Calculating Distance To Far-Flung Galaxies Is First Topic Of Hartwick’s Faculty Lecture Series

August 11, 2022

How big is big when measuring the universe?Parker Troischt

Hartwick College Professor of Physics Dr. Parker Troischt addresses that very question in the first installment of the 2022–23 Hartwick College Faculty Lecture Series.

His presentation, “How Big Is Big? Using the Most Powerful Explosions in the Universe to Improve Distance Determinations in Extragalactic Astronomy,” will take place on Friday, September 9 at 12:20 p.m. in Eaton Lounge, Bresee Hall, on the College campus. The lecture is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

“Though cosmology, the study of the Universe itself, has had many great successes in recent decades, major mysteries remain,” Troischt says. “Determining accurate distances is one of the most challenging issues of modern astronomy, yet it is essential to understanding galaxies, supernova explosions, and the large-scale structure of the Universe. Einstein’s theory of general relativity is highly successful at describing our expanding Universe, but the relativistic effects that distort light as it travels through space and time require careful consideration nonetheless.”

Troischt will present ongoing work done in collaboration with the Undergraduate ALFALFA Team – a consortium of 25 institutions engaged in an NSF-sponsored program to promote undergraduate research through the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico – aimed at improving red-shift independent distances to galaxies using supernovae. As part of this, he will discuss the upcoming Vera Rubin Telescope, a facility that promises to revolutionize astronomy and produce “the deepest, widest image of the Universe” ever made. He will also summarize years of work done with Hartwick undergraduates at world class observatories.

Troischt received his Ph.D. in theoretical astrophysics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005. He was visiting researcher at the Canadian Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics in Toronto and is currently a member of the National Science Foundation-funded Undergraduate ALFALFA Team. Troischt is a board member of the Astronomical Society of New York (ASNY) and was previously the chair of the ASNY Research Prize Committee. His research interests include extragalactic radio astronomy, general relativity, and cosmology.

Throughout the Faculty Lecture Series, Hartwick professors discuss recent research in their fields, focusing on physics, politics, religion, art, economics, biology, psychology, and more. The presentations generally take place on the second Friday of the month throughout the academic year. Upcoming faculty lecture dates, presenters, and titles (subject to change) include:

  • Friday, October 14, 2022: Assistant Professor of Sociology Dr. Cheryl L. Johnson, “Third Culture and Identity: How Much Do I Need until I Am ‘Enough’?”
  • Friday, November 11, 2022: Assistant Professor of Music Education Dr. Meghan Sheehy, “Investigating the Research-to-Practice Gap in Music Education: Results and Roadblocks”

Future Lectures will be announced during the fall semester.

Admission to the readings is free and the events are open to the public. Attendees and all campus visitors must be vaccinated for COVID-19 and will be required to provide either their vaccination card or the New York State Excelsior Pass. Any visitor requiring an exception to this requirement must complete this form and receive prior approval from the College.

For more information, visit the Series webpage or contact Associate Professor of Literature, Media, and Writing Bradley J. Fest, Ph.D., at 607-431-4921 or