BoV Sponsors Successful New Horizons in Astronomy 2011 Symposium
The fourth New Horizons in Astronomy (popularly known as "BashFest") was held October 9-11 in the ACES Building on the University of Texas campus. Made possible through generous support of the Board of Visitors, BashFest brought together postdoctoral researchers and graduate students to discuss their research on a wide range of astronomical topics in talks and posters. The biennial BashFest symposia, which started in 2005, were instituted to honor former McDonald Observatory Director and Department Chair Frank Bash while strengthening the Astronomy Department.
Presenters at the 2011 BashFest Symposium; Organizing Committee Chair Joel Green is at far right
Joel Green, now a Research Associate in the Department of Astronomy, was the chair of the organizing committee, working with Barbara Castanheira, Julie Comerford, Emily Freeland, Andreas Pawlik, Sarah Salviander, Colette Salyk, Pearl Sandick, Navin Sivanandam, and Sarah Tuttle, along with staff members Mary Lindholm, Matthew McDaniel, Shelley Stone, Jim Umbarger, and Debbie Winegarten.
Highlights of the talks include:
Michel Nuevo of the SETI Institute and the NASA Ames Research Center spoke on Laboratory Astrochemistry, where he discussed his research into ices and organic compounds discovered in meteorites and the interstellar medium. He explained how these compounds inform our understanding of the building blocks and formation of life on Earth.
Elizabeth Jeffery, graduate of UT Austin and now at James Madison University in Virginia, discussed The Late Stages of Stellar Evolution or "Hubble’s Diamonds: A Stellar Way to Go Out". Concentrating on white dwarf stars, she gave an overview the discovery of white dwarfs and their usefulness in modern astrophysics including neutrino research and determining the ages and evolution of star clusters.
BoV members Jim Wood and Andrew Heller at a break in BashFest
In her talk, "Big Game Hunting (Or Multi-Object Spectroscopy for the Next Decade)", Sarah Tuttle, a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas at Austin, updated attendees on the status of the next generation of very large telescopes and instruments, including HETDEX and the Giant Magellan Telescope
Annika Peter of UC Irvine spoke on Dark Matter and how everything we currently know of its nature comes from astronomy. Particle-physics experiments have not identified what dark matter is, so she advocated a return to using astronomical observations in the search.
Fritz Benedict of The University of Texas at Austin gave a talk at the conference banquet entitled "A Strange, Long Wandering" and described how to use humor and enthusiasm to tell the world about astronomy.
Other presentations included:
- Simon Albrecht, MIT: Exoplanets
- Mustafa Amin, MIT: Inflation and Its End
- Kristian Finlator, UC Santa Barbara: Reionization
- Eilat Glikman, Yale: The Reddest Quasars:
A Transitional Phase in Quasar/Galaxy Co-Evolution
- Meredith Hughes, UC Berkeley: Protoplanetary Disks and Planet Formation
- Mike Kesden, New York University: Black Hole Mergers
- Patrick Lenz, Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center: Asteroseismology
of Main-Sequence Stars
- Matt Povich, Penn State: Beyond Strömgren Spheres and Wind-Blown
Bubbles: An Observational Perspective on H II Region Feedback
- Kevin Schawinski, Yale: Galaxy Black Hole Co-Evolution?
- Stephanie Tonnesen, Princeton: Galaxy Evolution in Clusters
- John Wise, Princeton: First Light
Additional information and photographs can be found at: