The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine recently released their 10-year Astro2020 survey, a report that identifies key scientific and fundamental challenges, opportunities and funding recommendations.
Delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report provides a roadmap for the next decade of US research in astronomy and astrophysics.
Scientists at the University of Michigan are available for comment.
Oleg Gnédin is professor of astronomy and expert in theoretical modeling of galaxy formation. He studies how compact and massive star clusters form at a high redshift and evolve into globular clusters. These clusters are likely to be the main sources of light for the first galaxies detectable by the James Webb Space Telescope’s space observatory and the proposed extremely large ground-based telescopes. The NAS Decadal Survey stressed that theoretical modeling is needed to realize the full potential of these facilities to understand the drivers of galaxy growth.
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Kayhan gultekin is a member of the NASA Laser Interferometer Space Antenna Study Team, tasked with developing and articulating a compelling scientific brief supporting NASA’s participation in the LISA mission led by the Space Agency European Union, as well as providing analysis on scientific and technical issues related to LISA.
The LISA instrument will consist of three spacecraft in a triangular formation with 1.5 million mile arms, moving in an Earth-like orbit around the sun. Gravitational waves from sources across the universe will produce slight oscillations down the length of the arms, smaller than the diameter of an atom. LISA will capture these motions – and thus measure gravitational waves – using laser links to monitor the motion of the gold-platinum test masses floating inside the spacecraft.
The unifying theme of Gultekin’s research is black holes and in particular the interface between galaxies and supermassive black holes. He is particularly enthusiastic about the astrophysics of gravitational waves and the synergies with electromagnetic astrophysics.
“Astronomy is the oldest science of mankind. For most of their history, astronomers have used only light for information. We are now in the era of multi-messenger astronomy, which adds gravitational waves as a new source of cosmic information, ”he said. “Gravitational waves give us scientific information that would otherwise be inaccessible. With gravitational waves, we discover black holes, compact binary stars, the beginning of the universe, and gravity itself.
“The future of gravitational wave observations is LISA, the spatial antenna of the laser interferometer, an observatory of gravitational waves in space. I am very happy that the National Academy of Sciences has recommended that NASA guarantee the full capabilities of LISA. With the involvement of NASA and the United States in LISA, this brand new regime of gravitational waves will change our understanding of how supermassive black holes form, grow, evolve and merge.
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Dragan Huterer, professor of physics, works in the field of cosmology and astrophysics, at the interface of cosmology theory and data. His main expertise is to try to better understand dark matter and dark energy, two dominant components of mass / energy in the universe whose physical nature remains a mystery.
“The Decadal Survey sets priorities in astronomy and astrophysics for the coming decades,” he said. “If you are a young practicing astronomer, especially an observer, you will likely be working on one of the telescopes highlighted in the survey or using data from it in the years to come.”
“I am particularly pleased that certain fundamental physics issues have been brought to light in the Decennial Survey. This includes probing the physics of the very first universe (fractions of a second after the Big Bang) by better mapping the radiation pattern of the cosmic diffuse background on the sky, as well as studying the nature of black holes and stars at neutrons by measuring the gravitational waves emitted when they collide and merge.
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Sean johnson, assistant professor of astronomy, works on observational studies of the evolution of galaxies. It focuses on the gas flows in and out of galaxies that regulate their star formation and the growth of supermassive black holes over time scales of billions of years. He also spends time working for a more inclusive and fairer science environment with active recognition and reflection on the role our humanity, good and bad, plays in the practice of science.
“The Decadal Survey highlights the evolution of galaxies, and the study of galactic gaseous ecosystems is a key priority,” he said. “My current research makes extensive use of ultraviolet, optical and infrared observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope. The priority given by the Decadal survey to a new generation space telescope, much larger, for the observation of infrared, optical and ultraviolet light, will revolutionize our ability to study galactic outgoing and incoming flows. I am also delighted to see the focus on the state of astronomy as a profession and specific recommendations to increase access and inclusiveness in the field. “
Contact: [email protected]
Keith riles, professor of physics and founding member of the LIGO scientific collaboration since its founding in 1997, is familiar with the rapidly expanding field of gravitational wave science. He has held various scientific leadership positions within LSC over the past 24 years and currently co-chairs the LSC Editorial Board. He has extensive knowledge of the astrophysics and cosmology of gravitational waves, with particular expertise in continuous gravitational wave signals.
