MARCH 10 - 14, 2014
MONDAY, MARCH 10
Noon: Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences Division Seminar. "High-Resolution Spectroscopy of Exoplanet Atmospheres is Cool!" Dr. Florian Rodler, CfA. Pratt Conference Room.
Abstract: High-resolution spectroscopy is a powerful tool to investigate the atmospheres of transiting exoplanets as well as of non-transiting ones. I will briefly review the basics underlying that technique and present the most important results up to now. In the light of the three upcoming Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs), i.e. the GMT, TMT and E-ELT, I will further present feasibility studies dedicated on the detection of oxygen in the atmospheres of Earth-like planets orbiting M-dwarfs.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12
12:30 pm: High Energy Astrophysics Division Lunch Talk. "Future X-ray Missions in Astronomy," Dr. Randall Smith, CfA. Pratt Conference Room.
1:00 pm: ITC Pizza Lunch Talk on Time Domain Astronomy. "The New Class of Very Fast Evolving SNe," Maria Drout, CfA, and K. Shen, University of California, Berkeley. Phillips Auditorium.
THURSDAY, MARCH 13
4:00 pm: Colloquium. "Astronomy with LIGO," Prof. Vicky Kalogera, Northwestern University. Preceded by tea at 3:30 pm. Phillips Auditorium.
Abstract: The Advanced LIGO detectors are scheduled to come online in just one year and are expected to reach their design sensitivity by 2018. They promise to finally open up the window of gravitational-wave astronomy. A number of scientific analyses with Initial LIGO led to interesting upper limits and have given us a taste of how multi-messenger astronomy will develop in the next few years. The forefront of LIGO data analysis has shifted from signal searches and detection to signal interpretation and astronomical measurements. I will discuss recent advances in how to best extract astrophysical information from inspiral signals of compact object binaries and highlight some of the challenges along the way. In particular, I will focus on how accurately we can localize sources, connect them to short gamma-ray bursts and other electromagnetic transients, and measure black hole masses and spins.
FRIDAY, MARCH 14
12:30 pm: Radio and Geoastronomy Division Lunch Talk. "Schmidt's Conjecture, Density Thresholds, and Star Formation in GMCs and Disk Galaxies," Dr. Charlie Lada, CfA. Room M-340, 160 Concord Avenue.
Abstract: Ever since the pioneering work of Martin Schmidt a half-century ago there has been great interest in finding an appropriate empirical relation that would directly link some property of interstellar gas with the physical process of star formation within it. Schmidt conjectured that this might take the form of a relation between the rate of star formation and the surface density of the interstellar gas. In this talk I will describe how recent observations of nearby GMCs are now providing new insights into the nature of this relationship. I will discuss evidence that indicates that a Schmidt scaling relation exists within molecular clouds, but by itself, does not provide an adequate description of star formation within these objects. I will argue that the structure of a cloud plays a fundamental role in setting the level of its star formation activity. I will also demonstrate that there is no global Schmidt law that characterizes star formation between clouds. I will further argue that the Kennicutt-Schmidt relation for disk galaxies is likely an artifact of unresolved measurements of GMCs and not a result of any underlying physical law of star formation. Finally, I will present evidence that demonstrates both the presence of density thresholds for star formation and a direct (linear) scaling between the total SFR and the amount of dense molecular gas within star formation regions. This scaling law may be the underlying physical relationship that most directly connects star formation activity with interstellar gas both between clouds in the Milky Way and within and between external galaxies.