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Big, beautiful spiral galaxy M101 is one of the last entries in Charles Messier's famous catalog, but definitely not one of the least. About 170,000 light-years across, this galaxy is enormous, almost twice the size of our own Milky Way. M101 was also one of the original spiral nebulae observed by Lord Rosse's large 19th century telescope, the Leviathan of Parsontown. Assembled from 51 exposures recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope in the 20th and 21st centuries, with additional data from ground based telescopes, this mosaic spans about 40,000 light-years across the central region of M101 in one of the highest definition spiral galaxy portraits ever released from Hubble. The sharp image shows stunning features of the galaxy's face-on disk of stars and dust along with background galaxies, some visible right through M101 itself. Also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy, M101 lies within the boundaries of the northern constellation Ursa Major, about 25 million light-years away.
Check current conditions and historical weather data at the ESC.
Students and faculty from theBYU Astronomy and Physics department captured images from space at an observatory in New Mexico to research explaining the evolution of the universe.
Dr. Hart's sabbatical propels work on new techniques for constructing interatomic potentials
Sandberg group studying ultrafast optics to find new materials
Dr. Turley influences the future of physics education during his time as program officer for education division of the National Science Foundation

Selected Publications

BYU Authors: Richard L. Sandberg, published in Phys. Rev. B

The axial next-nearest-neighbor Ising model predicts a fractal (infinite) set of phases with incommensurate wave vectors that are separated by first-order phase boundaries. This complexity results from a simple frustration condition between nearest- and next-nearest-neighbor interactions along a chain of Ising spins. Using x-ray photon correlation spectroscopy (XPCS), we investigate the surprising antiferromagnetic dynamics that emerge from such a complex phase diagram over a wide range of temperatures. We present XPCS measurements of the frustrated magnetic chain compound 

Lu

2

CoMnO

6

 and Monte Carlo simulations. Incommensurate magnetic Bragg peaks slide towards commensurate “up-up-down-down” spin order with decreasing temperature and increasing time. Both simulation and experiment support a counterintuitive “upside-down” temperature dependence of the magnetic dynamics: at higher temperatures in the region of first-order phase boundaries, slower dynamics are observed where the speckle maintains its coherence. At the lowest temperatures, where part of the sample adopts commensurate order, the dynamics speed up and result in fast decoherence.

BYU Authors: M. D. Joner and M. Spencer, published in Astrophys. J.

In this contribution, we achieve the primary goal of the active galactic nucleus (AGN) STORM campaign by recovering velocity–delay maps for the prominent broad emission lines (Lyα, C iv, He ii, and Hβ) in the spectrum of NGC 5548. These are the most detailed velocity–delay maps ever obtained for an AGN, providing unprecedented information on the geometry, ionization structure, and kinematics of the broad-line region. Virial envelopes enclosing the emission-line responses show that the reverberating gas is bound to the black hole. A stratified ionization structure is evident. The He ii response inside 5–10 lt-day has a broad single-peaked velocity profile. The Lyα, C iv, and Hβ responses extend from inside 2 to outside 20 lt-day, with double peaks at ±2500 km s−1 in the 10–20 lt-day delay range. An incomplete ellipse in the velocity–delay plane is evident in Hβ. We interpret the maps in terms of a Keplerian disk with a well-defined outer rim at R = 20 lt-day. The far-side response is weaker than that from the near side. The line-center delay  days gives the inclination i ≈ 45°. The inferred black hole mass is MBH ≈ 7 × 107 M⊙. In addition to reverberations, the fit residuals confirm that emission-line fluxes are depressed during the “BLR Holiday” identified in previous work. Moreover, a helical “Barber-Pole” pattern, with stripes moving from red to blue across the C iv and Lyα line profiles, suggests azimuthal structure rotating with a 2 yr period that may represent precession or orbital motion of inner-disk structures casting shadows on the emission-line region farther out.

BYU Authors: Samuel D. Bellows and Timothy W. Leishman, published in Proc. Meet. Acoust.

The acoustic center of a source is commonly defined as the point from which spherical wavefronts appear to diverge. Measuring directivities of sound sources with a surrounding spherical array whose geometric origin is not aligned with the acoustic center of the source can lead to distortions in directivity patterns. Thus, a method is desired to obtain both the far-field directivity pattern and to determine the acoustic center of a source. This work illustrates how acoustical holography can identify the reference frame from which spherical waves diverge by studying various musical instruments’ acoustic centers.