The deaths of massive stars seed our universe with black holes and neutron stars - the most exotic objects of the stellar graveyard. The births of these stellar remnants, as well as their mergers when paired in binaries, power explosions that can launch the most relativistic jets we know of in the universe (gamma-ray bursts) and shake the very fabric of space-time via ripples called gravitational waves. GW170817, the merger of two neutron stars witnessed through both its gravitational wave siren and its glow at all wavelengths of light, represents the first multi-messenger detection of one such extreme cosmic bang. Starting from the example of GW170817, in this talk I will discuss how radio light in particular, and gravitational waves, can be used in tandem to unveil the physics of relativistic transients. I will also highlight opportunities and challenges that lie in front of us, as improvements in detectors’ sensitivities will transform a trickle of multi-messenger discoveries into a flood.
Physics and Astronomy Astro Seminar
Elements condensing into dust grains is an important physical process that occurs in the ISM. Through studies on extinction, scattering, heating and depletion of elements out of gas-phase, it has long been known that grains have a major effect on observed spectra of galaxies. Despite the large amount of observations available on extinction, scatter and heating, details of depletions onto grains and their effect on observed emission-line spectra are rarely studied. We explore the effects of grain depletions on strong spectral lines, and find non-trivial results. Our results suggest that the level of depletion, not only affects the emission line strength of corresponding ions, but also changes the abundance of coolants in the ISM gas, hence affecting its temperature. In addition, we include new code into Cloudy, allowing a user to alter the degree of grain depletions in a given model.
The environment in which a galaxy lives plays a key role in driving its evolution. As the most tenuously bound component of galaxies, neutral atomic hydrogen (HI) is a valuable tracer of both the interaction history of a galaxy with its environment and a measure of its future star formation potential. As galaxies move from the low-density field to high-density clusters, they lose their gas and star formation is quenched, but how exactly this happens is still poorly understood. In fact, perhaps most galaxies spend a large fraction of their life in the intermediate-density group environment where the signatures of galaxy evolution are more subtle and widely varied. In this talk I will present what my work on both wide-area HI surveys and individual observations have revealed about galaxy evolution, from the low mass group environment to the outskirts of massive galaxy clusters. Statistical studies of the HI provide insight on not only the gas processing and ongoing evolution within galaxy groups, but also the growth of large-scale structure. In addition, I'll present the first of the next generation of HI surveys, Apertif, which is observing 3500 square degrees at 14 times the spatial resolution of previous HI surveys and better HI mass sensitivity. Apertif will allows us to resolve and take the inventory, for the first time, of the physical mechanisms that remove gas from galaxies, across the full range of galaxy environments from poor groups to galaxy clusters.
The cosmic downsizing of quasars is still a big puzzle in astronomy and it is commonly believed that the central active galactic nucleus (AGN) must have played a significant role in quenching itself, in a self-regulatory mechanism popularly termed “AGN feedback” . The AGN feedback also plays a crucial role in black hole and host galaxy co-evolution across cosmic time (the M-sigma relation). Here I will discuss the nature and impact of pc scale outflows from AGN, detected in X-rays. On the other hand, the feeding of the supermassive black hole (SMBH) at the center of AGNs is an equally interesting puzzle. We still do not know how matter from the host galaxy loses their angular momentum and falls into the accretion disk, finally feeding the SMBH. In an extensive X-ray spectral variability study of Compton-thin Type-II AGN, we found the presence of clumpy gas in the near vicinity (<pc) of the SMBH which are likely candidates of matter which fall into the black hole and feed them, creating the luminous AGN.
The Southern Stellar Stream Spectroscopic Survey (S5) is an ongoing spectroscopic program that maps the newly discovered stellar streams with the fiber-fed AAOmega spectrograph on the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT). S5 is the first systematic program pursuing a complete census of known streams in the Southern Hemisphere, providing a uniquely powerful sample for understanding the building blocks of the Milky Way's stellar halo, the progenitors and formation of stellar streams, the mass and shape of the Milky Way's halo, and ultimately the nature of dark matter. The survey started in Summer 2018 and has mapped ~20 streams with over 50 nights on AAT. In this talk, I will give a brief overview of the current status of the program, highlighting the latest science results from the survey, and end the talk with the public data release plan.
Low mass galaxies provide an essential testing ground for theoretical predictions of cosmology. Their number densities, structures, and internal dynamics can be extremely insightful for studying dark matter and galaxy formation on small scales. I will discuss recent results studying ultra-diffuse galaxies (UDGs). UDGs hold the promise of new constraints on low mass galaxies dynamics, as their spatial extent and often significant globular cluster populations provide probes on spatial scales where dark matter should dominate the kinematics. I will also discuss the dynamics of two UDGs that seem to lack most, if not all, of their dark matter and host an intriguing population of globular clusters. I will finish by presenting a new wide-field survey carried out with the 48-lens Dragonfly Telephoto Array. With an excellent photometric depth, the Dragonfly Wide Field Survey will provide an unprecedented view of the low surface brightness universe over a wide area of the sky (350 square degrees). The main goal of the survey is to provide information on the properties and statistics of the dwarf galaxy population beyond the Local Group but it will also provide a useful resource for other resolved, low surface brightness phenomena, such as stellar streams and tidal tails, stellar halos, intragroup light and the extent of massive galaxies.
The Cosmic Evolution of Galaxy Chemical Abundances and Baryon Cycling Over the Past 12 Billion Years
Understanding how galaxies assemble their baryonic content is one of the major open questions in galaxy formation and evolution. The key processes that govern the smooth secular growth of galaxies over time include gas accretion, star formation, energetic feedback, and outflows, collectively referred to as the cycle of baryons. The gas-phase metallicity of the interstellar medium in galaxies is sensitive to baryon cycling, and scaling relations between metallicity and global galaxy properties such as stellar mass and star-formation rate are valuable probes of gas flows and galaxy growth. I will present the latest observational constraints on the evolution of the mass-metallicity relation and the fundamental metallicity relation (mass-SFR-metallicity) from z=0 to z~3.3, spanning the past 12 Gyr of cosmic history. I will discuss the implications for outflow rates and mass loading factors of galactic winds. I will also examine future observational prospects to improve the connection between gas flows and the metal and gas content of galaxies, and to extend gas-phase abundance studies into the epoch of reionization with JWST.
Recent, high-resolution surveys of 21cm emission have revealed that neutral hydrogen (HI) in the local interstellar medium (ISM) contains a wonderful wealth of structures which reflect the complex interplay of Galactic dynamics and star formation feedback. Measuring the basic physical properties of these structures is crucial for understanding their origins, and also correcting observations of extragalactic light. However, constraining their temperature and density requires observations of 21cm absorption, which are severely limited. In this talk I will present our recent efforts to measure the temperature of HI across the sky using deep learning. We train a convolutional neural network using synthetic spectra from numerical simulations to predict quantities which formally require 21cm absorption — the true HI column density and the fraction of cold, optically thick HI along the line of sight — from 21cm emission alone. We validate the model using 21cm absorption observations from the literature, finding excellent accuracy. With this model, we construct the highest-resolution, highest-fidelity map of cold HI in the local ISM using 21cm emission data from the GALFA-HI and the HI4Pi surveys. This map characterizes the structure of neutral gas envelopes to molecular clouds with unprecedented resolution, and significantly improves dusty Galactic foreground estimation for extragalactic surveys. Via comparison with tracers of dust reddening (E(B-V)), we demonstrate that E(B-V)/N(HI) increases with increasing cold gas fraction, which will be leveraged to produce high-resolution, high-fidelity E(B-V) map at high latitudes.