2019 Archive

January 14th
“Round the Table” Discussion : List of suggested topics:-

Missions – New Horizons Ultima Thule flyby : Chang’e 4 moon landing on the far side : Juno Mission
Solar System – Saturn’s rings are raining down : The sun remarkable stability : The second sun sibling discovered : How far out is “Farout”? 120/130 AU, or 11 billion miles apparently.
Life – Building blocks of life forming spontaneously
Cosmology – Mapping Dark Matter with rogue stars : Is our universe the mirror image of an antimatter universe extending backwards in time before the Big Bang?

January 28th
Keith Mosely, FRAS, Monmouth ARS, gave a talk about the BepiColombo joint European/Japanese mission to investigate the planet Mercury.
BepiColombo is a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to the planet Mercury. The mission comprises two satellites launched together: the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and Mio (Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, MMO). The mission will perform a comprehensive study of Mercury, including characterization of its magnetic field, magnetosphere, and both interior and surface structure. It was launched on an Ariane 5 rocket on 20 October 2018 at 01:45 UTC, with an arrival at Mercury planned for December 2025, after a flyby of Earth, two flybys of Venus, and six flybys of Mercury. Wikipedia

February 11th
“Round the Table” Discussion : Suggested Topics:-

1 Formation of the Solar System – planetary migration
2 Did a collision trigger life on earth
3 Mining the Moon
4 Black Hole spinning as fast as it theoretically can.
5 Dark Matter: The milky way halo & another low DM galaxy discovered.
6 The Hubble Constant confusion: using quasars to estimate it’s value.

February 25th
Jenifer Millard, Astrophysics PhD student, Cardiff University :
A brief journey through historical studies of galaxies, building up to our current understanding of the major galaxy types that exist today, examining the differences between these and looking at them using different wavelengths of light. We’ll also see how dust is to astronomers how bones are to a palaeontologist… Finally, I’ll finish with a brief look at my current research work in this field.

March 11th
Professor Jane Greaves, Astronomy Group, Cardiff School of Physics and Astronomy :
“Spinning Space Diamonds”. Jane talked about the sparkling trail of diamonds from exploding stars to the birth of the solar system. Her team recently found diamonds orbiting a few very young luminous stars, and she discussed how this chance discovery came about and how it helped to solve a problem of mystery radio waves that has existed for over 20 years.

March 25th : AGM

April 8th
Chris Allton, Professor of Theoretical Physics, Department of Physics, Swansea University :
All the matter we know about in the universe is comprised of just 19 particles. Quarks are the most massive and they combine together to form neutrons and protons to make atomic nuclei. Quarks are bound together by the Strong Force – and this Force is incredibly strong, each quark is held to its neighbour by a force equivalent to the weight of three elephants! At high temperatures and pressures, around a trillion degrees, quarks can become free. The talk explores how this new phase of matter and neutron stars are related.

April 22nd : BANK HOLIDAY

May 13th
Dr Andreas Papageorgiou, Research Associate, Astronomy Instrumentation Group, Cardiff School of Physics & Astronomy.
Since 2008, Dr Papageorgiou has been full-time involved with all phases of space telescope missions. He will be talking about the work he was involved in with the Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) which was on the Herschel infra red space telescope, which operated from 2009 to 2013.


June 10th
“Round the Table” Discussion : List of suggested topics

Water in the Solar system – Water on Earth, the moon and Pluto.
Mars – History, minerals, soil and potential for oxygen production.
Exo planets – more discoveries and a “Forbidden Planet”
Supernova – including human evolution, lots of new supernova and white dwarf fusion
TESS mission – Latest news from the NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite launched in 2018

June 24th
Professor Matt Griffin, Astronomy Instrumentation Group, Cardiff Uni. will be coming to talk to us on the subject of “Characterising Extra-solar Planets”. Brief summary:-

“Around 4,000 extra-solar planets have now been detected, and studying them is one of the most important areas of astronomical research today.
Using the technique of transit spectroscopy, it is now starting to be possible to study exoplanets and determine the chemical composition and physical constitutions in their atmosphere.
This will be an important objective for both NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, due for launch in 2022, and ESA’s ARIEL satellite, a purpose-built exoplanet observatory, to be launched in 2028.
I’ll describe the technique and what we can learn from it, and how one day we may be able to detect the presence of life on Earth-like planets.”

