2014 U of T Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Astronomy & Astrophysics (Deadline January 31, 2014)

Le groupe d’Astronomie de l’Université de Toronto invite les étudiants de premier cycle en Astronomie, Physique et Ingénierie à candidater à notre Programme d’été de Recherche pour premier cycle Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP), une chance unique offerte aux étudiants pour préparer leur carrière dans le domaine de la recherche scientifique.

Pendant le programme de 16 semaines, les participants pourront :

  • Acquérir de l’expérience en recherche scientifique, en conduisant un projet relié à la recherche scientifique effectuée à l’Université de Toronto (UdeT)
  • Collaborer avec des astronomes de l’UdeT
  • Améliorer leurs compétences en matière de communication et rédaction scientifique
  • Mieux connaitre les recherches effectuées à l’UdeT
  • Participer aux activités d’information destinées au grand publique

Les étudiants travailleront en collaboration avec des astronomes de l’Institut Dunlap (Dunlap Institute), du Département d’Astronomie et d’Astrophysique (Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics DAA), ou l’Institut Canadien d’Astrophysique Théorique (Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics CITA), en fonction de leur projet de recherche et de leur intérêt.

Le programme SURP offre aux étudiants l’opportunité de travailler dans un centre majeur de recherche astronomique au Canada. Le groupe d’astronomie de l’UdeT est une alliance unique de trois unités ayant des expertises complémentaires en recherche observationnelle, en instrumentation astronomique (Dunlap), et en astrophysique théorique (CITA).

Le programme aura lieu du 5 Mai au 22 Août 2014. La date limite d’application au programme est le 31 Janvier, la date d’offre officielle sera envoyée le 7 Février.

Pour plus de détails, merci de visiter le site

http://www.dunlap.utoronto.ca/SURP

http://www.cita.utoronto.ca/SURP

SKA Domain Specialist, Jodrell Bank Observatory (Deadline February 14, 2014)

SKA ORGANISATION

Job Title: Domain Specialist (Operations)
Reference: DSO
Reports To: SKA Architect
Location: Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire, UK
Closing Date for applications: Closing date for receipt of completed applications is Friday 14th February 2014. For details of how to apply please see below.
Submission of applications: Email to jobs@skatelescope.org

Organisation Background
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a global project to build a multi-purpose radio telescope that will play a major role in answering key questions in modern astrophysics and cosmology. It will be one of a small number of cornerstone observatories around the world that will provide astrophysicists and cosmologists with a transformational view of the Universe. The SKA will be constructed in two distinct phases. The major science goals for the first phase, SKA1, will be to study the history and role of neutral Hydrogen in the Universe from the dark ages to the present-day, and to employ pulsars as probes of fundamental physics.

Since 2008, the global radio astronomy community has been engaged in the development of the SKA as a major part of the ‘Preparatory’ phase of the project. The Preparatory phase ended in December 2011 and, following a number of major changes, the international SKA project has now progressed to the ‘Pre-Construction’ phase (2012-15) with the establishment of a new legal entity, the SKA Organisation, on 14 December 2011. Ten governments are now participating in the project, with others engaged in discussions concerning possible membership. The SKA Organisation is now headquartered in a purpose-built building at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, UK.

General Description
The Office of the SKA Organisation (“SKA Office”) leads the SKA system design and oversees the detailed design being undertaken within the globally distributed SKA work packages (WPs). To accomplish this goal the SKA Office is employing highly qualified scientists and engineers, project managers and system engineers. Work packages for the major SKA subsystems (elements) have been be contracted to a small number of work package consortia who are responsible for the management, execution and delivery of the work packages. The technical strategy and philosophy of the project are strongly based on system engineering principles.

The Role
Domain specialists are staff with extensive experience in a particular field of interest to the SKA. They may cross work breakdown structure boundaries and advise more than one work package manager. They support the SKA Architect in the generation of the top-level requirements and any re-baselining activities. Domain specialists provide engineering performance analysis as well as costing and other information to work package managers.

We seek a Domain Specialist in the area of Telescope Operations to ensure that operational constraints and requirements are incorporated in the design of SKA1.

