Department News

Feb 17, 2017 - Nielsen Hall Radio Telescope Online

A group of undergraduate and graduate students, led by OU Astronomy Professor John Tobin constructed a 10 foot radio telescope on the the
 roof of Nielsen Hall last November and December.  The dish was brought fully online in early February. The group followed the small radio telescope (SRT) plans made available by MIT Haystack Radio Observatory and constructed the dish entirely from off the shelf equipment. 

The radio telescope presents exciting teaching and outreach opportunities because it operates in a fundamentally different way from optical telescopes. Instead of observing the light from stars and planets, this radio telescope  observes the matter between the stars, the interstellar medium, through  spectroscopy. The radio telescope specifically observes Hydrogen atoms throughout our Milky Way Galaxy emitting at a wavelength of 21 cm, from which the rotation of the Galaxy can be clearly seen through the Doppler effect. Introductory Astronomy students and those attending outreach events will see the operation of a radio telescope first-hand and observe the spectral line from Hydrogen in real-time. More advanced students will learn the fundamentals of radio astronomy and will carry out experiments such as mapping Hydrogen in space  and measuring the rotational velocity of our Galaxy.

The project had the participation of undergraduate students Brian Stephenson, Lisa Patel and Jacob Gill, and of graduate students Nick Reynolds, Rajeeb Sharma, Hyunseop Choi and Paul Canton. Congratulations!

Oct 26, 2016 - OU-Led Team Discovers Rare, Newborn Tri-Star System

Prof. John J. Tobin led a global team of researchers who discovered a rare triple star system surrounded by a disk with a spiral structure.  Recent observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array—a revolutionary observatory in northern Chile, commonly known as ALMA—resulted in the discovery, lending support for evidence of disk fragmentation—a process leading to the formation of young binary and multiple star systems. Until ALMA, no one had observed a tri-star system forming in a disk like the one discovered by the OU team.

More info: Featured research

Oct 25, 2016 - Department accepted to join APS Bridge Program

The Department has been accepted to join the APS Bridge Program, which seeks to increase the number of physics PhDs awarded to underrepresented minority students, including African American, Hispanic American, and Native American students:

http://www.apsbridgeprogram.org/about/

Acceptance into the program affirms the commitment of the department to enhancing diversity in physics.  OU represents the only institution in Oklahoma that has been accepted to join the program.

Oct 21, 2016 - OU Astronomers Team with Citizen Scientists to Discover a Rare Circumstellar Disk

A team led by a University of Oklahoma astronomy graduate student Steven Silverberg discovered a rare and surprising new circumstellar disk: the oldest of its kind.  Read more here and here

Oct 16, 2016 - OU alumnus launches hurricane measurements partnership

OU alumnus and Board of Visitor A. T. Stair, founder/CEO of Tropical Weather Analytics, Inc (TWAI) and Chief Scientist of many space programs, has recently launched a partnership between TWAI and the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University (JHU/APL). Along with Paul Joss, founder/CTO of TWAI, and Professor emeritus of Physics at the Massachusetts institute of Technology, the TWAI team will use space-based data acquisition technologies and analytic tools to develop the world most accurate measurements and forecasts of tropical cyclones to date. This technology will have enormous impact on reduction of loss of life and property caused by hurricanes.

The Johns Hopkins's team has been a prime contractor on several upper-atmospheric and space program at NASA, including numerous missions using low-cost micro satellites. Once fully operational, TWAI will provide proprietary data, including 3D, wide field, high resolution cloud maps and thermal maps with more than 50 meter resolution and 3 degrees Celcius temperature accuracy.

For more information:  news link

Oct 07, 2016 - Alumna awarded prestigious postdoc in Norway

Former student Prachi Parashar has just started a prestigious postdoc at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, funded by a rather large international grant from the Norwegian Research Council. At OU, Prachi worked with Prof. Kim Milton on different projects involving the Casimir effect. Congratulations to Prachi!

Sep 30, 2016 - OU Physicists Developing New Systems for Next Generation Solar Cells

University of Oklahoma physicists are developing novel technologies with the potential to impact utility-scale energy generation, increase global energy capacity and reduce dependence on fossil fuels by producing a new generation of high efficiency solar cells. The OU team hopes to show that quantum-engineered systems can control thermal losses that restrict the performance of conventional solar cells and harness more of the sun’s energy in practical “hot” carrier solar cells.

Ian Sellers and Michael Santos, professors in the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, will develop “hot” carrier solar cell architectures and investigate the physics driving the operation of these devices. Sellers and Santos have focused their research on narrow-gap heterostructures, demonstrating the promising potential avenue for the practical implementation of “hot” carrier solar cells.

The National Science Foundation supported this research project with a three-year grant in the amount of $380,000.

Sep 30, 2016 - Confirming the Birth of a New Black Hole

Dr. Xinyu Dai has been awarded $40,485.00 by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Sep 01, 2016 - Warm, Large Exoplanets

Dr. Billy Quarles has been awarded 102,674.00 by NASA/UN PENN

Sep 01, 2016 - High Efficiency Flexible Dilute Nitride Solar Cells for Space Applications

Dr. Ian Sellers has been awarded 600,000.00 by NASA

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