VU Physics and Astronomy General Public Lecture

Friday evening, April 17, at 7:30 PM in NSC 234.

Join us afterwards at the VU Observatory (8:30 PM) and then back in NSC 234 at 9:30 PM to observe the use of the remotely-operated SARA telescope.

"Astronomy and Astrophysics from Antarctica"

John P. Wefel (VU '66), Department of Physics and Astronomy, Lousiana State University

Antarctica is the "continent of science." While best known for the early explorers (e.g., Scott) who traveled there to cross the continent and reach the South Pole, modern day explorers are more likely to wear white lab coats and be studying a wide variety of scientific questions, including those in astronomy and astrophysics. Antarctic facilities include telescopes, neutron monitors, in-ice detectors for high-energy neutrinos, and balloon launch infrastructure for high altitude investigations. The last, in particular, offer some of the best means to study cosmic rays, cosmic microwave background radiation, and cosmic infrared radiation. Highlights from several of these investigations will be discussed along with the living and working conditions on the frozen continent. Our experiment, the Advanced Thin Ionization Calorimeter (ATIC), was designed provide new data in the very high-energy regime to search for signatures of the sources of cosmic rays. ATIC has had three successful flights from Antarctica, and the ATIC experience will be used as the backdrop for the presentation.

Click here for a pdf of the poster advertising this talk.