Casca Day 1

Day 1 - Friday June 2

Today was the first full day of CASCA. All of the galaxy talks were today, so it was the main day for me, science-wise. After an exhorbitantly expensive breakfast at the hotel with my roommate,

(I've since found a Tim's) the day began with a talk on Alma by Chris Wilson. ALMA is the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, and it's going to be awesome when it comes online starting around 2009. It's going to be a great way to probe star formation in the early universe, and with it's high resolution, it should even be possible to see planets forming around other stars. Cool! Her talk made me want to go back into submillimeter astronomy, and possibly into the search for extrasolar planets.

After that, we entered the long string of 10-15 minute talks. Other highlights for me were:

  • Mike West - spoke about intracluster globular clusters - that is, star clusters that have been apparently stripped from their host galaxies and are now floating out in the middle of space.

  • Eric Peng - showed results from a large survey measuring the specific frequency for galaxies - a number which basically represents how many globular star clusters a galaxy has - higher number = more clusters per unit mass. They found that extremely large ellipticals can have Sn ~ 17 or more. They also found that small galaxies have relatively higher Sn's than intermediate mass galaxies, which is weird, because medium sized galaxies are thought to form by smashing together smaller galaxies. Weird!

  • Pat Cote - presented his group's version of our simultaneous work (we have very similar papers published side-by-side). He gave a great talk, and also spoke about their work on dwarf elliptical galaxies. Many more are nucleated than expected!

  • Lauren MacArthur - Plaskett Award winner for having the best Canadian PhD thesis in 2005. Her work was on the stellar populations of disk galaxies. Most surprising was to learn that the Lick indices are strongly affected by dust. Bummer! She had some great data and modeled galaxy surface brightness profiles and used R-K versus B-R to explore the age-mass degeneracy in her galaxies. very cool.

    We went for sushi for lunch, and I got a very artistic looking orange on my tray. It reminded me of some kind of devil bunny, so I had to take a picture:

    Later, I gave my talk on Supermassive Black Holes and Dwarf Elliptical Nuclei. I was somewhat nervous, but it went better than my last conference talk, I thought. I had to adjust a little on the fly, since by the time I spoke in the mid-afternoon, some of the stuff in my introduction had been mentioned 2-3 times by other people. But all's well that ends well. After the afternoon session, they rolled out the bar during the poster session. They had special beer made for the conference so they were serving "Hubble Flows" to the thirsty crowd. Each of my supervisor's bought me a beer. Here's a picture of me and Bill:

    In the evening, I attended the CASCA banquet. There was good food and the usual round of announcements. The Casca leadership changes at this meeting, and the retiring Former President (which is different than the current president retiring), Gretchen Harris, got a much deserved standing ovation of applause. After that, they introduced a First Nation's group. One gentleman played the drum and sang and told stories. The other, dressed in full traditional costume, performed a hoop dance. it was absolutely amazing, and I think at the peak, he was carrying and dancing with ~20 hoops. It was awesome. At the end, they got some people to come up and dance. I got some pictures.

    Overall, it was a great first day!

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