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  • richardmitnick 11:05 am on April 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Notre Dame University   

    From ND: “Notre Dame physicists discover rare brown dwarf, essential for testing theoretical models” 

    Notre Dame bloc

    Notre Dame University

    April 06, 2016
    Gene Stowe

    1
    A team led by Justin Crepp has discovered HD 4747 B, a rare brown dwarf. As a new mass, age and metallicity benchmark, HD 4747 B will serve as a laboratory for precision astrophysics to test theoretical models.

    A team led by Justin Crepp, the Frank M. Freimann Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame, has discovered a rare brown dwarf, a faint object with properties in between that of a star and planet.

    Artist's concept of a Brown dwarf [not quite a] star. NASA/JPL-Caltech
    Artist’s concept of a Brown dwarf [not quite a] star. NASA/JPL-Caltech

    In addition to taking its picture for the first time, Crepp’s team also determined the brown dwarf’s mass, age and composition — essential information that can be used to “benchmark” the study of these elusive objects.

    Brown dwarfs are objects thought to have initially begun the process of forming a star but were somehow interrupted before they accumulated sufficient mass and core pressure to ignite nuclear fusion — the process by which the Sun ultimately releases energy in the form of light. An important developmental bridge between bona fide stars and exoplanets, brown dwarfs are very difficult to study because their faint glow fades with time due to a lack of sustained nuclear reactions. The discovery of the object, which goes by the name HD 4747 B, was facilitated by 18 years of precise spectral measurements of the star that indicated it hosts an orbiting companion.

    “We suspect that these companions form at the same time and from the same material,” Crepp said. “As such, you can infer physical properties of the brown dwarf from its parent star, like age and composition. There are no other objects for which we know the mass, age and the metallicity simultaneously and also independent of the light that the companion gives off. We can therefore use HD 4747 B as a test-bed to study brown dwarfs, enabling precision astrophysics studies for a directly imaged substellar object.”

    In the past, brown dwarf masses have been estimated using theoretical evolutionary models. Crepp’s team instead calculated the mass of HD 4747 B directly using observations of its orbit in an attempt to help refine brown dwarf models. It is expected that this work will in turn help to inform models for extrasolar planets. Based on a three-dimensional orbit analysis, HD 4747 B has a mass of about 60 Jupiters (a mass of 80 Jupiters is required to ignite nuclear fusion), well below the theoretical estimate of 72 Jupiters, although still within uncertainties. Forthcoming measurements acquired by Crepp’s team will provide yet more stringent tests of the models used by astronomers for brown dwarfs.

    “This field is transitioning from ‘Hey, I found something neat’ to ‘Hey, I know the mass to within a few percent.’ Now, we can test theoretical models,” Crepp said.

    The team detected the object using the Keck telescopes in Hawaii, and published their results in a paper describing the discovery.

    Keck Observatory, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
    Keck Observatory Interior
    Keck Observatory, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    The study has been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal. Co-authors of the study include Erica Gonzales and Eric Bechter, both in the Department of Physics at the University of Notre Dame; Benjamin Montet at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the California Institute of Technology; John Asher Johnson at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Danielle Piskorz at the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology; Andrew Howard at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii; and Howard Isaacson at the University of California Berkeley.

    Science paper:
    The TRENDS High-Contrast Imaging Survey. VI. Discovery of a Mass, Age, and Metallicity Benchmark Brown Dwarf

    Science team:
    Justin R. Crepp 1, Erica J. Gonzales 1, Eric B. Bechter 1, Benjamin T. Montet 2,3, John Asher
    Johnson 2, Danielle Piskorz 3, Andrew W. Howard 4, Howard Isaacson 5

    Affiliations:
    1 Department of Physics, University of Notre Dame, 225 Nieuwland Science Hall, Notre Dame, IN, 46556, USA
    2 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
    3 Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, 1200 E California Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91125
    4 Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, 2680 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, HI 96822
    5 Department of Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Notre Dame Campus

    The University of Notre Dame du Lac (or simply Notre Dame /ˌnoʊtərˈdeɪm/ NOH-tər-DAYM) is a Catholic research university located near South Bend, Indiana, in the United States. In French, Notre Dame du Lac means “Our Lady of the Lake” and refers to the university’s patron saint, the Virgin Mary.

    The school was founded by Father Edward Sorin, CSC, who was also its first president. Today, many Holy Cross priests continue to work for the university, including as its president. It was established as an all-male institution on November 26, 1842, on land donated by the Bishop of Vincennes. The university first enrolled women undergraduates in 1972. As of 2013 about 48 percent of the student body was female.[6] Notre Dame’s Catholic character is reflected in its explicit commitment to the Catholic faith, numerous ministries funded by the school, and the architecture around campus. The university is consistently ranked one of the top universities in the United States and as a major global university.

