Monday, November 25, 2013

@AstroCanada for the week of November 25 - Rob Thacker

Dr. Rob Thacker is a Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in the department of Astronomy and Physics at Saint Mary's University. Before coming to SMU, he was an adjunct professor at Queen's University where he also held a CITA National Fellowship. During his time at Queen's he worked with Professors Larry Widrow and Stephane Courteau. Before Queen's, Rob was a post-doc at McMaster University (with Hugh Couchman), and at UC Berkeley where he worked with Marc Davis. Rob also has links with the Virgo, Hydra and Seattle Consortia. His work is focused primarily on using simulations to aid our understanding of the structure formation process. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

@AstroCanada for the Week of Nov. 18 - Jonathon Sick

Jonathan Sick is a PhD student in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics andAstronomy at at Queen's University. He is surveying the Andromeda Galaxy, a neighbour to our Milky Way, with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. The goal of his thesis is to chart the stellar populations and structure of Andromeda and calibrate our interpretation of the near-infrared light of galaxies. Along the way, he enjoys the challenge of writing software to process the massive data sets made by today's telescopes.

Monday, November 04, 2013

@AstroCanada for the week of November 4 - Jason Rowe
Dr. Jason Rowe is currently a Research Scientist at the SETI Institute and a member of the Kepler science office. His scientific interests include exoplanet and stellar characterization to help understand the nature of distant worlds.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

@AstroCanada for the week of October 28 - Roberto Abraham

Dr. Roberto Abraham is a Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the University of Toronto. 

He specializes in observational cosmology, mainly focused on galaxy evolution. However, he also enjoys learning about other areas of astrophysics, so at any given time he is probably working on a bunch of other things too. For example, at the moment he is  working with his PhD students to build an instrument to find the first galaxies, and is trying to develop a technique to find protostellar disks in galaxies halfway back to the Big Bang, and is also  exploring the best observational strategies to exploit adaptive optics.

Monday, October 21, 2013

@AstroCanada for the week of October 21 - Michele Bannister

Dr. Michele Bannister is a postdoctoral researcher at the National Research Council Canada in Victoria, BC. The small icy worlds beyond Neptune provide insights into the early history of the Solar System. Michele is interested in understanding how they formed, evolved and reached their present orbits, and in the landforms of their surface ices.

Michele also finds time to write poetry!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

@AstroCanada for the week of October 14 - Pauline Barmby

This week @AstroCanada features Dr. Pauline Barmby. Pauline is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Western Ontario. Her research interests are in observational extragalactic astronomy, specifically studies of galaxies and star clusters.

In her spare time Pauline enjoys reading science fiction, listening to podcasts, curling and knitting (she says the last is fun to do during long meetings)

Monday, October 07, 2013

@AstroCanada for the week of October 7 - Sarah Gallagher

This week @AstroCanada features Dr. Sarah Gallagher. Sarah is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Western Ontario. Her research focuses on investigating the nature of winds from luminous quasars using observatories from the infrared to the X-ray including NASA's Spitzer and Chandra telescopes in space.

Monday, September 30, 2013

@AstroCanada for the Week of Sept 30 - Alex Parker

This week @AstroCanada features Dr. Alex Parker. Alex is an astronomer and planetary scientist at the University of California Berkeley.
His research interests revolve around the formation and evolution of planetary systems: Asteroid and Kuiper-Belt Object dynamics and surface processes, detection and characterization of extrasolar planetary systems and protoplanetary disks, and planetary geology. Alex also does some very cool visualization work.

You can follow Alex at his personal blog -

Sunday, September 22, 2013

@AstroCanada for the Week of Sept 23 - Jason Kalirai

This week @AstroCanada features Dr. Jason Kalirai. Jason is an astronomer at STScI, and studies the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies in the local universe. His current research interests involve imaging and spectroscopic observations of resolved stellar populations, such as nearby star clusters and dwarf galaxies.

Jason is also the  Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA's next flagship astrophysics mission. To read more about JWST, please visit the STScI JWST page (for astronomers) and the Webb telescope site (for the public).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

@AstroCanada Tweeter this Week - Dennis Crabtree

@AstroCanada - Week of September 16

The first person to take over the new @AstroCanada account is Dennis Crabtree, an astronomer with the National Research Council's Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics programs. Dennis is located at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, BC. He manages the time allocation process for Canada's three main offshore telescopes - CFHT, Gemini and JCMT. Dennis also maintains a database of papers published by the major telescopes and tracks these telescope's productivity (# of papers published) and their scientific impact (# of citations).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Canadian Astronomers Discover Earth's First Companion Asteroid

We're all familiar with Earth's large companion, better known as the Moon. Well it turns out that our planet has another, albeit much smaller, companion that has just been discovered by Canadian astronomers.

The companion is an asteroid, named 2010 TK7, and is about 300 metres across. Among the many thousands of asteroids known, most are simply orbiting the sun in a band between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. However, there is a special class named Trojan asteroids because they orbit around one of the two Lagrangian points which lie 60° ahead of and behind the larger body. in its orbit. Jupiter has a large number of Trojan asteroids, possible as many as exist in the main asteroid belt.

So while Trojans have been associated with Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and even Mars, none had been known to be associated with the Earth.  Astronomers had predicted Earth should have Trojans, but they have been difficult to find because they are relatively small and appear near the Sun from Earth's point of view.

2010 TK7 was initialized discovered by the WISE orbiting infrared telescope which afforded astronomers a different perspective that they usually get from Earth-bound telescopes. Once this object was identified as an interesting candidate, followup observations with Canada-France-Hawaii telescope on Mauna Kea confirmed that 2010 TK7 was indeed the first Earth Trojan.

There are likely to be many more Earth Trojans and now that the first one has been identified the race will be on to discover more.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Canadian Universities Join New Telescope Consortium

Canada is a world leader in astrophysical research and much of this leadership depends on access to forefront, world-class telescopes. Astronomer's push to understand the Universe depends on building ever more powerful, and specialized, telescopes. This push has seen telescopes grow from Galileo's 2.5 cm (0.025 m) specimen to the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

One other significant change from Galileo's day is that astronomer's now use telescopes that span most of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum from gamma rays to long wavelength radio waves. Each part of  the EM spectrum offers a different perspective on the Universe and the ability to investigate different processes.

The new proposed telescope that seven Canadian universities have joined is the Cerro Chajnantor Atacama Telescope (CCAT) which will be located high in the Atacama desert in northern Chile. CCAT will be the world's largest telescope viewing the Universe in sub-millimeter radio waves. This type of telescope is extremely useful for studying galaxies in the very young Universe. This was a very active time for galaxy and star formation.

The telescope was located in Chile for two very important reasons. The first is that the site is ideal for this type of telescope, It is "high and dry" which means that the observations will not be hampered by the atmosphere. The second reason is that the soon to be completed ALMA telescope will be located very near by and these two telescopes will complement each other extremely well. ALMA works in the same part of the EM spectrum and will be able to study the galaxies discovered by CCAT in exquisite detail.

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