Tag Archives: astrophysics

Undergraduate women in physics find strength in numbers

Prof. Young-Kee Kim leads conference for aspiring female scientists

On a mid-January Friday night, Savannah Thais stood at the podium in International House’s Assembly Hall and shared some of her experiences as a female student in physics. She described the refusal of some male students to work with her, the difficulty in finding a female professor or mentor in math or physics, and the common message from adults that “I can’t be ‘girly’ and good at physics.” (more…)

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Distant Planetary System is a Super-Sized Solar System

TORONTO, ON – A team of astronomers, including Quinn Konopacky of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto, has made the most detailed examination yet of the atmosphere of a Jupiter-like planet beyond our Solar System.

According to Konopacky, “We have been able to observe this planet in unprecedented detail because of the advanced instrumentation we are using on the Keck II telescope, our groundbreaking observing and data-processing techniques, and because of the nature of the planetary system.” (more…)

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Can Life Emerge on Planets Around Cooling Stars?

Astronomers find planets in strange places and wonder if they might support life. One such place would be in orbit around a white or brown dwarf. While neither is a star like the sun, both glow and so could be orbited by planets with the right ingredients for life.

No terrestrial, or Earth-like planets have yet been confirmed orbiting white or brown dwarfs, but there is no reason to assume they don’t exist. However, new research by Rory Barnes of the University of Washington and René Heller of Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam hints that planets orbiting white or brown dwarfs will prove poor candidates for life. (more…)

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A Galactic Magnetic Field in A Lab Bolsters Astrophysical Theory

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— Why is the universe magnetized? It’s a question scientists have been asking for decades. Now, an international team of researchers including a University of Michigan professor have demonstrated that it could have happened spontaneously, as the prevailing theory suggests.

The findings are published in the Jan. 26 edition of Nature. Oxford University scientists led the research. (more…)

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Scientists, Philosophers and Theologians Poised To Ask: “Why Is There Anything?”

Some of the world’s most renowned scholars, in fields as diverse as astrophysics, philosophy, and religious studies, will convene on the Yale campus October 6-9 to ponder the most fundamental existential question of all: “Why Is There Anything in the Universe?”

The idea for a conference to discuss a philosophical question that has perplexed great minds throughout the ages grew out of an informal conversation and debate over a cup of coffee between Yale professors Priyamvada Natarajan, a cosmologist in the Astronomy department, and Denys Turner, who teaches in the department of Religious Studies and the Yale Divinity School and is the author of “Eros and Allegory” and “The Darkness of God,” among other titles. Michael Della Rocca, a metaphysician who teaches at the philosophy department, soon joined the effort. James van Pelt, who co-founded Yale’s Initiative in Religion, Science & Technology, was enlisted to coordinate the ambitious, quintessentially trans-disciplinary program, which now includes a stellar roster of physical scientists, theologians and philosophers. (more…)

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Plasma Jets are Suspect in Solar Mystery

*Scientists take new look at solar corona* 

One of the most enduring mysteries in solar physics is why the Sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, is millions of degrees hotter than its surface.

Now scientists believe they have discovered a major source of hot gas that replenishes the corona: jets of plasma shooting up from just above the Sun’s surface. (more…)

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