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Protoplanetary Disks and Planets in Taurus

An international team lead by Feng Long (Peking University) and Paola Pinilla (Steward/University of Arizona), have obtained for the first time an unbiased ALMA survey of 32 protoplanetary disks in the Taurus star forming region, which spans a wide range of properties (e.g., millimeter brightness). In this sample, about 40% of the disks show concentric rings and gaps around young stars, confirming the commonality of these features. These rings and gaps give indirect evidence of planets being formed in their nascent environment. Interestingly, the morphology of these structures suggests that embedded super-Earths and Neptunes are the most likely possibility to explain these rings/gaps, in line with the most common type of planets discovered so far. The UA of Arizona press release can be found HERE. The scientific paper was published in the Astrophysical Journal HERE


Commencement 2018

On May 11, 2018, Astronomy/Steward graduated ten Astronomy majors, seventeen Astronomy minors, and hooded five PhD students.

Below we show eight photos, all of which can be enlarged by clicking. Photos are courtesy of Michelle Cournoyer and Marina Dunn.

Majors: Tyler Baines; Rafia Bushra; Jenny Calahan; Quadry Chance; Marina Dunn; Aidan Gibbs; Andrew Henrici; Frida Jauregui; Andrew Weldon; Nicole Zawadzki.

Minors: Andrew Brewer; Cody Dalton; Taylor East; Ryan Hamilton; Morgan Harlan; Elizabeth Kinney; Alexis Lugo; Seth Martin; Raul Moraga, III; Liam Murphy; Will Nelson; Angelo Pama; Gordon Ramsbottom, III; Lennon Reinhart; Kimberly Rodas; Linden Willems; Mindi Zudekoff.

PhDs: Melissa Halford; Ben Rackham; J. T. Schindler; Brian Svoboda; Ya-Lin Wu.

From left to right: Graduate students are Brian Svoboda, Melissa Halford, Benjamin Rackman, Jan-Torge Schindler. Undergraduates are Aidan Gibbs, Quadry Chance, Nicole Zawadzki, Marina Dunn, Jenny Calahan, Frida Jauregui, Tyler Baines, Andrew Weldon, Rafia Bushra. 

Jenny Calahan giving Outstanding Senior in the College of Science speech at the College of Science Commencement Ceremony.

Quadry Chance, Nicole Zawadzki, Marina Dunn, and Jenny Calahan.

Jenny Calahan, Nicole Zawadzki, and Marina Dunn.

Ya-Lin Wu, Brian Svoboda, and Jan-Torge Schindler after the ceremony.

Advisor Laird Close and advisee Ya-Lin Wu.

Advisor Dennis Zaritsky and advisee Melissa Halford.

On May 3, we had a a celebration and ceremony for graduating Majors and Minors. Pictured here are  (left to right) Nicole Zawadzki, Marina Dunn,  Andrew Henrici, Jenny Calahan, Undergrad Studies Program Coordinator Dr Yancy Shirley, Jeffrey Hamilton, Andrew Weldon, Aidan Gibbs, Tyler Baines, Frida Jauregui, Angelo Pama, Quadry Chance, Dr Tom Fleming, William Nelson, and Head of the Dept of Astronomy Buell Jannuzi.


Professor Lucy Ziurys Wins the 2019 Laboratory Astrophysics Prize of the AAS

Astronomy Dept./Steward Observatory and Chemistry Dept. Professor Lucy Ziurys has been honored by the American Astronomical Society. She has been awarded their 2019 Laboratory Astrophysics Prize. You can read the press release HERE

"The Laboratory Astrophysics Prize is presented, normally on an annual basis, to an individual who has made significant theoretical or experimental contributions to laboratory astrophysics over an extended period of time. The prize includes a cash award, a framed certificate, and an invited lecture by the recipient at a meeting of the Laboratory Astrophysics Division."

Congratulations, Dr Ziurys! 

Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil Speaks at 2018 TED Conference in Vancouver, BC

Steward Postdoc and TED Fellow Dr. Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil presented her research as one of the selected speakers at the 2018 TED Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. In her talk, she shared her exciting finding – the discovery of an extremely rare galaxy. This galaxy is the first example of an elliptical galaxy with two nearly round rings. Its nearly round central body closely follows a de Vaucouleurs R1/4-law surface brightness profile. A stellar population analysis of multi-waveband data (near-UV, infrared and optical) suggests different formation histories for the rings. While a recent accretion event, probably from a gas-rich dwarf galaxy, is the most plausible formation mechanism for the outer ring, more data is needed to recover the formation history of the inner ring. The origin of the inner ring is especially puzzling because there is currently no known mechanism that can explain the existence of this second ring in such a peculiar galaxy. These results were presented in her paper published by the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and can be read HERE. Her TED talk is now available HERE.

CBS "Space Watch" Video about GMT

CBS has published a 40 second segment about the building of the Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile (you have to put up with an advertisement). The sequence includes video of the mirror and mirror polishing, of the rotating oven at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, as well as computer animations of CAD-like drawings of the telescope.

Steward's Imaging Technology Laboratory Delivers More Than 100 CCDs For The LSST Telescope

The University of Arizona has completed delivery of over 100 science-grade 4kx4k Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) image sensors for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). This work was performed at the UA Imaging Technology Laboratory (ITL). The sensors are among the most demanding ever produced in terms of quantum efficiency, readout speed, and surface flatness. ITL had previously delivered a set of 4kx2k wavefront sensors which will also be used in the LSST focal plane. Both sensors were designed by Semiconductor Technology Associates, Inc. in California. The Imaging Technology Laboratory is directed by Dr. Michael Lesser and is a research group within the University's Steward Observatory. Financial support for LSST comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Cooperative Agreement No. 1258333, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515, and private funding raised by the LSST Corporation. The NSF-funded LSST Project Office for construction was established as an operating center under management of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). The DOE-funded effort to build the LSST camera is managed by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC).

Michael Lesser of ITL has graciously sent us three photos and explanations. 

Photo 1 (Click to enlarge) 

This photo shows the four liquid nitrogen cooled Dewars used for testing the science and wavefront sensors at ITL.  During the project’s production phases, two sensors were often characterized each day, with the other dewars warming up or cooling down for subsequent testing.

Photo 2 (click to enlarge)

An LSST STA4400 2kx4k Curvature Wavefront CCD sensor on its aluminum test tower.  The silicon CCD is mounted on a gold-plated silicon-aluminum alloy chosen for its excellent thermal characteristics. These sensors will be located in the “LSST corner rafts” and are used to provide feedback to the telescope’s active optics system.

Photo 3 (click to enlarge)

An LSST STA3800 4kxk4k CCD sensor undergoing final metrology inspection on a VIEW Summit 600 Coordinate Measuring Machine.  The surface flatness of the sensors is typically less than 4 microns peak-to-valley. Every sensor produced underwent electro-optical and metrological characterization before delivery.



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