The University of Toledo’s Department of Physics and Astronomy will hold its third annual McMaster Cosmology Colloquium on “Viewing the Early Universe With Infrared Eyes: Recent Results From the Spitzer Space Telescope” on Thursday, Sept. 28, at 4 p.m. in McMaster Hall Room 1005.
The McMaster Cosmology Colloquium is named after the late Harold McMaster, who formed McMaster Energy Enterprises in Toledo. Donating approximately $4.5 million to The University of Toledo, he and his wife, Helen, helped fund the construction of the physics and astronomy building on the Main Campus that was named for them.
McMaster demonstrated a strong interest in cosmology — the study of the universe as a whole — throughout his lifetime; therefore, the Department of Physics and Astronomy honors his legacy through an annual public lecture, said Dr. Steven Federman, UT professor of astronomy.
This year’s colloquium will be given by Dr. Giovanni Fazio, senior physicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. Fazio is the principal investigator for the infrared array camera instrument onboard NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. He was awarded NASA’s Public Service Medal in 2005 in recognition of his outstanding efforts in leading the development of the infrared array camera.
According to Fazio, the Spitzer Space Telescope was launched Aug. 25, 2003, and is producing a significantly new view of the universe at infrared wavelengths. Being the fourth and final element in NASA’s Great Observatory Series, Spitzer consists of an 85- centimeter telescope and three cryogenically cooled instruments.
“Combining the intrinsic sensitivity achievable with a cryogenic telescope in space with the high sensitivity of modern, large-area infrared detector arrays, Spitzer is providing the astronomical community with huge gains in capability for exploring the infrared universe,” Fazio said.
Primary among Spitzer’s scientific objectives is the study of the formation and evolution of galaxies in the early universe. After a brief description of the mission, Spitzer’s ability to yield new information on the stellar mass content, structure and composition of galaxies will be demonstrated by Fazio.
“Detecting light from the most distant known galaxies in the universe has been one of the mission’s most spectacular and important achievements,” Fazio said. “The infrared array camera on Spitzer has provided the first glimpse of light from established stellar populations of galaxies when the universe was less than 800 million years old, yielding new constraints on their age, stellar masses and star formation history.”
The possibility of the infrared array camera detecting light from the first stars also will be discussed by Fazio, as well as of the origin of the cosmic infrared background.
“At the colloquium, people will be hearing about front-line research in one of the most exciting areas of astronomy — the origin of the universe. They will have the unique opportunity to hear about this research firsthand from one of the pioneers in infrared astronomy, who has been a key person in developing this technique,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, UT professor of astronomy and associate chair for the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “It is important for astronomers to give information about what they are learning about the universe back to the public, so that people can share in both the excitement of new discoveries and the wonder of the universe.”
Coffee and refreshments will be available before the talk at 3:30 p.m. in McMaster Hall Room 4009.
For more information on the free, public colloquium, contact the UT Astronomy and Physics Department at 419.530.2241.