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    Gamma-Alumina Nanoparticles

    Nanoparticles of gamma-alumina obtained from a novel synthetic solvent-deficient method show promise as improved industrial catalyst-supports. X-ray PDF analysis reveals that they are born with a high concentration of defects that locally resemble boehmite. As the nanoparticles are annealed to successively higher temperatures, the boehmite-like defects heal gradually rather than disappearing in an abrupt phase transition, which explains several previously misunderstood of properties of the gamma phase.

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    Earth, Sun, and Venus

    The small black spot projected on the Sun just above the foreground clouds in Provo is caused by the planet Venus as it transits for the last time this century. The transits of Venus come in pairs separated by eight years that only occur after a period of 105 or 122 years without a transit visible from the Earth. If you missed this event, the next opportunity will be in December of 2117. Finding the transit of an Earth sized planet like Venus across a stellar photosphere is the mission of the Kepler spacecraft as it continues the search for extrasolar planets. The difficulty of this mission is apparent when you note the tiny fraction of the Sun's light that is blocked by the planet Venus.

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    Southern Utah Ring of Fire

    This is a mosaic of solar eclipse images secured on May 20, 2012 by Dr. Michael D. Joner. The individual observations were made between 6:59 and 8:06pm MDT a couple of miles northwest of Kanarraville, Utah on the center line of this annular solar eclipse. The entire solar photosphere was not blocked by the passage of the Moon for this eclipse. The result was an annular eclipse due to the fact that the Moon was close to apogee and thus not large enough in the sky to cover the entire Sun. Areas of southern Utah enjoyed perfect weather in addition to being ideally located to view the eclipse well before sunset.

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    Radiation from Wavepackets

    When an electron is born through ionization in a strong laser field, the wavepacket can be very large. As this large wavepacket continues to experience the laser field, different parts of the packet are accelerated in different directions. How will such a system radiate light? Contradicting predictions have been published in the literature, and Professors Justin Peatross and Michael Ware are looking to solve the issue with theory and experiment.

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    First Light for the BYU 0.9-m Telescope

    This image was secured during the installation of the 0.9-m telescope at the BYU West Mountain Observatory. Data for this image is from August 27, 2009. This was the first night that a CCD had been mounted on the telescope so that imaging was possible. This 'First Light' image shows the globular cluster known as M15 in the constellation of Pegasus. The distance to this cluster is more than 33,000 light years and yet individual stars are easily resolved all through the cluster. Globular cluster stars have an extremely low abundance of heavy elements as compared to stars found in the solar neighborhood and represent the oldest population of stars known in the Galaxy. It is interesting to note the many cool red giant stars that are visible in the cluster as well as a large number of evolved horizontal branch stars that are blue in color. Many of the horizontal branch stars are known to be RR Lyrae variable stars that are useful as distance indicators since it is possible to determine their luminosity and compare that value to their apparent magnitude as measured from the observed images. The color image processing for this picture is the work of Dr. Rob Gendler. Dr. Gendler is well known for producing amazingly detailed astronomical images that are regularly featured on the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day.

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Recently Published Research

Elizabeth Jeffery Kraczek et al. recently published an article titled "A Deep Proper Motion Catalog Within the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Footprint" in Astronomical Journal. Click on the image above to read it.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Ring Galaxy AM 0644 741 from Hubble : How could a galaxy become shaped like a ring? The rim of the blue galaxy pictured on the right is an immense ring-like structure 150,000 light years in diameter composed of newly formed, extremely bright, massive stars....

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

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