News & Events

Events Calendar

Jan 14 Sat 11:00am

Universe in the Park: Lowry Nature Center

Universe in the Park is a summer outreach program hosted by the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics and area state and local parks. This annual program is headed by faculty member Evan Skillman and graduate student Nico Adams.

At our events, representatives of the Institute will present a short (~20 min) outdoor public talk and slide show. Presentations cover a variety of astronomical topics such as: the history of matter, how astronomers "see," and a journey through our solar system. For our 2021 season, we will be giving these talks outdoors to ensure they are as safe as possible.

Afterwards, if weather allows, attendees have the opportunity to view the sky through multiple 8-inch reflecting telescopes, operated by the staff and provided by the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics. Additionally, we provide free star maps (e.g., and are happy to show visitors how to use them. Throughout the evening, we encourage questions from the audience and enjoy discussing topics ranging from backyard astronomy to the latest scientific discoveries.

Through these events, we hope to convey the excitement of modern astronomical research while simultaneously providing an enjoyable introduction to amateur astronomy. Although a vehicle permit is usually required to enter the parks, the events are free to the public. Please join us!

Universe in the Park: Eastman Nature Center

The Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics (MIfA) invites you to join us at our free outdoor Universe in the Park events this weekend. At these events, graduate students from MIfA will give a short (~20 minute) outdoor talk about a topic in space science or astronomy. Attendees will be able to look through telescopes set up and directed by graduate students from MIfA, weather allowing. They will also give a short (~20 minute) talk about space science or astronomy.

Workshop on Quantum Materials: New Insights from Neutron Scattering

Center for Quantum Materials, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory present a workshop featuring talks by:

  • Simon Billinge, Columbia University
  • Collin Broholm, Johns Hopkins University
  • Morten Eskildsen, University of Notre Dame
  • Bruce Gaulin, McMaster University
  • Alexander Grutter, National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Mingda Li , Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Sajna Hameed, University of Minnesota
  • Peter Littlewood, University of Chicago
  • Despina Louca, University of Virginia
  • Martin Mourigal, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Sebastian Mühlbauer, Technische Universität München
  • Raymond Osborn, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Damjan Pelc, University of Zagreb
  • Natalia Perkins, University of Minnesota
  • Kate Ross, Colorado State University
  • Alan Tennant, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • John Tranquada, Brookhaven National Laboratory
  • Zhentao Wang, University of Minnesota
  • Stephen Wilson, University of California, Santa Barbara






Kristen McQuinn, Rutgers University: Dwarf Galaxies as Time Machines

Dwarf Galaxies as Time Machines

The smallest galaxies in our Universe encode their history 
in the age of their stars and in the distribution of their 
chemical elements, yielding some of the most precise 
observational constraints on galaxy evolution across 10 
billion years of time. Because they are also the most 
fragile of galaxies – susceptible to both powerful 
internal events like supernovae and external forces 
like the radiation field that pervades space – the 
survivability and present-day properties of dwarfs also
provide unique tests for our theories of cosmology. I 
will describe some of the measurements we can make from 
dwarf galaxies and how these measurements constrain 
our models of galaxy evolution.

Commencement Ceremony for the School of Physics and Astronomy

Members of the School of Physics and Astronomy would like to extend their congratulations to the Class of 2021. There will be a commencement ceremony on Monday May 10th, from 7:00-8:00pm at McNamara Alumni Center. In order to keep within social distancing guidelines, in person participation is limited to the graduates themselves. Guests and well-wishers will be able to watch the ceremony online via the link above.

Please join us in celebrating our graduates and their contributions to the School!

Colloquium: Dr. Jason Crnkovic, University of Mississippi

Abstract:The Fermilab Muon g-2 Collaboration has recently released its first measurement of the positive muon magnetic anomaly with a precision of 0.46 ppm. This measurement is consistent with the previous measurement made at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where there is a 4.2 standard deviation difference between the Standard Model prediction recommended by the Muon g-2 Theory Initiative and the combined first Fermilab and final BNL measurements. This difference hints at the possibility of physics beyond the Standard Model. This talk will give an overview of the Muon g-2 Experiment and the first measurement of the muon anomaly at Fermilab.

