Workshops & Events
Physics colloquium: Angela Olinto, "Space Observatories of the Highest Energy Particles: POEMMA & EUSO-SPB"
January 9, 2020 | KPTC 106 | 3:30 PM | Event
What are the mysterious sources of the most energetic particles ever observed? What are the sources of energetic cosmic neutrinos? How do particles interact at extreme energies? Building on the progress achieved by the ground-based Auger Observatory in studying cosmic particles that reach 100 EeV, an international collaboration is working on space and sub-orbital missions to answer these questions. The Extreme Universe Space Observatory (EUSO) on a super pressure balloon (SPB) is designed to detect ultra-high energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) from above. EUSO-SPB1 flew in 2017 with a fluorescence telescope. EUSO-SPB2 is being built to observe both fluorescence and Cherenkov from UHECRs and neutrinos. These sub-orbital missions lead to POEMMA, the Probe Of Extreme Multi-Messenger Astrophysics, a space mission designed to discover the sources of UHECRs and to observe neutrinos above 20 PeV from energetic transient events. POEMMA will open new Multi-Messenger windows onto the most energetic events in the Universe, enabling the study of new astrophysics and particle physics at these otherwise inaccessible energies.

Physics Seminar: Marcos Santander, University of Alabama, "Neutrinos and Gamma Rays as Unique Probes of Extreme Astrophysics"
February 6, 2020 | MCP 201 | 10:30 AM | Event
The combined observation of neutrinos and gamma rays can provide unique insights into the violent processes that take place within distant astrophysical sources. The discovery of high- energy astrophysical neutrinos in the TeV-PeV energy range by IceCube has triggered a broad observational effort aimed at identifying the sources of these energetic cosmic particles. Gamma rays in particular provide a powerful tool in this search as both particles are produced in high-energy hadronic interactions. The detection and study of neutrino sources would not only signify the start of a new kind of astronomy, but could also solve long-standing questions in astrophysics such as the origin of cosmic rays. This talk will summarize recent highlights from the study of astrophysical neutrinos, present a road map towards fully enabling multi-messenger astrophysics with neutrinos and gamma rays in the coming decade, and introduce the instruments that will make this a reality: the IceCube-Gen2 neutrino telescope and the Cherenkov Telescope Array gamma-ray observatory.

Physics colloquium: Meg Urry, Yale University, "Equity and Inclusion in Physics and Beyond"
February 6, 2020 | KPTC 106 | 3:30 PM | Event
Many decades after anti-discrimination laws were passed here and abroad, practitioners of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics still look very different than the general population. Women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, military veterans, and other "outsider" groups lag far behind, with large differences by sub-field and by country indicating the role of culture and expectation. Demographic data and social science research confirm that ability is not the issue; rather, the driver is lower expectations and evaluations of outsiders as leaders, thinkers, do-ers. Sexual harassment is also a serious problem. After a review of the above, I offer some ideas about how to mitigate obstacles to equal participation, full utilization of available talent being critical to the health of STEM professions.

Joaquin Vieira, UIUC, "The Universe Seen In The Far-Infrared"
February 10, 2020 | MCP 201 | 3:30 PM | Event
I will present an overview of observations, technologies, and facilities observing the evolution of the Universe in the (far-)infrared, from 2 to 2000 microns (um) in wavelength. I will begin with current efforts to study the cosmic microwave background (CMB, 1000-4000um), the relic radiation left over from the Big Bang. I will present an overview of the rich scientific questions currently being pursued by CMB experiments, which ties together the most disparate scales possible in science: quantum mechanics and cosmology; the beginning of the universe to the present day. I will transition to studies of high-redshift galaxy evolution with the Atacama Large millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA 450-3000um) and the future with the James Webb Space Telescope (2-30um). Understanding the formation and evolution of galaxies is one of the foremost goals of astrophysics and cosmology today and these two facilities are, and will be, providing exciting new insights into these key questions. The far-infrared (50-500um) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum provides a unique window into the evolution of the Universe and, while difficult, far-infrared spectroscopy is crucial for studies of the interstellar medium, galaxy evolution, and the high-redshift Universe. I will also discuss new instruments on the ground and in space which will significantly expand our discovery reach with the (far-)infrared into the coming decades.

Winter 2020 Postdocs Symposium
March 6, 2020 | ERC 401 | 3:00 PM | Event
2:30 - 3:00PM   Coffee/cookies

3:00 - 3:30   Reed Essick
"Gravitational Laboratories for Nuclear Physics"
Gravitational waves provide a completely new way to study the universe. From the initial direct detection of coalescing black holes in 2015, to the ground-breaking multimessenger observations of coalescing neutron stars in 2017, and continuing with the now routine detection of merging stellar remnants, gravitational wave astronomy has quickly matured into a key aspect of modern physics. I will briefly review my role in these detections before discussing novel tests of fundamental physics they enabled. In particular, I will focus on our current understanding of matter effects during the inspiral of compact binaries and matter at supranuclear densities, including possible phase transitions, through tests of neutron star structure. Detailed knowledge of dynamical interactions between coalescing stars, observations of extreme relativistic astrophysical systems, terrestrial experiments, and nuclear theory provide complementary views of fundamental physics. I will show how combining aspects from all these will improve our understanding of dense matter and the most extreme environments in the universe.

