News and Events

In how many ways does the center of our Galaxy glow? This enigmatic region, about 26,000 light years away toward the constellation of the Archer (Sagittarius), glows in every type of light that we can see. In the featured image, high-energy X-ray emission captured by NASA's orbiting Chandra X-Ray Observatory appears in green and blue, while low-energy radio emission captured by SARAO's ground-based MeerKAT telescope array is colored red. Just on the right of the colorful central region lies Sagittarius A (Sag A), a strong radio source that coincides with Sag A*, our Galaxy's central supermassive black hole. Hot gas surrounds Sag A, as well as a series of parallel radio filaments known as the Arc, seen just left of the image center. Numerous unusual single radio filaments are visible around the image. Many stars orbit in and around Sag A, as well as numerous small black holes and dense stellar cores known as neutron stars and white dwarfs. The Milky Way's central supermassive black hole is currently being imaged by the Event Horizon Telescope. Activities: NASA Science at Home
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New telescope installed in the campus dome on February 22, 2020
A new study from researchers at Brigham Young University and Pennsylvania State University provides the most accurate estimate of the number of Earth-like planets in the universe. The team looked at the frequency of planets that are similar to Earth in size and in distance from their host star, stars similar to our Sun. Knowing the rate that these potentially habitable planets occur will be important for designing future astronomical missions to characterize nearby rocky planets around Sun-like stars that could support life.
Students of the Physics 106 afternoon section participated in an extra credit opportunity that took hands-on learning to a new level. Inspired by a classic MIT challenge, Professor Della Corte gave each student a small kit containing two thumb tacks, two paper clips, six feet of copper wire, two neodymium magnets, and a block of wood. He then sent his students on their way with limited instructions: Design your own motors, only using materials from the kits. Any drop of glue or strip of tape would disqualify them.
Airplane toilets are loud. For some, they are downright terrifying. But chin up, frequent flyers, because a group of BYU physicists have figured out how to make them quieter. After two years of trial and error, three academic publications and thousands of flushes, the BYU researchers have invented a vacuum-assisted toilet that is about half as loud as the regular airplane commode.

Publications

BYU Authors: J. Ward Moody, published in Astrophys. J.

We report on variability and correlation studies using multiwavelength observations of the blazar Mrk 421 during the month of 2010 February, when an extraordinary flare reaching a level of ∼27 Crab Units above 1 TeV was measured in very high energy (VHE) γ-rays with the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) observatory. This is the highest flux state for Mrk 421 ever observed in VHE γ-rays. Data are analyzed from a coordinated campaign across multiple instruments, including VHE γ-ray (VERITAS, Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov), high-energy γ-ray (Fermi-LAT), X-ray (Swift, Rossi X-ray Timing Experiment, MAXI), optical (including the GASP-WEBT collaboration and polarization data), and radio (Metsähovi, Owens Valley Radio Observatory, University of Michigan Radio Astronomy Observatory). Light curves are produced spanning multiple days before and after the peak of the VHE flare, including over several flare “decline” epochs. The main flare statistics allow 2 minute time bins to be constructed in both the VHE and optical bands enabling a cross-correlation analysis that shows evidence for an optical lag of ∼25–55 minutes, the first time-lagged correlation between these bands reported on such short timescales. Limits on the Doppler factor (δ ≳ 33) and the size of the emission region () are obtained from the fast variability observed by VERITAS during the main flare. Analysis of 10 minute binned VHE and X-ray data over the decline epochs shows an extraordinary range of behavior in the flux–flux relationship, from linear to quadratic to lack of correlation to anticorrelation. Taken together, these detailed observations of an unprecedented flare seen in Mrk 421 are difficult to explain with the classic single-zone synchrotron self-Compton model.

BYU Authors: Benjamin A. Frandsen, published in Phys. Rev. B

We report the existence of a high temperature magnetic anomaly in the 3D Kitaev candidate material, . Signatures of the anomaly appear in magnetization, heat capacity and muon spin relaxation measurements. The onset coincides with a re-ordering of the principal axes of magnetization which is thought to be connected to the onset of Kitaev-like correlations in the system. The anomaly also shows magnetic hysteresis with a spatially anisotropic magnitude that follows the spin-anisotropic exchange anisotropy of the underlying Kitaev Hamiltonian. We discuss possible scenarios for a bulk and impurity origin.

BYU Authors: Cameron B. Jones, Caleb B. Goates, Jonathan D. Blotter, and Scott D. Sommerfeldt, published in Appl. Acoust.

The theoretical development for computing sound power using acoustic radiation modes is well documented. However, an experimental validation and comparison with other sound power measurement standards over a wide frequency range has not been presented. This paper compares experimental results from an acoustic-radiation-modes-based sound power measurement method to results obtained using ISO 3741 in two scenarios. First, sound power measurement results from a single simply-supported baffled panel are compared. A comparison of sound power measurements of two simply-supported baffled panels is then presented. Results between the two methods for the single panel show a maximum one-third octave band difference of 2.2 dB between 200 Hz and 4 kHz with an overall difference of 1.7 dB. For the two-panel system, the maximum one-third octave band difference is 1.6 dB with an overall difference of 0.7 dB. It is also shown that in the two-panel case, the sound power from each panel can be measured individually using the acoustic radiation modes approach and summed to obtain the overall sound power as measured using ISO 3741.