Category Monthly Meeting

MAS August Monthly Meeting

Stellar spectroscopy and the formation of the chemical elements

Jim Lawler

Dr. Jim Lawler, UW Madison Dept of Physics, the Arthur and Aurelia Schawlow Professorship

I will talk about how we measure spontaneous decay rates between two energy levels of an atom or ion, how stars produce spectra, and links between basic spectroscopy (like my group’s activities) and astronomy. Nearly everything humanity knows, or may every learn, about the detailed physics and chemistry of the remote Universe is from spectroscopy. I will mention the importance of quantization and the future of the quantum internet if time allows.

Before retiring in May of this year, Jim Lawler was the Arthur and Aurelia Schawlow Professor of Physics at the UW Madison...

Read More

MAS July Monthly Meeting

The Magellanic Stream: A Case Study in Interacting Galaxies

Scott Lucchini

Two of the Milky Way’s nearest neighbors, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, have been dancing around each other for billions of years. This dance has led to a huge amount of gas getting thrown from their disks and out into what we know as the Magellanic Stream. In my work, I run high resolution simulations of these interactions to better constrain the history and future of the Magellanic System. Some of our recent results have shown that a warm circumgalactic medium of warm gas around the Magellanic Clouds may play a large role in the formation and current properties of the Stream and that the Stream may be up to five times closer than previously thought...

Read More

MAS June Monthly Meeting

Doing Research with the Tianlai Array in Xinjiang, China

Banner image for "Doing Research with the Tianlai Array in Xinjiang, China

UW undergraduate astronomy student Gage Siebert will present a talk on his research in radio astronomy:

The Tianlai radio telescope array is one of several experiments working to map hydrogen density over large volumes of the universe. I’ll talk a little about how I came to work on Tianlai and describe how the experiment works. Then, we’ll talk about how these measurements relate to the earliest times in the universe and what they can teach us about the expansion of the universe and dark energy. Finally, I will describe how Tianlai is also used to search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Gage Siebert graduated from UW Madison in May of this year with his bachelor’s degree and will be attending Arizona State Universi...

Read More

May Monthly MAS Meeting

Galactic Structures: Where do they come from? Where do they go?

Our observations of galaxies, from nearby to the edges of the observable universe, reveal striking diversity of size, environment, composition, and apparent structure. Ranging from the clumpy irregulars, through the massive round ellipticals, to the coherent disks — probing the mechanisms responsible for these formations in nature requires a wide range of investigative tools from theoretical observations to detailed spectroscopic observations. Barred spirals comprise 50% of the observed population of nearby disk galaxies yet the physical mechanisms that create and sustain these features are not well understood despite persistent study for nearly 200 years...

Read More

April MAS Monthly Meeting

Devoured Worlds: The Search for Planet-Ingesting Stars in Open Clusters

Melinda Soares-Furtado will talk about the observational signatures that are left behind when stars consume their own close-orbiting planetary companions, the ways in which we are searching for these events, and why finding cannibal stars in open clusters is of critical importance to our understanding of stellar and planetary astrophysics.

Dr. Melinda Soares-Furtado is a NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has a BS in Physics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Ph.D. in Astrophysical Science from Princeton University...

Read More

MAS March Monthly Meeting

Bending Under Pressure: What Lies Beyond a Galaxy

Cosmology tells us that roughly only 5% of matter in the universe is made up of normal atoms and matter that we’re familiar with. However, when astronomers try to take account of the matter they can see inside of galaxies, they find something puzzling – some of it is missing! So, where could it possibly be? It turns out there’s a good chance that it’s not inside of galaxies at all, but completely outside of them in a hard-to-observe gaseous state. When there are thousands of galaxies clustered together, this gaseous medium gets hot enough for us to see it at X-ray wavelengths, but in smaller groups of galaxies (typically 10s of galaxies), it is still difficult to observe and account for...

Read More

MAS February Monthly Meeting

How to See Around Corners

The light collected by a camera consists of multiple components: The direct component of light that traveled directly from a surface in the scene to the camera and many multibounce components made up of light that has been reflected more than once within the scene. The direct component carries the information about things in the line of sight of the camera. It is used to form a normal camera image. The multibounce components contain additional information about other objects that the light reflected off on it’s path from a light source to the camera.

Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) Imaging systems reconstruct images of scenes using this indirect light from reflections off a diffuse relay surface, like a wall or the ground...

Read More

MAS January Monthly Meeting

IceCube Computing Systems

Steve Barnet MAS January 2022 Speaker

Science is heavy! Teasing out faint signals from the most remote and extreme places in the universe is challenging scientifically, and technically. It takes tons (literally) of data storage, and a lot of computational capacity to collect and sift through the data looking for interesting signals. Steve Barnet has worked on the computing and data collection systems for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory for over 15 years. In this talk, he will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the computing systems powering one of the most unique instruments ever built.

Steve Barnet earned his B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1994...

Read More

MAS December Monthly Meeting

Telescope Buying Clinic

MAS Telescope Clinic
If it’s December, it’s time for the telescope clinic. Gift-giving season means you may be on the giving or receiving end of a telescope gift soon. Let’s make sure you can avoid the most common mistakes when purchasing a telescope.

We’ve been doing this event for years, usually live. This meeting will be our second consecutive virtual version of the telescope clinic. We’ll do our best to share the critical info with you, and then allow plenty of time for questions and answers.

We hope you can join us!
Read More

MAS November Monthly Meeting

Adventures in Science Outreach: From Comets to Star Gazing and Everything In Between

Kay Kriewald

Whether you are speaking to a third grader or an adult, understanding science can be easy when the ideas are communicated effectively. I will give a brief history of my time as outreach specialist with the UW Space Place and explain why I think outreach is a vital part of the UW’s mission. I will then list the top ten things I have learned over the past 20+ years about presenting science to the general public.

Kay Kriewald has a background in teaching and tutoring elementary and middle school students in science and math. She has been an outreach specialist at Space Place since 1995. She hopes to retire soon but she is still having too much fun.

Due to the continuing high levels of infectio...

Read More