Measurements of Time in Astronomy

  • Speaker
  • Ruth Angus, Ph.D.Associate Research Scientist, Astronomical Data, CCA, Flatiron Institute
Date & Time


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How do you tell time in space? To place Earth and the solar system in an astrophysical context, we must first resolve the time axis in our galaxy by measuring the ages of its stars and the planets that orbit them. This contextualization is a long-standing challenge in astronomy. Thankfully, newly developed methods may allow us to read stellar clocks accurately enough to place the galactic population of extrasolar planets on a timeline. With sufficient time resolution, we can infer the evolutionary properties of the ensemble of planetary systems in our galaxy and reveal planet formation pathways that have remained shrouded in mystery.

In this lecture, Ruth Angus will describe how the recent revolution in time-domain astronomy and the new era of large astrophysical surveys are leading to dramatic breakthroughs in time-resolved astrophysics. She will explain how to measure the ages of stars using statistical methods, and how new technology could lead to a new understanding of the evolution and formation of planetary systems and even the Milky Way galaxy itself.

About the Speaker

Ruth Angus joined the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics in October 2018. Previously, she was a postdoctoral researcher in the department of astronomy at Columbia University. Angus received a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford where she worked with Professor Suzanne Aigrain on methods for dating stars. Before that, she completed a master’s degree in physics at the University of Southampton, UK. Angus is interested in extrasolar planets — planets outside our solar system. She uses her expertise in star-dating to measure the ages of thousands of stars and planets in the Milky Way. Through this work, she hopes to reveal the processes behind the formation of those alien worlds and their distribution across the galaxy.

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