the supernova’s source of energy? Typical supernovae, from a collapsing, massive star, are gone after about 100 days. That’s because the explosion leaves only a certain amount of energy in the stellar material that gets blown out into space. The temperature of that material, and the light it gives off, drops over time. But that didn’t happen for this supernova. Its material is getting re-energized, and it’s a pretty open question as to how.

    TKF: Well, what could be causing this supernova to behave that way?

    BILDSTEN: It could be related to something called “pair instability,” which is a phenomenon we think can happen in the most massive stars in the universe, those that have more than 100 times the mass of our Sun. These stars get so hot that they start making electron-positron pairs. Electrons are the familiar negatively charged particles that swirl around nuclei in every atom, whereas positrons are their positively charged counterpart usually only created when nuclei undergo radioactive decays. However, once the center of the star reaches conditions where the radiation is able to create these pairs, the pressure support in the star declines. That forces a partial collapse, igniting a runaway thermonuclear reaction that triggers an explosion.

    Smaller stars can go in and out of producing electron-positron pairs. During one of these episodes, the star falls in on itself somewhat and ejects a large part of its mass. But the star survives, only to then have another contraction and a later ejection. So obviously seeing something that is bright in 1954 and then again in 2014 is suggestive of this mechanism. I would say it’s a good working hypothesis.

    TKF: Emily, your research focuses on the massive stars Lars just mentioned, which are thought to have been much more common in the early universe. What can we learn about that bygone cosmic era by studying an event like this supernova?

    LEVESQUE: Understanding how the very first stars in the universe behaved, how they were born, evolved and died, is really the key that we need to explain the chemical evolution of our universe. This goes back to the “we’re all made of star stuff” idea from Carl Sagan. To understand where the first “star stuff” came from, we have to understand the first stars. But they’re simply too far away to observe directly.

    Instead, we have to look at stars that are closer and that might behave similarly to those first stars. This unusual supernova might help us understand how the very first, massive stars died. It’s the first, best and so far only example we have.

    BILDSTEN: All of us would love to find the ‘first star.’ That’s a frontier we’ll keep probing with the next generation of major telescopes.

    TKF: What are we to make of the fact this strange supernova, supposedly unleashed by a kind of star that hasn’t existed since the early universe, happened in a nearby, “modern” galaxy?

    ARCAVI: That is another very perplexing thing about this supernova. Why is it in a galaxy only about 500 million instead of billions of light-years away? There are some intriguing clues.

    It is in a very faint, small galaxy, the kind that is typically poor in what we astronomers call “metals,” which are chemical elements heavier than helium. Being metal-poor actually helps stars grow more massive. Also, this supernova happened at the edge of this galaxy, where we expect the supply of metals to be at its lowest. These kinds of regions might be a lot like what the entire universe was like at earlier times, shortly after the Big Bang, when massive stars should have formed.

    LEVESQUE: That’s right. There could be entire galaxies, or little pockets within galaxies, that have a chemistry similar to the young universe. In fact, we know of fairly nearby galaxies, like I Zwicky 18, that are extremely low in metals. As we get more powerful telescopes in the years ahead, we’re going to get better at mapping the metal content in galaxies. We want to see if supernovae tend to explode in metal-poor or metal-rich environments.

    TKF: A survey called the Palomar Transient Factory found this strange supernova, and then the Las Cumbres Observatory, a global telescope network, captured its unprecedented rebrightening over time. How are these sorts of facilities changing the way we do astronomy? And how could they help solve the riddle of this supernova?

    Caltech Palomar Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope Interior with Edwin Hubble

    Caltech Palomar Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory telescope at the Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory,located in San Diego County, California, United States

    ARCAVI: That’s a very important aspect of this discovery. These observations would’ve been almost impossible to do just a few years ago, and that might be another reason we haven’t seen this kind of supernova before.

    The Palomar Transient Factory was a revolutionary new survey that detected flashes of light in the sky. It discovered about 10 new supernovae a night—too many to follow. So we did triage every night to pick out the interesting ones. It was kind of by luck that the Palomar Transient Factory just kept monitoring this seemingly ordinary supernova for us, because then we saw it getting brighter again and realized something interesting was happening.

    At that point, we triggered the Las Cumbres Observatory, which is a robotic network of telescopes.

