Colloquia 2007

Colloquia 2007

Thermal Radiation from Large Asteroids

Dr Matthew Chamberlain
Planetary Science Institute
Tucson, AZ, USA

4-5 p.m., Thursday, 21 June, 2007

School of Physics Common Room
Room 64 Old Main Building
The University of New South Wales

New thermal observations are being made in the mid-infrared and the microwave wavelengths of Ceres, Vesta and other large asteroids. These planetary bodies represent protoplanets left over from the formation of terrestrial planets. There is evidence for variation in thermophysical properties both between asteroids and on the surface of a single asteroid. Thermal lightcurves are observed as the asteroids rotate and these lightcurves have significant amplitudes that cannot be explained by shape and albedo alone. Repeat observations of the same asteroid are made under different viewing aspects and sub-solar latitudes, and can constrain thermophysical properties of the surface. Results are being used to refine the thermal models applied to asteroids, some of which are two decades old, and to begin identifying surface regions with anomalous properties.The altiplano is a 5000m elevation plateau in the Andes of South America where are found the driest temperate-latitude places on the Earth. This provides superb conditions for sub-millimetre wave astronomy, opening up new windows for observation through that are inaccessible from other temperate sites. In these wavebands emission from dust and molecules is prominent, including the birth sites of massive stars in our own Galaxy and the red-shifted emission from some of the youngest galaxies in the Universe.

The audience is invited to meet the speaker beforehand at 3.45 p.m. over wine and cheese in the Physics Common Room.


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