News & Events

Events Calendar

Jan 14 Sat 11:00am

Colloquium: Peter Littlewood, University of Chicago


Colloquium: Ethan Neil, University of Colorado


Colloquium: Sheldon Goldstein, Rutgers


Karlis Kaufmanis Lecture

The Weirdest Galaxies in the Universe

Dr. Julianne Dalcanton (Director, CCA, Flatiron Institute)

The Universe is filled with wonders, great and small.  In many cases, these wonders arise out of the order that the laws of physics imprint on the stars and galaxies that populate our universe.  But sometimes, this remarkable order is disturbed, producing truly outlandish departures from what astronomers consider to be “normal”.  In this talk, Dr. Dalcanton will highlight some of the weirdest galaxies in the universe, many of which are best revealed with the Hubble Space Telescope and its successors.

Register for the event

Colloquium: Zhen Liu, Physics, UMN


Think Global, Act Local: Demographics of the Space Sciences


Colloquium: Jos Uffink, Philosphy, UMN


Thermodynamics, a venerable physical theory from the 19th century,  is nowadays often regarded as just a limiting case of the various theories in statistical physics in the “thermodynamical limit”;  not as a physical theory on its own.  Nevertheless, there are arguments to take the approach of the 19th century founders of this theory  (Clausius, Kelvin, and Planck a.o.)  seriously even today as thermodynamics is being applied to more exotic objects like black holes. 

I will in this talk review the foundational assumptions of classical thermodynamics and problems and the disputes surrounding them until today.

Colloquium: Raffaella Margutti, U of CA, Berkeley

Abstract: Astronomical transients are signposts of catastrophic events in space, including the most extreme stellar deaths, stellar tidal disruptions by supermassive black holes, and mergers of compact objects. Thanks to new and improved observational facilities we can now sample the night sky with unprecedented temporal cadence and sensitivity across the electromagnetic spectrum and beyond. This effort has led to the discovery of new types of astronomical transients, revolutionized our understanding of phenomena that we thought we already knew, and enabled the first insights into the physics of neutron star mergers with gravitational waves and light. In this talk I will review some very recent developments that resulted from our capability to acquire a truly panchromatic view of transient astrophysical phenomena. I will focus on two key areas of ignorance in the field: (i) What are the progenitors of stellar explosions and what happens in the last centuries before death? (ii) What is the nature of the compact objects produced by these explosions and what happens when compact objects merge? The unique combination of Discovery Power (guaranteed by planned transient surveys across the electromagnetic spectrum, combined with efforts in the realm of artificial intelligence) and Understanding (enabled by multi-messenger observations) is what positions time-domain astrophysics for major advances in the near future.

Colloquium: Irfan Siddiqi, UC Berkley

Abstract:  Quantum mechanics describes the physical world around us with exquisite precision, with no known violations of the theory. Ironically, this precision comes with some additional baggage: the theory permits the existence of a host of complex, delicate entangled states of the physical world, many of which have yet to be produced or observed. The debate of whether their quantum entanglement really captures the fundamental nature of the physical world and is an engineering resource is reaching a critical moment.  Quantum processors with of order 100 qubits based on superconducting circuitry have recently demonstrated computing power on par with the most advanced classical supercomputers for select problems. Current hardware is, however, prone to errors from materials defects, imperfect control systems, and the leakage of quantum information into unwanted modes in the solid-state. I will describe the major decoherence pathways present in state-of-the-art superconducting quantum processors, illustrate techniques to maximize the computing power of imperfect qubits, and highlight recent quantum computations for determining chemical energies, solutions to the transverse-field Ising model, scrambling dynamics in black holes, and nuclear scattering.

Irfan Siddiqi is the Director, Quantum Nanoelectronics Laboratory (QNL) U of CA, Berkeley

Colloquium: Katrin Heitmann, Argonne National Laboratory

Abstract:  Three decades of surveying the sky have culminated in the celebrated cosmological standard model, yet 95% of the mass-energy of the Universe is still a mystery, residing in dark matter and dark energy. To address these mysteries, major cosmological surveys are ongoing and new ones will soon start. There are tremendous modeling and simulation challenges posed by these observations in order to enable the full interpretation of the associated cosmological measurements. In this talk I will discuss recent advances in large-scale simulations on the way to prepare for the arrival of the first exascale supercomputers. I will describe an ambitious end-to-end simulation project that attempts to provide a faithful view of the Universe as seen through the Rubin Observatory's Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). This resulting synthetic sky provides many opportunities for exploring new ways to optimize the science return of LSST.

School News

Light from supernova

Kelly leads study of Red-supergiant supernova images

School of Physics and Astronomy Professor Patrick Kelly led a team that has measured the size of a star dating back more than 11 billion years ago using images that show the evolution of the star
Sauviz Alaei

Alaei named Apker Finalist

Sauviz Alaei, B.S. Physics, 22 was named a 2022 Leroy Apker Award Finalist by the American Physical Society. The LeRoy Apker Award recognizes outstanding achievements in physics by undergraduate
Vlad Pribiag

Pribiag group creates first few-mode multi-terminal Josephson junction

Professor Vlad Pribiag from the School of Physics and Astronomy led a group effort that has experimentally realized a long-theorized few-mode multi-terminal Josephson junction.
Marie Lopez del Puerto

Lopez Del Puerto wins Excellence in Physics Education Award

Marie Lopez del Puerto, (Physics PhD, ‘08), currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, was a recent recipient of the American Physical
Maxim Pospelov

Pospelov named APS Fellow

Maxim Pospelov, Professor of the School of Physics and Astronomy, has been named a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Anatoly Larkin

2022 Larkin Awards announced

The inaugural Fine Theoretical Physics Institute Larkin Awards have been announced.
TURBO telescope

Kelly receives $1 million grant to build superfast ‘TURBO’ telescopes

A team led by School of Physics and Astronomy Assistant Professor, Patrick Kelly, is constructing two sets of telescopes that will open a new window into the collisions of neutron stars and black
Ben Messerly

Messerly wins Postdoc Award

Dr. Ben Messerly, postdoctoral researcher in the School of Physics and Astronomy, won a 2022 UMN Postdoc Award for Teaching and Mentoring.
Alexander McLeod

McLeod receives Young Scientist Prize

Assistant Professor Alex McLeod of the School of Physics and Astronomy has received the 2022 International Union of Pure and Applied Sciences Young Scientist Prize.
Ali Sulaiman

Ringleader: New faculty member is expert in planetary physics

This fall, the School will welcome Ali Sulaiman to the space physics group.

School of Physics and Astronomy Seminar Calendar