Friday, April 12, 2013

April 5: Eyes in the Sky

On a beautifully clear (almost) spring night, PhD student Ximena Fernandez gave a talk entitled "Eyes in the Sky" to a packed room of over 200 people. Ximena's talk focused on how the combination of space telescopes that operate at a variety of wavelengths have been invaluable in revealing the secrets of our Universe. Starting with our galactic center, she showed how only through the use of infrared and X-ray data have we begun to understand the nature of our galaxy's supermassive black hole. Moving to nearby galaxies, GALEX images revealed the largest known spiral galaxy, which has extended spiral arms thanks to an ongoing interaction with another galaxy. At the end, Ximena presented the newly released Hubble Extreme Deep Field, the single longest exposure in all of astronomy. The image contains over 5 billion galaxies, including the oldest known galaxy to date. The talk ended with a video that zoomed through the image to show the distribution of the galaxies in the picture. You can watch the video here!

After seeing so many wonderful images, the good weather gave everyone the opportunity to see amazing objects with their own eyes.  Most popular were the Orion Nebula and Jupiter.  Some chose to remain in the lecture hall where there was a presentation on the Cosmic Microwave Background and the new results just released by the Planck Telescope.  Finally, there was also the possibility of experiencing our 3D wall. Everyone had a great time and we're looking forward to our next event.

--Lauren Corlies (graduate student)

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