Colloquia Schedule Spring 2012

Colloquia are on Tuesdays (unless otherwise indicated) at 3:30 pm in RLM 15.216B

Jan. 17

"Searching for Clues to the Black Hole-Galaxy Relationship Through Nearby AGN Surveys"


Lisa M. Winter

University of Colorado at Boulder

host: Shardha Jogee

Jan. 24

Tinsley Visiting Scholar (Stars Group)

"Heavy Element Nucleosynthesis in the Brightest Asymptotic Giant Branch Stars"


Amanda Karakas

Mt. Stromlo Observatory, Canberra, Australia

host: Harriet Dinerstein

Jan. 31

"Probing the Cosmic History of Star Formation in Galaxies with the Herschel Space Observatory and CCAT"


Jason Glenn

University of Colorado at Boulder

host: Shardha Jogee

Feb. 7

"New Observational Insights into Cosmic Reionization"


George Becker

University of Cambridge, Kavli Institute for Cosmology, UK

host: Milos Milosavljevic

Feb. 9

"Early Star Forming Galaxies and Reionization"


Daniel Stark

Steward Observatory, Arizona

hosts: Sally Dodson-Robinson & Shardha Jogee

Feb. 14

"Fueling Cosmic Star Formation: The Molecular Gas Mass Density of the Universe"


Dominik Riechers

California Institute of Technology

hosts: Shardha Jogee & Milos Milosavljevic

Feb. 21

"Direct Imaging of Exoplanets: Prospects for Comparative Exoplanetology"

Direct detection, and direct spectroscopy in particular, have great potential for advancing our understanding of extrasolar planets. In combinations with other methods of planet detection, direct imaging and spectroscopy will allow us to eventually: 1) fully map out the architecture of typical planetary systems and 2) study the physical properties of exoplanets (colors, temperatures, etc.) in depth. I will discuss initial results from the ongoing 500 hour NICI Planet-Finding Campaign using the novel Near-IR Coronagraphic Imager (NICI) at the 8-m Gemini South telescope. NICI combines a number of techniques to attenuate starlight and suppress superspeckles for direct detection of exoplanets: 1) Lyot coronagraphic imaging, 2) dual channel imaging for Spectral Differential Imaging (SDI) and 3) operation in a fixed Cassegrain rotator mode for Angular Differential Imaging (ADI). The combination of these techniques allows unprecedented contrasts of dmag > 14 (median value) at 1" in H band, sufficient to image giant planets (< 5 MJup) around stars in nearby young moving groups and superjupiters (< 10 MJup) around stars in the immediate solar neighborhood. I will also discuss the discovery of a tight substellar companion to the young solar analog PZ Tel (Biller et al. 2010), a member of the Beta Pic moving group observed as part of the Gemini Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager Planet-Finding Campaign. PZ Tel B is one of the few young substellar companions directly imaged at orbital separations similar to those of giant planets in our own solar system.

Advances in direct imaging and spectroscopy of exoplanets are driven by technology development. A number of exciting new telescopes/instruments will come online in both the short term and longer-term future - each new instrument will produce discrete gains in our ability to characterize planets. I will discuss the future science gains with these instruments, especially focusing on the Giant Magellan Telescope which will vastly improve our ability to directly detect and characterize both young planets as well as older planets in the solar neighborhood.


Beth Biller

Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany

host: Anita Cochran

Feb. 23

"Understanding Galaxy Evolution in the Early Universe"


Steven Finkelstein

University of Texas at Austin

host: Shardha Jogee

Feb. 28

"Giant Planets Caught at Formation"


Adam L. Kraus

University of Hawaii, Institute for Astronomy

host: Chris Sneden

Mar. 1

"The Dark Art of Detecting and Characterizing Planets by Direct Imaging"


Thayne Currie

NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center

host: Chris Sneden

Mar. 6

"Molecular spectroscopy of planet-forming regions: A quest to understand the diversity of planets and planetary systems"


Colette Salyk

National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO)

host: Sally Dodson-Robinson

Mar. 13

Spring Break: 12 - 16 March. No Colloquium scheduled.

Mar. 20

No talk scheduled.

Mar 27

"Dark Matter Properties from the Faintest Galaxies"


Louis Strigari

Stanford University / Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology

host: Karl Gebhardt

Apr. 3
RLM 15.216B
3:30 PM

Antoinette de Vaucouleurs Medalist and Lecturer

"The Carnegie Supernova and Hubble Constant Projects"


Wendy Freedman

Director, Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science

host: Dan Jaffe

Apr. 4
ETC 2.136
4:30 PM

Antoinette de Vaucouleurs Medalist and Lecturer (visiting: 4/2-4/8)

Public Talk: "A Journey of Discovery: Our Expanding Universe"


Wendy Freedman

Director, Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science

host: Dan Jaffe

Apr. 10

"The ABCs of Low-Mass Stars"


Andrew West

Boston University

host: TBD

Apr. 17

"The History of Massive Galaxy Formation as a Cosmological Tool"


Christopher J. Conselice

University of Nottingham, UK

host: Shardha Jogee

Apr. 24

"Black Holes and Neutron Stars in the Local Universe"


Krzysztof Belczynski

University of Warsaw and University of Texas, Brownsville

host: Milos Milosavljevic

Apr. 25

Tinsley Visiting Professor (visiting: 4/23-5/17)

"The First Billion Years of our Universe"


Andrea Ferrara

Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy

host: Volker Bromm

May 1

Texas Cosmology Center Distinguished Visitor

"Constraining Cosmology through the Growth of Structure: New Results from the South Pole Telescope"


John Carlstrom

University of Chicago

host: Eiichiro Komatsu

June 18
10 AM

PhD Defense Presentation

"Dark Matter Halos and Stellar Kinematics of Elliptical Galaxies"


Jeremy Murphy

University of Texas at Austin

July 24
1 PM

PhD Defense Presentation

"An Experiment in Integrated, Guided-Inquiry Science Classes and Implications for Teaching Astronomy"


Randi Ludwig

University of Texas at Austin

Aug 21
2 PM

PhD Defense Presentation

"Tests of the Episodic Mass Accretion Model for Low-Mass Star Formation"


Hyo Jeong Kim

University of Texas at Austin

Visitors to the Department of Astronomy can find detailed information and maps on our Visiting Austin Page.

Please report omissions/corrections to: G. Orris at


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