SETI Talks

Tuesday, January 23 2018 - 7:00 pm, PST

1I/‘Oumuamua, The First known Interstellar Visitor

Matija Cuk, and Meg Schwamb
SETI Institute and Gemini Observatory based in Hilo, Hawai'i

Join us on January 23 at 7pm for a special SETI Talk on 1I/`Oumuamua, the first known interstellar small body, possibly an asteroid which is probably coming from another planetary system. Its recent discovery by Pan-STARRS1 offers a rare opportunity to explore the planetary formation processes of other stars, and the effect of the interstellar environment on a planetesimal surface. Since its discovery, astronomers around the world have raced to use the most powerful ground-based and space-borne telescopes to collect information on its nature. Two astronomers, Meg Schwamb, astronomer at the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii and Matija Cuk, astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, will discuss the nature of 'Oumuamua, its color and shape in comparison with known small solar system bodies, as well as its origin derived from its extremely elongated shape and its orbit. They will show how its peculiarities seem to imply that 'Oumuamua is one of the most important discoveries of the decade in astronomy.

Matija Cuk is a Research Scientist at the SETI Institute. He received his Ph.D. degree from Cornell University in 2005. He uses computer simulations to study the past and present evolution of the orbits of the planets, moons and asteroids.  His recent work focused on the origin of Earth's Moon, as well as the moons and rings of Saturn. In 2014 he was awarded the Harold Urey Prize for early career achievement from the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society.

Meg Schwamb is an assistant scientist at the Gemini Observatory based in Hilo, Hawai'i. Meg's research focuses on how planets and their building blocks form and evolve, applying ground-based surveys to probe our Solar System's small body reservoirs. She is also involved in the Planet Four citizen science projects, which enlists the public to help study the seasonal processes of the Martian south pole and map the distribution of ridges on the Martian mid-latitudes. Meg also serves as co-chair of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope's Solar System Science Collaboration. Meg was awarded the 2017 Carl Sagan Medal for Excellence in Public Communication in Planetary Science from the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Science.

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