Space Lecture Set For FAU

BOCA RATON, FL ( — Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science will present Sukanya Chakrabarti, Ph.D. as part of the 2012 Frontiers in Science public lecture series. “The Dark Side of the Universe” will take place on Friday, March 2 at 3:30 p.m. in the Charles E. Schmidt Biomedical Science Center, Room 126, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton campus.

Chakrabarti, an assistant professor of physics in the Schmidt College of Science at FAU, specializes in the study of astrophysics, black holes and galaxies, and will discuss the progress astronomers have made in understanding dark matter, which manifests itself through its gravitational influence on other bodies.

“Much of the universe is dark,” said Chakrabarti. “The hunt for dark matter has much in common with the hunt for planets in the 1800s. The location of Neptune was predicted correctly by Le Verrier from an analysis of perturbations on the orbit of Uranus.  This work is in a similar spirit to a new method that I and my collaborators have developed to study dark matter-dominated dwarf galaxies from analysis of their dynamical imprints on the larger spiral galaxy.”

This mathematical method is called “tidal analysis” and was developed by Chakrabarti and her colleagues to find satellite, or dwarf, galaxies by analyzing the ripples in the hydrogen gas distribution in large spiral galaxies in outer space. Chakrabarti will review the basics of this method and her prediction for a new, nearly dark satellite of the Milky Way.  She will also discuss future prospects for understanding the evolution of galaxies by studying the interplay of the visible components of galaxies (gas and stars) and their massive dark halos.

Chakrabarti joined FAU in 2011 from the University of California Berkeley, where she was a President’s Fellow and theoretical astronomer.  Prior to her time at UC Berkeley, she was a National Science Foundation Fellow at Harvard University.

This lecture is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and supported by FAU’s Lifelong Learning Society Endowed Professorship in Science.  Printing and mailing of lecture series materials are made possible by a Warren Lloyd Holtzman Seed Grant, a component fund of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley.