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VERA RUBIN
VERA RUBIN
USA (1928 -     )
Vera (Cooper) Rubin is an astronomer who has done pioneering work on galaxy rotation rates. Her discovery of what is known as "flat rotation curves" is the most direct and robust evidence of dark matter.
 

Enjoy these insightful and educational video clips drawn from over 70 hours of interviews with the world's leading figures in astronomy, shot during the filming of 400 Years of the Telescope.

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Taft E. Armandroff

Using adaptive optics to change the mirror shape
Taft E. Armandroff - W. M. Keck Observatory

With Nelsonís vision and the advances in computer and sensor technology and actuator technology, we are using computers and sensors to constantly adjust the mirrors to compensate for the forces of gravity, to compensate for thermal effects and to adjust for everything that can keep the mirrors from being perfect.

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Taft E. Armandroff

Adaptive optics and the laser guide star
Taft E. Armandroff - W. M. Keck Observatory

Adaptive optics uses a bright source coming from the atmosphere, originally a bright star to go out to something called a wave front sensor that tells us how the atmosphere is defocusing, introducing a stigmatism and other variables into this perfect star image that is hitting the upper atmosphere.

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Taft E. Armandroff

Extrasolar planetary search
Taft E. Armandroff - W. M. Keck Observatory

You know Keck has been really active in discovering planets around nearby stars, and 20 years ago there were no planets known outside of our solar system. So I would predict the next great discovery with Keck is going to be a planet with a mass very similar to the Earth, and I think that is really going to galvanize not only astronomy community interest but public interest in habitable zones in planetary systems and in life elsewhere in the universe.

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Taft E. Armandroff

Ground vs. space-based telescopes
Taft E. Armandroff - W. M. Keck Observatory

Ground based telescopes offer a number of advantages over space-based telescopes. We are already getting resolutions with the Keck telescope that are significantly higher, two-to-four times higher, than with the Hubble space telescope.

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Taft E. Armandroff

Why I became an astronomer
Taft E. Armandroff - W. M. Keck Observatory

I got very interested in astronomy as a junior high school and high school student. I built a radio telescope in my own back yard. And I was very fortunate because my school district would send people to a place called Talcat Mountain science center during on the weekends where they would get people who were interested in science from a variety of schools, and pair them with scientists and engineers to work on special projects.

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Taft E. Armandroff

Adaptive vs. active optics at Keck
Taft E. Armandroff - W. M. Keck Observatory

Active optics compensate for slowly varying influences on the telescope optical system, so the mirrors and the mechanical systems that hold the mirrors into place. So these change rather slowly over the course of the night with the direction of telescopes pointed or with temperature.

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Taft E. Armandroff

Keck telescopes overview
Taft E. Armandroff - W. M. Keck Observatory

The Keck telescopes are the two largest fully stirrable optical infrared telescopes in the world. They were the first of the new generation of large telescopes.

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Taft E. Armandroff

Astronomy answers at Keck
Taft E. Armandroff - W. M. Keck Observatory

How do stars form and evolve? How does the galaxy form and evolve nearby galaxies? What are the real influences? What makes one galaxy a spiral and another an elliptical? What makes one star live a hundred thousand years and another live sixteen billion years?

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Taft E. Armandroff

Segmented mirror technology
Taft E. Armandroff - W. M. Keck Observatory

Jerry Nelson developed a revolutionary technique for instead of having one mirror as all telescopes had before Keck and following the prescription of say, the classic telescopes like the Palomar 200 inch, the Mt. Wilson 100 inch, and the Kitt Peak and Cerra Tololo four meters to make it much more achievable in terms of issues like weight, in terms of cost to break the mirror into segments.

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Taft E. Armandroff

The 30-meter telescope
Taft E. Armandroff - W. M. Keck Observatory

The 30-meter telescope plans to use segmented mirror technology just like Keck, and between Keck and 30 meter telescope we have a great interchange of technical knowledge on topics like controls systems, for keeping the mirrors precisely positioned, working on illuminizing the segments and adaptive optic systems.