Key Duties, Accountabilities and Responsibilities

Under the direction of the SKA Architect the postholder will:

• Support the SKA Architect in the generation of the top-level requirements, design and any re-baselining activities.
• Provide engineering performance analysis as required.
• Provide updates and reports as necessary.
• Work with Work Package Consortia (WPC) or equivalent, as appropriate to provide guidance, advice and technical assistance in their domain area of expertise.
• As required, engage in design reviews.
• Participate in team projects, and to provide specialist assistance to working groups, colleagues and WPCs.
• Travel, as required, to any of the SKA countries.
• As required, provide advice and guidance to SKA Office Project Managers and System Engineers.
• Undertake training in the financial, occupational health and safety, and human resource management procedures applicable to the SKA or its partners.
• In collaboration with others in the SKA Office and appropriate external parties, document the results of investigations, planning and production of requirements for all aspects of SKA operations.
• As the SKA design work progresses, participate in the design of operations-related components and sub-systems, which as examples could include:
o Assembly/documentation of operational scenarios and use cases,
o Estimation of operations costs,
o Availability and reliability analysis, maintenance planning,
o Development of logistics planning and human resource deployment,
o Assistance with science operations planning,
o Human-machine interfaces (HMI),
o Safety procedures,
o Operations requirements.
• Undertake any other reasonable duties as directed by the post holder’s line manager or a member of SKA Organisation Senior Management Team.
Mandatory Qualifications, Experience and Knowledge:
• Recognised university degree-level education/training in engineering or physical sciences.
• If required or relevant, maintain or obtain status as a professional or chartered engineer.
• Analytical skills. Experience with analysis/simulation, design tools and programming languages related to technical operations analysis.
• Good English oral and written communication skills.
• Experience in presenting work orally at meetings and other forums.
• Demonstrated experience at a high level with practical day-to-day technical operations of a large science facility.
• Experience with strategic planning for operations of a large science facility.
Desirable Qualifications, Experience and Knowledge:
• Experience with operations of a radio astronomy or astronomy facility.
• Familiarity with radio astronomy or a closely allied field.
• Industry experience, and/or a track record in successful collaborative links with industry.
• Familiarity with the formalism for, and requirements of, quality control environments such as ISO9000.
For more information on the SKA project visit http://www.skatelescope.org. The SKA Organisation offers a competitive salary, a generous company pension scheme, annual bonus and a flexible benefits package. The successful applicant’s workplace will be located at the SKA Office at Jodrell Bank, UK.

How to apply:

Please send a CV and covering letter to jobs@skatelescope.org, quoting reference DSO. Applications should include a summary of project experience, addressing the mandatory and desirable requirements explicitly, a resume and the names of at least three professional references. Closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 14th February 2014.

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Dr. Rob Thacker to chair the Mid Term Review Panel

The CASCA Board is pleased to announce that Dr. Rob Thacker will chair the panel charged with the Mid Term Review of the 2010 Long Range Plan for Canadian Astronomy.

Dr. Thacker, one of Canada’s preeminent scientists in the field of galaxy evolution and structure formation, is a Full Professor and Canada Research Chair at Saint Mary’s University, where he is presently serving as chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department. His dedication and service to the Canadian astronomical community is extensive. He was a member of the CASCA Board between 2007 and 2010, and has since been invaluable in advising and assisting the Board on issues ranging from the state of financial support for astronomical research to national initiatives related to High Performance Computing. He was one of the original members of CASCA’s Long Range Plan Implementation Committee, and is presently the Chair of Compute Canada’s Advisory Council of Research. Most importantly, Dr. Thacker was one of the seven members of the 2010 Long Range Plan Panel. He is therefore intimately familiar with the LRP process and is in a unique position to undertake the critical task of leading the team in charge of evaluating progress on the LRP five years after its release, and advising on future directions.

On behalf of the CASCA Board and the entire astronomical community, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly express my appreciation and gratitude to Dr. Thacker for taking on this critical role.

Laura Ferrarese
CASCA President

CASCA’s 2014 Executive Award for Outstanding Service Presented to Dr. Peter G. Martin (January 29, 2014)

In alternate years, the CASCA Board has the honour to bestow the Executive Award for Outstanding Service « to an individual who has made sustained contributions in service that have strengthened the Canadian astronomical community and enhanced its impact regionally, nationally and/or internationally. » Dr. Peter G. Martin, of the University of Toronto, is the recipient of the 2014 Executive Award.

