Colloquia and Events

Abstract for this week's colloquium (Thursday, Nov. 17, 3:05 - 4:20 pm):

Virginie Faramaz,  U. Arizona, "From Icy Comet Belts to the Habitable Zone"

One of the most prominent goals of astronomical sciences is to unravel whether we are alone in the Universe or not.  In its recently issued decadal survey, the whole astronomical community identified future space missions dedicated to this endeavor as an utmost priority.  As a result, the next decade of the field of exoplanetary sciences will be focused on developing the technology and instruments that will allow for the direct observation of exoplanets in the so-called Habitable Zone (HZ) of their host stars. As these exoplanets orbit where water could exist in liquid form, they seem at first to be excellent candidates to search for biomarkers in their atmospheres. However, the early stages of planet formation often lead planets forming there to undergo extreme radiations from their host star, leading them to be sterile. 
This means that it takes more than orbiting in the HZ to make a given planet a relevant target for the search for exolife. The actual best candidate systems are those in which we have indications that water and volatiles frozen beyond the iceline have been transported towards the HZ. Beyond the ice-line, the mass of km-sized bodies that make up reservoirs analogues to the Solar System's Kuiper Belt and Asteroid Belt -- called "debris disks -- is essentially dominated by water and simple organic molecular ices.  It is through interactions between planets and these reservoirs that seeds for life can be transported to the innermost parts of a system, under the form of exocomets. These in turn can also deliver dust in the HZ as they sublimate, generating analogues to the Solar System’s Zodiacal Cloud, an exozodi.
I am a global specialist of planets and debris disks interactions, and of the dynamical production of exocomets and exozodis. In this talk, I want to take you through a tour of exoplanetary systems from their outermost icy comet belts to the star’s sublimation radius. I want to talk to you about how planets, comets, and dust grains are interconnected, the techniques that I use to get information on all these components (ALMA, LBTI), and how studying these components takes us closer to discovering exolife.

Want to meet our Speaker on Thursday before the talk? Send an email to Dr. Terebey ([email protected]) with your preferred time 1:30, 1:45, 2:00, 2:15pm to get the Zoom link.

Fall 2022 Dept of Physics and Astronomy Colloquium Schedule

(will be updated throughout the semester)

            Thursdays 3:05pm – 4:20pm

             Zoom link:

  • Aug 25  No talk, first week of class
  • Sept 1  Meet & Greet in person, Bios159 followed by refreshments outdoors 
  • Sept 8  CANCELLED
  • Sept 15  Karine Le Bris, CSULA, atmospheric physics, "Determination of the radiative properties and detection of organofluorine compounds by mid-infrared spectroscopy"
  • Sept 22  Lizxandra Flores Rivera, MPIfA Heidelberg, astrophysics,  "Evolution of protoplanetary disks and planet formation"
  • Sept 29  David Van Buren,  JPL, "Medical Physics meets Aerospace Engineering in the Age of COVID:  the NASA Globally Accessible Ventilators"
  • Oct 6  Anna Nierenberg, UC Merced, "Revealing Dark Matter with Strongly Lensed Quasars"
  • Oct 13  Stephanie Meng Shen, CSU Fullerton, "The understanding and design of composite soft materials by computational simulations"
  • Oct 20  Fabien Florent Pinaud, USC, "Using single protein imaging microscopy to better understand diseases: applications to muscular dystrophies"
  • Oct 27  CANCELLED Giulia Palermo, UC Riverside, "Dynamics and mechanisms of CRISPR-Cas9 through the lens of computational methods"
  • Nov 3  Arianna Long, UT Austin, "Taming Giants: Studies on the Evolution of Massive Dusty Star-Forming Galaxies at High Redshifts"
  • Nov 10  Aisulu Aitbekova, Caltech, "Engineering catalytic materials for sustainable energy applications"
  • Nov 17  Virginie Faramaz,  U. Arizona, "From Icy Comet Belts to the Habitable Zone"
  • Nov 24  Thanksgiving Holiday
  • Dec 1  In person, Bios159, Christopher Gutiérrez, UCLA Physics & Astronomy, experimental condensed matter
  • Dec 8   No talk, last week of class