Category for past lectures/events with recordings and/or text version available.

Wednesday 18th November at 7.00 pm on MS Teams, Caroline Herschel Prize Lecture, Supermassive Black Holes – the Ultimate Galaxy Killers?

Image credit: ESO/WFI (Optical); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (Submillimetre); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)

The talk is being run by the University of Bath in conjunction with the Herschel Society and the Royal Astronomical Society.

There are over one billion galaxies in the Universe, each home to over a billion stars and one central supermassive black hole weighing in at up to a billion times the mass of the Sun. Theoretical astrophysicists think that these supermassive black holes can either heat or remove the cold hydrogen gas within a galaxy needed to form new stars through a huge outburst of energy. This process has to occur in computer simulated universes to stop galaxies evolving and growing too large. However, the big problem is that astronomers have never actually observed this process happening in our Universe.

This talk will focus on the research of astrophysicists trying to understand the conflict between observations of galaxies and their supermassive black holes and the current best model of the Universe. In particular Dr. Smethurst will highlight the work being done by the MaNGA survey team who are attempting to map the insides of over 10,000 galaxies in order to solve this long-standing problem.

Dr Becky Smethurst is an astrophysics research fellow at Christ Church at the University of Oxford working with the innovative data provided by the SDSS MaNGA survey to determine the effects of supermassive black holes on their host galaxies. She was awarded her PhD by the University of Oxford, using the public’s classifications of the shapes of galaxies from the online citizen science project Galaxy Zoo in her thesis on galaxy evolution. She then had a research fellowship at the University of Nottingham where she also started presenting videos for the science YouTube channels Sixty Symbols and Deep Sky Objects.

A slightly edited recording of this lecture is available on the following link.

Friday 6th November 2020 at 7.30 pm on Zoom, Dr Bob Fosbury, How the Sun Paints the Sky

Unless they are astronauts, humans must view the Universe through the window of the Earth’s atmosphere. Although a clear sky is relatively transparent to visible light, bright astronomical objects — most noticeably the Sun — can paint the entire sky with luminosity, colour and shadow to be captured by both landscape painters and photographers. How does this happen and what physical processes are responsible for these beautiful colours, gradations and patterns? The talk explains some of this and is illustrated with spectacular images of the sky from space and from above the European observatories in the Chilean Atacama desert.

Robert (Bob) Fosbury is currently an emeritus astronomer at the European Southern Observatory and an honorary professor at the Institute of Ophthalmology at UCL.

The recording of this lecture is now freely available on the Virtual BRLSI YouTube channel. Please go the following link to view.

There is also an extended paper on this subject as a PDF file on the following link.

Friday 2nd October 2020 at 7.30 pm on Zoom, John I. Davies, Joint BIS/HS lecture – First Steps to Interstellar Probes- i4is Project Glowworm

The lecture will explain i4is Project Glowworm – a near term low earth orbit demonstration of laser push technology. This is a first step to interstellar probes using that technology. The lecture will explain the motivation for this project, set out the history of, and physical basis for, laser propulsion, summarise the alternative means of interstellar propulsion, outline the planning for the probe and mention some other i4is work including Project Lyra, planning probes to reach interstellar objects such as 1I/’Oumuamua.

The lecture will be given by John I. Davies of the Initiative & Institute for Interstellar Studies (i4is).

The recording of this lecture is now freely available on the Virtual BRLSI YouTube channel. Please go the following link to view.

Friday 4th September 2020 at 7.30 pm on Zoom, Dr Dirk Froebrich, The HOYS-CAPS Project – Hunting Outbursting Young Stars

The talk will introduce the Hunting Outbursting Young Stars (HOYS) citizen science project. They work with amateur astronomers to study the formation of stars and planets. We will give a brief overview on how stars and planets are forming and discuss how the project relies almost exclusively on data taken by Amateur Astronomers. The second half of the talk will be used to show some of the interesting results they have obtained. The lecturer will also briefly explain how people can participate in the data collection and data analysis.

Dr Dirk Froebrich is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, School of Physical Sciences, University of Kent

The recording of this lecture is now freely available on the Virtual BRLSI YouTube channel. Please go the following link to view.