Meeting Information

Supernova Dust in the Solar System

March 24, 2021
Virtual Talk

Date: March 24, 2021, Virtual talk, Zoom platform (Note: This is the 4th Wednesday in March)
Speaker: Dr. Larry Nittler, Carnegie Institute of Washington
Topic: Supernova Dust in the Solar System
Time: 1:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada). Attendees can sign in anytime after 12:30 p.m.

Abstract: Supernovae (exploding stars) are spectacular astronomical events that produce most of the elements heavier than helium in the Universe. They also produce dust grains. Some dust produced by previous generations of supernova explosions was part of the initial raw materials that made up the Solar System and has been preserved in asteroids and comets for the last 4.5 billion years. Supernova grains can be identified in meteorites and studied by state-of-the-art microanalysis instrumentation in the laboratory, providing unique astrophysical insights. This talk will discuss how we find presolar supernova grains and use them to probe the physics and chemistry of stellar explosions.

Biography: Larry Nittler is a cosmochemist and planetary scientist on the scientific staff of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. His research interests span stellar evolution, nucleosynthesis, interstellar and interplanetary dust, meteorites, and the formation and evolution of planets. He earned a BA in Physics from Cornell University and a PhD in Physics from Washington University in St. Louis and joined the Carnegie staff in 2001 after two years as a staff scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. His laboratory research focuses on isotopic and mineralogical properties of microscopic extraterrestrial materials including presolar grains in meteorites, interplanetary dust particles and spacecraft returned samples, including solar wind and comet Wild 2 samples returned by the Genesis and Stardust missions, respectively. He also performs spacecraft-based remote-sensing geochemical research on planetary bodies. He led the analysis of X-ray fluorescence data for the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission, which orbited asteroid Eros in 2000-2001, and for the MESSENGER mission, which orbited Mercury from 2011-2015. He also served as Deputy Principle Investigator for MESSENGER. He is on the Science Team for the ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission, launched in 2018 and on its way to Mercury, and is a Participating Scientist on JAXA’s Hayabusa2 asteroid sample return mission. He received the Nier prize of the Meteoritical Society in 2001 and became a Fellow of the same society in 2010. Asteroid 5992 Nittler is named in his honor. In addition to his scientific research, Larry is a jazz pianist and composer. He lives in Washington DC with his wife and two cats.

Topic: Mid-Atlantic Senior Physicists Monthly Seminar
Time: Mar 24, 2021 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
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