“The latest decadal survey rightly highlights the growing importance of gravitational wave signals for astronomy and the critical role gravitational waves will play over the next two decades in understanding astrophysics and the universe. primitive, ”he said. “Gravitational waves allow us to ‘see’ otherwise invisible processes such as massive black hole collisions billions of years ago and can also give us an early warning of impending neutron star collisions which can then be observed by other astronomers as they occur.
“The decennial survey rightly calls for intense R&D on the technology needed for 3rd generation gravitational wave detectors that could not only detect virtually all black hole and neutron star collisions occurring in the universe. , but also go far enough back in time to detect any primordial collisions. black holes created during the Big Bang.
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Mateusz Ruszkowski, associate professor of astronomy, is an expert in numerical simulations of magneto-hydrodynamics of plasmas in astrophysical contexts. He is a theoretical astrophysicist whose research focuses on the computer modeling of astrophysical feedback processes, such as the impact of gas flows caused by supermassive black holes and supernova explosions on galaxies and galaxy clusters. He is the principal or co-principal investigator of several NASA and NSF-funded programs examining the profound impact of magnetic fields and cosmic rays on these processes.
“Real progress in our understanding of supermassive black hole feedback can only be made by confronting cutting-edge theoretical models with new observations,” he said. “The missions envisioned in the journal NAS Decadal Survey may enable essential new measurements that are needed to transform our understanding of the physics of supermassive black holes.
“A major challenge in this field is to discover how the energy released near supermassive black holes is distributed over several orders of magnitude of distance. This energy is released in the central “engine”, comparable in size to our solar system (where relativistic jets are launched and the black hole’s spin energy is extracted), then deposited on scales as large as those of the central regions. of the galaxy. clusters where it helps regulate the growth of galaxies.
“Understanding these feedback processes will ultimately help answer the deep question of how supermassive black holes affect the evolution of galaxies. As envisioned in the NAS Decennial Review, the very high spatial and spectral resolution of the new instruments capable of detecting X-rays is essential to shed new light on the impact of these fascinating feedback processes, especially in large halos of gaseous dark matter where we can image it directly.
Contact: 734-255-4249, [email protected]
Marcelle Soares-Santos is a professor of physics. His research aims to discover the nature of the accelerated expansion of the cosmos. His team detected light from a collision emitting gravitational waves from two neutron stars, the first ever to be observed. The discovery was heralded as the Scientific Breakthrough of the Year 2017 and ushered in the era of multi-messenger astronomy, one of the central topics featured in the Astro2020 ten-year survey.
She was also an Associate Scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and is one of the leaders of the ongoing Snowmass Physics Community Planning process, organized by the Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society.
“Together, Snomass and the 10-year Astro survey have set the agenda for the future in this area of research,” she said. “It is particularly exciting to see multi-messenger astronomy featured so strongly in the Astro2020 report, as it strengthens the case for this emerging field to be at the forefront of new discoveries over the next decade. “
Contact: [email protected], Twitter: @msoares_santos
Gregory Tarle is a professor of physics. His research in experimental astrophysics and cosmology focuses on the study of the constituents of the dark universe. For the past decade, he has been a leader in the development of instruments for the Dark Energy Survey and the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Survey (PDF), which attempt to understand the fundamental nature of the mysterious dark energy that currently dominates our universe. and causes its expansion. accelerate.
He is currently involved in MegaMapper, a next-generation highly multiplexed spectroscopic survey to study inflation and dark energy that has been highlighted by the Astro2020 decadal survey.
“The nature of dark energy is unlikely to be revealed by a single experiment,” Tarlé said. “On the contrary, an understanding may take a century of research, just as it took a century to develop an understanding of the nature of elementary particles, starting with the Millikan oil drop experiment and extending until the discovery of the Higgs boson. “
Contact: 734-417-0686, [email protected]