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.

Aug 25, 2016 - New faculty members

The Department has been joined in the Fall by John Stupak and John Tobin as new assistant professors. Stupak is a new member of the experimental high energy group. Tobin is the new Homer L. Dodge Assistant Professor of Astrophysics. Welcome!

Aug 14, 2016 - Department will be housed in new physics complex

OU President David Boren announced on March 9 two lead gifts that will provide resources to construct a new academic building and research laboratory on the Van Vleet Oval that will house the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy. The new building, Lin Hall, together with Nielsen Hall will comprise a new physics complex. 

The resources are being made possible through major gifts from the Avenir Foundation, and Chun C. Lin, who served on the OU physics faculty from 1955 to 1968.

The new academic building will feature modular design for maximum flexibility in the more than 18,000 square feet of research laboratory space as well as office space for faculty and graduate students and an astronomy observatory on the roof. The laboratories will have advanced temperature control, vibration and acoustic isolation, and electromagnetic shielding in addition to providing critically needed space. The building will be located south of Nielsen Hall, the current home of the physics and astronomy department. Construction of the new physics building will begin in the fall, and is is expected to be completed by spring of 2019.

Aug 02, 2016 - OU permanent member of Apache Point Observatory

Following several years of effort and negotiation, OU is now a permanent member of the Apache Point Observatory (APO). Managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium, the observatory site is located in southeastern New Mexico, roughly 130 miles northeast of El Paso, Texas, near Sunspot at analtitude of 9100 feet. Besides hosting the Consortium’s 3.5-meter and 0.5-meter telescopes, the 2.5-meter Sloan Digital Sky Survey and New Mexico State University’s 1- meter telescopes also are located there. Other Consortium members include the University of Washington, New Mexico State University, the University of Colorado, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia, Georgia State University and the University of Wyoming.

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Events

Upcoming...

CMP Journal Club

Feb 28, 2017 12:30 pm

Nielsen Hall 103 - Soumya Bhattacharya

Colloquium

Mar 02, 2017 4:00 pm

Nielsen Hall 170 - Kuver Sinha
The Quest to Understand Hierarchies in Nature and Implications for Early Universe Cosmology

Astronomy Journal Club

Mar 03, 2017 12:30 pm

Nielsen Hall 103 - Shaun Steele and Nick Reynolds

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