Join us for a rare opportunity to hear astrophysicists talk about the latest research in the fields of astronomy, physics, planetary geology and space exploration.
3 March 2021
Unravelling Gigantic Structures in the Gamma-ray Sky
Dr Pooja Surajbali (Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics)
The High Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) gamma-ray observatory, located in Mexico, is designed to detect signals generated from the most energetic electromagnetic waves which, in turn, were emitted by sources in the sky. In this talk, Dr Pooja Surajbali will present the development and application of novel data analysis and modelling techniques to observations from HAWC. She will discuss how she used these data analysis tools to perform blind searches for extended structures in the very high-energy gamma-ray sky which culminated in the discovery of an exciting, previously unseen and mysterious region of gamma-ray emission.
Dr Pooja Surajbali was born in Mauritius where she studied up to her Bachelor which was in Physics with minor in Astrophysics at the University of Mauritius. In 2014, she was awarded the State of Mauritius Postgraduate Scholarship to do a Masters in Astrophysics at University College London and then proceeded to do her Doctoral studies at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) in association with the Ruprecht-Karl University of Heidelberg. Her doctoral research involved the development of an array of sophisticated data analysis tools and their application to gamma-ray observations from the HAWC observatory. She is now a full-time postdoctoral researcher at MPIK.
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Where do these lectures take place?
Until further notice, our lectures will take place online via Zoom webinars.
When do these lectures take place?
Lectures will take place on selected Wednesday nights. Dates for the 2020/21 academic year are updated regularly.
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Lord Dover (University of Kent)
The dinosaurs didn’t have a space program - but we do. In this talk, Lord Dover - a PhD student researching near-Earth asteroids - will explain the ongoing efforts by scientists and engineers to protect Earth from deadly asteroid impacts. He will describe how astronomers detect and track potentially hazardous asteroids and the technologies we could use to deflect them. Lord will also discuss the recent loss of Arecibo Observatory in the context of planetary defence and look at NASA’s upcoming DART mission.
Lord is a third year PhD student at the University of Kent researching how Solar radiation drives the physical evolution of small asteroids. He previously studied at the University of Hertfordshire, obtaining a BSc in Astrophysics and an MSc in Astronomy. Lord has also previously worked as a science communicator at Bayfordbury Observatory, where he was a presenter in the UK’s largest mobile planetarium. Most recently, he has been generating 3D computer models of asteroids using data from optical telescopes and planetary radar facilities.
Dr Angelos Tsiaras (University College London)
Today, we have discovered more than 4000 exoplanets – planets that do not belong to our Solar System and are orbiting around other stars. So far, we know that there are all sorts of different exoplanets: rocky or gaseous, small or large, hot or cold, but we don’t know much about them. One of the questions that most of us want to know is if any of these planets is suitable for us to live on it. In his talk, Dr Angelos Tsiaras will discuss what it takes to find a habitable planet other than the Earth, and how close are we in achieving this goal.
Angelos is an astronomer and physicist, currently working as a senior research fellow at University College London (UCL) and as a part-time astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. He holds a BSc in Physics from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and a PhD in Astronomy from UCL. Angelos has been studying and working in the field of exoplanets for the last ten years, with most of his work being around the characterisation of the atmospheres of exoplanets with the Hubble Space Telescope. More recently, together with his colleagues discovered the atmosphere with water vapour around a habitable-zone exoplanet, K2-18b. Angelos’ expertise is on astronomical data analysis, both with ground-based and spaced-based telescopes, and he is developing user-friendly scientific tools that are used both within and outside academia, as he is strongly supporting Open Science and the collaboration between the public, amateur astronomers and professional astronomers.
Dr Emily Drabek-Maunder (Royal Observatory Greenwich)
The discovery of phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus might just possibly be an indicator that there is some form of life in the clouds of the hottest planet in our Solar System. In this talk, Royal Observatory Greenwich astronomer Emily Drabek-Maunder – who is also a co-author of the key paper about this discovery – explains how astronomers can use telescope observations of gas to search for life beyond the Earth. She will discuss the recent discovery of phosphine in Venus' clouds, what it means and what happens next.
Dr Emily Drabek-Maunder is an astrophysicist and Senior Manager of Public Astronomy at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. For the past ten years, she has studied the formation of solar systems using long wavelength telescopes (infrared to radio) located around the world. She obtained her PhD in Physics from the University of Exeter studying the formation of stars and BSc in Physics and Mathematics from Loyola University New Orleans. Emily has previously worked as a researcher at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory outside of Chicago, USA, Imperial College London and Cardiff University. She is a part of the research team that recently announced the discovery of phosphine, a possible biosignature, in the atmosphere of Venus.