Department in the News

Wendy Freedman Named 2016 Woman in Space Science
May 23, 2016
Professor Wendy Freedman (second from right) with PSD grad students Laura Kreidberg, Megan Bedell, Maya Fishbach, and Nora Shipp
UChicago News
On Thursday, May 12, Chicago's Adler Planetarium presented the 2016 Women in Space Science Award to Wendy L. Freedman, the John & Marion Sullivan Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The annual Women in Space Science Award recognizes women who have made significant contributions to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with the goal of inspiring young women to pursue careers in these disciplines. Following a luncheon and her keynote address, Professor Freedman joined approximately 250 young women from Chicago-area public schools for a series of engaging STEM workshops.

One of Professor Freedman’s many achievements was initiating the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) Project and serving as chair of the board of directors from its inception in 2003 until 2015. The Division of the Physical Sciences joins the Adler in celebrating Wendy’s accomplishments and looking forward to the amazing discoveries that await her and the GMT.

Related:
Department members: Wendy Freedman
Department students: Megan Bedell, Maya Fishbach, Laura Kreidberg, Nora Shipp
Scientific projects: Giant Magellan Telescope

Quartet of exoplanets locked in complex dance
May 11, 2016
UChicago News, by Steve Koppes
The four planets of the Kepler-223 star system seem to have little in common with the planets of Earths own solar system. And yet a new study shows that the Kepler-223 system is trapped in an orbital configuration that Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune may have broken out of in the early history of the solar system.

All four of the puffy, gaseous planets are far more massive than Earth and orbit extremely close to their nearest star-closer than Mercury is to our sun. Their orbits also are locked together in a precise pattern, raising the question of whether the gas giants in our solar system somehow escaped a similar configuration in the distant past.

"Exactly how and where planets form is an outstanding question in planetary science," said the study's lead author, Sean Mills, a graduate student in astronomy & astrophysics at the University of Chicago. "Our work essentially tests a model for planet formation for a type of planet we don't have in our solar system."

Because the orbital configuration is so different than the one in our system, Mills said, there's a big debate about how such planets form, how they got there and why Earth's system turned out as it did.

Related:
Department members: Daniel Fabrycky
Department students: Sean Mills

Astronomers find a system of planets that keep each other in the tightest formation seen
May 11, 2016
University of Chicago researchers Sean Mills, a graduate student, and Dan Fabrycky, an associate professor, demonstrate the orbits of the Kepler-223 system.
Astronomy Magazine, by John Wenz
With each planet in resonance, there's little room to move for the four planets around Kepler-223.

There's something strange going on in the Kepler-223 system. Four sub-Neptune-size worlds migrated close into their star at some point, and they never migrated back out. They hold such a tight resonance that they’ve since been unable to move out of that configuration.

A paper today in Nature details the weird workings of the system. For every three orbits that Kepler-223b makes, Kepler-223c makes four. For every two orbits that Kepler-223c makes, Kepler-223d makes three. And for every one of those three, Kepler-223e makes four. It's so tightly packed that it precludes any large moons, or even nearby planets that might tug any of these planets out of the tight resonance.

Add in that this system is far older than the Sun and you have a weird, weird system.

"This is a unique case in the Kepler data and all of nature, really, that four planets are in resonance with one another," said Dan Fabrycky, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago and a co-author on the paper.

Sean Mills, a graduate student at the University of Chicago and lead author of the paper, ran the numbers on these swiftly moving worlds. Kepler-223b orbits in 7 days and Kepler-223e orbits in 20 days.

Related:
Department members: Daniel Fabrycky
Department students: Sean Mills

Prof. Michael Turner's May 5 lecture at Adler Planetarium to be simulcast nationally
May 5, 2016
Michael Turner, Bruce V. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor, Departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics
UChicago News, by Steve Koppes
Prof. Michael Turner will explore some of the biggest mysteries of modern cosmology in a 7:30 p.m. May 5 lecture at the Adler Planetarium. The cosmologist’s Kavli Fulldome Lecture, titled "From the Big Bang to the Multiverse and Beyond," will be streamed live at 15 other institutions across North America.

Kavli Fulldome Lecture
Is the universe part of a larger multiverse? What is speeding up the expansion of the universe? Turner will address these and other mysteries that inspire modern cosmologists. His talk will stream live simultaneously at 15 other institutions across North America. This dome-cast will allow audiences across North America to immerse themselves in the live presentation and ask questions, and will include institutions like the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the Pacific Science Center in Seattle and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia.

