Tag Archives: steward observatory

The Universe in the Middle of Nowhere

The UA’s Chris Impey has taught cosmology to Tibetan Buddhist monastics in remote parts of India each summer for the past five years. With a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, he detailed his experiences in a book, “Humble Before the Void,” which likely will publish in 2014.

Chris Impey thinks back to the time he spent living on the edge of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, teaching modern cosmology to Buddhist monastics in India: “On a typical day, they would be up at 5 a.m. and have prayed for a few hours or done meditation before you even see them. And their attention is just as good at the end of a long day as at the beginning.” (more…)

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The Supernova That Cried Wolf

A luminous supernova in a galaxy 67 million light years away from us has finally exploded for good, a UA-led team of astronomers has discovered. This event sheds light on how massive stars end their lives.

Astronomers have announced that a massive star, which they have watched repeatedly mimic a supernova since 2009, has finally exploded for real.

The report was presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, Calif. by Jon Mauerhan of the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, in collaboration with Nathan Smith, also of the UA, and Alex Filippenko of the University of California, Berkeley.

The result is of special interest because it provides new critical information on the final death throes of massive stars in the years leading up to their explosion. The work has been accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. (more…)

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Searching for Planets in Clouds of Dust

*A UA astronomy research team was awarded a $600,000 grant for technology development under NASA’s Explorer mission program. The mission would send a space telescope high above Earth’s surface to watch how planets around other stars form and evolve.*

There has been much talk about possible Earth-like planets discovered by the Kepler space telescope launched just two years ago in the search for life outside our solar system. So far, it has discovered more than 2,326 possible Earth-like planets, and the number keeps growing.

At the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory, an astronomy research team is asking questions such as, “How do planets like those found by Kepler arise? What materials are present during their initial formation? How do they evolve?” (more…)

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Blowing Up Stars

*For his discoveries about the lives and deaths of stars, the exotic physics of black holes and the origin of chemical elements, UA Regents’ Professor David Arnett has been honored with the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship.*

What happens when a star dies? How does a black hole form? What makes the chemical elements that form the building blocks of stars, planets and living beings?

Those are the kinds of questions that have fascinated David Arnett, a Regents’ Professor at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory, from an early age. (more…)

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Scientists Prepare to Take First-Ever Picture of a Black Hole

*The Event Horizon Telescope is an Earth-sized virtual telescope powerful enough to see all the way to the center of our Milky Way, where a supermassive black hole will allow astrophysicists to put Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity to the test.*

Astronomers, physicists and scientists from related fields across the world will convene in Tucson, Ariz. on Jan. 18 to discuss an endeavor that only a few years ago would have been regarded as nothing less than outrageous.

The conference is organized by Dimitrios Psaltis, an associate professor of astrophysics at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory, and Dan Marrone, an assistant professor of astronomy at Steward Observatory. (more…)

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Lifting Space Exploration to New Heights

*A new space telescope designed to peer into the inner reaches of far-away solar systems and a balloon riding the jet stream 120,000 feet above ground are two UA research proposals selected by NASA for further evaluation as potential future science missions.*

A research balloon circling the Earth in the outer fringes of the atmosphere and a space telescope peering through the dust swirls of far-away solar systems in search of alien planets are among the winning proposals selected by NASA for further study as part of NASA’s Explorer Mission program.

Both project proposals, called EXCEDE and GUSSTO, are led by astronomers at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory and are among 11 selected by NASA for evaluation as potential future science missions. (more…)

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Astrophysicists Find Evidence of Black Holes Ripping Stars Apart

*Sifting through observation data obtained of more than 2 million galaxies, a research team including UA astronomer Dennis Zaritsky has discovered phenomena telling of stars dying a violent death.

Astrophysicists at the University of Arizona and elsewhere have found evidence of black holes destroying stars, a long-sought phenomenon that provides a new window into general relativity.

The research, reported in the latest issue of the Astrophysical Journal, also opens up a method to search for the possible existence of a large population of presently undetectable “intermediate mass” black holes, which are hypothesized to be precursors to the super-massive black holes at the centers of most large galaxies. (more…)

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UA Alumnus Wins Nobel Prize

*Brian P. Schmidt, who graduated from the UA in 1989 with a double major in astronomy and physics, shares this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics with two colleagues for a discovery that has rocked our understanding of the cosmos: The universe is expanding at an ever-faster pace.*

In the last years of the 20th century, two teams of researchers set out to race each other to measure the rate of the universe’s expansion, and by extension, unveil how the universe most likely will end.

University of Arizona alumnus Brian P. Schmidt, now a professor of astronomy at Australian National University who headed one of the teams, shares the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with Saul Perlmutter from the University of California, Berkeley, and Adam G. Riess from Johns Hopkins University and Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. (more…)

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