Colloquia

Talks given by high profile astronomers and scientists.


artie_hatzes_181115s
Thursday November 15, 2018
Dr. A. P. Hatzes
Thuringia State Observatory

Abstract

In 1988 I joined the quest find exoplanets with the radial velocity method. At the time, exoplanet research was virtually unknown, and no extra-solar planets had been discovered. Since then, we have discovered several thousand extra-solar planets found mostly via the radial velocity and transit methods.

Planets with masses as low as the Earth and even in the habitable zone of low mass stars have been detected. We have also taken the first steps to characterize these new worlds in terms of their masses, radii, densities, internal structure and atmospheric composition. This was unforeseen thirty years ago. In my talk I will review the expectations we had when we first started searching for extra-solar planet, he surprises along the way, and what to expect in the future from extra-solar planet research.


vanessa_hill_180718s
Wednesday July 18, 2018
Vanessa Hill

Abstract

Understanding formation and evolution of galaxies on the galactic and sub-galactic scales is a key question to modern astrophysics. The L-CDM concordant cosmology paradygm, sucessful in predicting many large scale observables of the Universe, starts to fail at the galactic or sub-galactic scales (e.g., missing satellites problems, planes of satellites, central dark matter density profiles of galaxies, etc.). The Milky Way, with its system of dwarf galaxy satelites, is the environment in which we can hope to constrain in most details the physical processes that play a role in the formation and evolution of galaxies, encoded in the location, kinematics and chemistry of individual stars, a field often referred to as Galactic Archaeology. Taking the example of the Sculptor dwarf galaxy, for which a wealth of complementary data are available, from wide field photometry to sizeable spectroscopic samples, and now also astrometric Gaia data, I will discuss our current observational understanding of how chemical enrichment proceeds at the smalest scales. 

In the context of the Gaia space mission and ground based large spectroscopic surveys such as WEAVE@WHT,  Galactic Archaeology, is living a revolution. I will review some of the most prominent science cases for a Galactic Archaeology survey with the WEAVE wide field multi-object facility for the WHT, and highlight how this complements the Gaia astrometric mission. 


mark_rast_180614s
Thursday June 14, 2018
Prof. Mark Rast
University of Colorado

Abstract

Turbulent convection in stellar envelopes is critical to heat transport and dynamo activity. Modeling it well has proven surprisingly difficult, and recent solar and stellar observations have raised questions about our understanding of the dynamics of both the deep solar convection and the mean structure of the upper layers of convective stellar envelopes.  In particular, the amplitude of low wavenumber convective motions in both local area radiative magnetohydrodynamic and global spherical shell magnetohydrodynamic simulations of the Sun appear to be too high. In global simulations this results in weaker than needed rotational constraint and consequent non solar-like differential rotation profiles. In deep local area simulations it yields strong horizontal flows in the photosphere on scales much larger than the observed supergranulation, leaving the origin of the solar supergranular scale enigmatic. The problem is not confined to the Sun. When comparing computed oscillation frequencies to observations, mixing length models of stellar convection show too sharp a transition to the interior adiabatic gradient. This contributes to what asteroseismologists call the `surface effect' correction.

 We suggest that there is a common solution to these problems: convective motions in stellar envelopes are even more nonlocal than numerical models suggest. Small scale photospherically driven motions dominate convective transport even at depth, descending through a very nearly adiabatic or possible even somewhat subadiabatic deep convection zone. Convection of this form may meet Rossby number constraints set by global scale motions, and implies that the solar supergranulation is the largest buoyantly driven scale of motion in the Sun. We test this hypothesis using a suite of three-dimensional stellar atmosphere models, and can use it to both recover their mean stratification and estimate the supergranular scale on other stars


sofia_feltzing_171123s
Thursday November 23, 2017
Prof. Sofia Feltzing
Lund University

Abstract

Galactic Archeology is today a vibrant field of research. The adoption and launch of the Gaia astrometric satellite by ESA has resulted in many spectroscopic Galactic surveys that aim to complement the Gaia data with information (for the fainter Gaia stars) about stellar elemental abundances, radial velocities, and stellar parameters. This results in multi-dimensional data sets which will allow us to put the Milky Way stellar populations into a much broader galactic context, eg by comparing with models and galaxies at large look-back times. In this talk I will review a selection of recent exciting developments in Galactic Archeaology found via on-going surveys as well as look to the future and see what surveys like 4MOST and WEAVE will bring.  The proposed surveys will be put into a wider context of past, on-going and future spectroscopic surveys and how this can all be combined to understand the Milky Way as a galaxy.


james_klimchuk_171019s
Thursday October 19, 2017
Prof. James Klimchuk
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Abstract

