Presentation: The use of stunning art to illustrate complex astronomical discoveries

Researcher Gordon Squires will show the audience fascinating examples of how his team creates visualizations to illustrate revolutionary scientific discoveries.


SPEAKER: Gordon K. Squires, Senior Staff Scientist, California Institute of Technology, and Communications/Media Relations Lead, Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).
DATE: Friday Dec. 15, 2017
TIME: 7:00 p.m.
PLACE: ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.


Gordon Squires will show the audience fascinating examples of how his team creates visualizations to illustrate revolutionary scientific discoveries.

A recent discovery Squires will discuss is how scientists have detected the gravitational waves from a neutron star merger, which is how gold originated in the universe. Additionally, in March of this year, astronomers confirmed the discovery of TRAPPIST-1, a unique planetary system which hosts 3 habitable planets orbiting a small cool star.

For both of these discoveries, Squires and his team worked to create stunning visualizations to illustrate the art of gravitational waves and the art of exoplanets. Combining art and science in this way allows the general public to understand these discoveries and imagine what it would be like to witness in person.

Exploring the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system and following the trail of gold in the universe involves many telescopes and facilities on Earth and in space working in collaboration. Squires will highlight the role of multi-observatory science and discuss the contributions that TMT will provide for these and other astrophysical phenomena. While first-light observations from TMT are still several years away, recent discoveries from other observatories provide tantalizing insights into what TMT will one day reveal.

Artist rendition of Kilonova, a burst of light in space.
An example of art illustrating a complex discovery: A Kilonova, neutron star collision. The predicted source of all gold in the universe, Kilonovae were theorized but not observed until earlier this year when scientists detected gravitational waves from such an event at 130 million light years away.

Gordon Squires leads the TMT international workforce development, education, public outreach and communications efforts. His communication team is co-located at the Califonia Institute of Techonology and provides support for a number of astronomy and physics-related projects including TMT, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, the Herschel Space Observatory, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, Galaxy Evolution Explore, Kepler, LIGO and the IPAC archives.

Squires is a co-investigator in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Science Activation program called Universe of Learning. He received his doctor of philosophy in astrophysics from the University of Toronto. He was awarded the Doctoral Prize by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council for the most outstanding doctoral thesis in Canada and the Plaskett Medal by the Canadian Astronomical Society for the most outstanding thesis in astronomy. His research explores the old, distant universe, enabling us to better understand how galaxies evolved and formed billions of years ago, and probing into the nature of the dark matter via weak gravitational lensing.


$10, $8 for members (member level discounts apply).


Media release