WVU astronomer to study the “extreme universe” with international team

West Virginia University astronomer is working to locate the origin of fast radio bursts coming from outside the Milky Way Galaxy. 

Sarah Burke-Spolaor, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has accepted a distinguished fellowship with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Azrieli Global Scholars Program. She will pursue her research as one of 12 members of the 2018 Global Scholars cohort. Three of these individuals will join CIFAR’s Gravity and the Extreme Universe program.   

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A Cosmic Perspective: Searching for Aliens, Finding Ourselves - A public lecture by Dr. Jill Tarter, Monday, September 10th, 7 pm, G21 Ming Hsieh Hall

Are we alone? Humans have been asking this question throughout history. We want to know where we came from, how we fit into the cosmos and where we are going. We want to know whether there is life beyond the Earth and whether any of it is intelligent. 

Since the middle of the 20th century we have had tools that permit us to embark on a scientific exploration to try to answer this old question. We no longer have to ask the priests and philosophers what we should believe about extraterrestrial life; we can explore and discover what’s actually out there. Our tools are getting ever better. We have discovered extremophiles in the most unexpected places on this planet, and we have discovered that there really are far more planets than stars out there. We haven’t yet found life beyond Earth, but there is a vast amount of potentially-habitable real estate to explore. The 21st century will be the century in which we will find some answers to this old question; there are many paths we will investigate.  

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Frontiers of Astrophysics: How Discoveries Can Change Our Lives - Public lecture on Wednesday, April 25th at 7 p.m. in G09 White Hall

Dr. Joan Centrella of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center will be presenting a public lecture on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, at 7 pm in G-09 White Hall on the downtown WVU campus.  

 The title of the talk is Frontiers of Astrophysics:  How Discoveries Can Change Our Lives.  The frontiers of astrophysics are driven forward by the power of ideas and discoveries.  The lecture will focus on three exciting areas: the search for exoplanets and life in the universe; revealing the dark side of the universe with gravitational waves; and probing farther back in time with new telescopes.  In addition to the scientific achievements, Dr. Centrella will also discuss how knowledge from these areas of astrophysics can impact how we think and live.

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"The Giant Telescopes of the Future” - Public talk on Friday, March 2 at 7 p.m. in G09 White Hall.

Sarah Kendrew, an astronomer and instrument scientist at the European Space Agency, will give a talk on “The Giant Telescopes of the Future” on Friday, March 2 at 7 p.m. in G09 White Hall. 

She will discuss the James Webb Space Telescope, which is NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency’s flagship infrared space mission for the next decade. Scheduled for launch in spring 2019, the telescope and spacecraft are now in the final stages of integration and testing. She will present an overview of the mission status and of the capabilities of the telescope’s instrumentation and discuss other giant telescopes planned for future launches.

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WVU professor plays key role in telescope program that will map the history of the Universe

Since the early 1900s scientists have known that the Universe is expanding but recent studies have shown that the rate of expansion is accelerating. The reason for this is currently unknown; however, Kevin Bandura, an assistant professor in the Lane Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering at West Virginia University, has been working on the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME, for the past several years to solve the mystery.

Researchers think that an unknown form of energy, called dark energy, is causing the accelerated expansion but this cannot be confirmed without first understanding the history of the Universe. CHIME is a telescope project that was designed to map that history by studying dark energy and observing hydrogen gas in distant galaxies that were strongly affected by it.

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