    LCOGT Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Haleakala Hawaii, USA

    From that point, for about three years, we were able to take images and fingerprints of the supernova every three days. That would’ve been very hard before. With a regular telescope, you have to travel to the observatory, manually input your observations, then travel back, then analyze your data, and if you’re lucky, you might get another night at the observatory a month later. Obtaining the data that Las Cumbres got us would’ve required a full-time graduate student and a ton of dedicated telescope time.

    Instead, we just clicked a button and the telescope network automatically went to work. I clicked that button three years ago and I didn’t tell it to stop, so we just kept getting data for three years. Having that continuous coverage really lets us confront the theoretical models which try to explain this supernova.

    These robotic facilities have definitely played an important role in finding things that are very rare and following them continuously and intensively. That’s only going to get stronger, with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope next decade, along with other robotic telescopes coming online. They are changing the way we do observations.

    LEVESQUE: The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is going to be ideal for finding more of these sorts of supernovae.


    LSST Camera, built at SLAC

    LSST telescope, currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

    It’s going to survey most of the southern sky every few nights, looking for anything that’s gotten brighter or dimmer or moved. By default, it’ll get amazing data on objects like this supernova and on lots of other strange things. The challenge actually becomes this immense computational problem of sifting through all the strange things that have changed to pull out what we want to look at.

    BILDSTEN: As a theorist, the challenge we have is keeping up! It’s really great when we predict something that the observers haven’t seen and then they see it, like the neutron star merger detected last year. That was a beautiful example of theory predicting observation, and I think we have more of that coming. Most of what we’re doing now is catching up, trying to explain what the observers have found before we’ve thought it through. I don’t know if we’re ever going to get back to a world where the theory can get ahead of the observations. Either way, it’s definitely an exciting time.

    TKF: Iair, the science press nicknamed the star behind this repeating supernova a “zombie” star, which we have likewise described as a “living dead” star. What do you think of the metaphor?

    ARCAVI: Well, I’m not a fan actually, because the zombie star metaphor has been used at least four or five times in the past for different phenomena. But I’ve heard the suggestion—and I like this idea better—to call it the “phoenix star,” which rises from the dead to continue shining. I’m not taking any bets on whether the star is now completely dead or not. It might still be there and could surprise us again. Clearly, it has surprised us before.

    TKF: If the star keeps coming back, maybe we could call it a “cat” star, because it has nine lives.

    LEVESQUE: I’m wondering if a more apt name would be something like an “opera” star, because it’s like the lead singers in an opera who get killed in a sword fight and keep singing for 10 minutes before they die!

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    The Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work.

    The Foundation’s mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, professorships, and symposia in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics as well as prizes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

  • richardmitnick 5:50 pm on December 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Cornell Collaboration Reports Unique Property of Bilayer Graphene, , Cornell’s Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics, Excitons – electrically neutral quasiparticles, Graphene is intrinsically a metal but by adjusting its bandgap you can tune it from a metal to a semiconductor, Kavli Foundation, Optical properties of single-atom-thick layers of graphene, Photocurrent spectroscopy   

    From Cornell: “Cornell Collaboration Reports Unique Property of Bilayer Graphene” 

    Cornell Bloc

    Cornell University


    The Kavli Foundation

    November 16, 2017
    Tom Fleischman

    Imagine walking through the Northwest wilderness, camera phone at the ready, hoping to catch at least a faint glimpse of Bigfoot, and instead returning home with an Ansel Adams-quality picture of the mythical beast as he lumbers past you.

    That’s kind of what a team led by physics professor Paul McEuen has done in research into the optical properties of single-atom-thick layers of graphene.

    Combining the technical strengths of two Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science (KIC) postdoctoral fellows, as well as measuring tools from the lab of electrical and computer engineering professor Farhan Rana, the group reports remarkably clear observations of excitons – electrically neutral quasiparticles – in bilayer graphene.

    And the excitons’ unique properties and behavior make this material of possible interest in the development of optoelectronic devices, including lasers.

    Infrared light illuminates bilayer graphene and create an exciton – a pairing of electron and hole, locating mostly at the top and bottom layers, respectively, of carbon atoms. Provided.

    “We kind of knew we’d have a chance to see these excitons, but the outcome turned out to be even more interesting than we thought it would be,” said Long Ju, co-lead author of “Tunable Excitons in Bilayer Graphene,” to be published Nov. 17 in Science.

