Here is a list of links to our previous events, which can be found on our Youtube channel, ASX: Astronomy and Space EXploraton Society

Star Talks

Link to Video: Statistics Meets Astronomy: Challenges in Time and Space
Date: July 8 2020
Blog Link: Here

Astronomy, like so many other disciplines, has entered an era of big data — large telescopes and all-sky surveys are bringing in petabytes amount of data on a daily basis. The hope is that these large data sets will help us not only untangle mysteries of the universe but also help us discover new phenomena. At the same time, these data sets often come with challenges that require sophisticated statistical analysis. In this talk, I will summarize some of the exciting science being done by my Astrostatistics Research Team at the University of Toronto, from studies of individual stars, to open star clusters and the entire Milky Way Galaxy.

Link to Video: How to Measure the Universe’s Oldest Light
Date: August 12 2020
Blog Link: Here

The cosmic microwave background (CMB) is the glow of the
universe from soon after the Big Bang. Today, we can observe this nearly 14 billion-year-old light with microwave telescopes and use it to determine some of the most fundamental properties of the cosmos, such as its age, what it is made out of, and how fast it is expanding. We can also learn how the universe behaved in its very first instants. I will introduce this exciting science and describe how we observe the CMB, focusing in particular on the Atacama Cosmology Telescope and the Simons Observatory—the first currently observing and the second under development—located in the north of Chile.

Link to Video: Hands-On Astronomy: Building Instruments to Measure Our Cosmos
Date: September 30 2020
Blog Link: Here

You may be familiar with some of the fantastic technology and instruments to do astronomy and the pictures we get with them of our cosmos, but how do these telescopes and cameras actually get built? What do experimental astrophysics do all day? I will discuss astronomical instrumentation and what technology we use to measure the sky across the electromagnetic spectrum from UV telescopes to superconducting transition edge sensors. I will describe how these instruments are created and what the careers of astronomy “builders” are like. I will also show some images of the sky taken with different instruments and describe the discoveries they have allowed astronomers to make.

Link to Video: The New Era of Radio Astronomy
Date: October 28 2020
Blog Link: Here

Radio telescopes — such as the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), HIRAX, and the planned CHORD — will lead to unprecedented advances in astronomy. How will they shape future research? To find out more, join us online on Wednesday, October 28 at 6:00 pm.Abstract: “In recent years, the exponential growth of available computing power has spurred a revolution in radio astronomy. Digital processing of radio light has replaced traditional mirrors and imaging optics, with huge arrays of smaller detectors now beginning to supplant the monolithic dishes of prior years. Canada has become a leader in this new arena, with the recently-built CHIME telescope displaying unprecedented survey sensitivity, and upcoming arrays like HIRAX and CHORD set to redefine the field. I will discuss these developments, recent results, and upcoming instruments

Link to Video: Water, Water Everywhere?
Date: January 20 2021
Blog Link: Here

Our understanding of our own solar system has changed significantly since the advent of spacecraft exploration. Water was once believed very scarce in our corner of the galaxy but we now realize this is not the case. From understanding where our own planet’s water riches originated to the proliferation of the so called water worlds, this presentation will discuss the evolution of this “sea change” in thinking and its implication for the search for life on exoplanets.


17th Anual Symposium

Links to Videos:
Einstein’s Monsters – Pf. Chris Impey
A Dark Matter Discussion – Pf. Miriam Diamond, Pf. James Webb, Pf. Jim Cline
Black Holes, Quantum Information, and String Theory – Pf. A. W. Peet
Hubble Tension & Dark Energy – Pf. Marc Kamionkowski
Astrophotography Workshop – Katerina Isabel Benevides
Date: February 15-17 2021
Blog Link: Here

Astronomers from the University of Toronto to the University of Cambridge are set to improve your understanding of the universe at the ASX Society’s 17th annual symposium themed “𝗠𝘆𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗨𝗻𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗲”.


Cosmic mysteries and the hydrogen 21-cm line:
The forbidden 21cm line of atomic hydrogen could help us solve some of the remaining mysteries of our Universe.

For example, it could advance our understanding of the nature of dark matter, the formation process of the very first stars and galaxies, constrain primordial black holes and clarify the ultimate phase transition that the Universe went through — the process of reionization. The field of the 21cm cosmology is undergoing a revolution with both observations and modelling making rapid progress.

At present only one experiment (EDGES Low Band) has claimed a tentative detection of the sky-averaged 21cm signal which, however, disagrees with standard theoretical predictions. Other experiments yield upper limits which allow to exclude physically motivated models and constrain on the thermal and ionization states of the gas at high cosmological redshifts. In my talk, I will describe what we can learn from the 21-cm line about the nature of dark matter.

—Dr. Anastasia Fialkov, University of Cambridge

Hubble Tension & Dark Energy:
Edwin Hubble discovered in the late 1920s that the Universe is expanding. Over the past few years, though, increasingly precise measurements of the rate at which the Universe is expanding disagree. I will describe these measurements and the discrepancy between the rates returned by different techniques. I will then describe the implications for cosmology if these discrepancies persist.

—Professor Marc Kamionkowski, Johns Hopkins University

A Dark Matter Discussion
A question-and-answer about dark matter and contrasting theories by research astronomers. Ask your most thoughtful, burning questions about dark matter in the universe!

—With Professors Miriam Diamond (Professor of Astroparticle Physics at the University of Toronto); Jeremy Webb (Assistant Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto); and Jim Cline (Professor of Physics at McGill University), with moderator Alex Laguë (Astrophysics PhD Student at the University of Toronto)

Black holes, quantum information, and string theory
Quantum theory is one of the pillars of 20th century physics: it successfully describes the dynamics of very small things, like electrons in a silicon chip and Higgs bosons in the LHC particle collider. Einstein’s general theory of relativity is another pillar: it successfully describes the dynamics of very heavy things, like planets, stars, and the entire cosmos. But at a deep theoretical level, these two theories are incompatible. This is a problem if we want to understand physical phenomena that are both very small and very heavy, like black holes and the big bang. To analyze their physics, we need a working theory of quantum gravity.

My research focuses on learning about quantum gravity by using techniques of modern string theory. I especially want to know precisely what happens to quantum information falling into black holes, and to resolve a famous paradox about this posed by Stephen Hawking forty-five years ago and refined by many other researchers since. To study such questions, I currently use a powerful theoretical laboratory known as AdS/CFT holography, whose discovery was one of the most important advances in theoretical physics in the past quarter century. No previous experience with any of these topics will be assumed and all are welcome.

—Professor A.W. Peet, University of Toronto

Black Hole Lecture:
Einstein’s Monsters are regions of space and time excised from the rest of the universe. Black holes were predicted a century ago, and it took decades of research to show that they actually exist. More recently, astronomers have discovered black hole behemoths inside galaxies that range up to billions of times the Sun’s mass, and they have detected gravitational waves from black hole mergers. The talk covers progress in understanding black holes and mysteries that remain.

—Professor Chris Impey, University of Arizona

Astrophotography Workshop:
For millennia, humans have looked to the sky in wonder of what lay beyond our minuscule grain of sand in the vast desert that is the universe. To them the distant stars were mere specks of light settled upon a moving blanket sheathing the sky, but of course, we have come a long way since then. From the history of astrophotography, to large equipment, to the tools you have laying around your home, I will immerse you into the world of imaging the absolute beasts of cosmological objects of which we are so fascinated.

—Katerina Isabel Benevides, University of Toronto Astrophysics Specialist

Other Events