    The university today is organized into five colleges and one professional school, and its graduate program has 15 master’s and 26 doctoral degree programs.[7][8] Over 80% of the university’s 8,000 undergraduates live on campus in one of 29 single-sex residence halls, each of which fields teams for more than a dozen intramural sports, and the university counts approximately 120,000 alumni.[9]

    The university is globally recognized for its Notre Dame School of Architecture, a faculty that teaches (pre-modernist) traditional and classical architecture and urban planning (e.g. following the principles of New Urbanism and New Classical Architecture).[10] It also awards the renowned annual Driehaus Architecture Prize.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:33 am on October 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Notre Dame University   

    From Notre Dame: “Astrophysicists produce the first age map of the halo of the Milky Way” 

    Notre Dame bloc

    Notre Dame University

    October 28, 2015
    Timothy Beers
    574-631-4088
    tbeers@nd.edu


    download mp4 video here.

    University of Notre Dame astronomer Timothy Beers and his Galactic Archaeology group, which includes Notre Dame astronomers Daniela Carollo and Vinicius Placco, have led an international team of researchers that produced the first chronographic (age) map of the halo of the Milky Way galaxy. The halo, along with the disk and bulge, are the primary components of the galaxy. Using a sample of 4,700 blue horizontal-branch (BHB) stars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey [SDSS], the research team showed that the oldest stars are concentrated in the central region of the galaxy, confirming predictions from numerical simulations of galaxy assembly.

    SDSS Telescope
    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point, NM, USA

    The researchers have also shown that chronographic maps such as theirs can also be used to identify complex structures of stars still in the process of being added to the halo system of our galaxy.

    1
    Daniela Carollo, left, Timothy Beers and Vinicius Placco. No image credit.

    The researchers used the colors of BHB stars, which burn helium in their cores, to produce the age map. The technique relies on the fact that the colors of BHB stars are related to their masses, which in turn are related to their ages. The research results allowed the team, for the first time, to demonstrate two primary results.

    “The oldest stars in the galaxy are concentrated toward the center of the galaxy, as predicted by previous numerical simulations of the assembly of our Milky Way,” Beers said. “Surprisingly, the region of the oldest stars extends all the way to the halo region close to the sun. This Ancient Chronographic Sphere can now be explored in order to study the properties of these old stars, which will tell us about the chemistry of the early universe.”

    The researchers have also resolved the ages of dwarf galaxies and their stellar debris, which was stripped from them due to their gravitational interaction with the Milky Way.

    “This information can be used to tell us the assembly history of our galaxy,” Beers said. “We can now search for additional debris streams in the halo of the galaxy, based on their contrast in age, rather than simply their density contrast.”

    2
    This chronographic map of the Milky Way’s halo system shows a color gradient that is associated with an age difference of roughly 2-2.5 G yrs.

    According to Beers, “It is almost like having X-ray vision, as we can see through the numerous foreground stars and not be confused by the equally large numbers of background stars.”

    The researchers used stars with spectroscopy collected during the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and from that, they determined the parameters that allow them to efficiently separate the BHB stars from other kinds of stars. From that, a relatively pure sample could be obtained, enabling a clear age map to be made based on their colors.

    The results extend and refine some prevailing assumptions in astrophysics.

    “We have confirmed one prediction, that the oldest stars, born shortly after the Big Bang, should be found near the center of the galaxy, and demonstrated in addition that searches for ancient stars in the region of the halo close to the solar neighborhood will be highly effective,” Beers said. “The assembly history of the galaxy, which is encoded in the ages of the members of the halo population, is now a story that can be explored and told more fully.”

    Beers’ Galactic Archaeology group at Notre Dame is now preparing a much more extensive age map of the galactic halo based on hundreds of thousands of BHB stars, also from the Sloan survey. The group’s next detailed map will serve as a guide for astronomers to identify numerous new dwarf galaxy debris signatures and enable the development of a refined history of the assembly of the Milky Way.

    Astronomers will also use their new technique to study additional large samples of BHB stars collected through other sky surveys now being carried out, as well as in the near future with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), presently under construction in Chile.

    LSST Exterior
    LSST Interior
    LSST Camera
    LSST, exterior, interior and camera, this last being built by LBL

    According to Beers, “Eventually, the LSST will obtain samples of millions of BHB stars, all the way to the edge of the galaxy, which will also be studied using our approach.”

