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Astronomer addresses mysteries of the universe

April 03, 2014 4:00PM

Astronomer addresses mysteries of the universe

Internationally recognized astronomer and research scientist Felipe Menanteau will talk about efforts to unlock some of the biggest mysteries of the universe in a public lecture on the PSU campus on Monday, April 7. The lecture, “A Digital Color Image of the Universe,” will take place at 7 p.m. in Room 109 Grubbs Hall. It is free and open to the public.

According to currently accepted scientific theory, 95 percent of the universe is composed of exotic Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Menanteau is one of a team of researchers who are using two large optical astronomical surveys, the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) in an effort to answer the most fundamental questions about origins of the universe.

In his lecture, Menanteau will describe how DES and LSST will produce a multi-color image of the southern sky to use galaxies and clusters of galaxies to trace the growth of the universe’s structure up to a time when it was half its current age of 13.8 billion years.

Menanteau is a research scientist with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and a research associate professor in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Previously, he was a research associate at the Rutgers astrophysics group and was an associate research scientist with the Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) at Johns Hopkins University.

David Kuehn, chair of the Pittsburg State University Department of Physics, said the university was extremely pleased to be able to host an astronomer and researcher of Menanteau’s accomplishments. The lecture, Kuehn said, was made possible by the

American Astronomical Society’s Harlow Shapley Visiting Lectureships in Astronomy, a series named after an astronomer with roots in the Four State area.

Shapley was born near Nashville, Mo., in 1885. He dropped out of school after the fifth grade and studied at home, before returning to complete high school in just two years. Shapely earned a degree in astronomy from the University of Missouri and a Ph.D. from Princeton University.

He is credited with accurately determining the size of the Milky Way Galaxy and the position of the Sun within it. He also was instrumental in promoting the concept of the “habitable zone” within solar systems. Shapely died in 1972.

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