KIS Astrophysical Colloquium 2017

The colloquium usually takes place on Thursdays at 11:30 if not stated otherwise.

Upcoming Talks:    
June 1   Eberhard Wiehr, Göttingen:
Macro-shifts induced by prominence micro-structures
    The resonance lines of neutral sodium and singly-ionized strontium were observed with the VTT in solar prominences. The spectral aspects of the two emissions appear surprisingly similar, although strontium is ionized clearly above 8000 K, where sodium is no more neutral. The ratio of both emissions is a measure for the electron density, n_e, in prominences, which is found to range near 10^11 per cm^3 without marked variation with height above the limb or with time.
The deduction of n_e from the emission ratio depends on the line-broadening, which is ambiguous in prominences, due to a width excess of lines from ions over lines from neutrals. This establishes earlier findings and seems to be related to an excess of macro-shifts of lines from ions, which may indicate a coupling to the prominence magnetic field.
Such an explanation is, however, hardly compatible with the similar aspect of both emission spectra. We discuss a possible influence of unresolved fine-structures with different conditions for the population of neutrals and ions.
June 22   Robert Jedicke, University of Hawaii, USA:
Super catastrophic disruption of asteroids at small perihelion distances
    Most near-Earth objects (NEOs) were derived from the asteroid belt as small objects that drifted via non-gravitational thermal forces into resonant escape routes that then push them onto planet-crossing orbits. The dynamics of how these objects evolve in the inner solar system is well understood and has been used to predict the orbital nature and size-frequency distribution of the NEO population. However, as NEO discoveries have increased problems have emerged with the existing NEO models. For example, many NEOs should be on orbits that closely approach the Sun yet few have been discovered. In addition, even though the NEO population is roughly an even mix of low-albedo (<10%) and high-albedo (>10%) asteroids, the characterized NEOs with small perihelion distances show a strong preference for high albedos. Our new NEO model shows that the deficit is likely produced by the super-catastrophic disruption of a substantial fraction of the small and mid-sized NEOs when they reach perihelion distances of a few tens of solar radii.
June 14   Zdzislaw Musielak, University of Texas at Arlington, USA:
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November 9   Sebastian Wolf, Universität Kiel:
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Past Talks:    
February 9   Prof. Dr. Dagmar Schmauks, Technical University, Berlin:
Extra-Terrestrial Life in Science Fiction
    Deutsch Ein erkenntnistheoretischer Aspekt von Science Fiction ist ihr Versuch, unsere erd-, gattungs-, kultur- und epochenspezifischen Vorurteile zu erhellen, also sozusagen eine Außenansicht der Welt des homo sapiens zu bieten. Ein grundlegendes Thema hierbei ist das Zusammentreffen mit außerirdischen Lebensformen. Schlichte Autoren kombinieren nur bekannte Fakten neu, so dass die Außerirdischen irdischen Kraken ähneln oder Stielaugen besitzen. Kreativere Autoren hingegen entwerfen Lebewesen, die kein Vorbild in der irdischen Evolution haben. Einfache Lebensformen werden oft unabsichtlich oder gezielt ausgerottet (schließlich hat sich der Mensch schon öfters als „invasiver Neobiont“ erwiesen). Intelligente Außerirdische sind aus dramaturgischen Gründen oft technologisch weit überlegen, was meist zu spektakulären Kämpfen und selten zu friedlicher Koexistenz führt. Die interessantesten Visionen entwerfen Lebewesen, die eine ganz andere Biologie besitzen (etwa silizium-basiert), die keine Individuen in unserem Sinne sind (etwa Lems Gallert-Ozean Solaris) oder die gar nicht auf Planeten leben (Hoyles Schwarze Wolke). Kontaktversuche mit Außerirdischen sind ein Prüfstein jeder Kommunikationstheorie. Optimistische Texte beschreiben Telepathie oder universelle Übersetzungscomputer, andere machen interessante Vorschläge für den Aufbau gegenseitiger Verständigung. Abschließend werden mögliche Vorteile und Gefahren kosmischer Kontakte skizziert. Und vielleicht sollten wir uns erst einmal um bessere Kontakte mit unseren intelligenten Mitgeschöpfen auf der Erde bemühen?