    Ju and fellow lead author Lei Wang are both Kavli postdocs and members of Cornell’s Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics.

    An exciton is the bound state of an electron and a hole (the space left by an electron following excitation), and is “the most fundamental optical property of any semiconductor,” Ju said. Most materials have properties that make them either a metal or a semiconductor, but graphene can act as either by tuning its bandgap – basically, the measure of its ability to conduct electricity – by hitting it with an electric field.

    Graphene is intrinsically a metal, but by adjusting its bandgap, you can tune it from a metal to a semiconductor.

    “It’s kind of a universal material,” McEuen said. “People theoretically knew this, and there had been some experimental evidence that this worked in this system, but the optical spectrum was nothing like the data these guys showed.”

    For this experiment, Wang constructed bilayer graphene encapsulated in a hexagonal lattice of boron nitride. “The high quality of samples is one key element to observe the intrinsic properties in this experiment.” Wang said. This means that when the bilayer graphene was hit with an electric field, the resulting exciton was clear to see.

    When the sample was hit with electricity, an electron preferably occupied one of the two layers, and exhibited much greater “pseudospin” magnetism than electrons in typical semiconductors. The exciton inherits this very large electron “magnetic moment” (basically, sensitivity to magnetism) in the material.

    The excitonic resonances the group observed are tunable from the mid-infrared to the terahertz range, making bilayer graphene of potential interest in the development of new kinds of lasers and detectors.

    “Vibrations of molecules – which provide chemical information about what a material is – often occur at a frequency that corresponds in energy to this bandgap that you can tune through,” McEuen said.

    A key piece of this research was the availability on campus of the instruments used to clearly see what was happening at the nanoscale level. The group employed photocurrent spectroscopy, along with a magneto-optical cryostat, from the Rana lab.

    McEuen, the John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science, said this work is the product of a collaboration between several groups at Cornell, UC Berkeley, Columbia and the National Institute of Materials Science in Japan. Leading it are two of the top young scientists in their respective disciplines. Both developed their technical expertise as doctoral students – Ju at the University of California, Berkeley, and Wang at Columbia University.

    “Long is one of the best young people studying the optics of these 2-D materials such as graphene,” McEuen said, “and Lei is arguably the best maker of samples of his generation. This [Kavli] postdoctoral fellow program brought these people here so they can work together.”

    In addition to the Kavli Institute, this work was supported by the Cornell Center for Materials Research, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, and by grants from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Office of Naval Research.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    The Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work.

    The Foundation’s mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, professorships, and symposia in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics as well as prizes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

  • richardmitnick 5:58 pm on June 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Kavli Foundation, , ,   

    From Stanford and Kavli: “Stanford Research Reveals Extremely Fine Measurements of Motion in Orbiting Supermassive Black Holes” 

    Stanford University Name
    Stanford University


    The Kavli Foundation

    Observations from radio telescopes like this one appear to indicate that two black holes are orbiting each other, 750 million light years from Earth. (Credit: National Radio Astronomy Observatory)

    Approximately 750 million light years from Earth lies a gigantic, bulging galaxy with two supermassive black holes at its center. These are among the largest black holes ever found, with a combined mass 15 billion times that of the sun. New research from Stanford University, published today (June 27) in Astrophysical Journal, has used long-term observation to show that one of the black holes seems to be orbiting around the other.

    If confirmed, this is the first duo of black holes ever shown to be moving in relation to each other. It is also, potentially, the smallest ever recorded movement of an object across the sky, also known as angular motion.

    “If you imagine a snail on the recently discovered Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri – a bit over four light years away – moving at one centimeter a second, that’s the angular motion we’re resolving here,” said co-author of the paper, Roger W. Romani, professor of physics at Stanford and a member of the Kavli Insititute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology. The team also included researchers from the University of New Mexico, the National Radio Observatory and the United States Naval Observatory.

    The technical achievements of this measurement alone are reason for celebration. But the researchers also hope this impressive finding will offer insight into how black holes merge, how these mergers affect the evolution of the galaxies around them and ways to find other binary black-hole systems.

