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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 across a stellar photosphere was the primary mission of the Kepler spacecraft as it searched for extrasolar planets up through August 2013. The difficulty of this mission is apparent when you note the small fraction of the Sun's light that is blocked by the transit of a planet the size of Venus.

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    Confirming Transiting Exoplanets

    The figure shown to the left is from a recent publication in the Astronomical Journal (Oberst, Thomas E., et al., 2017, AJ, 153, 97) that confirms the discovery of a highly irradiated, ultra-short period hot Jupiter in orbit around a distant star. The newly discovered planet has been designated as KELT–16b. The long time series run in the left hand panel that is labeled "Pratt" is from a team of students led by Dr. Denise Stephens using the BYU campus Orson Pratt Observatory. The four multi-color data sets that follow were secured a couple of days later by students under the direction of Dr. Michael Joner at the BYU West Mountain Observatory. These and the other data presented in the paper confirm the sub-stellar mass and other properties of KELT-16b.

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    At the Edge of NGC 891

    This sharp cosmic portrait features NGC 891. The spiral galaxy spans about 100 thousand light-years and is seen almost exactly edge-on from our perspective. In fact, about 30 million light-years distant in the constellation Andromeda, NGC 891 looks a lot like our Milky Way. At first glance, it has a flat, thin, galactic disk and a central bulge cut along the middle by regions of dark obscuring dust. The combined image data also reveal the galaxy's young blue star clusters and telltale pinkish star forming regions. And remarkably apparent in NGC 891's edge-on presentation are filaments of dust that extend hundreds of light-years above and below the center line. The dust has likely been blown out of the disk by supernova explosions or intense star formation activity. Faint neighboring galaxies can also be seen near this galaxy's disk. This is the first BYU image to be selected as the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day. This image and description were featured as the May 26, 2012 APOD. Credit: Composite Image Data - Subaru Telescope (NAOJ), Hubble Legacy Archive, Michael Joner, David Laney (West Mountain Observatory, BYU); Processing - Robert Gendler

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    West Mountain, Moon, Venus, and Stars

    This image was secured just after the end of evening twilight on a clear April night from the West Mountain Observatory. The view is looking west past the domes housing the two smaller research telescopes at the observatory. The thin crescent Moon is also illuminated by reflected light from the Earth that is known as earthshine. Higher in the sky, the bright 'star' is actually the planet Venus. In between the two, the 'V' shaped group of stars in the constellation of Taurus is in reality the nearby open cluster known as the Hyades. Photo credit: Dr. Michael D. Joner

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    UNPs as HEDP simulators

    We recently published a review article on ways ultracold neutral plasmas (UNPs) can serve as High-Energy-Density Plasma (HEDP) simulators. In collaboration with scientists at LLNL, University of Iowa, Colorado State University, Rice University, University of British Columbia, San Jose State University, and Michigan State University, our publication reports on the content of a DPP mini-conference in 2018.

Calendar

17 Nov, Today

Sunset
5:10 PM

18 Nov, Monday

Sunrise
7:15 AM

22 Nov, Friday

26 Nov, Tuesday

Friday Instruction

27 Nov, Wednesday

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Recently Published Research

Mark Transtrum and Ben Francis et al. recently published an article titled "Simultaneous Global Identification of Dynamic and Network Parameters in Transient Stability Studies" in 2018 IEEE Power & Energy Society General Meeting (PESGM). (Portland, OR, August 2018).. Click on the image above to read it.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

The Star Streams of NGC 5907: Grand tidal streams of stars seem to surround galaxy NGC 5907. The arcing structures form tenuous loops extending more than 150,000 light-years from the narrow, edge-on spiral, also known as the Splinter or Knife Edge Galaxy....

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

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