October 2016: Picture of the Month

November 5, 2016
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hydrogen_sky

This is the new and highest resolution map of the universe’s most abundant gas, hydrogen. The all-sky map of hydrogen’s 21-cm emission shows the abundance of the gas with brightness and the speed with color. The color in this map has been artificially set as blue to describe the radial motion toward us and green to describe the radial motion away. The band across the center of map is the plane of our own Milky Way, while the bright spots on the lower right is our neighboring Magellanic Clouds. The map collects data from over one million observations from both the northern Effelsberg 100-Meter Radio Telescope in Germany and the southern Parkes 64-Meter Radio Telescope in Australia. It should be noted that still many details are not yet well understood in this map.

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Star Talk: Variable Stars – Action in the Sky

October 4, 2016
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var_stars “Variable Stars: Action in the Sky”, presented by John Percy, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, and Dunlap Institute

Abstract: Stars aren’t changeless and boring. They may eclipse, pulsate (vibrate), flare, erupt, or even explode. These processes cause the stars to vary in brightness over time and, by studying these variations, we can learn about the nature, evolution, birth and death of the stars, and about the physical processes that occur within them. Variable stars help us to understand some of the most exciting and bizarre objects in the sky: exoplanets, supernovas, pulsars, quasars, gamma-ray bursts, and even black holes. I will also explain some of the ways in which Canadian astronomers, and skilled amateur astronomers, and my undergraduate research students are contributing to this research.

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September 2016: Picture of the Month

October 1, 2016
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setp_pom

Nicknamed as Tianyan, or the Eye of Heaven, the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is built within a natural basin in the Guizhou province of China. FAST, constructed with 4450 individual triangular-shaped panels, is the largest single dish radio telescope on Earth (its diameter is of course 500 meters). Designed to explore the Universe at radio frequencies, its operations will range from detecting hydrogen gas in the Milky Way and other galaxies, detecting distant pulsar, or even searching for radio signals from extraterrestrials.

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Star Talk: Planets Around Expired Stars

September 11, 2016
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star_talk_sep “Planets Around Expired Stars”, presented by Professor Yanqin Wu

Abstract: Professor Yanqin Wu investigates the formation and evolution of planets, both inside and outside our own Solar System. Her current attention is devoted to a recently discovered puzzle, the presence of planetary systems around white dwarf stars, stars that have lived through their lives and are cooling off quietly in their cemeteries. The observational evidences are difficult to square with our current knowledge about the extra-solar planetary systems, and perhaps a new picture is required.

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August 2016: Picture of the Month

September 2, 2016
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ngc7129

Our Sun is most likely formed some five billion years ago in a similar stellar nursery such as NGC7129, located some 3000 light-years away toward the constellation Cepheus. Noticeable in the image are the lovely bluish clouds that reflect the youthful starlight. The compact, deep red crescent shapes mark energetic, young stellar objects. Known as the Herbig-Haro objects, the shape and color of these objects are the characteristic of glowing hydrogen gas streaming away from newborn stars. The paler, reddish filaments are caused by the process of photoluminescence, where dust grains convert invisible ultraviolet starlight to visible red light.

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