Lecture: 19 Sept “Star & Planetary System Formation in the Age of ALMA..” M. Barsony, SETI

19 September  2018, Wednesday, 7:45 PM, Randall Museum Theater

“Star and Planetary System Formation in the Age of ALMA

   (the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array)”


Mary Barsony, PhD, Research Astronomer,  SETI Institute

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) consists of 66 radio telescopes with (12 7-meter diameter and 54 12-meter diameter antennas) operating as one instrument.  This unique array can image radiation from astronomical sources over the entire 0.3 millimeter to 9.6 millimeter wavelength range at unprecedented sensitivities, capable of producing images at higher resolution than Hubble. The instrument is located at 16,000 ft (5,000 m) elevation, in the driest desert on Earth, the Atacama Desert in Chile, providing maximum transparency through Earth’s atmosphere at these wavelengths. It is a cooperative project between North America (U.S. & Canada), the member states of the European Southern Observatory,  East Asia (Japan and Taiwan), and Chile.

Dr. Barsony will present a brief history of millimeter/submillimeter-wave astronomy and its seminal contributionsto our current understanding of star- and planetary system formation, both in our Galaxy, and in other galaxies.  This will set the stage to put into context the remarkable, ground-breaking results ALMA is revealing — from the detailed structure of planet-forming disks all the way back to the formation of the first stars just 250 million years after the Big Bang.

The presentation slides are available at this link.

Brief Bio

Mary Barsony earned her Ph.D. in Physics from Caltech, with undergraduate degrees in Physics (MIT), English (U.C. Berkeley), and French (Sorbonne).

She was co-discoverer of the first protostar at submillimeter wavelengths 25 yrs. ago when a post-doctoral researcher at U.C. Berkeley, and continued further millimeter/sub-millimeter studies of protostars at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and as a physics faculty member at U.C. Riverside. Currently, as a Principal Investigator at SETI Institute, she is working on infrared searches for young, free-floating planets with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii.




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