Colloquium will be preceded by short ceremony to honor scholarship and fellowship award recipients

Colloquium: Christophe Grojean, DESY

With the discovery of the long sought-after Higgs boson at CERN in July 2012, a new state of matter and a new dynamical principle have been revealed as essential building blocks of the fundamental laws of physics.  It provides a solution to the half-century-old mass conundrum, i.e., the apparent incompatibility between the mass spectrum of the elementary particles and their fundamental interactions.   I shall describe the Higgs physics precision program that will guide new physics searches at the high-energy frontier at the next runs of the LHC itself and at other future facilities. 

Women in Physics and Astronomy talk: Marija Vucelja, University of Virginia

Abstract: Comparing two identical systems in their relaxation to the environment, we expect that the system with a smaller mismatch between its and the environment's temperature will thermalize faster -- yet it is not always the case. The Mpemba effect is an example of an anomalous relaxation process, where "hot cools down faster than cold" or "cold heads up faster than warm." The effect was experimentally observed in water, magnetic systems, clathrate hydrates, polymers, and colloidal particle systems. It was simulated in granular fluids, spin-glasses, driven gasses, quantum systems, magnetic alloys, and gases without equipartition. The numerous occurrences of the effect imply that it is general. To understand the general nature of the Mpemba effect, we theoretically study a model system -- the overdamped dynamics of a particle moving on a potential surface. We connect the occurrence of the Mpemba effect with the properties of the potential, characteristics of its meta-stable states, and provide further insight into anomalous relaxation processes.

*This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1944539.

Colloquium: Gianna Cauzzi, National Solar Observatory National Institute of Astrophysics

The Sun represents a template for much of our understanding of the workings of a "cool", active star, and its proximity allows us to observe exquisite details at its surface, with current facilities routinely reaching resolutions of few hundreds of km
on the solar disk.

Yet, many questions still linger, in particular concerning the actual mechanism(s) that create and maintain a hot outer atmosphere, as well as the solar wind. We know that a major role is played by the magnetic field, that mediates the transfer to the upper atmosphere of the abundant energy provided by surface convection. However, very little is currently known about the field itself in these upper layers, owing to the difficulty of measuring and interpreting the weak polarization signal created by its presence. Similarly, we observe a dazzling variety of small and highly dynamic features that are often invoked as responsible for providing mass and energy to the corona and the wind; yet big uncertainties exist on their physical characteristics due to the small scales involved.

In this talk I will focus on some of these open questions, and discuss how progress from upcoming observational facilities will improve our understanding of the magnetic and thermodynamic structure of the solar atmosphere. In particular, I will describe the possibilities provided by the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) of the US National Science Foundation, a 4-meter facility on the island of Maui, Hawai'i, which is currently being commissioned.  With its unprecedented collecting area, suite of complementary instruments, and coronographic capabilities, DKIST will provide the highest-resolution observations of the Sun ever achieved, as well as the sensitivity to measure the
vector magnetic field in the chromosphere and in the faint corona.

(*) The DKIST is built and operated by the National Solar Observatory, a research center operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation Division of Astronomical Sciences.

Universe@ Home: The Theory of General Relativity (And You)

The Theory of General Relativity (And You)

Presenters: Nico Adams, Maxwell Kuschel and Avery Wold

Right now, astronauts on the International Space Station are moving faster through time than you are. Similarly, your head is moving very slightly faster than your feet. These things are a result of the General Theory of Relativity, which states that Earth's gravity warps the space and time that we live in. In this talk, we'll discuss a few ways that general relativity is currently affecting you on Earth, and how astronomers have measured these effects in space.

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