2017 Talk Archive

November – Night Skies Over Turtle Island: Indigenous perspectives on the cosmos

November 2nd, 2017 – 8:00PM
Panel Members: Mr. Frank Dempsey (RASC), Prof. Hilding Neilson (University of Toronto) and Prof. Karyn Recollet (Women and Gender Studies Institute)
Location: 
Macleod Auditorium (1 King’s College Circle)

The night sky is shared by everyone on Earth and every culture has its own experience with the stars and sky. The night sky is shared by everyone on Earth and every culture has its own experience with the stars and sky. In this special AstroTour event, you’ll explore the night sky from the perspective of the Indigenous people of North America. In this special AstroTour event, you’ll explore the night sky from the perspective of the Indigenous people of North America. Hear a panel moderated by the Dunlap Institute’s Prof. Renée Hložek and featuring Prof. Hilding Neilson, Mr. Frank Dempsey and Prof. Karyn Recollet, speak about how Indigenous peoples of North America view the night sky and use that knowledge in their cultures. Learn how that knowledge is enhancing our understanding of astrophysics and Science in general. Learn about the many ideas shared by Indigenous and western astronomy. And, discover the constellations and sky knowledge of Indigenous peoples. Hear a panel moderated by the Dunlap Institute’s Prof. Renée Hložek and featuring Prof. Hilding Neilson, Mr. Frank Dempsey and Prof. Karyn Recollet, speak about how Indigenous peoples of North America view the night sky and use that knowledge in their cultures. Learn how that knowledge is enhancing our understanding of astrophysics and Science in general. Learn about the many ideas shared by Indigenous and western astronomy. And, discover the constellations and sky knowledge of Indigenous peoples.

October – The Long Path Towards Finding Habitable Exo-Worlds

October 5th, 2017 – 8:10PM
Speaker: Ryan Cloutier
Location: 
MP 103 (60 St. George Street)

Although we are still decades away from discovering life on worlds outside of our own solar system, much progress is being made today to identify the best potential candidates for hosting such life. In this talk I will discuss what we currently know about these so-called exoplanets and how we know it. I will then highlight the steps that will be taken in the not-so-distant future to further our understanding of exoplanetary atmospheres and potentially even their surface conditions using extreme telescopes. All of this in hopes that one day these efforts will culminate with the probable detection of Earth-like life elsewhere in the galaxy.

AstroTours Keynote Lecture – New Ways To Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence

July 22nd, 2017 – 7:10PM
Speaker: Prof. Shelley Wright
Location: 
ES 1050 (5 Bancroft Ave)

How common is life in the universe? Is there other intelligent life? For over 50 years, astronomers have been conducting the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). These searches have primarily been focused at radio wavelengths, but in the last decade astronomers are thinking of new ways to search for extraterrestrial communication. I will give an overview of humanity’s quest in finding extraterrestrial intelligence, as well as future methods and programs that are on the horizon.

July – Using Interstellar Plasma Lenses As Billion Kilometre Telescopes

July 6th, 2017 – 9:10PM
Speaker: Robert Main
Location: 
MP 103 (60 St. George Street)

Fifty years ago, two radio telescopes across Canada were combined to achieve the resolution of a telescope 3000 km across, a technique now known as VLBI. Interstellar plasma lenses bend light from sources like pulsars, creating multiple images of the same source on the sky. When we combine these images in the same way as radio telescope on Earth, we can measure the position and motion of their source. Since instead of being telescopes separated by 3000km these images are separated by billions of km, this results in remarkably high precision. In my talk, I will describe the first successful VLBI experiment, and the principles behind how it works. I will then talk about my current research, using VLBI to map the scattered images of pulsars, and using these scattered images to study physical properties of pulsars which were previously unmeasurable.

June – The Life and Times of Supernova 1987A

June 1st, 2017 – 9:10PM
Speaker: Yvette Cendes
Location: 
MP 103 (60 St. George Street)

Thirty years ago, the world was dazzled by the discovery of the fiery explosion of a dying star, called Supernova 1987A. This supernova was the brightest observed since the invention of the telescope 400 years ago, and the explosion and remnant has been actively studied ever since. In this talk, we will discuss the birth of Supernova 1987A, and also the monitoring and evolution of the supernova remnant in the years since. We will also discuss what the supernova has taught us about a variety of topics, from the discovery of ghostly neutrino particles to how stars die.

May – The Big Bang and a Multiverse

May 4th, 2017 – 9:10PM
Speaker: Darsh Kodwani
Location: 
MP 103 (60 St. George Street)

We have evidence that billions of years ago the universe we live in was much smaller in size. This evidence comes in the form of light that has been travelling for about 13 billion years. In this talk Darsh Kodwani will describe how we have come to understand this light and why we believe this would imply that the universe started in a big bang. Even though the evidence for the big bang is very strong we do not believe it can be the full story of the universe. He will discuss the problems that come out of the big bang picture and why some people think the only way to avoid those problems is by having a Multiverse.

AstroTours Earth Hour – In Darkness There Is Light

March 25th, 2017 – 7:10PM
Speaker: Prof. Suresh Sivanandam
Location: 
ES 1050 (5 Bancroft Ave)

We often don’’t realize that we can sense more than visible light. We feel infrared radiation as heat, which is also another form of light that is invisible to our eyes. Over the past few decades, there has been an explosion of technological innovation in the detection of infrared light. This has opened up huge discovery spaces in astronomy. It has enabled us to see the effects of our galaxy’’s central supermassive black hole and take pictures of planets in nearby star systems. Stardust in our galaxy and other more distant galaxies also lights up in the infrared, allowing us to track the evolution of galaxies from very early times. The technology required to detect infrared light is quite unique and presents difficult engineering challenges. I will present an overview of the great new discoveries in infrared astronomy and the associated technological breakthroughs that have ushered in this new and exciting era of astronomy. I will end with the pinnacle of space engineering, the James Webb Space Telescope, which is going to be the largest space telescope ever built. When this telescope is launched next year, it is going to completely revolutionize astronomy as we know it.

March – Nature, Destroyer of Worlds

March 2nd, 2017 – 8:10PM
Speaker: Alysa Obertas
Location: 
MP 103 (60 St. George Street)

Throughout its 4.5 billion year history, life on Earth has been threatened by cataclysmic events such as extreme volcanic eruptions and asteroid impacts which have caused mass extinction of species. While events like these can drastically alter the face of the Earth, the planet still remains. So what would it take to completely obliterate the Earth? Starting from birth, the evolution of solar systems and the environments they exist in can put planets towards catastrophic fates. In this talk, we will explore some of the incredible ways that nature can destroy planets.

February – The Magnificent Death of Stars

February 2nd, 2017 – 8:10PM
Speaker: Epson Heringer
Location: 
MP 103 (60 St. George Street)

Source of many wonders, stars also have finite lifetimes, which can end with a shredding breath before falling into obscurity – as our sun shall one day – or with magnificent explosions (supernovae) that can outshine a whole galaxy for a day. Many mysteries remain yet to be unveiled and we will explore some of them in this talk. There are at least two mechanisms that can lead to a supernova and one of them was paramount to probe the accelerated expansion of the universe in the late 90’s, research that was awarded the Physics Nobel Prize of 2011 and supports the existence of the so called ‘dark energy’. The introduction of this talk will consist of historical observations of supernovae and the evolution of stars until they meet their fate. Subsequently, I will show some images and artistic renditions of exploding stars, ending the talk with a discussion of well-established theories and subjects of active research.