Modern Cyclopses – The Era of Giant Telescopes
Dr. Gabor Furesz
While astronomical observations have been carried out for thousands of years it is only the past four centuries when our naked eyes have been aided by telescopes. With today’s ‘giant eyes’ we can peer really deep into the night sky, literally reaching the edge of the (observable) Universe. But to get there we have to build larger and larger, ever more sensitive, better telescopes and instruments. It has been really just the past few decades when progress was exponential, just like in other fields: thanks to computers, highly sensitive digital detectors and other modern design and manufacturing technologies. But progress in astronomical instrumentation is also influenced by commercialization, the consumer market, as well as history and politics – as these extremely large and complex scientific machines require collaboration and unique technology developments that point beyond a single nation, even the U.S. One could rightfully ask: do we really need these even larger giant telescopes, if they are so expensive and we already can see to the edge of the Universe? I will argue for the “yes” answer by showing a few very exciting science cases, like the detection and characterization of extrasolar planets and understanding the chemical evolution of the Universe. To investigate these questions it is not enough to simply detect the light but also to analyze it in detail. While spectroscopy is a well established and great method to do so, it requires a lot of photons to be captured – which hopefully will be delivered by the next generation of giant light buckets.
Searching for the First Stars
Dr. Ani Chiti
Old, “metal-poor” stars have helped us peer into the conditions of the early universe, as the chemical composition of a star’s photosphere mirrors the composition of its natal gas cloud. Recent efforts have been successful in detecting a number of stars that formed in the first few generations after the first stars. But we are yet to discover a surviving first star, which leads to some natural questions— Is there even a possibility of detecting a surviving first star? And if so, what open questions would such a remarkable detection answer? Come to this talk to learn about the background and techniques on studying and identifying the oldest stars.
For a complete listing, see IAP 2018–MKI Activities