Spring 2015 Colloquium Schedule

The Astronomy Department colloquia generally meet Thursdays at 4:00 pm in PAA A102 (the classroom part of the Physics/Astronomy Building complex) during the fall, winter, and spring when UW classes are in session. Talks given on days other than Thursday, or in locations other than PAA A102, are noted in red.

Additional talks will be added throughout the quarter. Please check back often.

Note: You may request quarterly email notification by sending a brief email message to office@astro.washington.edu.

For general disability accommodation requests, contact the Disability Services Office 10 days in advance of the event at: 206-543-6450 (voice), 206-543-6452 (TTY), 206-685-7264 (fax), or via email at dso@uw.edu.

Colloquium schedules at
ABSTRACTS
Thu, Apr 02
4:00 A102
Victoria Meadows
University of Washington/NASA Astrobiology institute
"The Virtual Planetary Laboratory and the Search for Life Beyond the Solar System"

In the coming decades, the search for life outside our Solar System will be undertaken using astronomical observations of extrasolar terrestrial planets. The NASA Astrobiology Institute's Virtual Planetary Laboratory teamuses an interdisciplinary suite of computer models, coupled with input from observations, field data and laboratory work, to explore the factors that affect planetary habitability and to identify key signs of habitability and life to be sought in exoplanet observations. This talk will highlight VPL results to date, including methods to detect oceans on distant worlds, aspects of planetary habitability for stars orbiting M dwarfs, potential signs of life from alternative biospheres, the generation of false positives for life in planetary atmospheres, and future prospects for the characterization of potentially habitable exoplanets.

Thu, Apr 09
4:00 A102
Julie Lutz
University of Washington
"Fifty Years of UW Astronomy: 1965-2015"

In 1965 George Wallerstein and Paul Hodge joined Theodor Jacobson to formthe University of Washington Department of Astronomy. Since that time thedepartment has developed vibrant graduate and undergraduate programs, participated in many collaborations to build facilities and tocarry out multi-wavelength and multi-disciplinary astronomical research programs, gained considerable national and international recognition and developed strong outreach programs. Needless to say, there has been a lot of fun (and a few mishaps) to be had along the way. This presentation will review some highlights of UW Astronomy's past and present.

Thu, Apr 16
4:00 A102
Matthew Walker
CMU
"Let's Figure Out What Dark Matter Is"

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Thu, Apr 23
4:00 A102
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Thu, Apr 30
4:00 A102
Samantha Lawler
University of Victoria
"Fomalhaut b as a Dust Cloud: Frequent Collisions within the Fomalhaut Debris Disk"

Fomalhaut hosts a beautiful debris disk ring and a directly imaged planet candidate, Fomalhaut b, which seems to continually defy expectations. Originally thought to be a Jovian-mass planet constraining the ring, its unexpected spectral properties and highly eccentric, possibly ring-crossing orbit have completely ruled out that possibility. In this talk I will discusssome of the many theories to explain the weird properties of Fomalhaut b, including a large circumplanetary ring, a system of irregular satellites, and a recent small body collision. I will expand on the last theory, discussing my recent collisional probability simulations of the Fomalhaut debris disk, based on the structure of our Kuiper belt, which show the catastrophic disruption rate of d~100 km bodies in the high-eccentricity scattering component is several per decade. This model paints a picture of the Fomalhaut system as having recently (with ~10-100 Myr) experienced a dynamical instability within its planetary system, which scattered a massive number of planetesimals onto large, high eccentricity orbits similar to that of Fom b. If Fomalhaut b is indeed a dust cloud produced by such a collision, we should soon see another appear, while Fomalhaut b will expand until it is either resolved or becomes too faint to be seen.

Thu, May 07
4:00 A102
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Thu, May 14
4:00 A102
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Thu, May 28
4:00 A102
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Thu, Jun 04
4:00 A102
Allen Shafter
SDSU
"TBA"

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