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Taft E. Armandroff

Astronomy and IYA
Taft E. Armandroff - W. M. Keck Observatory

I think the public is becoming more and more interested in our work. I can see it over my career very easily, never mind over the four hundred years of astronomy.

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Gibor Basri

Advocating more planets
Gibor Basri - University of California, Berkeley

If Pluto is a planet, then several other objects that have been found out in the Kuiper Belt where Pluto orbits which are as big as Pluto, maybe a little bigger, maybe a little smaller, should also be planets.

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Gibor Basri

My science hero: Albert Einstein
Gibor Basri - University of California, Berkeley

My hero in science, like a lot of people is Albert Einstein. I think I just admire the way that he was able to do so much himself working as a single person rather than as a big team and also the way he completely changed our conception of very basic things like space and time.

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Gibor Basri

Brown dwarves
Gibor Basri - University of California, Berkeley

So nature makes stars. We know that. We knew that it made planets in our solar system but we didnít know for a fact that it made planets any where else, although as I said, we had all of this evidence that it probably did. And then thereís the possibility of making objects that are in between stars and planets. These are called brown dwarves.

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Gibor Basri

What is a planet?
Gibor Basri - University of California, Berkeley

The word "planet" is actually defined in several different arenas which unfortunately donít have much to do with each other and thatís part of the reason that this is a confusing argument.

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Gibor Basri

Extrasolar planets
Gibor Basri - University of California, Berkeley

Extra solar planets, planets around other stars, were not known until about 15 years ago. But before that we actually had a pretty good idea how planets formed.

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Gibor Basri

Is Pluto a planet?
Gibor Basri - University of California, Berkeley

The question is, is Pluto a planet? How small can something be and still be a planet? Then there were arguments at the upper end which was how massive can I make a planet before it becomes a brown dwarf. This has been a very interesting debate in the astronomical community.

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Gibor Basri

Disks of dust
Gibor Basri - University of California, Berkeley

The exciting discovery was that the young stars like the stars I was studying showed up as being very little dimmed by dust and yet they had a big infrared excess around them so there was a lot of dust there and really the only way that could work is if that dust was concentrated in a plane.

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Gibor Basri

Galileo and Copernicus on planets
Gibor Basri - University of California, Berkeley

The definition of planet has undergone big changes in the past. The earth was not a planet until Copernicus and Galileo came along.

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Gibor Basri

Proprietary disk recognition
Gibor Basri - University of California, Berkeley

The trick astronomers were able to use to tell that the dust was actually in a disk form rather than a cloud form is that if you surround a star with a cloud of dust that dust will actually absorb some of the visible light from the star and make it look dimmer and redder than it would otherwise look.

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Gibor Basri

Stellar and planet formation
Gibor Basri - University of California, Berkeley

So if you lived in one of these systems near the star, you would get essentially the same kind of thing that we have here in our own solar system. That is to say the region of sky where planets would form would be in a band in the sky just like all our planets move in a band around our sun. And because these disks form along with the star, the whole cloud that makes both the star and the disk collapses together so everythingís moving in the same direction.

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Gibor Basri

Why I became an astronomer
Gibor Basri - University of California, Berkeley

Like many astronomers, I think I got interested in astronomy as a kid. I can remember being very interested by the time I was 7 or 8 years old.

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Steven Beckwith

After the Hubble repairs
Steven Beckwith - Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI

I think frankly a lesson for us is, Hubble was not just designed to be fixed in space, but it was designed to be improved. So the same astronauts that went up and fixed it could go up and could swap instruments out, and improve it.

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Steven Beckwith

My astronomical hero
Steven Beckwith - Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI

There are so many, I couldnít pick just one. I could mention some names, obviously Galileo was a tremendous inspiration to us all, as was Hubble...

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Steven Beckwith

Instrumentation: Detectors
Steven Beckwith - Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI

Nowadays we can create detectors, which can capture essentially all of the light falling on them and record it, which is an enormous advance.

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