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Star Talk: The quest for 1% – the past, present and future for measuring the Hubble Constant and the expansion of the Universe

November 13, 2016
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star_talk_oct “The quest for 1%: the past, present and future for measuring the Hubble Constant and the expansion of the Universe”, presented by Professor Hilding Neilson

Abstract: Almost a century ago, Edwin Hubble discovered that galaxies appear to be moving away from us and that farther galaxies moved at faster rates. This discovery revolutionized our view of the Universe and started the field of modern cosmology. Ever since, astronomers have been trying to better measure the expansion of the Universe, the Hubble constant, using numerous standard candles. In this talk, Professor Neilson will talk about the rich history of measuring the Hubble constant from some of the great arguments to the paradigm shift initiated by the results of the Hubble Space Telescope Key Project. He will conclude by discussing the future for measuring the Hubble constant to 1% precision to shed new insights into the dark matter and dark energy content of the Universe.

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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.

For more information, check out APOD!

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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.

For more information, check out APOD!

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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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