English An epistemological aspect of science fiction is its attempt to elucidate our prejudices related to earth, species, culture, and epoch, thus delivering an external view on the world of homo sapiens. One basic topic is in the contact with extraterrestrial lifeforms. Simple writers only combine known facts, so that the aliens resemble terrestrial octopuses or possess stalk eyes. More creative authors, however, design creatures without example in terrestrial evolution. Primitive extraterrestrial lifeforms are often exterminated inadvertently or purposefully (after all, humans on earth have already proved themselves to be “invasive neobiota”). Due to dramaturgical reasons, intelligent aliens frequently possess a highly superior technology, usually leading to spectacular battles and rarely to friendly coexistence. The most interesting visions describe living beings that have a completely different biology (such as silicon-based), that are not individuals in our sense (Lems gelatinous ocean Solaris) or are not bound to planets (Hoyles Black Cloud). Contact attempts with extraterrestrials are a touchstone of every communication theory. Optimistic texts describe telepathy or universal translation computers, while others make interesting suggestions for building up mutual understanding. Finally, some possible advantages and dangers of cosmic contacts are sketched. And maybe we should initially try to improve our contacts with our intelligent fellow creatures on earth?
March 2   Travis Metcalfe, Space Science Institute, Boulder, USA:
A stellar context for the solar activity cycle
    Precise photometry from the Kepler space telescope allows not only the measurement of rotation in solar-type field stars, but also the determination of reliable masses and ages from asteroseismology. These critical data have recently provided the first opportunity to calibrate rotation-age relations for stars older than the Sun. The evolutionary picture that emerges is surprising: beyond middle-age the efficiency of magnetic braking is dramatically reduced, implying a fundamental change in angular momentum loss beyond a critical Rossby number (Ro~2). We have compiled chromospheric activity measurements for the sample of Kepler asteroseismic targets that were used to establish the new rotation-age relations. We use these data along with a sample of well-characterized solar analogs from the Mount Wilson HK survey to develop a qualitative scenario connecting the evolution of chromospheric activity to a fundamental shift in the character of differential rotation. We conclude that the Sun may be in a transitional evolutionary phase, and that its magnetic cycle might represent a special case of stellar dynamo theory.
March 23   Ansgar Reiners, Universität Göttingen:
Exoplanets and solar convection: Motivating advances in high accuracy spectroscopy
    Extrasolar planet research has matured from lucky discovery mode to planet characterization and the systematic search for planetary systems. Among the major drivers today is the search for planets around low-mass stars, which include our immediate neighborhood where discoveries inspired groundbreaking ideas like sending spaceprobes to Proxima b. One of the limitations for current and next generation planet surveys is the moving stellar plasma that can introduce Doppler shifts far larger than the radial velocity signal from planets. This convective blueshift is difficult to study on other stars, but a lot can be learned from the Sun. I will give an overview about exoplanetary research and spectrograph development, and I will show how Doppler programs provide (even more) motivation for high accuracy solar spectroscopy.
April 4   Reza Rezai, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias:
Structure of sunspot light bridges in the chromosphere and transition region
    Light bridges are elongated structures with enhanced intensity embedded in sunspot umbra and pores. Using IRIS spectral data, we study properties of a sample of 60 light bridges in the chromosphere and transition region. Traces of photospheric light bridges are found in the near ultra violet Mg II h and k lines as well as in the far ultra violet emission lines of the O I, C II, Si IV and O IV. These set of spectral lines cover the entire chromosphere and lower part of the transition region. We created a sample of mean values for the continuum and line intensities, line shifts and widths. A majority of photospheric light bridges in our sample have an associated enhanced emission in the chromosphere and transition region. In most cases, morphology of light bridges in the chromosphere and transition region are similar to the photospheric light bridge such that a 1-1 correspondence can be established. We measured a systematic shift between position of the light bridges in the transition region and photosphere, which illustrates the three-dimensional structure of light bridges, where the Si IV signal originates from about 3.5 Mm above the photosphere. The line widths increases with the formation temperature in the light bridge atmosphere, similar to quiet Sun. The line profiles have distinctly different shapes in the light bridge and nearby umbra suggesting that the umbral scattered light does not play an important role. Light bridges show red shift in the chromosphere and the transition region. We find the observed co-temporal and co-spatial emission enhancements above photospheric light bridges is a systematic phenomena suggesting that light bridges extend well beyond the photospheric boundary.
April 13   Anish Amarsi, Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Heidelberg:
3D non-LTE spectral line-formation in the Sun and other late-type stars
    The majority of spectroscopic studies of late-type stars are based on one-dimensional (1D) hydrostatic model atmospheres and local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE). It has recently become possible to relax these assumptions, with the development of grids of ab-initio 3D hydrodynamic model stellar atmospheres, efficient codes for 3D multi-level non-LTE radiative transfer, and realistic models for inelastic low-energy collisions. Comparisons with solar spectra, and in particular with solar centre-to-limb variations, can be used to test this new generation of models. In this talk I shall describe recent 3D non-LTE spectral line-formation calculations for oxygen and iron in the solar photosphere, and discuss progress towards applying the 3D non-LTE methodology to other late-type stars.
April 20   Jorge Sanchez Almeida, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, Spain:
What are galaxies feeding from?
    Galaxies are born in the very early Universe. Depending on their properties (mainly on their mass and environment), most of them are still forming today. Galaxies are systems that transform gas into stars, and they are still doing so despite the fact that the galaxies exhaust their gas reservoir in a very short time-scale. The question arises as to where the gas that keep them alive comes from. The answer is clear from the point of view of the numerical simulations of galaxy formation: metal-poor gas is continuously accreted from the cosmic web filaments (e.g., Dekel et al. 2009). However, the hypothetical cosmological gas inflow has been extremely difficult to detect observationally (e.g., Sanchez Almeida et al. 2014). The talk will describe the theoretical framework that explains the formation of galaxies in a cosmological context, the key role played by the accretion of cosmic web gas, and the evidence that we have of the process at work. (Some of this evidence has been gathered by our group; e.g., Sanchez Almeida et al. 2015.) In a sense, the situation is similar the 'quiet revolution' that happened in Solar Physics around the year 2000, when the quiet sun magnetic fields were theoretically predicted (Cattaneo 1999) but when observations only hinted at their existence (e.g., Sanchez Almeida & Martinez Gonzalez 11).
May 4   Alexei Pevtsov, National Solar Observatory, Boulder, USA and University of Oulu, Finland:
“Old” data – new science or why do we need long-term synoptic programs
    It is not uncommon to see the references to recent (cycle 24) solar activity as “exceptionally low” or as an “extended long-term decline”. But how would we know that the current level of activity is unusual if we did not have historical data taken over many cycles? How would we know, for example, what are the strongest field strengths in sunspots and how they change with time or that the amplitude of next cycle could be defined by the strength of polar field in previous cycle if we did not have long-term records of solar activity? Truly, synoptic observations feed future research to solve issues that may not be identified at the time when data are acquired. In my talk, I will discuss the current state of long-term synoptic programs and present results of my recent projects on reconstructing the solar activity using historical data.