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Event description
The detection and physics of Supernovae and the aftermaths of these explosions including neutron stars and stellar size black holes.

About this event


Bristol, Bath and Cardiff Astronomical Societies are getting together to host a free online event on Extreme Solar Environments. Speakers are from Cardiff and Southampton Universities. In the meeting we will be investigating Supernovae and the aftermaths of these explosions including neutron stars and stellar size black holes. We will investigate the physics of these phenomena and discuss how they are observed including the importance of gravitational waves. Other phenomena associated with Supernovae such as gamma ray bursts will also be discussed.

Programme (timing provisional)

“Doors” open to the public at 1:30 pm

1:40 Welcome and Introduction to the Astronomical Societies

1:50 Introduction to the participating Universities

2:00 Introduction to the talks. Dr Jane Clark

2:10 Supernovae. Dr Philip Wiseman, Southampton University

2:50 Stellar Black holes. Dr Vivien Raymond, Cardiff University

3:30 Interval

3:45 How we study neutron stars. Dr Diego Altamarino, Southampton University

4:30 The extreme physics of zombie stars. Prof Nils Andersson, Southampton University.

5:15 Closing proceedings

5:30 End of Event

The event will be hosted by Dr Robert Massey and Dr Jane Clark.

Talk Abstracts

Supernovae by Dr Philip Wiseman, Southampton University

“Supernovae are the explosive ends to stars’ lives and are some of the most powerful and energetic events in the Universe. Despite having been observed by humans at least as long ago as the 11th Century, it is only in the last few decades that we have begun to discover the true diversity of stellar deaths that pervade the night sky. In this talk I will outline the different routes to forming a supernova and how those differences change their appearance. I’ll describe the process of observing supernovae on a mass scale, and will highlight how this has led to some of the strangest and unexplained phenomena still puzzling astronomers today."

Stellar Black holes by Dr Vivien Raymond, Cardiff University

Black holes are some of the strangest, most puzzling objects in the Universe. They deform space and time to extremes, and for the longest time could only be observed indirectly via their effect on their environment. However, we are now capable of listening to the very space-time deformation they produce. In this talk I will present how we study those invisible objects with gravitational-wave observatories, and what we can learn from them.

How we study neutron stars by Dr Diego Altamarino, Southampton University

"Neutron Stars are the most compact objects in the Universe where we can still see a surface. They are tiny 30 km diameter spheres lost in the immense sky. So how is it that astronomers are able to study them? In this talk I will summarize some of the techniques used to study those Neutron Stars that interact with their nearby environments".

The extreme physics of zombie stars by Professor Nils Andersson

A neutron star is born when a massive star runs out of nuclear fuel and dies in a supernova explosion. The object that emerges when the dust settles – effectively a zombie star – involves physics at the extremes of our understanding (and beyond). In this talk, I will explain how we are using astrophysical observations (both electromagnetic and through gravitational waves) to explore this physics and make progress on a range of challenging questions.


		Extreme Stellar Environments image

Dr Philip Wiseman

He is interested in exploding stars, and the galaxies in which they end their violent lives. Currently he is studying supernovae of type Ia, which can be used as cosmic rulers to measure how fast the Universe is expanding. He is also interested in a new, strange class of explosions that evolve very rapidly. We have no idea what they are! He is also investigating some of the most energetic explosions of stars in the Universe, called Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs), as well as the recently discovered super-luminous supernovae.

		Extreme Stellar Environments image

Dr Vivien RaymondVivien Raymond is a gravitational-wave astrophysicist at Cardiff University. He (re)searches black holes and neutron stars using gravitational waves, in order to understand how the fundamentals of the universe operate. This new way to look at the world around us was pioneered in 2015, with the LIGO-Virgo Collaboration's detection of the binary black hole merger GW150914. He is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, and specialise in the astrophysical interpretation of gravitational-wave observations.

