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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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    M33: Triangulum Galaxy

    The small, northern constellation Triangulum harbors this magnificent face-on spiral galaxy, M33. Its popular names include the Pinwheel Galaxy or just the Triangulum Galaxy. M33 is over 50,000 light-years in diameter, third largest in the Local Group of galaxies after the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), and our own Milky Way. About 3 million light-years from the Milky Way, M33 is itself thought to be a satellite of the Andromeda Galaxy and astronomers in these two galaxies would likely have spectacular views of each other's grand spiral star systems. As for the view from planet Earth, this sharp composite image, a 25 panel mosaic, nicely shows off M33's blue star clusters and pinkish star forming regions that trace the galaxy's loosely wound spiral arms. In fact, the cavernous NGC 604 is the brightest star forming region, seen here at about the 1 o'clock position from the galaxy center. Like M31, M33's population of well-measured variable stars have helped make this nearby spiral a cosmic yardstick for establishing the distance scale of the Universe. This image using data from the BYU West Mountain Observatory and the Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea was featured as the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day for December 20, 2012. Image Credit & Copyright: Robert Gendler, Subaru Telescope (NAOJ) Image data: Subaru Telescope, Robert Gendler, Michael Joner and David Laney; Brigham Young University West Mountain Observatory, and Johannes Schedler

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    High-throughput materials discovery

    Every technology is intimately related to a particular materials set. The steam engines that powered the industrial revolution in the eighteenth century were made of steel and, information and communication technologies are underpinned by silicon. Once a material is chosen for a given technology, it gets locked with it because of the investments associated with establishing large-scale production lines. This means that changing the materials set in an established technology is a rare event and must be considered as a revolution. Computational materials discovery can play an important role in fueling such revolutions

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    French fries or onion rings

    The figure shows two different integration "grids," a standard rectangular grid versus an contour-by-contour grid. The Materials Simulation Group (msg.byu.edu) is exploring competing schemes for speeding up the integration of electron bands in materials. An important part of "first-principles" materials calculations involves integrating over the occupied electron states, the so-called "band energy integration." This is the primary source of error in first-principles calculations of solids. Improving this integration would have a dramatic impact on computational simulations of metallic systems.


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Recently Published Research

Darin Ragozzine et al. recently published an article titled "A Dwarf Planet Class Object in the 21:5 Resonance with Neptune" in Astrophysical Journal Letters. Click on the image above to read it.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Pillars of the Eagle Nebula in Infrared : Newborn stars are forming in the Eagle Nebula. Gravitationally contracting in pillars of dense gas and dust, the intense radiation of these newly-formed bright stars is causing surrounding material to boil away....

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

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