Tuesday 15th November 2022 Unveiling the Dark Universe with the Dark Energy Survey

The Caroline Herschel Prize Lecture 2022

7.00 pm Tuesday 15th November 2022 at the 10E 0.17 Lecture Theatre, University of Bath and online via Zoom

Dr Alexandra Amon
University of Cambridge

Dr Amon uses observational data for over 100 million galaxies and a technique called ‘gravitational lensing’ in order to test the Standard Cosmological Model. The intriguing results she and her collaborators find hint at cracks in the currently accepted model for our Universe, which is mostly dark, with over 95 percent of it in the form of dark energy and dark matter, whose natures are the biggest mysteries in modern physics.

In her Caroline Herschel Prize Lecture entitled “Unveiling the Dark Universe with the Dark Energy Survey”, Dr Amon will describe some of the mind-blowing historical moments leading to the paradigm-change, the challenges in the field, the Dark Energy Survey and its results, including the experimental process – from nights at the remote telescope to hurdles in the data analysis. The conclusions will guide the audience to appreciate current mysteries and future directions.

Dr Amon is an expert in cosmology and a Senior Kavli Fellow at the Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge. Before this, she was a Fellow at Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. She obtained her Masters degree and PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 2018 and has numerous awards, such as the Michael Penston Thesis Prize/Fermilab Tollestrup Award. Dr Amon is co-coordinator of the Weak Lensing group of the worldwide collaboration “The Dark Energy Survey”, including over 100 members.

the video of Alex Amon’s lecture is now available on Youtube, here.

Friday 4th November 2022 Views of the Universe with the NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory’s Sharp Eyes

Image (of the Chandra X-ray Observatory) credit: (c) CXC/SAO/NASA

Friday 4 November 2022 7.30 pm BRLSI in-person and Zoom lecture

Professor Belinda Wilkes
University of Bristol

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched on 23 July 1999 by the Space Shuttle Columbia. Now in its 23rd year of operations, Chandra continues to be an indispensable tool for expanding the frontiers of knowledge throughout astrophysics. Chandra’s uniquely high (subarcsec) spatial, and spectral resolution have facilitated the deepest and sharpest images of the X-ray sky to date, resulting in changing paradigms in multiple celestial source types. Combining the X-ray data with that from optical, infrared, and radio telescopes gives us an even deeper understanding of each source. I will review Chandra’s unique capabilities, and take us on a tour of some of the most spectacular discoveries across the whole range of celestial sources. These include the birth and death of stars, super-massive black holes, active galaxies, clusters of galaxies, dark matter, merging neutron stars, and more.

Professor Belinda Wilkes is a Royal Society Wolfson Visiting Fellow at the School of Physics, University of Bristol. She recently retired as a Senior Astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) (Cambridge, MA, USA), where she served as Director of the Chandra X-ray Center, which operates NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, from 2014-2020.
Wilkes received her BSc (Hons) in Astronomy and Physics from St. Andrews University, Scotland in 1978 and her PhD in Astronomy from Jesus College, University of Cambridge, England in 1982. She spent two years as a NATO postdoctoral fellow at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory, and moved to CfA’s High Energy Astrophysics Division in 1984. She is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, American Astronomical Society, American Physical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Cambridge Philosophical Society, and a member of the International Astronomical Union, and the European Astronomical Society. She has received numerous awards, including the NASA Outstanding Public Leadership Medal, 5 NASA Group Achievement Awards, and a NASA MSFC Director’s Commendation, and many Smithsonian Institution Exceptional Accomplishment Awards. In 2018 she was elected an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge University.
Wilkes’ research involves X-ray and multi-wavelength studies of active galaxies: super-massive black holes in galaxy nuclei. She is author and co-author of over 490 science publications, including 170 refereed papers, two books, several book chapters, and multiple articles and interviews in the public media.

the video recording of this lecture is now freely available on the Virtual BRLSI YouTube channel here.