AST 494 / AST 591 — Astrophysics Seminar, Spring 2009
The Legacy of the last Great Observatory:
The Spitzer Space Telescope

Meeting Time:   Fri  12:15 – 1:30 PM
                            (First meeting: Fri Jan 23 2009  12:15 PM)

Place:         PSF 226
Instructor: Rolf Jansen

Rolf Jansen: office: PSF 230
office hours: by appointment
telephone: (480) 727-7119

Course Objectives:
The aim of this course is to introduce you, the students, to seminal papers and more recent developments in mid-infrared astronomical research — in particular the wealth of discoveries resulting from the Spitzer Space Telescope, the last of NASA's four Great Observatories, launched in 2003. We will do so through presentations followed by discussion with active participation by all students, and determine what are the active areas of mid-IR research. Textbooks, by their nature, are out of date at the time of their publication. In this course we aim to bridge the gap between passive acquisition of knowledge and active PhD research by reading and discussing papers from the professional literature. The emphasis will lie on the development and uncertainties of current scientific theory and method.
Oral reports on the papers selected will be presented in class at the rate of one ~45 minute presentation per week (assuming the number of students is 13 or less). Oral reports by senior graduate students, postdocs and/or talks by visiting scientists would be on a voluntary and as-time-permits basis only. Each report should consist of a general introduction covering the scope of the paper and where it fits within the larger field of research of which the paper is part, followed by a more detailed summary of the original research presented in the paper and a discussion of its impact. Each presentation is followed by time for questions and answers, and discussion by the students, using questions e-mailed to me in advance of each class as a guide. At the end of each class, you will be asked to evaluate the student speaker. Please fill out the evaluation form, and return it to the instructor at the end of the class. Like in the refereeing process in publishing scientific papers, you may remain anonymous. But please be polite in your comments, because you too one day will be judged by your peers! Dates for the presentations(s) by each student will be assigned within the first week of the first class — first come, first serve (see the Seminar Schedule below). The choice of paper to discuss will be up to the student, but certain restrictions and requirements will apply (see also Tips.., below). I'll be happy to discuss that choice.

Requirements and Course Grades:
70% of the final grade will be based on the presentation, where the emphasis lies more on content and clarity than on how fancy the presentation looks. Each student is responsible for providing me no later than one week before their scheduled presentation the full bibliographic reference to a paper of their choice (i.e., the last possible moment will be in class the week before). I will place a link on the class web-page to an electronic version of this paper (PDF/Postscript), so all students can download and read it, and formulate questions. Non-timely submission of a reference will result in a reduction of your grade. Also, after class, each student must send me their electronic presentation exported as a PDF file with all fonts included (if the PDF file size is larger than ~3 Mb when exporting from PowerPoint or similar presentation software, then first remove any background images and try again). I will create a link to it into the following table (see Seminar Schedule below), so it can be viewed and consulted later.
30% of the final grade will be based on the participation by each student in the discussion of each paper, as demonstrated by the posing of non-trivial questions and reasoning demonstrating the use of the scientific method. Each student, except the student giving the presentation, must prepare and e-mail me at least two non-trivial questions regarding the paper no later than 5:00PM of the Thursday before each class (except if that class is a Special Seminar by a visiting scientist).
Note that failure to submit questions for at least 50% of the presentations means that even if you give a perfect presentation, your final grade can be no better than a C+. Also note that, whereas a question can be trivial, confused or poorly posed, the only stupid question is a question not asked.

A full bibliographic reference includes at the very least (1) the name of the lead author, (2) publication year, (3) name or abbreviation of the journal, (4) volume number, and (5) page number. Do not send me just a web-link to a PDF file or just a PDF file. It is OK to send me a link in addition to the full bibliographic reference, but in that case please specify the relevant ADS abstract page (for example: ).

For the computer-based presentations (i.e., HTML, PDF, Power Point, etc..), an old laptop computer running Redhat 9 Linux (with Mozilla 1.4.2 browser, Acrobat Reader 5.0 [PDF], and OpenOffice 1.1 [PPT]) will be available in the classroom, but students are encouraged to and will likely prefer to bring and use their own Windows, Linux or Macintosh laptop. If you use a Macintosh, remember to bring a DVI-to-VGA adaptor to connect to the LCD projector. Note, that the projector provides a 1024×768 pixel standard field of view, and has a 60 Hz refresh rate, so you need to adjust your display settings if you have a wide-screen laptop. Practice doing so in advance of your presentation.
If you prepare a PowerPoint presentation and do not plan to use your own laptop, send your presentation no later than Thursday afternoon preceding class to me by e-mail as an attachment, so I can check that it displays properly: proprietary fonts from Microsoft, Adobe, and other commercial founderies (e.g., math and greek symbols, fancy fonts) often don't display or are substituted by unreadable characters on Open Source machines!

