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    Ready for Another Night

    University Photographer, Mark Philbrick, captured this sunset image of the BYU West Mountain Observatory in early June 2016. At the same time, Physics and Astronomy students were at work preparing the telescopes for yet another night of research observations. Data are secured on these nights for a wide variety of projects ranging from careful searches for exoplanets to monitoring active galaxies. The resulting data support research efforts of BYU students and faculty and in many cases contribute to publications by large international collaborations.

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    Predictions on candidate superalloys

    Superalloys are high-performance materials that are essential to key transportation and power generation technologies. By using BYU's supercomputer as a virtual lab, together with state-of-the-art algorithms for modeling materials, the Materials Simulation Group (msg.byu.edu) has identified 75 new superalloy candidates for which there are no reported phase diagrams. The new candidates may be the key to enhanced performance in transportation and power generation components. The figure shows the computed formation enthalpy over more than 700 Ni-based systems that were explored as part of this large survey. Roughly speaking, the darker the circle, the more promising the system. The x-y coordinates in the grid denote the two minority elements that are combined with nickel.

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    Orion at West Mountain

    This picture shows the familiar winter constellation of Orion setting in the west as it moves behind the main dome at the BYU West Mountain Observatory. The constellation of Orion is known as a location with giant molecular clouds and current star forming regions. Even in this short exposure, the Orion nebula is clearly visible in the sword of Orion. This picture was taken by Professor Michael Joner while working at the observatory on a clear spring night.

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    NASA Satellite Launched

    On April 18, 2018 the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was launched. TESS is on a two year survey mission that focuses on finding Earth-sized exoplanets. The TESS survey will examine about 85% of the total sky and include about 20 million stars. Among these targets will be a majority of the closest and brightest stars in the visible nighttime sky. TESS is expected to find thousands of planets that range from Earth size up to Gas Giants. To prepare for the launch of TESS, BYU astronomers have been developing robotic telescope facilities with a wide range of apertures to provide follow-up observations of the many new exoplanet candidates. Funding for these efforts was received from the Utah NASA Space Grant Consortium to develop five robotic telescope systems on the newly renovated observation deck of the Eyring Science Center. Photo by Michael Deep/Spaceflight Insider

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    Machine Learning: Grain Boundary Physics

    Grain boundaries are the interfaces between the small crystals that make up nearly every material in our physical world. Understanding grain boundaries is essential because they dictate the most important characteristics of a material. Want to make steel corrosion resistant? The key is in the grain boundaries because they are the pathways for corrosive elements. Scientists at BYU, in collaboration with a scientist at Cambridge (UK), recently developed a machine learning approach predicting grain boundary properties. Not only can it make predictions, but the design of the machine learning model also makes it explanatory---It can identify the "physics reason" why some grain boundaries are good, and some are bad.


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Recently Published Research

Mike Joner, Joseph Moody, Cameron Pace, and Richard Pearson et al. recently published an article titled "Dissecting the long-term emission behaviour of the BL Lac object Mrk 421" in Monthly Notices of The Royal Astronomical Society. Click on the image above to read it.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Planck Maps the Microwave Background : What is our universe made of? To help find out, ESA launched the Planck satellite from 2009 to 2013 to map, in unprecedented detail, slight temperature differences on the oldest optical surface known -- the background sky when our universe first became transparent to light....

This photograph and Description come from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day web site.

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