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Probing the evolving Universe with light

Speaker:Dr. Jennifer Y. H. CHAN
Affiliation:Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA)
Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics
University of Toronto (UofT) Arts & Science
Date:January 18, 2023 (Wednesday)
Time:2:00 p.m.
Venue:Room 522, 5/F, Chong Yuet Ming Physics Building, The University of Hong Kong


The Universe is expanding. As it expands, substances and the invisible magnetic fields permeating the cosmos also evolve. This big picture, which emerged from many successful cosmological and astronomical observations, describes the Universe's structure formation and evolutionary history in a broad brush. However, much is unknown about the fine details, such as when the first luminous objects and the first magnetic fields formed, what their properties were, and how they impacted subsequent structure development, leading to the current state of the Universe.

In this talk, I will discuss how astrophysicists probe the evolving Universe, with foci on two research frontiers: large-scale cosmic magnetic fields and gas reionisation. These two themes have formed several key science projects for the forthcoming unprecedentedly powerful radio telescopes, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), as well as its precursors (e.g. ASKAP, MeerKAT, MWA) and pathfinders (e.g. LOFAR). I will highlight, with demonstrations, the essential ingredients to optimise the scientific gains from these observational experiments by studying how information is encoded into the radiation we receive (i.e., cosmological radiative transfer). Finally, I will conclude this talk with a summary of the key findings from my theoretical calculations and an outlook on the exciting developments in our understanding of the ever-changing cosmos.


Jennifer Y. H. Chan is a joint Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) and University of Toronto (UofT) Arts & Science postdoctoral fellow. She received her PhD (Mullard Space Science Laboratory) and MSc in Astrophysics (Department of Physics and Astronomy) from the University College London (UCL) before moving to Canada and joining CITA and the Dunlap Institute of Astronomy & Astrophysics at UofT. She completed her Bachelor's (Hons.) degree in Physics from the University of Oxford with a full scholarship from the Benenden School Hong Kong Trust.

Chan's research focuses on understanding the large-scale magnetism and gas reionisation of the Universe and studying the information about cosmic structure formation and evolution that is encoded in the radiation we receive (cosmological radiative transfer). She develops formulations, models, methodologies and techniques that allow meaningful physical interpretation of observations. She is also interested in astroinformatics (e.g., all-sky analysis methods, curvelets on the sphere) and the study of patterns in nature.

Anyone interested is welcome to attend.