Star Talk: The Algonquin Pulsar Project

March 11, 2017
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star_talk_feb “The Algonquin Pulsar Project”, with Professor Ue-Li Pen

Abstract: The Algonquin Radio Observatory (ARO), built in 1965, along with the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) are the first to achieve long baseline interferometry (VLBI), whereby two single-dish telescopes are combined to provide the same resolution as a telescope the size of Canada.

CITA, the Dunlap Institute, and the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics collectively have continued the Canadian VLBI tradition with a new program to conduct transnational interferometric observations of pulsars and fast radio bursts (FRBs). The former has been named “scintillometry,” whose purpose is to utilize VLBI on earth in combination with scattering in the interstellar medium (ISM) to create an effective telescope size of ~astronomical unit to study pulsars and the intervening matter between us and them. The latter could provide the first ever spatial localization of FRBs.

Pulsar VLBI is located at the Algonquin Radio Observatory, which is visited frequently for data collection. The Crab pulsar will be studied using scintillometry techniques and VLBI. To obtain better images, one would need a telescope with a larger diameter. An easy way to increase diameter was to combine the signals from multiple telescopes using them as an interferometer thus creating VLBI. The data collected at Algonquin are synced up to data collected with other telescopes across the world. The radio waves that is emitted from the pulses propagate to telescopes on earth directly and indirectly via deflections on a scattering screen in the interstellar medium in space. The different paths interfere thus causing scintillation. By observing the scintillation with multiple telescopes on Earth, it is possible to estimate the pulsar’s position with extremely high precision.

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January 2017: Picture of the Month

February 5, 2017
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jan_pom_2017

The spiky stars in the foreground of this cosmic portrait are well within the Milky Way while the two galaxies are at a distance of 300 million light-years from us. Cataloged as Arp 273 (also as UGC 1810), the distorted appearance of these galaxies are due to gravitational tides caused by close encounters between the pair. Interacting galaxies are understood to be common – in fact, repeated galaxy encounters can ultimately result in a merger of one single galaxy.

For more information, check out APOD!

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ASX 14th Annual Symposium “What Ifs: Is the Impossible, Possible?”

January 7, 2017
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14_symposium

The wait is over; ASX is proud to announce our 14th Annual Symposium “What Ifs: Is the Impossible, Possible?”! This 14th Annual Symposium will be held on January 27th, from 6:30 – 11:00 pm.

We are honoured to be featuring Gurtina Besla, assistant professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona and PI of the outreach project TIMESTEP; David Kipping, Professor at Columbia University and lead of the Cool Worlds Lab; and Quinn Konopacky, assistant professor at the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences – University of California, San Diego.

TICKETING: Eventbrite

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December 2016: Picture of the Month

December 30, 2016
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filaments_black_hole

This recently released image of the elliptical galaxy NGC 4696 from the Hubble Space Telescope shows long filaments of dust and gas appearing to connect to a central region. The region is thought to contain a supermassive black hole, which is pumping out energy. The heating of the surrounding region is pushing out cooler dust and gas and shutting down star formation. Balanced by the magnetic field, these filaments appear to spiral in and circle the black hole.

For more information, check out APOD!

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