Physics and Astronomy Colloquium Schedule

(If you want on the Colloquium announcements email list, please send Joe Carson a note)

FALL 2020 Colloquium Schedule

(Usually Thursdays at 1:45 in RITA 387)


September 3rd, 2020   
Logan Oxener 
Title: A Study on the Longterm Effects of Stellar Activity on the Evolution of Planets

September 10th, 2020   
Ashley Dowd
Title: A Compilation of Systems That Are Both Novae and Dwarf Novae

September 17th, 2020
Chris Blouin
Title: TBA

September 24th, 2020
Pierce Hamilton
Title: TBA

Tri Nguyen
Title: Simultating Tilted Accretion Disks and Their Effects on Astrophysical Jets

October 8th, 2020

Peter Jang
Title: Energy Trading and Energy Finance

Abstract: Energy products have various forms and usages, but all energy products fall into two major categories: transportation energy and electricity. Crude oil is mainly refined and used for transportation, while renewable energy, coal, nuclear, and natural gas are mainly converted to electricity. This talk will discuss how an energy product is different from a stock (which is the most popular product in financial markets) in terms of a risk measure of price volatility and describe energy market participants and market infrastructure. This talk will conclude with a practical valuation of physical energy assets, natural gas storage and power plant, leveraging the concepts of optionality inherent in volatile energy market.


About the Author: Peter Y. Jang has research interests in interdisciplinary fields of finance, energy, and engineering. The areas include energy economics, renewable energy, financial derivatives, systems dynamics modeling, engineering management, operations research, and behavior economics. In August 2020 he earned a Ph.D. degree in Systems and Engineering Management at Texas Tech University. He joined the Ph.D. program after post-MBA sixteen years of experience in energy investment and trading in natural gas, electricity, and environmental products. His professional career roles include Director Deal Structuring and Senior Term Power Trader at Shell Energy, and Director Power Trading & Analytics at Repsol Energy. He holds an MBA degree in finance from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Sungkyunkwan University, Korea.

October 15th, 2020
Chris White (Princeton/Flatiron)
Title: Observable Consequences of Tilted Disks around Black Holes

Abstract: As of only a couple years ago, astronomical observations can directly observe the gas falling into black holes on the size scales of event horizons themselves. In particular, the data coming from the supermassive black holes in the centers of our galaxy and M87 is in broad agreement with our theoretical models, consisting of thick disks of hot, diffuse plasma. Most modeling, however, assumes these disks are aligned with the spin of the black holes, while theoretically it would be surprising if nature were always so simple. Disks that are instead tilted showcase more interesting dynamics. I will discuss what sorts of signs of this we might look for in upcoming observations, and how neglecting the possibility of tilt could bias our inferences.

October 22nd, 2020
Caprice Phillips
Title: Detecting Potential Biosignatures in Super-earth Atmospheres with JWST

Abstract:No Solar System analog planet to super-Earths exists, a class of exoplanets with masses 2-10x Earth's mass which can retain more of their atmospheres. Super-Earth atmospheres can have different compositions from Nitrogen and Oxygen dominated atmosphere of Earth. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will offer unprecedented insight into the atmospheric composition of potentially habitable super-Earths through transmission and emission spectroscopy. I will present work on the investigation of NH3 (ammonia, a potential biosignature) detectability on super-Earths with a H2 dominated atmosphere using the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) and the Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRSpec) on the upcoming JWST mission. We use a radiative transfer code, petitRADTRANS, to generate synthetic spectra of optimal targets for observations given their proximity to Earth (less than 50 pc), radii (1.7-3.36 Earth radii), and equilibrium temperature (less than 450 K). I will review the constraints of the MIRI LRS Instrument (flux ratio contrast of host star and planet of approximately 10^-4), and discuss optimal targets for this instrument. For NIRSpec, I will present how varying mean molecular weight of the atmosphere affects spectral features. Finally, I will discuss the use of PandExo to simulate mock observations with JWST and the detection significance findings for Ammonia features with transmission spectroscopy.

October 29th, 2020
Chris Nolting
Title: TBA