    Miniscule movement

    Over the past 12 years, scientists, led by Greg Taylor, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of New Mexico, have taken snapshots of the galaxy containing these black holes – called radio galaxy 0402+379 – with a system of ten radio telescopes that stretch from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Hawaii and New Mexico to Alaska.



    The galaxy was officially discovered back in 1995. In 2006, scientists confirmed it as a supermassive black-hole binary system with an unusual configuration.

    “The black holes are at a separation of about seven parsecs, which is the closest together that two supermassive black holes have ever been seen before,” said Karishma Bansal, a graduate student in Taylor’s lab and lead author of the paper.

    With this most recent paper, the team reports that one of the black holes moved at a rate of just over one micro-arcsecond per year, an angle about 1 billion times smaller than the smallest thing visible with the naked eye. Based on this movement, the researchers hypothesize that one black hole may be orbiting around the other over a period of 30,000 years.
    Two holes in ancient galaxy

    Although directly measuring the black hole’s orbital motion may be a first, this is not the only supermassive black-hole binary ever found. Still, the researchers believe that 0402+379 likely has a special history.

    “We’ve argued it’s a fossil cluster,” Romani said. “It’s as though several galaxies coalesced to become one giant elliptical galaxy with an enormous halo of X-rays around it.”

    Researchers believe that large galaxies often have large black holes at their centers and, if large galaxies combine, their black holes eventually follow suit. It’s possible that the apparent orbit of the black hole in 0402+379 is an intermediary stage in this process.

    “For a long time, we’ve been looking into space to try and find a pair of these supermassive black holes orbiting as a result of two galaxies merging,” Taylor said. “Even though we’ve theorized that this should be happening, nobody had ever seen it, until now.”

    A combination of the two black holes in 0402+379 would create a burst of gravitational radiation, like the famous bursts recently discovered by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, but scaled up by a factor of a billion.

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA

    Cornell SXS, the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project

    Gravitational waves. Credit: MPI for Gravitational Physics/W.Benger-Zib

    ESA/eLISA the future of gravitational wave research

    It would be the most powerful gravitational burst in the universe, Romani said. This kind of radiation burst happens to be what he wrote his first-ever paper on when he was an undergraduate.

    Very slow dance

    This theorized convergence between the black holes of 0402+379, however, may never occur. Given how slowly the pair is orbiting, the scientists think the black holes are too far apart to come together within the estimated remaining age of the universe, unless there is an added source of friction. By studying what makes this stalled pair unique, the scientists said they may be able to better understand the conditions under which black holes normally merge.

    Romani hopes this work could be just the beginning of heightening interest in unusual black-hole systems.

    “My personal hope is that this discovery inspires people to go out and find other systems that are even closer together and, hence, maybe do their motion on a more human timescale,” Romani said. “I would sure be happy if we could find a system that completed orbit within a few decades so you could really see the details of the black holes’ trajectories.”

    Additional co-authors on this paper are A.B. Peck, Gemini Observatory (formerly of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory); and R.T. Zavala, U.S. Naval Observatory.

    This work was funded by NASA and the National Radio Astronomical Observatory.

    See the full Stanford article here .
    See the Full Kavli Foundation article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work.

    The Foundation’s mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, professorships, and symposia in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics as well as prizes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

  • richardmitnick 1:08 pm on December 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Kavli Foundation, , ,   

    From Kavli: “Revealing the Orbital Shape Distributions of Exoplanets with China’s LAMOST Telescope” 


    The Kavli Foundation


    Using data from China’s LAMOST telescope, a team of astronomers have derived how the orbital shapes distribute for extrasolar planets. The work is recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America” (PNAS). The lead authors are Prof. Jiwei Xie from Nanjing University and Prof. Subo Dong, a faculty member of the Kavli Institute of Astronomy & Astrophysics (KIAA) at Peking University.

    LAMOST telescope located in Xinglong Station, Hebei Province, China
    The Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopy Telescope (LAMOST) telescope in Hebei, China. It is the most efficient spectroscopy machine in the world.

    Until two decades ago, the only planetary system known to mankind was our own solar system. Most planets in the solar system revolve around the Sun on nearly circular orbits, and their orbits are almost on the same plane within about 3 degrees on average (i.e., the averaged inclination angle is about 3 degrees). Astronomers use the parameter called eccentricity to describe the shape of a planetary orbit. Eccentricity takes the value between 0 and 1, and the larger the eccentricity, the more an orbit deviates from circular. The averaged eccentricity of solar system planets is merely 0.06. Hundreds of years ago, motivated by circular and coplanar planetary orbits, Kant and Laplace hypothesized that planets should form in disks, and this theory has developed into the “standard model” on how planets form.

