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Astrophysics Seminars

Contents

The CASS Astrophysics Seminar features world-class astrophysicists from around the world speaking on current topics of research. Presentations are aimed at the graduate and post-graduate level, but are open to the general public. CASS seminars take place on Wednesdays from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. in 383 SERF (Marlar Seminar Room), unless otherwise noted. You can watch a live stream of the talk or prior talks at the CASS Seminar YouTube Channel. The organizers are Prof. Shelley Wright and Prof. George Fuller.


Upcoming Seminars

Spring 2017


May 3, 2017

 "Young Galaxies Forming in the High-Redshift Universe"

Rychard Bouwens
Associate Professor
Leiden Observatories

 Over the last few years, enormous progress has been made in studying galaxies in the first two billion years thanks to the incredible capabilities of the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes. Already, more than 1500 probable galaxies are known at redshifts above z~6, and now the current frontier is at z~9-10, with 50 plausible galaxy identifications to date, and a spectroscopic redshift measurement to z=11.1. Noteworthy advances are also being made in characterizing the physical properties for these distant galaxies, with probes of the nebular emission lines and specific star formation rates to z~8.5 and new constraints on dust-enshrouded star formation at z>~2 from ALMA. One area where there has been particularly exciting activity is in the study of ultra-faint galaxies in the early universe with the Hubble Frontier Fields (HFF) program, combining the power of long exposures with Hubble and Spitzer with gravitational lensing by massive galaxy clusters. In this colloquium, I survey these and other highlights of current research on high redshift galaxies, while looking forward to future work with JWST.



May 10, 2017

 "Planet Signatures in Transition Disks"

Wladimir Lyra
Assistant Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy
California State University at Northridge (CSUN)

 During the first million years of evolution, nascent planetary systems are embedded in dense disk-shaped clouds of gas. These circumstellar disks are home to a myriad of hydrodynamical processes, which bring about turbulence and the emergence of viscous-like behavior, enabling accretion of gas onto the protostar. Meanwhile, micron-sized dust grains embedded in the disk are growing through coagulation onto pebbles and rocks. Turbulence has a positive effect on these small solids, concentrating them into transient high pressure regions for long enough to achieve gravitational collapse through pebble accretion into km-sized bodies, forming the first planetesimals. Giant storm systems in the disk, similar to Jupiter's Great Red Spot, may exist in quiescent zones of the disk. These are even more prone to collecting solid material, producing the first terrestrial planets and cores of giant planets. In this talk I will discuss the state of the art and recent advances in the field of planet formation, as well as pressing problems such as the structure observed in high resolution sub-millimeter images of circumstellar disks, and how to interpret them.



May 17, 2017

 "The Dynamics of the Local Group: Challenges to Convention in the Era
of Precision Astrometry"

Gurtina Besla
Assistant Professor
University of Arizona

 Our understanding of the dynamics of our Local Group of galaxies has changed dramatically over the past few years owing to significant advancements in astrometry and our theoretical understanding of galaxy structure. I will provide an overview of key contributions by the Hubble Space Telescope to this evolving picture. In particular, I will highlight the HSTPROMO team’s proper motion measurements of key players in the Local Group, such as the most massive satellites of the Milky Way (the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds), the first ever direct proper motion measurement of M31 and an implied new orbital history for M33. These results have met with controversy, challenging preconceptions of the orbital dynamics and evolution of key members of the Local Group. I will further highlight the importance of HST’s continued role in this field in the era of Gaia.



May 24, 2017

Max Millar-Blanchaer
Millikan Postdoctoral Fellow
Caltech



May 31, 2017

Robyn Sanderson
NSF Astronomy & Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow
TAPIR, Caltech / Columbia University Dept of Astronomy