We are the Ask an Astronomer Team at Cornell University. We are a team of graduate students within the Department of Astronomy that volunteers time to answer questions from the public, both online and in various events hosted throughout the city of Ithaca, NY. Our website describes what we do and how to contact us.
Whenever a popular article is posted about astronomy on Reddit, we notice that a lot of questions float around typically. A few of us have personally tried to answer questions but we thought it might be a good idea to get involved as a team. Answering questions tonight are five students:
Rebecca Harbison - Planetary science, looking at the particle size distribution in the rings of Saturn using data from Cassini.
The Mike Jones - Using HI surveys ALFALFA of the local Universe in order to better understand the local galactic environment.
Michael Lam - Pulsar timing with the NANOGrav collaboration, looking at removing the effects of the interstellar medium on the times-of-arrival of our pulses to help us in the eventual detection of gravitational waves.
Sean Marshall - Radar and infrared observations and shape modeling of near-Earth asteroids.
Tyler Pauly - Astrochemical modeling of protostellar clouds, looking at the formation of complex molecules in low temperature environments.
EDIT: Hi everyone! I'm going to try to answer a few more and then I'm back to work. We all had a great time doing this and really appreciate you're coming out and asking questions. We'll try to answer some more questions left here over the next day or so feel free to keep posting! -Michael
EDIT July 23 12:52 EDT: This is insane! I will try to be back in a few hours to answer some of the questions, I promise! -Michael
EDIT July 23, 15:08 EDT: I will try to briefly answer some questions for a short while now before coming back on tonight. -Michael
EDIT July 23, 16:04 EDT: I will try to answer a few more relevant questions later tonight. Sorry I can't get to all of them! -Michael
EDIT July 23, 19:55 EDT: Okay, going to answer some last questions. Sorry again if they are brief! -Michael
EDIT July 23, 21:12 EDT: Okay everyone, thank you so much for your questions, thanks to the people who gave good answers as well. We didn't expect it'd get this big and hope to do this again in a few months! -Michael