All posts for the month November, 2015

We had our last research group meeting of 2015 on Friday since finals are coming up soon. Fairly large crowd, though, for a meeting so late in the year.

Artist's conception of Vanderburg's disintegrating body. From

Artist’s conception of Vanderburg’s disintegrating body. From

We discussed Andrew Vanderburg’s discovery of a disintegrating minor body orbiting a white dwarf star.  The body, as small as Ceres or smaller, is so close to its host star that it’s actively evaporating and falling apart, and the shadows of the resulting dust cloud is visible data from the K2 Mission. The dust then falls onto the white dwarf, polluting its atmosphere in a way we can see spectrally.

We also had a very impressive presentation from Hari Gopalakrishnan of Renaissance High School on a recent study from Jim Fuller at Caltech. Fuller and colleauges analyzed oscillations at the surface of a red giant star to infer the presence and strength of magnetic fields deep in the star’s interior. Hari kindly shared the presentation, which I’ve linked below.

Attendees at this journal club included Jennifer Briggs, Karan Davis, Emily Jensen, Tyler Gordon, Steven Kreyche, Jake Soares, and Hari Gopalakrishnan.



We had an abbreviated research group meeting today at which we discussed the recent K2 Science Conference before I head off to the DPS conference in Washington DC. Everyone was in good spirits, considering how late in the semester it is. We’re planning to meet once more before Thanksgiving and will probably go on hiatus until spring semester after that.

Today’s attendees included Hari Gopalakrishnan, Jennifer Briggs, Emily Jensen, Karan Davis, Tyler Gordon, Jake Soares, and Steven Kreyche.

k2scicon_web_bannerOn my way back to Boise from the first K2 Science Conference, a week-long conference on the K2 Mission, successor to the Kepler mission.

Although I had to leave only two days into the conference (gotta get back to teach about the Origins of Earth Life), I got to see some amazing talks.

Talks that really stick out in my mind include Natalie Batalha‘s talk about the frequency of Earth-like planets (one for every three Sun-like stars); Roberto Sanchis-Ojeda‘s talk on a disintegrating planet with a cometary tail; and Jim Fuller‘s talk about measuring magnetic fields deep in the hearts of red giant stars by studying waves on the stars’ surfaces. The burritos at Sandbar on State St. are also pretty amazing.

All in all, a dazzling conference in refreshing Santa Barbara, CA.