Tips for finding a suitable paper:
For a 45 min presentation, single 4 or 5-page Letters are not suitable (but three related ones might well be). Typically, papers should be the equivalent of 15–20 pages in a main journal (multi-page tables or atlasses of figures, and the list of references don't count toward this number; manuscripts in pre-print format should be at least 3× as many pages).
Papers that had/have a large impact will be cited by many other authors. Papers with few or no citations, or mostly self-citations by the authors, may not be suitable for discussion. Papers are required to (1) have been published in a peer reviewed journal or been accepted for publication in a peer reviewed journal and (2) have at least 1 non-trivial citation by researchers other than the authors of that paper. Discussion of a paper that recently appeared on 'astro-ph' may be OK if the above conditions are met, and the "Comments" give a specific volume/issue of the peer-reviewed journal where such paper is scheduled to appear.

Although not a complete depository of all scientific literature in astronomy and astrophysics, none the less, astronomy as a science is blessed in having a very large, full-text digital library: the NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) ( For example, a search for a paper that I discussed a while back returned:

1 1962ApJ...136..748E
1.000 11/1962 A   F   G   R   C   S   O   U   H
Eggen, O. J.; Lynden-Bell, D.; Sandage, A. R.
Evidence from the motions of old stars that the Galaxy collapsed.

A full text, printable version of this paper may be obtained by clicking on the "F" link (or by clicking on the full reference link or "A" link, and following the links on the abstract page that it opens). Often, there is also a "G" that points to GIF-format scans of each page of the paper or an "E" that points to an HTML version (both may come handy to extract/retrieve a digital version of a figure, table or equation to insert in your presentation). To check the number of citations, one can click the link marked "C".
Full resolution Postscript versions of figures can often be found on the LANL ( preprint server: ( by searching for the lead author(s) and selecting [..., other] as the download format and then Source (this will allow you to download a tar-ball, which includes the originally submitted figures). Note, that the preprint can be of an earlier year than the actual year of publication.

The following is the schedule of presentations:

Spring 2009 Seminar Schedule
Date Person Paper Title + link to presentation
1/23   Rolf Jansen   Introduction to the Class
1/30   Rolf Jansen HTML/PDF, HTML/PDF,
The Spitzer Space Telescope: Last of the Great Observatories
Werner, M.W., et al. 2004, ApJS 154, 1;   Fazio, G.G., et al. 2004, ApJS 154, 10;
Houck, J.R., et al. 2004, ApJS 154, 18; and Rieke, G.H., et al. 2004, ApJS 154, 25.
2/06   Michael Pagano HTML/PDF Multiwavelength Constraints of the Day-Night Circulation Patterns of HD 189733b,
Knutson, H.A., Charbonneau, D., Cowan, N.B., et al. 2009, ApJ 690, 822
2/09   Dante Lauretta
  SESE Astronomy Seminar    (PSF-566   2:00–3:00PM)
The Diversity of Extrasolar Terrestrial Planets
2/11   Deborah Padgett (IPAC/Caltech)   SESE Astronomy Seminar    (PSF-226   1:00–2:00PM)
WISE – The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
2/11   Deborah Padgett (IPAC/Caltech)   SESE Colloquium    (PSH-153   4:10–5:10PM)    The Taurus Spitzer Legacy Survey
2/13   Teresa Ashcraft HTML/PDF Hubble+Spitzer Survey for Gravitationally Lensed Galaxies: low-L galaxies beyond z=7,
Richard, J., Stark, D.P., Ellis, R.S., et al. 2008, ApJ 685, 705
2/20   Matthijs Smith HTML/PDF An Evolutionary Model For Submillimeter Galaxies,
Chakrabarti, S., Fenner, Y., Cox, T.J., et al. 2008, ApJ 688, 972
2/23   Don Neill
  SESE Astronomy Seminar    (PSF-566   2:00–3:00PM)
Unraveling Mira's Mysterious Tail
2/25   Brian Fields
  SESE Astronomy Seminar    (PSF-226   1:00–2:00PM)
Primordial Nucleosynthesis and Particle Dark Matter: Beyond the Standard Model
2/25   Brian Fields
  SESE Colloquium    (PSH-153   4:10–5:10PM)    When Supernovae Attack!
2/26   George Fuller
  Physics Colloquium    (PSF-173   4:00–5:00PM)
Neutrinos: Stealthy agents of creation and destruction
2/27   William Gray HTML/PDF Remarkable Disk and Off-nuclear Starburst Activity in the Tadpole Galaxy as Revealed by Spitzer,   Jarret, T.H., Polletta, M., Fournon, I.P., et al. 2006, AJ 131, 261
3/06   Michael Rutkowski HTML/PDF, HTML/PDF Mid- to Far-IR Emission, Star Formation, and Galaxy Morphologies,
Young, L.M., et al. 2009, AJ 137, 3053; and Bendo, G.J., et al. 2007, MNRAS 380, 1313
3/13       Spring break — no class
3/16   Paul Eskridge
  SESE Astronomy Seminar    (PSF-566   2:00–3:00PM)    Galaxy Evolution Up Close — Using Pixel Mapping to Study the Histories of Nearby Galaxies
3/18   Jim Kasting (PSU)   SESE Colloquium    (PSH-153   4:10–5:10PM)    The Climate of Early Mars
3/19   Glenn Starkman (CWRU)   Physics Colloquium    (PSF-173   4:00–5:00PM)    Is the Universe Out of Tune?
3/20   William Keel
  Special Seminar    (PSF-226   12:15–1:30PM, i.e., regular time and place)
Dead quasars, Backlit galaxies, and other Gems from the Galaxy Zoo
3/27       no class
4/03   Stevie Dunn HTML/PDF, HTML/PDF,
Spitzer Observations in the Lockman Hole: IRAC Imaging, Extremely Red Objects, and SCUBA/VLA Sources,   Huang, J.-S., et al. 2004, ApJS 154, 44;   Wilson, G., et al. 2004, ApJS 154, 107; and Egami, E., et al. 2004, ApJS 154, 130.
4/10   Cynthia Morales HTML/PDF Embedded Star Formation in the Eagle Nebula with Spitzer GLIMPSE,
R. Indebetouw, T. Robitaille, B. Whitney, et al. 2007, ApJ 666, 321
4/15   Daniela Calzetti
  SESE Colloquium    (PSH-153   4:10–5:10PM)
Lessons Learned from the Infrared, and Future Prospects for Studies of Nearby Galaxies
4/17   Lisa Prato
(Lowell Obs.)
  Special Seminar    (PSF-226   12:15–1:30PM, i.e., regular time and place)
The Youngest Planets and Spots' Tricks
4/20   Stuart Shaklan
  Special Seminar    (PSF-226   1:00–2:00PM)    The SIM Lite Instrument: The Culmination of 20 years of Technical Development
4/24   Emily McLinden HTML/PDF, HTML/PDF, (HTML/PDF) Spitzer Constraints on the Stellar Populations of Lyα-emitting Galaxies as z = 3.1 Progenitors of Present-day L* Galaxies,   K. Lai, et al. 2008, ApJ 674, 70 and E. Gawiser, et al. 2007, ApJ 671, 278; with L. Pentericci, et al. 2009, A&A 494, 553 for some nuances
4/27   Angela Cotera
  SESE Astronomy Seminar    (PSF-566   2:00–3:00PM)
Star Formation in the Galactic Center: New clues from a HST Paschen α survey
5/01   Cody Raskin HTML/PDF, HTML/PDF,
Observations and analysis of the Vega and similar Debris Disks,   K. Su, et al. 2005, ApJ 628, 487; with G. Bryden, et al. 2006, ApJ 636, 1098 and G. Rieke, et al. 2005, ApJ 620, 1010 for background
5/04   Rychard Bouwens
  SESE Astronomy Seminar    (PSF-566   2:00–3:00PM)    Early Galaxy formation: Studying the build-up and evolution of galaxies during the first 2 Gyr of the Universe
5/12   Karthik Sheth
  Cosmology Lunch Seminar    (PSF-226   12:00–1:00PM)   Assembly of Galaxy Disks & Evolution of Galactic Structures in COSMOS – Reconstructing the Hubble Sequence
5/18   Margaret Turnbull
  SESE Astronomy Seminar    (PSF-566   2:00–3:00PM)    (TBA)

    recommended Dept. of Physics / School of Earth & Space Exploration Colloquia.
    class introduction / Special Seminar by visiting scientist or new staff at our regular class time, or Astronomy Seminar

Click on the links below for the Astrophysics Seminar schedules and student presentations of previous semesters:

  • Fall 2008 (Windhorst) The Ultraviolet Universe: Hot is "Cool", for Young and Old
  • Spring 2008 (Jansen) The Coma Cluster of Galaxies
  • Fall 2007      (Jansen) News from the Frontier: z = 5 and Beyond
  • Spring 2007 (Jansen) Nearby Galaxies: How well do we know our Cosmic Backyard?
  • Fall 2006 (Windhorst) Black Hole Growth & Galaxy Assembly: From First Light & Reionization to the Present
  • Spring 2006 (Jansen) Planet Formation and Our Milky Way Galaxy
  • Fall 2005      (Jansen) Star Formation and Chemical Enrichment: From the First Stars to Present-day Galaxies

Last update: May 1 2009 [RAJ]