Colloquium: Shun Karato (Host: Jason Jackiewicz)
Oct 25 @ 3:15 pm – 4:15 pm
Colloquium: Shun Karato (Host: Jason Jackiewicz) @ BX102

Solving the Puzzles of the Moon

Shun Karato, Yale University

After 50 years from the first landing of men on the Moon, about 380 kg of samples were collected by the Apollo mission. Chemical analyses of these samples together with a theory of planetary formation led to a “giant impact” paradigm (in mid 1970s). In this paradigm, the Moon was formed in the later stage of Earth formation (not the very late stage, though), when the proto-Earth was hit by an impactor with a modest size (~ Mars size) at an oblique angle. Such an impact is a natural consequence of planetary formation from a proto-planetary nebula. This collision may have kicked out mantle materials from the proto-Earth to form the Moon. This model explains mostly rocky composition of the Moon and the large angular momentum of the Earth-Moon system. High temperatures caused by an impact likely removed much of the volatile components such as water.

However, two recent geochemical observations cast doubt about the validity of such a paradigm. They include (i) not-so-dry Moon suggested from the analysis of basaltic inclusions in olivine, and (ii) the high degree of similarities in many isotopes. The first observation is obviously counter-intuitive, but the second one is also hard to reconcile with the standard model of a giant impact, because many models show that a giant impact produces the Moon mostly from the impactor. In this presentation, I will show how one can solve these puzzles by a combination of physics/chemistry of materials with some basic physics of a giant impact.

Colloquium: Phil Judge (Host James McAteer)
Nov 15 @ 3:15 pm – 4:15 pm
Colloquium: Phil Judge (Host James McAteer) @ BX102

Using every photon to learn about the physics of solar plasmas

Phil Judge, High Altitude Observatory, Boulder CO.

The Sun has traditionally been the Rosetta Stone that can overcome the gap in regimes between laboratory and astronomical plasmas.   Theories applicable in the laboratory may not readily apply to solar plasmas, and vice-versa. Yet we still face challenges in understanding how the observable plasmas are produced, and why the magnetic field threading and energizing them must globally reverse every 11 years. I will give a general overview of currently pressing problems in solar physics, followed by two specific examples: one concerning the physics of flares through infrared spectroscopy and polarimetry, the other concerning how we might wring every last ounce of information from the emitted photons. Along the way I will introduce the NMSU-operated Dunn Solar Telescope, the new DKIST, Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter, and suggest how we might take advantage of these new facilities to make lasting progress.

Colloquium:Mausumi Dikpati (Host: Juie Shetye)
Dec 4 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Colloquium:Mausumi Dikpati (Host: Juie Shetye) @ BX102

Role of solar Rossby waves in causing space weather on intermediate time-scales

Mausumi Dikpati, HAO

Forecasting our weather was built on the recognition that global Rossby waves, interacting with mean east-west flow on the Earth’s atmosphere, produce jet streams, which are responsible for causing winter storms, and cold outbreaks that we experience in midlatitudes. Rossby waves arise in thin layers within fluid regions of stars and planets. These global wave‐like patterns occur due to the variation in Coriolis forces with latitude. It has recently been discovered that the Sun has Rossby waves too. Therefore, the Sun’s global magnetic fields and flows are also influenced by these global‐scale waves. But unlike the Earth’s Rossby waves, due to the presence of strong magnetic fields solar Rossby waves are magnetically modified. In this talk, I will demonstrate through model-simulations how solar Rossby waves, nonlinearly interacting with differential rotation and spot-producing magnetic fields, can cause the seasonal/sub-seasonal (6-18 months) variability in solar activity, which is, in turn, the origin of space weather on intermediate time-scales. Space weather occurring on a very short time-scale (hours-to-days) and on much longer time-scale (decadal-to-millennial) have been studied extensively, but there exists a gap, namely the occurrence of space weather on intermediate time-scale of a few weeks to several months. I will also demonstrate that combining observations with our model by data-assimilation procedure it is possible to forecast an upcoming space-weather season several months ahead of time.