A theoretical astrophysicist, Turner is the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor and director of its Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics. Turner helped to pioneer the interdisciplinary field of particle astrophysics and cosmology. He has made seminal contributions to the current cosmological paradigm known as LambdaCDM, including the prediction of cosmic acceleration. Turner has received numerous prizes and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Current list of institutions participating in the dome-cast:
  • American Museum of Natural History, New York City.
  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver.
  • Pacific Science Center, Seattle.
  • Cradle of Aviation Museum, Garden City, N.Y.
  • Minnesota State University Moorhead, Moorhead, Minn.
  • Gary E. Sampson Planetarium, Wauwatosa, Wis.
  • Casper Planetarium, Casper, Wyo.
  • Bell Museum of Natural History, Minneapolis.
  • Peoria Riverfront Museum, Peoria, Ill.
  • H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, Vancouver, B.C.
  • The Journey Museum and Learning Center, Rapid City, S.D.
  • Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Madison, Wis.
  • Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium, University of Minnesota Duluth.
  • Jackson Middle School Observatory, Champlin, Minn.
  • Planetarium and Visualization Theater, University of Alaska, Anchorage.


Related:
Department members: Michael S. Turner

Joshua Frieman elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
April 26, 2016
UChicago News, by Mary Abowd and Steve Koppes
Joshua Frieman is a professor of astronomy & astrophysics and the College. He is also a member of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at UChicago and a member of the theoretical astrophysics group at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He focuses his research on theoretical and observational cosmology, including studies of the nature of dark energy, the early universe, gravitational lensing, the large-scale structure of the universe and supernovae as cosmological distance indicators.

Frieman is a co-founder and director of the Dark Energy Survey, an international collaboration of more than 300 scientists from 25 institutions on three continents that investigates why the expansion of the universe is accelerating. The collaboration built a 570-megapixel camera for the four-meter Blanco Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile to conduct its observations. Previously Frieman led the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Supernova Survey, which discovered more than 500 type Ia supernovae for cosmological studies.

Frieman is an honorary fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related:
Department members: Joshua A. Frieman
Scientific projects: Dark Energy Survey

Experiment probes nature of space and time
April 19, 2016
UChicago News, by Carla Reiter
"In a way, for me, this thing has already succeeded exactly as we hoped, because it's guiding theory."
- Prof. Craig Hogan
Head of Fermilab’s Center for Particle Astrophysics

Related:
Department members: Craig J. Hogan, Stephan S. Meyer

526th Convocation Address: John Carlstrom - "Our Expanding View Of The Universe"
April 14, 2016
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor, Professor in the Departments Of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Physics, Enrico Fermi Institute, and the College John Carlstrom
University of Chicago
The University Ceremony of the 526th Convocation of the University of Chicago was held on March 18, 2016, in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Provost Eric D. Isaacs introduced Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor, Professor in the Departments Of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Physics, Enrico Fermi Institute, and the College John Carlstrom, who delivered the Convocation Address, "Our Expanding View Of The Universe."

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom

Prof. Wendy Freedman suggests standard model of measuring speed of universe's expansion may be incorrect
April 14, 2016
Nature, by Davide Castelvecchi

Related:
Department members: Wendy Freedman

Michael Turner discusses LIGO & the detection of gravity waves
April 12, 2016
STEM-Talk
Michael Turner is best known for having coined the term "dark energy" in 1998. A theoretical cosmologist at the University of Chicago, Turner has dedicated his career to researching the Big Bang, dark energy and dark matter. He wrote his Ph.D. thesis on gravitational waves - back in 1978 - and nearly four decades later had a bird's eye view of their recent discovery. Turner was assistant director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), which funded the development of LIGO, which stand for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. This large-scale physics experiment and observatory, which was led by researchers at MIT and CalTech, discovered, on September 15th, 2015, the existence of gravitational waves via a chirping noise signaling the collision of two black holes a billion light-years away. The scientists announced their discovery on February 11th, 2016. In this episode, Turner interprets this momentous finding, and talks about some of the big player scientists who worked on LIGO.

Related:
Department members: Michael S. Turner

TCN Panel on Space: Wendy Freedman and Angela Olinto
April 1, 2016
The Chicago Network

If you can't see it, you won't be it. Future women leaders need examples.

