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Seminar: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 3:30 p.m.

Interstellar Dust: The Universe through Rose-Colored Glasses
Dr. Ulysses J. Sofia
American University

Most astronomical observations are affected by interstellar dust, the submicron sized solid particles that live in the medium between stars. This is especially true as we observe increasingly distant objects with higher redshifts. The dominant method for accounting for light distortion by interstellar dust is an empirical correction which has a restricted range of validity. We are seeking to understand dust and its distorting affects in a context that is based in physics so that we may better correct for its effects on astronomical observations. We do this primarily through the study of the physical and chemical composition of dust, and radiative transfer models that relate potential dust grains to distortion effects. Data from the Hubble Space Telescope has allowed us to make great progress in this field over the past 18 years, but there are still fundamental pieces of the puzzle that do not fit together.

Location: Physics Bldg., Room 401