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NASA’s Exoplanet Hunter Telescope Spies Powerful Winds and Jet Stream System in the Closest Brown Dwarfs

Brown dwarfs are excellent and easier-to-study analogs of giant exoplanets. Hiding just two parsecs (6 or 7 light years, or 1.5 times the distance of the nearest star) from the Sun are two cool brown dwarfs that form the Luhman 16AB binary system (discovered by Kevin Luhman, a 1998 PhD of our Astronomy program). Studies of these systems can help understand how giant exoplanets look, unraveling their climates, wind patterns, and atmospheric dynamics. No telescope, however, is powerful enough to take detailed images of the disks of brown dwarfs to find out whether they are dominated by localized storms (vortices) or by a global jet stream system.

Steward Observatory and Lunar and Planetary Laboratory Associate Professor Daniel Apai and his team used a novel approach to deduce the atmospheric properties of Luhman 16B. With the help of NASA’s TESS exoplanet hunter telescope, they observed how the brown dwarf’s brightness changes over a hundred rotations. These changes — and the analysis of their periodicity — revealed that Luhman 16B is home to powerful winds and an exciting and complex jet stream system.

This figure shows the main results of the story. This Youtube video also summarizes the data and results. The University of Arizona press release can be found HERE. The journal paper (may need a subscription) can be found HERE.


Free Zoom Backgrounds from Mt. Lemmon Sky Center Photos

Mount Lemmon Sky Center invites Stewardites and the Public to use some of their astronomical photos as backgrounds for your Desktop, or for Zoom, Google Meet or other such virtual meeting platforms. You can see the choices (both regular and mirrored) HERE
Thanks to Alan Strauss, MLSC, and observers and data processers.  




Apply to The University of Arizona Astronomy Graduate Program

Welcome to the UArizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory! You can find more information about our program and how to apply on our "Graduate Program in Astronomy and Astrophysics" webpage. 
Applications to join our department in Fall 2021 are due on December 1st for international applicants and December 9th for domestic applicants. 

Steward Observatory Prize Fellowship in Theoretical and Computational Astrophysics


The Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona invites applications for the Steward Observatory Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship in Theoretical and Computational Astrophysics. The successful candidate will lead a high caliber independent research program as well as collaborate with theoretical and observational colleagues in the department. Candidates are expected to support an equitable and diverse scholarly environment in research, mentoring, and service. Steward Observatory provides a stimulating research environment, with an active program of seminars, conferences, and visitors. The department is home to a wide range of theoretical research programs, in topics such as general relativity and gravitation, cosmology, compact objects, astrophysical fluid dynamics, galaxy formation, star formation, and planet formation. Interested candidates are welcome to inquire with individual faculty about informal virtual visits. Candidates must have completed all requirements for the Ph.D. in astrophysics, astronomy, or a related field before the commencement of the fellowship in Fall 2021. The deadline for submission of all materials is December 14th, 2020. To apply click here.

NSF Funds AO Test Bed for Giant Magellan

The Giant Magellan Telescope Corporation has received $17.5million in National Science Foundation funds to test and prototype technology for GMT.  Scientists at Steward and at Optical Sciences will use some of the funds to build an Adaptive Optics (AO) test bed system, allowing the  telescope's AO system to be built and tested before the telescope comes on line. Work will be done at Steward's Center for Astronomical Adaptive Optics (CAAO) and at Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Drs. Laird Close and Jared Males of Steward's CAAO are quoted in the UA press release

Two Comet NEOWISE Videos

This first video is by astrophotographer Adam Block and tells people living in Tucson how to find the Comet. It was made the week of July 13. The second is a time lapse by graduate student Harry Krantz, taken in Colorado on July 19, covering 1.5 hours of real time. You can see Starlink satellites in the image from 7 sec to 12 sec of compressed time.  Here is a link to a Mt Lemmon SkyCenter page: it also contains a link to the above Adam Block instructional video. The cover photo here is a screenshot from the video by Harry Krantz. 



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