In that spirit, The Chicago Network recently gathered an audience of young women and Network members to hear from four of the world’s foremost astrophysicists - all Network members - to demonstrate the tremendous impact women are making in STEM and the possibilities that lie ahead for the next generation. Young scientists left feeling energized by the program moderated by Adler Planetarium President and CEO Michelle Larson, and ready to take on the challenge of studying even the most profound universal mysteries.

According to Michelle, panelists Wendy Freedman, Vicky Kalogera, and Angela Olinto illustrate more than an exploration of the universe in this program, they demonstrate what it is to discover your own individual capacity for leadership:

The panelists in this program take us on a journey through the Universe, and provide inspiration through their life stories. You will hear about measuring the age and size of the Universe, probing current mysteries like dark energy and dark matter, and opening a new observational era with the discovery of gravitational waves. As you take this journey, also listen for the words passion, people, and perseverance - all play an important role in their success. Finally, listen for the number of times you hear these women say "I led" or "I lead." These panelists are amazing leaders, and each of them is certain you could be too. What a great endorsement of your potential - run with it!
- Michelle Larson, President and CEO, Adler Planetarium

Related:
Department members: Wendy Freedman, Angela V. Olinto
Scientific projects: Extreme Universe Space Observatory at the Japanese Module, Giant Magellan Telescope, Pierre Auger Observatory

Young women learn that not even sky is limit in STEM careers
February 24, 2016
Chicago Tribune, by Lori Janjigian
Fighting roadblocks is key for women who want to reach success in STEM fields, panelists said Monday at The Chicago Network's Panel on Space.

"We all run into difficulties, but with guys, something is wrong with the test or with the professor or something else, but women internalize it. They say 'I can't do it,'" said Wendy Freedman, an astronomy professor at the University of Chicago.

Freedman was a principal investigator on the Hubble Space Telescope Key Project and also founding chairman of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization, dedicated to building a massive telescope to see 20 million times what a human eye can.

Freedman was one of three panelists who spoke to an audience of 150 Girls Scouts, other middle- and high school-age girls, and members of The Chicago Network.

"I remember a high school teacher of mine once said, 'This is too technical, the girls don't have to listen,'" Freedman said. "At university, someone told me that girls belong in the kitchen. We all run into difficulties, but don't give up. Perseverance is critical."

Freedman was joined by Northwestern University's Vicky Kalogera and the University of Chicago's Angela Olinto. The three women spoke about overcoming difficulties as well as the science they've been working on.

"To have the opportunity to share this with the younger generation is important. I know peer pressure is intense to move girls away from science and math, and I know there are not a lot of role models," Kalogera said. "It would have been amazing for me, when I was young, to meet a grown-up scientist and to have a discussion with them and hear from them."

Kalogera is an astrophysicist who worked on the recent discovery of gravitational waves in the universe, which confirmed part of Einstein's Theory of Relativity. She is interested in the interaction of compact objects within binary systems, in which two stars orbit each other. She also is the director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics at Northwestern.

Kalogera told students about her work in astrophysics in addition to discussing the difficulties she has faced along the way, from receiving a 60 percent on her first test in college to trying to balance being a mother of two and working on her career today.

Angela Olinto studies ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, which aren't well-understood. To study these rays, Olinto is leading the U.S. collaboration to send a cosmic ray telescope to the International Space Station. The project, however, has faced many roadblocks.

"We have the device; we just need a ride there," Olinto said.

She encouraged the young women in the audience to diversify their lives, because other smaller tasks help get you through the day: "I do a lot more than just build telescopes," Olinto said, who also has a passion for music and is a professor at the University of Chicago.

The panel, moderated by Michelle Larson, CEO of Adler Planetarium, provided examples of what women could do with a STEM education.

"Our girls have big dreams about the future, but are unsure about what is out there for them," said Karissa Dewey, troop leader of the Highland Middle School Girl Scouts of Highland, Ind. "Bringing them into the city and introducing them to women in science and technology, they were absolutely floored."