This fundamental question has challenged space scientists for decades. At temperatures of several million degrees, the corona is hundreds of times hotter than the solar surface, and heat cannot simply flow upward against the temperature gradient. (The same is true on other stars.) It is widely believed that the energy responsible for the extreme temperatures is extracted from stressed magnetic fields that permeate the corona. This likely occurs in the form of small impulsive energy bursts called nanoflares, but the details of how they work are still a matter of vigorous debate. Understanding these details is crucial, since the basic mechanisms are central to many phenomena--on the Sun, within the heliosphere, and throughout the universe. I will review our current understanding of the coronal heating problem from both the observational and theoretical perspectives.


ellen_zweibel_170629s
Thursday June 29, 2017
Prof. Ellen Zweibel
Univ. Wisconsin-Madison

Abstract

Star formation and supermassive black hole growth in galaxies appear to be self limiting. The mechanisms for self regulation are known as /feedback/. Cosmic rays, the relativistic particle component in interstellar and intergalactic plasma, are among the agents of feedback. Because cosmic rays are virtually collisionless in the plasma environments of interest, their interaction with the ambient medium is primarily mediated by large scale magnetic fields and kinetic scale plasma waves. Because kinetic scales are much smaller than global scales, this interaction is most conveniently described by fluid models. In this paper I discuss the kinetic theory and the classical theory of cosmic ray hydrodynamics (CCRH) which follows from assuming cosmic rays interact only with self excited waves. I generalize CCRH to generalized cosmic ray hydrodynamics (GCRH), which accommodates interactions with extrinsic turbulence, present examples of cosmic ray feedback in galaxies and galaxy clusters, and assess where progress is needed.


paola_marigo_170504s
Thursday May 4, 2017
Prof. Paola Marigo
Università di Padova (Italia)

Abstract

Models of the Thermally Pulsing Asymptotic Giant Branch (TP-AGB) stellar evolutionary phase play a critical role across astrophysics, from the chemical composition of meteorites in the pre-solar nebula up to galaxy evolution in the high-redshift Universe. In spite of its importance, the modelling of TP-AGB is still affected by large uncertainties which propagate into the field of extragalactic astronomy, impinging on the predicting power of current population synthesis models of galaxies in terms of their basic properties such as ages, masses and chemical enrichment. In this context I will review recent advances and ongoing efforts toward a physically-sound TP-AGB calibration that, moving beyond the classical use of the Magellanic Cloud clusters, combines increasingly refined TP-AGB stellar models with exceptionally high-quality data for resolved TP-AGB stars in nearby galaxies.


ignacio_cirac_170420s
Thursday April 20, 2017
Prof. Ignacio Cirac
Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

Abstract

The discovery of Quantum Physics gave rise to one of the most important scientific and technological revolutions experienced by mankind. It triggered, for instance, the discovery of lasers, semiconductors, or nuclear power. In the last few years we are experiencing a second "Quantum Revolution", where the most exotic features of Quantum Physics can not only be confirmed, but also have major technological consequences. In particular, new cryptographic and computational opportunities are emerging, which will be impossible to reach with any other technology. Nowadays, there exists an extensive international effort to build quantum computers, cryptographic systems, as well as other devices. In this talk I will explain the basics of all those devices, their potential applications, as well as the status of that international effort and its prospects of giving rise to powerful technologies.


conny_aerts_170209s
Thursday February 9, 2017
Prof. Conny Aerts
KU Leuven

Abstract

After a basic introduction into asteroseismology for the non-expert, we emphasize how to achieve practical applications of the technique based on uninterrupted high-precision data from space. We show how series of detected and identified oscillation modes allow to deduce details of the interior physics of stars that are impossible to unravel in any other way. We highlight the most recent findings on the interior rotation and chemical mixing of stars with a convective core and illustrate how these affect stellar evolution theory. We reveal the power of combining Gaia and asteroseismic data for stellar physics, galactic archeology, and exoplanet studies. Finally, we provide an outlook for future projects in asteroseismology to illustrate the bright future of this research domain.


roger_barry_161013s
Thursday October 13, 2016
Prof. Roger Barry
University of Colorado

Abstract

Global snow and ice cover (the "cryosphere") plays a major role in global climate and hydrology through a range of complex interactions and feedbacks, the best known of which is the ice - albedo feedback.  Snow and ice cover undergo marked seasonal and long term changes in extent and thickness. The perennial elements - the major ice sheets and permafrost - play a role in present-day regional and local climate and hydrology, but the large seasonal variations in snow cover and sea ice are of importance on continental to hemispheric scales. The characteristics of these variations, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, and evidence for recent trends in snow and sea ice extent are discussed.