3:30 - 4:00   Cosmin Deaconu
"In-Ice Radio Neutrino Detectors, Past and Future"

4:00 - 4:30   Alex Alarcon Gonzalez
"Redshift inference from the combination of galaxy colors and clustering in a hierarchical Bayesian model"
Photometric galaxy surveys constitute a powerful cosmological probe but rely on the accurate characterization of their redshift distributions using only broadband imaging, and can be very sensitive to incomplete or biased priors used for redshift calibration. Several techniques for estimating the redshift distributions of imaging surveys have been developed in the last decades, which can be broadly separated in three categories: 1) direct calibration through spectroscopic redshifts, 2) mapping the relation between photometry and redshift with a mix of theoretical models of galaxy spectra and empirical knowledge from direct spectroscopy, and 3) comparing the sky positions of galaxies to the positions of a tracer population with secure redshifts. Here we present a hierarchical Bayesian model which combines these three main sources of information so it can be applied to real data. We test the method in N-body simulations and find the incorporation of clustering information on top of photometry to tighten the redshift posteriors and overcome biases in the prior that mimic those happening in spectroscopic samples. This robustness to flaws in the redshift prior or training samples would constitute a milestone for the control of redshift systematic uncertainties in future weak lensing analyses.

4:30 - 5:00   Dan Baxter
"New Channels in the Search for Dark Matter"

5:00 - 6:00   Wine and Cheese Reception

A&A Open House for Prospective Students
March 6 - 7, 2020 | ERC 5th Floor | 8:30 AM | Event
March 6
8:30 - 9:00 am Continental Breakfast ERC 545
9:00 - 10:30 am Welcome and Presentation (John C. and Faculty) ERC 545
10:30 - 12:00 am Meetings
12:00 - 1:30 pm Student Panel Discussion (Lunch)/ Campus Tour (weather permitting)(Phil M.) ERC 545
1:30 - 3:00 pm Meetings
3:00 - 3:30 pm Outreach talk (Erik S.)
3:30 - 4:00 pm Graduate Program (Julia B., Brent B., Laticia R.) ERC 545
4:00 - 4:30 pm Diversity and Inclusion (Irina Z.) ERC 545
4:45 - 6:30 pm Wine and Cheese Reception ERC 5th Floor Lounge (501)
7:00 pm Student Only Dinner (Social hour/s)
March 7
10:00 am Gather in Hotel Lobby
10:30 - 12:00 pm Adler Planetarium | 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
12:30 pm Signature Room | 875 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago

Jeffrey Silverman, "From Astrophysics to Data Science"
March 27, 2020 cancelled | ERC 401 | 5:00 PM | Event
Click on the image to enlarge

Host: Andrew Neil

We are truly in the era of Big Data. The number of data science and analytics job openings has grown rapidly over the past several years and demand looks to continue to be very strong in the years to come. Masters and PhD scientists (from all quantitative fields) are extremely well-qualified for such positions. I will discuss the basics of what data science is and what data scientists do, as well as how scientists in academia can become successful candidates for these positions in the tech industry. I'll also share my personal path from NSF astronomy postdoc to gainfully-employed data scientist.

Carlos Frenk, University of Durham, "How our universe was made: all from nothing"
May 14, 2020 | SAIC MacLean Ballroom | 112 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago | 6:00 PM | Event
Carlos S. Frenk, 2020 Brinson Lecturer
Professor Carlos S. Frenk is Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology, Durham University's world-renowned theoretical cosmology research group. Along with collaborators from all over the world, he builds model universes in state-of-the-art supercomputers, trying to understand how the structures in our Universe evolved from simple beginnings to the complex structures composed of stars and galaxies that we see today.

2020 Brinson Lecture: "How our universe was made: all from nothing"
Cosmology addresses some of the most fundamental questions in science. How and when did our universe begin? What is it made of? How did galaxies and other structures form? There has been enormous progress in the past few decades towards answering these questions. For example, recent observations have established that our universe contains an unexpected mix of components: ordinary atoms, exotic dark matter and a new form of energy called dark energy. Gigantic surveys of galaxies reveal how the universe is structured. Large supercomputer simulations can recreate the evolution of the universe in astonishing detail and provide the means to relate processes occurring near the beginning with observations of the universe today. A coherent picture of cosmic evolution, going back to a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang, is beginning to emerge. However, fundamental issues, like the identity of the dark matter and the nature of the dark energy, remain unresolved.Large supercomputer simulations can recreate the evolution of the universe in astonishing detail and provide the means to relate processes occurring near the beginning with observations of the universe today. A coherent picture of cosmic evolution, going back to a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang, is beginning to emerge. However, fundamental issues, like the identity of the dark matter and the nature of the dark energy, remain unresolved.