The Realm of the Low Surface Brightness Universe

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This July, The Instituto Astofisica de Canarias (IAC) played host at the Universidad de La Laguna to delegates from around the world for the IAU Symposium 355: The Realm of the Low Surface Brightness Universe. The symposium included sessions on stellar haloes, zodiacal light, galactic cirrus, low surface brightness features around galaxies, discussions of state of the art imaging systems, low surface brightness measurement techniques and, crucially, a session on intra-cluster light (ICL) the key research area of attending LIV.Dat student Brandon Kelly. In attendance were many of the leading figures in the respective fields discussed and the networking events throughout the conference provided good opportunities for valuable discussions of current research and upcoming meetings.

Each session contained a range of talks covering all the key aspects of the topic at hand, including an introductory talk outlining the key issues within the field. Mireia Montes’ overview talk on ICL provided a fascinating insight into the subject and highlighted the significant discoveries and remaining questions, some of which were addressed by other talks during the session. A central and very interesting part of the talk related to Montes’ own research into how ICL may be used to trace the distribution of dark matter within a galaxy cluster, an area of research into which Brandon Kelly is also looking.

During the ICL session, Brandon was given the opportunity to present his own research. During this talk he was able to briefly describe the science goals of his project, outline the image processing pipeline upon which his research is currently centred and discuss the potential applications to which the pipeline could be applied. The discussion of applications included potential surveys and cluster samples which may be studied with the pipeline, finishing with a comparison to current results in the literature and to working with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) when it begins taking data. Giving a talk to an audience of so many distinguished researchers in the field opened the opportunity for a lot of interesting and productive discussions.

Further discussion of LSST was held by the members of the LSST Galaxies committee and affiliated members. Brandon was invited to attend this discussion due to his status as Junior Affiliate of Chris Collins, as well as collaborations and discussions previously held with LSST Galaxies committee members Sugata Kaviraj and Sarah Brough. During this discussion, the nature and availability of LSST commissioning data, as well as preliminary research targets, was outlined and discussed in some depth. The conference’s closing talk was delivered by Professor Mihos, another leading figure in the study of ICL, followed by a tour of the Teide observatory.