TriStar 2015 Logo

Sears Applied Technologies Center
Guilford Technical Community College
Jamestown, NC

March 7th


Public Lecture - Friday, 6 March, 7:00 p.m.

Deepest Hubble Images Expose the Violent History of Our Galactic Neighborhood

Tom Brown, Space Telescope Science Institute

Dr. Tom Brown is an astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, spending half of his time doing research and half of his time supporting NASA missions.  After completing his studies at Penn State and Johns Hopkins, he worked for five years at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.  In 2001, he became an Instrument Scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, supporting two different instruments on the Hubble Space Telescope. Since 2008, he has been STScI's Mission Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, while continuing to perform research using Hubble.  To date, he has been the principal investigator for over a dozen Hubble projects focusing on star and galaxy formation in the nearby universe.


About the Talk: As the other giant galaxy in the galactic neighborhood, the Andromeda Galaxy offers an invaluable laboratory for understanding the formation and evolution of spiral galaxies. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, we obtained six deep images of Andromeda, including the deepest optical image of space ever obtained.  By imaging stars over an enormous luminosity range, these data allow a complete reconstruction of the star-formation histories along various sightlines through the galaxy.  The data demonstrate that Andromeda has suffered a more violent history than our own Milky Way.  These deep fields subsequently became the baseline for measurements of Andromeda's motion, revealing how it will eventually collide with the Milky Way, in the most spectacular merger yet.


TriStar - Saturday, 7 March

Time Activity
8:30 Doors Open - Coffee and Refreshments
9:20 Welcome and Announcements
9:30 Tom Brown, STScI
On the Trail of the Missing Galaxies: The Oldest Stars in the Neighborhood

In the past decade, wide-field surveys have revealed a new class of ultra-faint dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way and Andromeda.  They are the least luminous, most dark-matter dominated, and least chemically-evolved galaxies known.  These faint galaxies offer a new front in efforts to understand the missing satellite problem - the fact that theory predicts many more satellites than the number of dwarf galaxies observed.  As the best candidate fossils from the early universe, the ultra-faint dwarfs are ideal places to test the physics of galaxy formation from that era.  New data from the Keck Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope provide evidence that reionization in the early universe suppressed star formation in the smallest seeds of galaxy formation, thus providing a possible explanation for the missing satellite problem.

10:30 Break
11:00 David Pitonzo, High Point University
Musings on the Likelihood of Extraterrestrial Civilization
This session will review what we think we know about basic requirements for the origin of life based upon the only example we have. We will look at the basic characteristics of life and try to define what it means to be a living system. This basic information, as well as observations and hypotheses about the nature of the universe may then inform a discussion about the possibilities of intelligent, technological civilizations elsewhere.
12:00 Lunch Break, Solar Observing
2:00 Announcements
2:10 Chris Richardson, Elon University
The Crab Nebula:  Our Local Young Supernova Remnant
The Crab Nebula presents the best chance to study a young supernova (exploded star) remnant before it begins to interact with the interstellar medium. Its relatively close proximity allows detailed observations of the gaseous filaments embedded in a high-energy plasma fueled by a rapidly rotating neutron star. Oddly enough, a substantial amount of mass from the original star is unaccounted for in the Crab. In such an extreme environment, most of filamentary gas is ionized. However, surprisingly, the Crab Nebula is also known to contain molecular gas and dust grains. I will cover the general characteristics of the Crab, along with recent work that has provided insight about the nature of the molecular gas, and how it relates to the missing mass problem.
3:10 Break
3:40 Maria Temming, Elon University
A Summer at Sky & Telescope

Since its founding in 1941, Sky & Telescope has become one of the most prominent science magazines in America. The magazine caters to amateur and professional astronomers alike, keeping its thousands of subscribers up-to-date on the latest astronomical research and space exploration, reviewing astronomical equipment, and featuring beautiful astrophotography. In this talk, an undergraduate summer intern for Sky & Telescope discusses her experience working for the magazine. She reveals what it was like to interact with some of the world's most distinguished astronomers and science writers, operate in the fast-paced work environment of science media, and how her experiences at Sky & Telescope have shaped her undergraduate research.

4:30 Prize Drawings
4:50 Final Announcements & Adjourn
7:00 Observing session at Cline Observatory (weather permitting)

Last Update 02/16/2015