Welcome to Physics & Astronomy

I am so excited to begin the new academic year.

Among the many privileges that come with serving as department chair, my favourite is welcoming our incoming students from the four corners of the globe who have chosen Waterloo Physics & Astrononomy.
This year we welcome more than 250 new students, postdocs, faculty, and staff members to the department. Students and researchers come to Waterloo to develop the skills needed to solve the most pressing problems in physics, and to apply those skills to creating technological solutions to the worlds most intractable problems. Waterloo physicists are committed to making the world a better place.

The 2018-2019 academic year was full of excitement and unprecedented successs. Highlights include the first image of a supermassive black hole, captured by Professor Avery Broderick and his team, and the unforgettable moment when Professor Donna Strickland was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Following on their successes, I encourage our physics community to reach greater heights in 2019/20.

Once you’ve settled in, I hope you’ll join us on Friday, October 4 for the launch of the newest addition to our department: the Waterloo Centre for Astrophysics. Astrophysics is among the many thriving areas of research at the University of Waterloo.

Welcome to Waterloo!

Brian McNamara, Chair

The Physics & Astronomy department encourages an inclusive, tolerant, respectful, and diverse, intellectual environment

  1. Oct. 31, 2019DESI opens its 5,000 eyes to capture the colours of the cosmos
    Mayall telescope

    by Mike Brown on October 28, 2019
    taken from Inside the Perimeter

    A new instrument mounted atop a telescope in Arizona has aimed its robotic array of 5,000 fibre-optic “eyes” at the night sky to capture the first images showing its unique view of galactic light.

  2. Sep. 5, 2019Event Horizon Telescope team awarded 2020 Breakthrough Prize
    Breakthrough Prize trophy; breakthroughprize.org

    The 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team, of which Dr. Avery Broderick is a member. The citiation reads "For the first image of a supermassive black hole, taken by means of an Earth-sized alliance of telescopes."

  3. Aug. 27, 2019A first look at laser-cooled ions
    Eight individual ions levitating in a near-perfect vacuum

    The atomic ions here are laser-cooled close to the absolute zero temperature (at a few milliKelvin above the absolute zero temperature of -273.15 deg C or 0 Kelvin).

    Pictured left: eight individual Ytterbium ions levitating less than 10 microns apart from each other in a nearly perfect vacuum

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  1. Nov. 13, 2019Accelerated orbital decay of supermassive black hole binaries in merging nuclear star clusters

    Astronomy Seminar Series

    Go Ogiya

    The coalescence of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) should generate the strongest sources of gravitational waves (GWs) in the Universe. However, the dynamics of their coalescence is the subject of much debate. In this study, we use a suite of N-body simulations to follow the merger of two nuclear star clusters (NSCs), each hosting a SMBH in their centre.

  2. Dec. 4, 2019Gustav Bakos Observatory Tour
    A visitor observing through a telescope

    Come visit the observatory during the December public tour!

    • Presentation at 7:00 PM in PHY 150
    • Telescope viewing at 7:30 PM (access from 3rd floor of PHY)
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