Seminar Details

Studying Fragments: From Exotic Nuclei to Exotic Asteroids

Michael Fauerbach, Florida Gulf Coast University
Wednesday, April 16, 4:10 PM - Nuclear Science Seminar
NSCL Lecture Hall

One might wonder what the study of exotic nuclei has to do with the study of a rare kind of asteroids. The answer is simple, as both can be produced in fragmentation reactions, although these reactions happen at vastly different scales. The talk will focus on my transformation from being a nuclear physicist to an observational astronomer. Asteroids are leftover pieces from the formation of the solar system that did not coalesce into a major planet. As such they hold clues to the formation of the solar system and therefore are important research objects. However, even in large telescope they appear just like stars, making them a challenge to study. Most of them orbit in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. To us on Earth the more interesting ones are those that cross our planet’s orbit. These Near Earth Asteroids have the potential of catastrophic impact. The good news is that we are certain that no asteroid larger than 1km in diameter – threshold for a global catastrophe - will impact within the next 100 years. However, as we have seen with the airburst event in February 2013, smaller impacts, from previously undetected objects, leading to localized or regional damage can still occur. My presentation will focus on the different kind of studies of asteroids one can pursue. While focusing on the work done at the Egan Observatory at Florida Gulf Coast University, I will also demonstrate the work that can be done with other telescopes. From small backyard telescopes to the 10m Keck telescope utilizing adaptive optics, to the Arecibo radio telescope, highlighting the very effective way that amateurs and professionals collaborate on the study of asteroids.