A graduate of the University of Cambridge, Dr. Martin moved to the University of Toronto shortly after receiving his PhD in 1972, where he quickly began a series of efforts — continuing to the present day — that bolstered Canada’s reputation as a world leader in astronomical research. In 1984, he co-founded the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Research (CITA), which quickly grew into one of the world’s leading centres for theoretical astrophysics. During the past decade, he worked tirelessly to establish the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, now poised to become a major centre for the development of astronomical instrumentation. The Canadian astronomical community, as a whole, benefits greatly from both CITA and the Dunlap Institute: e.g., through CITA’s National Fellows program, a vital source of postdoctoral funding for Universities across the country, and through the outreach efforts to which both Institutes are firmly committed.

Dr. Martin’s contributions to the national community are equally extensive. He has served on countless national and international committees, including the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), of which he was one of the founding advisors. His ties with CASCA are particularly strong: he served as President of the Society between 2006 and 2008, and two of CASCA’s most prestigious awards, the Martin award and the Dunlap Award for Innovation in Astronomical Research Tools, are endowed thanks to his initiative.

With over 280 publications in peer reviewed journals, on topics ranging from the interstellar medium to active galactic nuclei, Dr. Martin has received numerous prizes and honours, including CASCA’s Beals Award in 1994. He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 2007.

For more than four decades, Dr. Martin has been a driving force and steadfast supporter of astronomy in Canada. In bestowing the Executive award on behalf of the entire astronomical community, the CASCA Board recognizes his outstanding contributions to our society and extends to Dr. Martin a small, but heartfelt, token of our gratitude.

Milky Way amidst a ‘Council of Giants’ (March 11, 2014)

We live in a galaxy known as the Milky Way – a vast conglomeration of 300 billion stars, planets whizzing around them, and clouds of gas and dust floating in between.

Though it has long been known that the Milky Way and its orbiting companion Andromeda are the dominant members of a small group of galaxies, the Local Group, which is about 3 million light years across, much less was known about our immediate neighbourhood in the universe.

Now, a new paper by York University Physics & Astronomy Professor Marshall McCall, published today in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, maps out bright galaxies within 35-million light years of the Earth, offering up an expanded picture of what lies beyond our doorstep.

“All bright galaxies within 20 million light years, including us, are organized in a ‘Local Sheet’ 34-million light years across and only 1.5-million light years thick,” says McCall. “The Milky Way and Andromeda are encircled by twelve large galaxies arranged in a ring about 24-million light years across – this ‘Council of Giants’ stands in gravitational judgment of the Local Group by restricting its range of influence.”

McCall says twelve of the fourteen giants in the Local Sheet, including the Milky Way and Andromeda, are « spiral galaxies » which have highly flattened disks in which stars are forming. The remaining two are more puffy « elliptical galaxies », whose stellar bulks were laid down long ago. Intriguingly, the two ellipticals sit on opposite sides of the Council. Winds expelled in the earliest phases of their development might have shepherded gas towards the Local Group, thereby helping to build the disks of the Milky Way and Andromeda.

McCall also examined how galaxies in the Council are spinning. He comments: “Thinking of a galaxy as a screw in a piece of wood, the direction of spin can be described as the direction the screw would move (in or out) if it were turned the same way as the galaxy rotates. Unexpectedly, the spin directions of Council giants are arranged around a small circle on the sky. This unusual alignment might have been set up by gravitational torques imposed by the Milky Way and Andromeda when the universe was smaller.”

The boundary defined by the Council has led to insights about the conditions which led to the formation of the Milky Way. Most important, only a very small enhancement in the density of matter in the universe appears to have been required to produce the Local Group. To arrive at such an orderly arrangement as the Local Sheet and its Council, it seems that nearby galaxies must have developed within a pre-existing sheet-like foundation comprised primarily of dark matter.

“Recent surveys of the more distant universe have revealed that galaxies lie in sheets and filaments with large regions of empty space called voids in between,” says McCall. “The geometry is like that of a sponge. What the new map reveals is that structure akin to that seen on large scales extends down to the smallest.”

