“Measuring the Motion of Asteroids from Indianapolis” – Xianming Han @ Cafe Inquiry

PUBLIC LECTURE, FEBRUARY 17th, 2016, 7pm CENTER FOR INQUIRY, DOWNTOWN INDIANAPOLISCafe Inquiry Xianming Han February 17th, 2016: Measuring the Motion of Asteroids from Indianapolis

CINSO and the Center for Inquiry of Indiana co-host the monthly lecture series “Cafe Inquiry.”


Asteroid collisions with the Earth are the worst possible natural disasters that the Earth can face.  And the bad news is that this kind of collisions has happened in the past, and will happen again in the future.  Probably the most famous such collision is the one from sixty five million years ago which caused the mass extinctions, including the dinosaurs.  A recent example is the meteor strike in the Russian Chelyabinsk region on February 15, 2013.

In this talk, we will talk about asteroid rotation research, how to obtain their spin period and shape, using our SARA (Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy) telescopes located at Kitt Peak National Observatory, La Palma, Spain, and Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, and our own Holcomb Observatory on Butler Campus, to perform photometric studies for asteroids, and from their light curves, we can extract their rotation periods.  If we are patient, by observing the same asteroids over a time span of several years, we can also obtain their shapes.

Speaker Biography:

Dr. Han received his Bachelor’s Degree in physics from the University of Science and Technology of China, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Colorado. He was a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Idaho from 1989-1991, and joined the faculty in the Department of Physics at Butler University in 1991. His areas of expertise include experimental atomic collision physics, theoretical and experimental nonlinear interactions between lasers and atoms, quantum optics and multiphoton ionizations, computational physics, and observational astronomy.