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O’Hare Airport Exhibit Provides Portal to Cosmos

Visitors to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport this summer may find themselves taking an unplanned “journey” into the cosmos.

“From Earth to the Universe,” an exhibit of 56 astronomical images, is on display through the end of the year at O’Hare. Scientists at the University of Chicago’s Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics contributed four of the images.

Two of the Chicago images come from Earth, and two are from space:

• A detector of the Pierre Auger Observatory sitting in the shadow of the Andes Mountains of South America. James Cronin, University Professor in Physics Emeritus, co-founded the Auger Observatory, which is dedicated to the study of rare, ultra-high-energy cosmic rays.

• The South Pole Telescope (SPT) in silhouette against the southern night sky and the aurora australis (southern lights). John Carlstrom, the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, leads the SPT collaboration.

• Supercomputer simulation of the evolving, large-scale structure in the distribution of galaxies. Andrey Kravtsov, Associate Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, performed the simulations.

• A mosaic of galaxy clusters producing the gravitational lensing effect. Michael Gladders, Assistant Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, took the images, which display how the gravity of massive clusters bends light, producing arc-like images of distant galaxies behind the clusters.

The exhibit spans 1,000 feet of wall space in a tunnel connecting Terminals 2 and 3 and the Chicago Transit Authority bus stop. Curated by the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, the exhibit is part of a yearlong celebration of the 400th anniversary of the telescope, the International Year of Astronomy.

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Steve Koppes | Newswise Science News
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