    In 1995, astronomers discovered the first exoplanet around a Sun-like star 51 Pegasi with a technique called Radial Velocity, and this discovery started an exciting era of exoplanet exploration. At the beginning of the 21st Century, people had discovered hundreds of exoplanets with the Radial Velocity technique, and most of them are giant planets comparable in mass with the Jupiter. These Jovian planets are relatively rare, found around approximately one tenth of stars studied by the Radial Velocity technique. The shapes of their orbits were a big surprise: a large fraction of them are on highly eccentric orbits, and all the giant planets found by Radial Velocity have a mean eccentricity of about 0.3. This finding challenges the “standard model” of planet formation and raises a long-standing puzzle for astronomers – are the nearly circular and coplanar planetary orbits in the solar system common or exceptional?

    The Kepler satellite launched by NASA in 2009 has discovered thousands of exoplanets by monitoring tiny dimming in the brightness of stars when their planets happen to cross in the front (called “transit”).

    Planet transit. NASA/Ames
    Planet transit. NASA/Ames

    Many of the planets discovered by Kepler have sizes comparable to that of the Earth. Kepler’s revolutionary discoveries show that Earth-size planets are prevalent in our galaxy. However, data from the Kepler satellite alone cannot be used to measure the shape of a transiting exoplanet’s orbit. To do so, one way is to use the size of the planet host star as a “ruler” to measure against the length of the planet transit, while implementing this method needs precise information on the host star parameters such as size and mass. This method has previously been applied to the host stars characterized with the asteroseismology technique but the sample is limited to a relatively small number of stars with high-frequency, exquisite brightness information required by asteroseismology.

    With its innovative design, the LAMOST telescope in China can observe spectra of thousands of celestial objects simultaneously within its large field of view, and it is currently the most efficient spectroscopy machine in the world (Figure 1). In recent years, LAMOST has obtained tens of thousands of stellar spectra in the sky region where the Kepler satellite monitors planet transits, and they include many hundreds of stars hosting transiting exoplanets. By comparing with other methods such as asteroseismology, the research team finds that, high-accuracy characterization of stellar parameters can be reliably obtained from LAMOST spectra, and they can subsequently be used to measure the the orbital shape distributions of Kepler exoplanets.

    They analyze a large sample of about 700 exoplanets whose host stars have LAMOST spectra, and with the LAMOST stellar parameters and Kepler transit data, they measure the eccentricity and inclination angle distributions. They find that about 80% of the analyzed planet orbits are nearly circular (averaged eccentricity less than 0.1) like those in the solar system, and only about 20% of the planets are on relatively eccentric orbits that significantly deviate from circular (average eccentricity large than 0.3). They also find that the average eccentricity and inclination angle for the Kepler systems with multiple planets fit into the pattern of the solar system objects (Figure 2).

    Therefore, circular orbits are not exceptional for planetary systems, and the orbital shapes of most planets inside and outside the solar system appear to distribute in a similar fashion. This implies that the formation and evolution processes leading to the distributions of the orbital shapes of the solar system may be common in the Galaxy.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    The Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work.

    The Foundation’s mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, professorships, and symposia in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics as well as prizes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

    • vegetarian dash diet meal pla 1:39 pm on December 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      You should take part in a contest for one of the highest quality blogs online.
      I most certainly will recommend this website!


      • richardmitnick 2:27 pm on December 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, I am just glad my work is appreciated. I do it for the love of bringing this material which the press ignores to the public. I have about 800 readers in North America , Europe, East Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. No contests.


  • richardmitnick 9:34 am on September 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Kavli Foundation,   

    From U Cambridge: “New exoplanet think tank will ask the big questions about extra-terrestrial worlds” 

    U Cambridge bloc

    Cambridge University

    05 Sep 2016
    Sarah Collins

    Artist’s impression of the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 from the surface of one of its planets Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

    ESO Trappist InteriorESO Trappist National Telescope at La Silla
    ESO Belgian Trappist National Telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile

    An international exoplanet ‘think tank’ is meeting this week in Cambridge to deliberate on the ten most important questions that humanity could answer in the next decade about planets outside our solar system.

