Shannon Hall


Science Reporter

Online News Stories in 2012


When Graduate School isn't in the Immediate Future
Astrobites, December 2012



Detecting Exoplanet Atmospheres from the
Ground

Astrobites, November 2012



A Finely Tuned Universe
Cosmic Why, November 2012



Are We Alone?
Cosmic Why, November 2012



The Lack of a Detection is a Detection
Cosmic Why, October 2012



The Hubble Extreme Deep Field
Cosmic Why, September 2012



A Compelling Rational Empiricism
Cosmic Why, September 2012



Massive and Passive Galaxies due to Early
Quasar Driven Outflows

Astrobites, September 2012



How do I know what I know?
Cosmic Why, September 2012



The Allegory of the Cave
Cosmic Why, August 2012



Two b's in the Beehive
Astrobites, August 2012



Pale Blue Dot
Cosmic Why, August 2012



Beauty
Cosmic Why, July 2012



Pack a Spacesuit for Camp this Summer
Astrobites, July 2012



One Small Step for the Higgs Boson One Giant Leap for Particle Physicists
Astrobites, July 2012



An Astronomical Book List
Astrobites, June 2012



Supernovae in 3D
Astrobites, May 2012



NGC6864 vs. NGC6229: Dueling Blue Straggler Populations
Astrobites, April 2012



Astrophysics: A Philosophical Perspective
Astrobites, April 2012



Starspots in the Spot Light
Astrobites, February 2012



The Fate of the Solar System Six Billion Years
Along the Road

Astrobites, January 2012


Many believe that in astronomy there are few other options besides graduate school and ultimately academia. My hope for this post is to unseat that misconception and maybe alleviate some of the pain that comes with choosing an alternate course.


The field of exoplanet research is rapidly expanding. Presented here are the results from a recent ground-based study of an exoplanet's atmosphere.



The universe seems to be finely tuned for our existence.



Astronomers have discovered an earth-mass planet orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system — the nearest star system to earth.


A lack of a detection is just as exciting a detection as a detection itself. It shows us what we don't know and presents new and exciting opportunities to learn what we haven't imagined yet.


The Hubble Extreme Deep Field has an angular size less than a billionth the size of the moon, and is composed of 5500 galaxies. It is a time tunnel to the distant past when the universe was a small fraction of its current age.

If we would like to gain a true understanding and insight into the natural world, we need a method that combines both rationalism and empiricism. In philosophy, Immanuel Kant made this crucial and innovative transition.

In the nearby universe, massive galaxies contain very little interstellar gas and old stellar populations. But theoretical models predict that such galaxies should have much younger stellar populations. In order to solve this discrepancy models invoke quasar outflows in the early universe. Such outflows would expel the gas from a galaxy and quench star formation.

I believe that as human beings, we are compelled to study the world around us, and in doing so come to understand the physical laws that create the dynamic universe in which we live. But which investigations are valid in providing a correct understanding of the independently given world?

A history of science with a fun philosophical interlude.



Astronomers have discovered the first hot Jupiters in an open cluster.



Our universe is humbling and awe-inspiring. The vast distances of empty space and the long vistas of time know nothing of the human experience. The emptiness of space has not been designed to harbor life capable of such complex emotions and intelligence. That we exist at all is simply remarkable.

True beauty creates a sense of wonder: a moment where time stands still and one is left with a feeling of awe and contemplation. It is a very personal, human experience. I live my life for such moments of wonder.

I was fortunate to be a camp counselor at astrocamp this year. Detailed here are my experiences: both what the campers learned, and what they taught me.


On Jul. 4, 2012, CERN verified the tantalizing rumors by announcing the discovery of the elusive and long sought after Higgs boson.



It's summer, which means it's time to grab a book and lounge by the pool! Here are a few of our favorite astronomy picks.


Recent research suggests that supernovae are aspherical, which may be the cause of the explosion mechanism itself.


Current research suggests that blue stragglers form by both the coalescence of mass-transfer between two companions in a binary system and the merger of two stars induced by a stellar collision.



A reflection on the relationship between astrophysics and philosophy.



Astronomers find that starspot occultations in exoplanet light curves are useful in determining the obliquity of the star with respect to the orbial plane of the transiting planets.


In six billion years the sun will stop fusing hydrogen into helium in its core. It will then go through several phases of post-main sequence evolution. Depicted here are the models spanning a range of plausible evolutionary sequences and how such phases might affect the dynamics of the solar system.

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