    The paper appears in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and can be viewed here: iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/2041-8205/813/1/L16.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Notre Dame Campus

    The University of Notre Dame du Lac (or simply Notre Dame /ˌnoʊtərˈdeɪm/ NOH-tər-DAYM) is a Catholic research university located near South Bend, Indiana, in the United States. In French, Notre Dame du Lac means “Our Lady of the Lake” and refers to the university’s patron saint, the Virgin Mary.

    The school was founded by Father Edward Sorin, CSC, who was also its first president. Today, many Holy Cross priests continue to work for the university, including as its president. It was established as an all-male institution on November 26, 1842, on land donated by the Bishop of Vincennes. The university first enrolled women undergraduates in 1972. As of 2013 about 48 percent of the student body was female.[6] Notre Dame’s Catholic character is reflected in its explicit commitment to the Catholic faith, numerous ministries funded by the school, and the architecture around campus. The university is consistently ranked one of the top universities in the United States and as a major global university.

    The university today is organized into five colleges and one professional school, and its graduate program has 15 master’s and 26 doctoral degree programs.[7][8] Over 80% of the university’s 8,000 undergraduates live on campus in one of 29 single-sex residence halls, each of which fields teams for more than a dozen intramural sports, and the university counts approximately 120,000 alumni.[9]

    The university is globally recognized for its Notre Dame School of Architecture, a faculty that teaches (pre-modernist) traditional and classical architecture and urban planning (e.g. following the principles of New Urbanism and New Classical Architecture).[10] It also awards the renowned annual Driehaus Architecture Prize.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:15 pm on October 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Notre Dame University,   

    From Notre Dame: “More Indiana STEM Students Earn College- and Career-Readiness through AP-TIP IN” 

    Notre Dame bloc

    Notre Dame University

    October 08, 2015
    Bill Schmitt

    The Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program for Indiana (AP-TIP IN), administered by Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives since 2012, issued its annual report showing major gains in college- and career-readiness in STEM-related studies among students in Indiana’s 30 public high schools that participated in the program as of last spring.

    One excerpt from the success stories among students and teachers that emerged from the results of College Board Advanced Placement (R) tests in math, science, and English (MSE) at the end of the 2014-2015 school year reflects a major area of improvement:

    During the three years the program has been implemented, minorities and women students have experienced great gains. Minority students, particularly African American and Hispanic student students, increased the number of college-level scores for math, science, and English AP exams by 99%. Counting only math and science, which are highlighted as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines prized by leading employers, this same group more than doubled the numbers of test-takers scoring 3, 4, or 5 (eligible for college credit). To date, success on AP math and science exams for African American and Hispanic students increased by an average of 191%.

    1

    A news update page at the Institute’s website includes the remainder of this announcement from the Oct. 6 event, along with graphs showing statewide shrinkage in the STEM achievement gap among many women and minority students, plus archived video from the event courtesy of Kokomo High School. Representatives from participating schools and from the Institute gathered to celebrate the increased readiness for tomorrow’s high-tech Indiana workforce, and they also named an AP-TIP IN School of the Year and Teachers of the Year for the targeted science, math, and English disciplines.

    AP-TIP IN, currently funded as a five-year program with support from federal grant money and key backing from the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) in several states, is soliciting funds to help schools across Indiana join future cohorts of participants. Students and their teachers benefit from the innovative mix of training and incentives for successful test outcomes, and their entire schools can benefit from the higher level of STEM motivation and skills overall.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Notre Dame Campus

    The University of Notre Dame du Lac (or simply Notre Dame /ˌnoʊtərˈdeɪm/ NOH-tər-DAYM) is a Catholic research university located near South Bend, Indiana, in the United States. In French, Notre Dame du Lac means “Our Lady of the Lake” and refers to the university’s patron saint, the Virgin Mary.

    The school was founded by Father Edward Sorin, CSC, who was also its first president. Today, many Holy Cross priests continue to work for the university, including as its president. It was established as an all-male institution on November 26, 1842, on land donated by the Bishop of Vincennes. The university first enrolled women undergraduates in 1972. As of 2013 about 48 percent of the student body was female.[6] Notre Dame’s Catholic character is reflected in its explicit commitment to the Catholic faith, numerous ministries funded by the school, and the architecture around campus. The university is consistently ranked one of the top universities in the United States and as a major global university.