Related:
Department members: Wendy Freedman, Angela V. Olinto
Scientific projects: Extreme Universe Space Observatory at the Japanese Module, Giant Magellan Telescope

Gravitational Waves Discovery Confirms Einstein's Theory
February 19, 2016
Here & Now

Related:
Department members: Michael S. Turner

Scientists find ripples in fabric of spacetime
February 11, 2016
The University of Chicago News Office, by by Jeremy Manier and Steve Koppes

Related:
Department members: Edward ''Rocky'' W. Kolb
Department students: Hsin-Yu Chen

Chicago Scientists Prepare Ultra-Sensitive Camera for South Pole Telescope
February 4, 2016
Chicago Tonight

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Clarence L. Chang
Scientific projects: South Pole Telescope

Scientists debate likelihood of finding life on other planets by 2042
January 29, 2016
The University of Chicago News Office, by Erin Fuller and Ryan Goodwin

Related:
Department members: Jacob L. Bean, Daniel Fabrycky, Angela V. Olinto, Leslie Rogers
Department students: Laura Kreidberg

South Pole's next generation of discovery
January 27, 2016

Wendy Freedman to receive Heineman Prize for Astrophysics
January 20, 2016
The University of Chicago News Office, by Steve Koppes

Related:
Department members: Wendy Freedman

Angela Olinto: Cosmic Showers
December 8, 2015

Pierre Auger Observatory celebrates 15 years of achievements
December 7, 2015

Controversial experiment sees no evidence that the universe is a hologram
December 4, 2015
Science Magazine

Related:
Department members: Craig J. Hogan

Can We Find an Earth-Like Planet?
November 24, 2015
The Good Stuff

Related:
Department members: Jacob L. Bean
Department students: Laura Kreidberg

UChicago to highlight its history and future in astronomy and astrophysics Nov. 17-18
November 16, 2015

Giant Magellan Telescope: Super-scope project breaks ground
November 12, 2015
BBC News, by Jonathan Amos

Related:
Scientific projects: Giant Magellan Telescope

Giant Magellan Telescope Organization breaks ground in Chile
November 11, 2015

Eckhardt Research Center to begin new phase of ambitious science
October 29, 2015

Wendy Freedman: This new telescope might show us the beginning of the universe
September 8, 2015
TEDGlobal

Related:
Department members: Wendy Freedman
Scientific projects: Giant Magellan Telescope

Catching cosmic rays where they live
August 14, 2015
AAAS, by Emily Conover

Related:
Department members: Angela V. Olinto
Scientific projects: Extreme Universe Space Observatory at the Japanese Module

Faculty members receive named, distinguished service professorships
August 13, 2015

Star witness
July 17, 2015
The University of Chicago Magazine, by Maureen Searcy

Related:
Department members: Wendy Freedman

Jupiter Twin Discovered Around Solar Twin
July 15, 2015
European Southern Observatory

Related:
Department members: Jacob L. Bean
Department students: Megan Bedell

The Fabric of the Universe
July 14, 2015
UChicago Arts

Related:
Department members: Andrey V. Kravtsov
Department students: Benedikt Diemer

Kavli Roundtable Discussion: "Dwarf Galaxies Loom Large in the Quest for Dark Matter"
June 24, 2015
The Kavli Foundation, by Adam Hadhazy

Related:
Department members: Joshua A. Frieman
Scientific projects: Dark Energy Survey

Chicago blues and the science in sound
June 19, 2015
The University of Chicago News Office, by Greg Borzo

Related:
Department members: Bradford A. Benson

John Carlstrom to receive Gruber Cosmology Prize for experimental explorations of universe
June 11, 2015

2015 Gruber Prize in Cosmology: John E. Carlstrom
June 9, 2015
The Gruber Foundation

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom
Scientific projects: South Pole Telescope

World's largest telescope to explore universe's deepest secrets
June 5, 2015
CNN, by Lauren Said-Moorhouse

Related:
Department members: Wendy Freedman
Scientific projects: Giant Magellan Telescope

U. of C. to help build giant telescope, a 'venture into the unknown'
June 4, 2015
Chicago Tribune, by Dawn Rhodes

Related:
Department members: Wendy Freedman, Angela V. Olinto
Scientific projects: Giant Magellan Telescope

Giant Magellan Telescope's international partners approve start of construction phase
June 4, 2015

University Of Chicago Helping Build "Epic" Telescope In Chile
June 3, 2015
CBS Chicago

Related:
Scientific projects: Giant Magellan Telescope

Giant Magellan Telescope’s International Partners Approve Start of Construction Phase
June 3, 2015
CNBC

Related:
Department members: Wendy Freedman
Scientific projects: Giant Magellan Telescope

Giant Magellan Telescope's International Partners Approve Start of Construction Phase
June 3, 2015
GMTO News

Related:
Department members: Wendy Freedman
Scientific projects: Giant Magellan Telescope

Honoring graduate teachers and mentors: Prof. Angela Olinto
June 1, 2015
The University of Chicago News Office

Related:
Department members: Angela V. Olinto
Department students: Ke Fang