The Sky is Not the Limit: Astronomical Discoveries at National User Facilities

Saturday, 15 February 2014
Columbus EF (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Eric Gawiser , Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
This presentation will introduce user facilities that enable the observational science of astronomy, where the objects being studied are far bigger than any we could build in a laboratory.  From radio waves through gamma rays, astrophysicists study light received from our Sun, the Milky Way, and the distant cosmos.   We have identified a beautifully interwoven universe whose initial variations in density give rise to galaxies and stars.  Those same galaxies and stars are now being used as probes of the fundamental physics underlying dark matter and dark energy.  National astronomical user facilities have also spurred technological innovation and the curiosity of generations of STEM majors.  I will present highlights of recent discoveries made at the National Solar Observatory (NSO), National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), and NASA facilities including the Hubble Space Telescope.