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.