Original Press Release from the Royal Astronomical Society, on behalf of York University, Toronto, Canada (RAS PR 14/16)

Media Contacts

Robin Heron
Media Relations
York University
Canada
Tel: +1 416 736 2100 x22097
rheron@yorku.ca

Robert Massey
Royal Astronomical Society
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307 x214
Mob: +44 (0)794 124 8035
rm@ras.org.uk

Images and animations

Image 1: https://www.ras.org.uk/images/stories/press/Local%20sheet%20topview.jpg
A diagram showing the brightest galaxies within 20 million light years of the Milky Way, as seen from above. The largest galaxies, here shown in yellow at different points around the dotted line, make up the ‘Council of Giants’. Credit: Marshall McCall / York University

Image 2: https://www.ras.org.uk/images/stories/press/Local%20sheet%20sideview.jpg
A diagram showing the brightest galaxies within 20 million light years of the Milky Way, this time viewed from the side. Credit: Marshall McCall / York University

Movie with sound: http://youtube/VzL7xGzfNlU (channel YorkU Astronomer)
An animation that illustrates the positions of the nearby galaxies, including those in the ‘Council of Giants’, in three dimensions. Credit: Marshall McCall / York University

Movie with no sound: https://www.ras.org.uk/images/stories/press/council_of_giants_nosound_v2.mp4
An animation that illustrates the positions of the nearby galaxies, including those in the ‘Council of Giants’, in three dimensions. Credit: Marshall McCall / York University

Further information

The new work appears in “A Council of Giants”, M. L. McCall, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Oxford University Press, in press. A copy of the paper is available from http://mnras.oxfordjournals.org/lookup/doi/10.1093/mnras/stu199

‘Death Stars’ in Orion Blast Planets before They Even Form (March 13, 2014)

The Orion Nebula is home to hundreds of young stars and even younger protostars known as proplyds. Many of these nascent systems will go on to develop planets, while others will have their planet-forming dust and gas blasted away by the fierce ultraviolet radiation emitted by massive O-type stars that lurk nearby.

A team of astronomers from Canada and the United States has used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to study the often deadly relationship between highly luminous O-type stars and nearby protostars in the Orion Nebula. Their data reveal that protostars within 0.1 light-years (about 600 billion miles) of an O-type star are doomed to have their cocoons of dust and gas stripped away in just a few millions years, much faster than planets are able to form.

“O-type stars, which are really monsters compared to our Sun, emit tremendous amounts of ultraviolet radiation and this can play havoc during the development of young planetary systems,” remarked Rita Mann, an astronomer with the National Research Council of Canada in Victoria, and lead author on a paper in the Astrophysical Journal. “Using ALMA, we looked at dozens of embryonic stars with planet-forming potential and, for the first time, found clear indications where protoplanetary disks simply vanished under the intense glow of a neighboring massive star.”

Many, if not all, Sun-like stars are born in crowded stellar nurseries similar to the Orion Nebula. Over the course of just a few million years, grains of dust and reservoirs of gas combine into larger, denser bodies. Left relatively undisturbed, these systems will eventually evolve into fully fledged star systems, with planets – large and small – and ultimately drift away to become part of the galactic stellar population.

Astronomers believe that massive yet short-lived stars in and around large interstellar clouds are essential for this ongoing process of star formation. At the end of their lives, massive stars explode as supernovas, seeding the surrounding area with dust and heavy elements that will get taken up in the next generation of stars. These explosions also provide the kick necessary to initiate a new round of star and planet formation. But while they still shine bright, these larger stars can be downright deadly to planets if an embryonic solar systems strays too close.

“Massive stars are hot and hundreds of times more luminous than our Sun,” said James Di Francesco, also with the National Research Council of Canada. “Their energetic photons can quickly deplete a nearby protoplanetary disk by heating up its gas, breaking it up, and sweeping it away.”

Earlier observations with the Hubble Space Telescope revealed striking images proplyds in Orion. Many had taken on tear-drop shapes, with their dust and gas trailing away from a nearby massive star. These optical images, however, couldn’t reveal anything about the amount of dust that was present or how the dust and gas concentrations changed in relation to massive stars.

The new ALMA observations detected these and other never-before-imaged proplyds, essentially doubling the number of protoplanetary disks discovered in that region. ALMA also could see past their surface appearance, peering deep inside to actually measure how much mass was in the proplyds.
Combining these studies with previous observations from the Submillimeter Array (SMA) in Hawai‛i, the researchers found that any protostar within the extreme-UV envelope of a massive star would have much of its disk of material destroyed in very short order. Proplyds in these close-in regions retained only a fraction (one half or less) of the mass necessary to create one Jupiter-sized planet. Beyond the 0.1 light-year radius, in the far-UV dominated region, the researchers observed a wide range of disk masses containing anywhere for one to 80 times the mass of Jupiter. This is similar to the amount of dust found in low-mass star forming regions.

