Meeting of Astrophysics Students at Stanford (MASS)

Time and location TBD.

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MASS is a forum for graduate students in astronomy and astrophysics to discuss important ideas which nevertheless tend to be absent from classes, colloquia, and tea talks. It is intended to provide a crash course in the theoretical, observational, and experimental aspects of many areas of astrophysics and an informal setting in which to discuss our own work. Undergrads and non-astro types are welcome to join. Postdocs and faculty are also welcome; however, the content of the meetings will be aimed at students who are learning the methods of astronomy and astrophysics for the first time.

The History of the Decline and Fall of Little h

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Location

Campus, PAB 232

Speaker
Dongwoo Chung

For over four decades, the dimensionless Hubble constant (or little h) has been a constant presence in distances, times, masses, and luminosities for cosmologists and extragalactic astrophysicists, baffling the uninitiated to no end about the interpretation of these values. But one theorist dared to submit a paper to Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia and say ’This far, and no farther!’ In this talk, we review Darren Croton's 2013 paper (arXiv:1308.4150), which helps newcomers survive (and hopefully outlive) the tyranny of little h.

Annual Review discussion: Weak Lensing for Precision Cosmology by Rachel Mandelbaum

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Location

Campus, PAB 232

Speaker
Sean McLaughlin

I will be covering the above annual review on weak lensing. I will begin by covering the basics of weak lensing which I really should've learned by now but haven't. I will then cover the slew of problems and biases that can arise in the measurement of weak lensing that this paper covers. It will be a fantastic deep dive into a topic we often hear about but many of us don't deal with much!

https://arxiv.org/abs/1710.03235

 

The Event Horizon Telescope

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Location

Campus, PAB 232

Speaker
Alexander Madurowicz

The Event Horizon Telescope is an International Collaboration which is attempting to resolve images of Sgr A* in our own Milky Way and the SMBH at the center of M87. The EHT hopes to not only provide the very first resolved images of a SMBH, but could provide a strenuous test for General Relativity in the extreme environments around such black hole. The EHT also hopes to gather data to test theories of accretion disks, as well as jet collimation.

Beating the Standard Quantum Limit with LIGO

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Location

Campus, PAB 232

Speaker
Cyndia Yu

In light of the recent successes LIGO has had in detecting gravitational waves from a number of extragalactic sources, we are interested in techniques to extend the sensitivity of the instrument over a broad range of signal frequencies. We discuss non-classical approaches to achieving this upgraded sensitivity, including squeezing and EPR entanglement. We demonstrate that together these methods may achieve almost a factor of 3 in amplitude improvement, corresponding to a 27-fold increase in sensitive sky volume.

Neural networks and how to detect X-ray cavities with them

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Location

Campus, PAB 232

Speaker
Stanislav Fort

Neural networks have proven to be extremely useful in repetitive tasks in astronomy. I will discuss how they work, what you can use them for, and why they will not go away any time soon. I will then talk about my own work on detecting X-ray cavities in clusters of galaxies with them, and how it can help us understand feedback from supermassive black holes.

Imaging Exoplanets with the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI)

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Location

Campus, PAB 214

Speaker
Melisa Tallis

Characterizing other worlds gives us the ability to understand the uniqueness or commonality of our solar system. Direct imaging instruments like the GPI are currently sensitive to planets at separations beyond 10 AU from their host stars and provide us an avenue to study their atmospheres. GPI has successfully imaged several exoplanets, brown dwarfs, and circumstellar disks. In this talk I will give a brief overview of the GPI instrument and describe how it is optimized for imaging exoplanets.

Searching for Light Dark Matter With CDMS

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Location

Campus, PAB 214

Speaker
Noah Kurinsky

The Stanford CDMS group has recently shown that a prototype detector is capable of resolving electrons with excellent timing resolution in a gram-scale device in the basement of Varian. In this talk I will explore the implications of this result for the science reach of running this detector for a matter of days, an analysis which is currently beginning, and discuss the future of this technology for both low-background particle physics and astronomy.

Observation of gravitational waves with Advanced LIGO

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Location

Campus, PAB 214

Speaker
Sean McLaughlin

Bust out your sugarcubes everyone cuz Sean's gettin' up on his high horse again. Science, in its simplest form, is fitting models to data plus some ancillary philosophy. However, despite our entire careers being based around it, most scientists have not spent any serious amount of time and effort understanding the ins and outs of model fitting! While slapping a line on a scatter plot and saying "good enough" is tempting, the assumptions and violations therein can lead to critical biases if not accounted for.

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