The popular Saturday Morning Physics series opens its winter program with sessions that explore the formation of planets, gravitational wave packets and what we’re learning from analytics.

The free lecture series is from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Saturdays through April 18 (excepting Feb. 28, March 7 and April 4). It is presented in the Dennison Building, Rooms 170 and 182.

The series opens Saturday with “Accretion Power in Astrophysics: Gravity Goes to Work.”

Jon Miller, associate professor of astronomy, LSA, is scheduled to make this presentation on accretion power. It governs the assembly of stars, the formation of planets, the evolution of black holes, and affects the largest structures in the universe. The talk will describe the basics of accretion and provide examples of how scientists study this process using new telescopes and techniques.

Myron Campbell, associate dean for natural sciences and professor of physics, LSA, organizes the series founded in the mid-1990s, with Fred Adams, Ta-You Wu Collegiate Professor of Physics and professor of physics and astronomy, LSA.

Campbell says presenters this winter are leading world experts in their field.

“Their presentations provide a clear and accessible introduction to the topic. In addition, the audience will learn about their own research and discoveries or observations they have made,” he says.

The series continues Feb. 14 with “Surfing the Universe,” led by Lydia Bieri, assistant professor of mathematics, LSA. She studies the theory of general relativity.

“In particular she has studied the effects of gravitational radiation on matter and has discovered that the electromagnetic field contributes to a nonlinear memory effect of gravitational waves, increasing the permanent displacement of test masses,” Campbell says.

Timothy McKay, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, professor of physics and professor of astronomy, LSA, presents “Hail to the Data: What We’re Learning from Learning Analytics” Feb. 21.

“He is bringing techniques of analysis he applied to the massive data sets acquired in an astronomical sky survey to understand how students use the materials they have available to learn a subject, and how faculty can make optimal use of teaching methods and materials,” Campbell says.