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Mexican Science Delegation and UA-Mexico Astronomy Projects

UA News recently reported HERE on a visit by a Mexican Science Delegation. Steward is collaborating on a 6.5m telescope for San Pedro Martir, Baja, Mexico. One possible plan is for that new telescope and the MMT to coordinate/share instruments. An old UANews article can be found HERE.

Photo credit: UANews.

Former Stewardites Find Huge Ring System Around a Stellar Companion

Steward alumni Matt Kenworthy (postdoc and instrument scientist, now at Leiden Observatory), and Eric Mamajek (PhD 2004, now at Rochester) have found observational evidence for the existence of a giant ring system orbiting an unseen brown dwarf star or exoplanet orbiting the star "J1407" (its proper, formal name is 1SWASP J140747.93-394542.6). The evidence comes from an attempt to model the complex changes in brightness of an eclipse lasting 56 days. If this companion/planet and its ring system were placed at Saturn, the rings would be visible to the naked eye here on Earth, and would be many times larger than our full moon. A best estimate for the mass of the rings is approximately 1 Earth mass, about 100000 times more massive than the rings of the planet Saturn. J1407 is a very young star, and this observation teaches us how the gas and dust out of which stars form change with time and as planets or moons form. The photo is an artist's rendering against a venerable Dutch telescope. The CNN article can be found HERE.
The actual scientific preprint can be found HERE.

Photo Credit: Matt Kenworthy

Don McCarthy Interview in "Lo Que Pasa": Why He Chose the UA

"Lo Que Pasa" recently interviewed University Distinguished Outreach Professor, Dr Don McCarthy of Steward Observatory. This series of interviews asked recently honored professors why they're at the UA. There's a four-minute video HERE. Don is well known for more than two decades of running Astronomy Camp using local telescopes (LINK), and for his presence in the introductory (Gen Ed) classroom and young astronomy majors classroom, and as a faculty fellow in Coconino Hall.

Image Credit: Lo Que Pasa, The University of Arizona

Expert Witness - Deflategate with Steward PhD alumnus Charles Liu

In the NY Times' extensive discussion of the New England Patriots and Deflategate, one of the newest articles has extensive quotations from Steward PhD alumnus Charles Liu, now on the faculty at the College of Staten Island and an Associate at Hayden Planetarium. The article can be found HERE.

A couple of pithy quotations from the article follow:

"... “Just because you’re not a scientist does not mean you can’t know what to do,” Liu said. “It’s kind of like saying, Well, I see somebody about to burn down your house, but since I’m not a firefighter, I don’t know whether I should stop them or not.”

...“If you let out 2 p.s.i. from the ball, it is as if you removed 400 pounds of force pushing outward from the football,” Liu said. “If you let out 1.5 p.s.i. from the ball, it’s as if you removed 300 pounds of force pushing outward from the football.”"

"Liu mentioned Muhammad Wilkerson, a 6-foot-4-inch, 315-pound defensive lineman for the Jets, to illustrate the point. If Wilkerson were to stand on a ball, the leather would bulge out on the ball’s sides, growing taut, and would be much harder to grip. Take Wilkerson off the ball, and it would become easier to grip. “That is what letting 1.5 or 2 p.s.i. out of the ball means,” Liu said. (I tried the experiment in the office with a basketball, with an editor gripping the sides of the ball. He agreed that it was easier to hold on to once my 220 pounds had hopped off.)..."

Finally, the Boston Globe published a Boston-based view of the same HERE.

Bill Nye the Science Guy weighed in HERE.

 

UA College of Science Lecture Series Overview and Schedule

The tenth UA College of Science Lecture Series is about to begin. This year the topic is "Life in the Universe" and involves Stewardites Chris Impey and Laird Close, LPL-ites Tim Swindle and Dante Lauretta, Vatican-ite Guy Consolmagno, and Evolutionary Biology Professors Anna Dornhaus and Brian Enquist. All lectures are at 7pm, beginning Jan 26, in Centennial Hall.

For more information, look HERE and HERE. Watch the Kepler Orrery (confirmed exo-solar planets orbiting their stars to Wagner) HERE. While this series is happening, the Steward Monday Public Evening series found HERE is in abeyance.

Cloud and Weather Behavior on Brown Dwarfs

A group of scientists led by Daniel Apai, who holds a joint appointment at Steward and LPL, are observing brown dwarfs at several wavelengths to learn about the weather (akin to storms on the Sun's gas-giant planets) and clouds (akin to the belts and bands). Read about their project HERE, in an article written by David Flateau. Professor Apai also has a blog entitled Distant Earths

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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