July – August : Summer Break, NO MEETINGS

September 9th
“Around the Table” Discussion : Some notes on these suggested topics can be found on the downloads page HERE

1 : Expansion of the Universe : 100 years (or so) of theory and observation.
We have gone from an expanding universe, Hubble 1929, to an accelerating universe in 1998.
What new insights or conclusions have the last 20 years brought? Some questions that could be asked:-
What is the Standard Model, what is the Hubble constant that is being measured, what are the standard candles used for estimating distances, what is the discrepancy that threatens the standard model that the cosmologists are concerned about? Where do we go next?
2 : Dark Matter:
Did DM exist before the “Big Bang” and why is it suggested that the Milky Way disk is warped and twisted.
3 : Missions:-
The Parker Solar probe : New Horizons : James Webb Telescope : Square kilometre Array : Atomic clocks in space : Europa Clipper Mission.
4 : Evolution of Stars & Galaxies
One of the earliest stars, known as population III, found 35,000 light years away.
Using a new technique 39 ancient galaxies have been identified. The discovery doesn’t fit well with current models of the universe, much is hoped to be learnt from further research.
5 : Black Holes
A massive stellar Black Hole found that confounds current theories.

September 23rd
Dr Duncan MacLeod, Gravitational Physics Group, Cardiff University : talking on the subject of LIGO and Gravitational Waves. He has suggested he could give a demonstration of how to download LIGO data and process it on our own computer.
Dr MacLeod is a Sêr Cymru COFUND Fellow in the Gravitational Physics group of the School of Physics and Astronomy. His research targets development of improved user-facing software utilities for accessing, processing, and visualising data from the second-generation of ground-based gravitational-wave detectors, primarily the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO).

October 14th
Back to Basics series: David Thomas FRAS, Usk AS, will give a talk on “The search for the star of Bethlehem”. This well researched talk will include descriptions of many of the phenomena that are potential candidates for what the Magi are reported to have seen and will highlight the many problems and issues that astronomers face when trying to interpret observations reported in ancient times.

October 28th
“ Decoding black holes via holography” – Professor Prem Kumar
Black holes are amongst the most fascinating objects in the universe. Ranging from a few solar masses to a million solar masses, they hold the key to our understanding of the nature of spacetime and how quantum mechanics can be reconciled with
gravity. Prof. Kumar will review some remarkable theoretical developments that have revealed deep connections
between black hole physics and seemingly unrelated physical phenomena. The emergence of gravitational
wave astronomy in recent years means that some of these remarkable aspects of black holes may
be tested and revealed in the immediate future.

Prem Kumar is a Professor of Theoretical Physics with the Particle Physics and Cosmology Theory Group, Swansea University, and has been at Swansea since 2005. His specialization is in the areas of Quantum Field Theory and String Theory, and he is interested in exploring physics that lies at the interface of these two subjects, bridging strongly quantum and gravitational phenomena.

After schooling in Calcutta, India and subsequently a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in ‘93, he pursued postgraduate studies in Theoretical Physics at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh USA and obtained a PhD in 1998. Following this Prof. Kumar held postdoctoral research positions at the University of Washington, Seattle and at Cambridge University before joining Swansea University in 2005.

November 11th
Dr Annabel Cartwright, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Physics Education Research Group, Cardiff University
Current models indicate that Venus may have been the first habitable planet in the Solar System, and may have remained habitable until 700 Million years ago. I examine the hypothesis that complex life may have evolved on the highly irradiated Venus, and transferred to Earth on asteroids. This model fits the pattern of pulses of highly developed life appearing, diversifying and going extinct with astonishing rapidity through the Cambrian and Ordovician periods, and also explains the extraordinary genetic variety which appeared over this period.

Nov 25th :
“Around the Table” Discussion :
This meeting will be one of our open discussions. Suggested topics that we may cover, further details HERE.

1) Transits. There are three bodies that provide us with solar transits, Mercury, Venus and the Moon. We also have exo-planet transits to investigate now.
2) The Solar System. Looking at the earliest written record of an aurora and the news that Voyager 2, launched in 1977, has now crossed into interstellar space.
3) Our galaxy, the Milky Way. The discovery of the first confirmed inter stellar comet to enter the solar system.
4) The Cosmos. Including a claim that the agreed shape of the universe is wrong, another suggestion that wormholes exist, heavy elements from neutron stars, a new gravitational wave detector and how big, or small, can a black hole be?
5) Dark Energy. More claims but few conclusions on dark energy.

Dec 9th
Back to basics series – How to start stargazing. A look at first steps into understanding how to choose what to look for and how to find it. This is aimed at beginners who want to dip a toe into the ocean of astronomical observing but are not sure how to start and just get frustrated or bored. This talk focuses on observing the sky rather than how to choose and use optical instruments, that will be covered on another occasion.
Many beginners feel a bit daunted when first starting to try and observe, maybe they have a new pair of binoculars or even a telescope but have no idea how to begin.
We cover how to start observing the stars, how to decide on what to look out for, how to find your way around the sky and how to get the most of what you are looking at.
There is a definite skill in this and one that is easy to learn but by no means obvious to the beginner, understanding a few “tricks of the trade” will certainly help.

December 23rd : Social meeting