    The university today is organized into five colleges and one professional school, and its graduate program has 15 master’s and 26 doctoral degree programs.[7][8] Over 80% of the university’s 8,000 undergraduates live on campus in one of 29 single-sex residence halls, each of which fields teams for more than a dozen intramural sports, and the university counts approximately 120,000 alumni.[9]

    The university is globally recognized for its Notre Dame School of Architecture, a faculty that teaches (pre-modernist) traditional and classical architecture and urban planning (e.g. following the principles of New Urbanism and New Classical Architecture).[10] It also awards the renowned annual Driehaus Architecture Prize.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:19 pm on July 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Notre Dame University,   

    From Notre Dame: “STEM research leaders call for change in undergrad education” 

    Notre Dame bloc

    Notre Dame University

    July 20, 2015
    William G. Gilroy

    1
    No image credit

    Immediate change is needed at all levels to improve the quality of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in research universities, according to a paper on undergraduate STEM learning and teaching co-authored by Zachary Schultz, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, that appears in a special July issue of the journal Nature.

    The authors — representatives of the Association of American Universities and the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) Cottrell Scholars — call for the implementation of rigorous pedagogical practices, programs and policies that support, evaluate and reward great teaching. If valuing teaching is to move from rhetoric to reality, “it will require a reallocation of funds — not just priorities,” they conclude.

    Schultz believes that STEM teaching requires a different approach than traditional undergraduate teaching methods.

    “My experience with STEM teaching is you have find ways to encourage students to engage the material,” he said. “Unlike other disciplines, just reading the text will not help you. Modern pedagogical approaches all promote active learning. As an instructor, it is much more rewarding to engage with the students interactively than to lecture to them. The goal is to promote student participation and ownership of their learning. As an instructor, I am willing to try different approaches, but ultimately we want to evaluate if it helps students attain the desired learning goals.”

    Notre Dame has a number of unique programs devoted to engaged undergraduate STEM teaching. An ePortfolio initiative in the College of Engineering provides digitized collections of material including demonstrations, resources and accomplishments that represent an individual, group or institution. Notre Dame researchers have described how ePortfolios can be analyzed to measure student engagement levels providing a new digital learning environment opposed to traditional learning management systems. The College of Science uses a new teaching tool called the Lightboard, which enables faculty to produce videos using the Lightboard to “flip” their classroom and complement their teaching initiatives.

    2
    Zachary Schultz

    “At Notre Dame, we have tremendous resources and provide quality teaching,” Schultz said. “As we discuss in the article, there are a number of approaches that might improve on the strong foundation that currently exists at Notre Dame. Ultimately it is about student learning, and our students deserve the best experience and service we can provide them.”

    The paper is part of a package of articles exploring challenges in STEM education. Schultz became involved in writing the article through his Cottrell Scholar Award from RCSA.

    “RCSA is using the network of scholars it has built to promote initiatives in STEM education,” he said. “I joined a group focused on effective evaluation of teaching and learning about two years ago. We ran a workshop where we brought together leaders in STEM educational research as well as professional society representatives, funding agencies and regular faculty. The workshop went over what is out there and explored new methods for improving and assessing student learning. The workshop organizers then co-wrote the piece in Nature and a longer report on the workshop that was also published this month.”

    Contact: Zachary Schultz, 574-631-1853, Schultz.41@nd.edu

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Notre Dame Campus

    The University of Notre Dame du Lac (or simply Notre Dame /ˌnoʊtərˈdeɪm/ NOH-tər-DAYM) is a Catholic research university located near South Bend, Indiana, in the United States. In French, Notre Dame du Lac means “Our Lady of the Lake” and refers to the university’s patron saint, the Virgin Mary.

    The school was founded by Father Edward Sorin, CSC, who was also its first president. Today, many Holy Cross priests continue to work for the university, including as its president. It was established as an all-male institution on November 26, 1842, on land donated by the Bishop of Vincennes. The university first enrolled women undergraduates in 1972. As of 2013 about 48 percent of the student body was female.[6] Notre Dame’s Catholic character is reflected in its explicit commitment to the Catholic faith, numerous ministries funded by the school, and the architecture around campus. The university is consistently ranked one of the top universities in the United States and as a major global university.

    The university today is organized into five colleges and one professional school, and its graduate program has 15 master’s and 26 doctoral degree programs.[7][8] Over 80% of the university’s 8,000 undergraduates live on campus in one of 29 single-sex residence halls, each of which fields teams for more than a dozen intramural sports, and the university counts approximately 120,000 alumni.[9]

    The university is globally recognized for its Notre Dame School of Architecture, a faculty that teaches (pre-modernist) traditional and classical architecture and urban planning (e.g. following the principles of New Urbanism and New Classical Architecture).[10] It also awards the renowned annual Driehaus Architecture Prize.

     
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