		Extreme Stellar Environments image

Dr Diego Altamirano

Diego Altamirano is an Associate Professor at the University of Southampton. His research focuses on the different manifestations of accretion onto compact objects, such as low-mass X-ray binaries – consisting of Neutron stars (NSs) and /or black holes (BHs) Some of these compact objects have close companion stars; gas from these stars, attracted by the compact object strong gravity, funnels and spirals towards it, forming an accretion disk. These systems are called low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs); the most powerful phenomena we observe from them are directly related to these accretion disks, as a large amount of gravitational energy is released when the matter approaches the compact object. It is the flow of this accreting plasma onto the compact objects which provides one of the very few opportunities to directly observe the properties of the tiny (few km) regions of the most strongly curved spacetime known to exist in Nature and, additionally see General Relativity (GR) effects in action in otherwise inaccessible regimes.

		Extreme Stellar Environments image

Professor Nils Andersson

Nils Andersson is Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Southampton. He is an expert on Einstein's theory of relativity and related astrophysics and is the current President of the International Society of General Relativity and Gravitation. His research mainly concerns black holes, neutron stars and gravitational waves. He has written a comprehensive textbook on gravitational-wave astronomy as well as a series of children’s books introducing science concepts to younger readers. Over the last couple of decades, he has actively pursued many issued relevant to the emerging area of gravitational-wave astronomy. His current work focuses on the extreme physics that neutron stars represent, from the state and composition of matter to the dynamical role of the superfluid and superconducting components expected to be present in the core of a mature neutron star.

Dr Jane Clark

Jane Clark is a British amateur astronomer who has published three books on the Solar System. She has a Ph.D. in physics and an MBA from Warwick University. She became interested in both astronomy and photography as a teenager in the 1970s, photography much more seriously, although as her career progressed and family commitments increased, both interests lapsed. She acquired a telescope in 2006, shortly after completing her MBA, and quickly became hooked on observing. This experience made her realize that astronomy is a lot more fun than business administration. In 2017 she achieved her ambition of having an observatory in her back yard. She is a member of Cardiff, Bristol, and Newtown Astronomical Societies. Jane gives talks on astronomy to astronomy clubs, and other societies as diverse as the cub scouts, the University of the Third Age, and church wives’ groups. She has a strong belief that most people have at least some interest in astronomy, and that this interest should be encouraged in everyone, whoever they are.

Dr Robert Massey

Dr Robert Massey is Deputy Executive Director of the Royal Astronomical Society and Vice-chair of the Bristol Astronomical Society. Before joining the RAS, his career took him from PhD research in Manchester to teaching in Brighton, and local politics in London alongside a stint as Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. In his spare time he teaches his eleven year old daughter about science, enjoys cycling, cooking and is looking forward to once again enjoying the cultural life of his home city of Bristol. With a lifelong private and public passion for astronomy, he very much enjoys taking time to share it with others.

Astronomical Societies

Bath Astronomical Society

Bath Astronomers are a local society of 55 members looking to get young and old looking up to the sky in wonder and provide a vibrant community of stargazers sharing ideas and experiences. It works closely with the Herschel Museum of Astronomy and the Herschel Society providing event based and sidewalk astronomy for the public.

Bristol Astronomical Society

The Bristol Astronomical Society was formed in 1942 as a result of the war years in Bristol. Many of the city’s factories, offices and shops had a fire watching rota, thus many people became aware for the first time of the wonders of the night sky. One group of Bristol’s fire-watchers became fascinated by the beauty of the stars and began to study the constellations during their long vigils. Soon they were arranging meetings to discuss their new found interest, and so was born the Bristol Astronomical Society.

The Society has come a long way since the early days, but today the Society is thriving with over 120 members, and tries to cater for both armchair astronomers and active observers.

Cardiff Astronomical Society

Cardiff Astronomical Society was founded in 1985 and is now one of the largest amateur societies in the UK. Primarily based at Cardiff University's School of Physics and Astronomy, the Society holds bi-weekly meetings featuring speakers from across the UK and abroad, covering a wide array of topics. We maintain an observatory near Cardiff at Duffryn Gardens and (in pre-Covid times) held regular public stargazing evenings and other public events.

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