ITC Colloquium - Laura Prichard (STScI)


Thursday, April 22, 2021, 11:00am to 12:00pm



Ionizing Flux at High-redshift & The Future of Astronomical Conferences

In this split talk, I will be covering two challenging areas of astronomy. 


Spectroscopic Confirmation of Ionizing Flux from Individual High-redshift Galaxies

Lyman continuum (LyC) galaxies (LCGs) are a high-redshift population (z ~ 3–5) that exhibit escaping ionizing flux below the Lyman break (< 912 A). This valuable and elusive population of galaxies serve as the closest observable proxies, in redshift and properties, to those that reionized the universe at z > 6. Our program adopts a more agnostic search method than previously used in high-redshift searches for LCGs that have preferentially selected against those with high leaking LyC flux. Using accurate photometric redshifts, we searched our four untargeted deep rest-frame far-UV Hubble Space Telescope pointings for leaking LyC flux and obtained new Keck/LRIS ground-based spectroscopic observations to confirm their redshifts. We spectroscopically confirmed three individual LCGs at z > 4, demonstrating our method as a highly-effective strategy for identifying a statistically significant sample of individual LCGs. I will discuss the significance of this population, and what LCGs could tell us about the role of similar galaxies in reionizing the universe.


The Future of Astronomical Conferences

The effects of the pandemic have starkly exposed and worsened the inequalities in our society and academia. This seismic shift offers us a rare opportunity to leave behind outdated practices and to build a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and forward thinking field of astronomy. A major component of advancing cutting-edge research is academic conferences. These provide valuable opportunities to promote results, share ideas, get connected to others in the field, and increase access to resources and opportunities. I will present results from my Astro 2020 white paper on enhancing conference participation to increase diversity in the field. I will also provide actionable ways to implement these recommendations based on lessons learned from the Inclusive Astronomy 2 conference. Most conferences have become virtual during the pandemic, but imagining ahead, let’s open the discussion on what role academic conferences should serve in the future, and what format they might take to best meet their goals. 

See also: Colloquium, 2020-21