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NEXT OCA MEETING
(FREE and open to the public)
Friday May 9th, 2008, 7:30pm
at Chapman University Directions. For pre-meeting slides, click here. News about parking restrictions.

Behemoths of the Universe

Brian Hart, recent graduate of UCI's Physics and Astronomy Department

Brian Hart

Join the Orange County Astronomers for a trip through the depths of space. Brian Hart, recent graduate of UCI's Physics and Astronomy Department, will carry us to galaxy clusters far, far away and reveal the secrets of the biggest objects in the whole Universe. This work was done with the biggest observational sample of clusters put together to date.

Clusters of galaxies are the largest gravitationally-bound objects in the Universe, some measuring some six to nine million light-years across. My work asks whether their shapes (morphologies) change over time as the Universe ages. To study this, I observed a sample of 165 galaxy clusters, stretching over a range of distances from 1.25 billion light-years away at the closest to almost seven billion light-years away at the farthest. A variety of measures were used to quantify the shapes of galaxy clusters’ X-ray light -- by which they can be observed with instruments such as the Chandra X-Ray Observatory -- and this was done at two different distances from clusters’ centers, for comparison. In almost all cases, we can rule out that clusters retain their morphology over the history of the Universe.

Brian Hart graduated last March from UC Irvine with the Ph.D. in Physics. At age 28, he also holds a Master’s in Physics from UC Irvine, and a Bachelor’s in Physics and Mathematics from Hamlin University, which is in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Dr. Hart spent his time at UCI doing research on high-energy astrophysics using the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, an orbiting satellite launched in 1999. At UCI, he acquired experience in orbital mechanics and telemetry analysis. Dr. Hart has been recruited to work at the Army Space Missile Defense Command Technical Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where he will work on satellite-based battleground network support. As part of his defense plans, Dr. Hart is also currently processing to become an Army officer, as the operational responsive space systems he will be developing will need to be used by warfighters in the field. Brian’s objective in attaining his Ph.D. was established as a response to the events of September 11th, as his way of contributing to the global fight against terror.

In his spare time, Brian likes to go out with people having fun, going bowling and country-western dancing. He has even debuted as a professional classical soloist and has sung with the L.A. Philharmonic and Pacific Symphony. Brian is also Director of SoCal Science Café, a regional public outreach network with 825 members. The Café program is dedicated to presenting science & engineering to the general public in ways everyone can understand. We welcome those members of SoCal Science Café who are here with us tonight and thank Dr. Hart for joining us..

 

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