    With funding from The Kavli Foundation, the think tank will bring together some of the major researchers in exoplanetary science – arguably the most exciting field in modern astronomy – for a series of annual meetings to address the biggest questions in this field which humanity could conceivably answer in the next decade.

    “We’re really at the frontier in exoplanet research,” said Dr Nikku Madhusudhan of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy, who is leading the think tank. “The pace of new discoveries is incredible – it really feels like anything can be discovered any moment in our exploration of extra-terrestrial worlds. By bringing together some of the best minds in this field we aim to consolidate our collective wisdom and address the biggest questions in this field that humanity can ask and answer at this time.”

    Tremendous advances have been made in the study of exoplanets since the first such planet was discovered around a sun-like star in 1995 by the Cavendish Laboratory’s Professor Didier Queloz. Just last month, a potentially habitable world was discovered in our own neighbourhood, orbiting Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the sun.

    Pale Red Dot
    Centauris Alpha Beta Proxima 27, February 2012. Skatebiker
    ESO/Pale Red Dot; Centauris Alpha Beta Proxima 27, February 2012. Skatebiker

    However, there are still plenty questions to be answered, such as whether we’re capable of detecting signatures of life on other planets within the next ten years, what the best strategies are to find habitable planets, how diverse are planets and their atmospheres, and how planets form in the first place.

    With at least four space missions and numerous large ground-based facilities scheduled to become operational in the next decade, exoplanetary scientists will be able to detect more and more exoplanets, and will also have the ability to conduct detailed studies of their atmospheres, interiors, and formation conditions. At the same time, major developments are expected in all aspects of exoplanetary theory and data interpretation.

    In order to make these major advances in the field, new interdisciplinary approaches are required. Additionally, as new scientific questions and areas emerge at an increasingly fast pace, there is a need for a focused forum where emerging questions in frontier areas of the field can be discussed. “Given the exciting advancements in exoplanetary science now is the right time to assess the state of the field and the scientific challenges and opportunities on the horizon,” said Professor Andy Fabian, director of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge.

    The think tank will operate in the form of a yearly Exoplanet Symposium series which will be focused on addressing pressing questions in exoplanetary science. One emerging area or theme in exoplanetary science will be chosen each year based on its critical importance to the advancement of the field, relevance to existing or imminent observational facilities, need for an interdisciplinary approach, and/or scope for fundamental breakthroughs.

    About 30 experts in the field from around the world will discuss outstanding questions, new pathways, interdisciplinary synergies, and strategic actions that could benefit the exoplanet research community.

    The inaugural symposium, “Kavli ExoFrontiers 2016”, is being held this week in Cambridge. The goal of this first symposium is to bring together experts from different areas of exoplanetary science to share their visions about the most pressing questions and future outlook of their respective areas. These visions will help provide both a broad outlook of the field and identify the ten most important questions in the field that could be addressed within the next decade. “We hope the think tank will provide a platform for new breakthroughs in the field through interdisciplinary and international efforts while bringing the most important scientific questions of our time to the fore,” said Madhusudhan. “We are in the golden age of exoplanetary science.”

    More information about the Kavli ExoFrontiers 2016 Symposium is available at: http://www.ast.cam.ac.uk/meetings/2016/kavli.exofrontiers.2016.symposium

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Cambridge Campus

    The University of Cambridge (abbreviated as Cantab in post-nominal letters) is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, England. Founded in 1209, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university. It grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with townsfolk. The two ancient universities share many common features and are often jointly referred to as “Oxbridge”.

    Cambridge is formed from a variety of institutions which include 31 constituent colleges and over 100 academic departments organised into six schools. The university occupies buildings throughout the town, many of which are of historical importance. The colleges are self-governing institutions founded as integral parts of the university. In the year ended 31 July 2014, the university had a total income of £1.51 billion, of which £371 million was from research grants and contracts. The central university and colleges have a combined endowment of around £4.9 billion, the largest of any university outside the United States. Cambridge is a member of many associations and forms part of the “golden triangle” of leading English universities and Cambridge University Health Partners, an academic health science centre. The university is closely linked with the development of the high-tech business cluster known as “Silicon Fen”.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
%d bloggers like this: