2016 Department News

April 1, 2016

McMaster's Dr. Ralph Pudritz, Astronomy Professor and founder of the Origins Institute, was recently honoured with the CASCA Executive Award. The biennual award celebrated his work and achievements as chair of the Long Range Planning Panel, including the development of their highly influential LRP2000 report "The Origins of Structure in the Universe" a visionary long range plan designed to bring a unified vision and focus to the efforts of the Canadian astronomical community. The award also recognizes the Dr. Pudritz's service in the development of the Origins Institute at McMaster, a unique Endeavour with a multidisciplinary focus of biology, mathematics, physics and astrophysics.

Congratulations to Ralph on this well deserved achievement!

You can read the full story on theDaily News.

March 11, 2016

In case you haven't heard, McMaster has launched the "Art of Research Competition" to highlight the amazing research taking place across campus. This is a great opportunity to share the spirit and stories behind some of the great research happening in our department:

"We are looking for extraordinary images that capture the imagination and pique our curiosity. We want images that make us ask about the research behind it: Who took this picture or produced this image? What am I looking at? Where did this come from? When and why was the photo taken, or the image captured.

The competition is open to McMaster University students, staff, faculty, alumni and retirees. Entries must be submitted by March 28. First place prizes of 0 will be awarded in each of 6 categories, with runner up prices of 0, and submissions will be shared on our websites, social media, IQ Magazine, and in a public exhibition."

You are encouraged to submit an entry yourself or maybe give a little extra push to a colleague who may have some interesting images to share with the broader community!

More information can be found here:https://www.research.mcmaster.ca/art-of-research

March 2, 2016

Congratulations to the organzing commitee for their successful bid to bring the 2017 Canadian Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CCUWiP) to McMaster!

This conference, which is allied with similar conferences in the US run the the APS, will bring students from across Canada to McMaster with an aim to support their interest in physics by providing them with an opportunity to meet new colleagues, experience different areas of physics, learn where physics can lead and present practical information on how to follow their interests.

Keep an eye on the newsfeed for updates!

March 1, 2016

Since it's launch in 2009 NASA's Kepler spacecraft has identified more than 1,000 exoplanets, but we may not be the only ones looking for intragalactic neighbors. Recently, McMaster's Ralph Pudritz and his former post-doc René Heller have proposed a new strategy to find alien civilizations which may have already identified Earth as a habitable planet.

Since exoplanets are too far away to observe directly, the Kepler spacecraft identifies exoplanets by looking for a tell-tale dimming of the signal from potential host stars indicating that a planet or moon is transiting the star, passing between the star and our observation point within our solar system. This method has given Earth astronomers a wealth of information about planets outside our own cosmic backyard such as surface temperature and stellar illumination information to identify the potential for a planet to host life. Understanding that strategies similar to our own would likely be used by distant astronomers, Ralph and René have taken a unique new approach by asking: What if extraterrestrial observers detect Earth as it is transiting our sun from their perspective?

In a paper to be published in the journal Astrobiology, Ralph and René suggest that our search for evidence of extraterrestrial civilizations should be focused within Earth's "transit zone" - the slice of the galaxy from which an observers could see Earth passing between their vantage point and our home star. This allows us to narrow our search for extraterrestrial life to the zone where extraterrestrials could "discover" Earth and would be likely to attempt to initiate communications or send a signal. The transit zone offers approximately 100,000 potential host stars for planetary systems observable using our current radiotelescope technologies, including some as close as 4 parsecs away. Astronomers worldwide have already launched a comprehensive search for signals sent by intelligent life from other parts of the galaxy. Ralph and René propose that the Breakthrough Listen Initiative, an important part of this search, can maximize the chance of receiving such a signal by concentrating their search within Earth's transit zone where it is most likely that we have already been identified as a habitable or life-bearing planet.

Their strategy has recently been highlighted inNature, covered by theCBCand reported in the McMasterDaily News.

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McMaster University - Faculty of Science | Physics & Astronomy