“Taken together, our investigations with ALMA suggest that extreme UV regions are not just inhospitable, but they’re downright hazardous for planet formation. With enough distance, however, it’s possible to find a much more congenial environment,” said Mann. “This work is really the tip of the iceberg of what will come out of ALMA; we hope to eventually learn how common solar systems like our own are.”

Other researchers involved in this project include Doug Johnstone, National Research Council of Canada; Sean M. Andrews, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Jonathan P. Williams, University of Hawai‛i; John Bally, University of Colorado; Luca Ricci, California Institute of Technology; A. Meredith Hughes, Wesleyan University, and Brenda C. Matthews, National Research Council of Canada.

Official press release: https://public.nrao.edu/news/pressreleases/death-stars-in-orion

Carlyle S. Beals Award Presented to Dr. Harvey Richer (March 18, 2014)

The Carlyle S. Beals Award is awarded biennially in recognition of outstanding achievement in research — either a specific achievement or a lifetime of research. CASCA is pleased to announce Prof. Harvey B. Richer, from the University of British Columbia, as the recipient of the 2014 Carlyle S. Beals Award.

Prof. Richer received his Ph.D. in 1970 from the University of Rochester, where he studied the physical properties of carbon stars under the supervision of Prof. Stuart Sharpless. Soon afterwards, he joined the faculty at the University of British Columbia where he has remained ever since. An internationally recognized expert on stellar populations in the Milky Way, star clusters and external galaxies, Prof. Richer was a pioneer in the study of globular clusters with CCDs, carrying out a number of landmark studies of these important stellar systems beginning with CFHT in the mid 1980s and continuing until the present day with the Hubble Space Telescope. Notable highlights from his more than 140 refereed publications include the discovery of young globular clusters in the outer halo, and a series of papers characterizing the faint but extensive white dwarf populations belonging to the globular clusters M4, NGC 6397 and 47 Tucanae.

In addition to his research on globular clusters and their constituent stars, Prof. Richer has worked on wide range of topics in astrophysics, including the mass function of the Galactic halo, optical counterparts of X-ray sources, and ground-layer adaptive optics systems for ground-based telescopes.

CASCA congratulates Prof. Richer on a distinguished career of scientific achievement and community service.

CASCA/RASC’s Plaskett Medal Presented to Dr. Andrew Pon (March 19, 2014)

The J.S. Plaskett Medal is awarded annually by CASCA and the Royal
Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) to the Ph.D. graduate from a
Canadian university who is judged to have submitted the most outstanding
doctoral thesis in astronomy or astrophysics during the preceding two
calendar years. We are pleased to announce Dr. Andrew Richard Pon as
the 2014 recipient of the J.S. Plaskett Medal.

Dr. Pon completed his doctoral studies at the University of Victoria in
2013 under the supervision of Dr. Douglas Johnstone (UVic, NRC-Herzberg).
His thesis, entitled « Shocks, Superbubbles, and Filaments: Investigations
into Large Scale Gas Motions in Giant Molecular Clouds », covers a wide
range of topics in star formation — including gravitational collapse,
turbulent heating, and Galactic ecology. This work bridges theory and
observations, and crosses traditional boundaries between the detailed
investigation of individual nearby star-forming regions and the much
larger scale studies of galactic-scale star formation.

Dr. Pon is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Leeds,
where he is continuing his studies of turbulent dissipation and shock
heating in molecular clouds.

CASCA congratulates Dr. Pon on the receipt of the 2014 J.S. Plaskett medal.

Cassiopeia Newsletter – 2014 Vernal Equinox

An ALMA Update

ACURA News

NRC Herzberg News

Nouvelles de CNRC Herzberg

Message from the President

Les évolutions des populations A&A dans les universités canadiennes

The Evolution of A&A Populations in Canadian Universities

News from the Canadian Gemini Office

Nouvelles de l’Office Gemini Canadien

Thirty Meter Telescope Project Update

Herschel Update

Obituary – Richard Adrian Jarrell