Cosmic Fireworks – finding transient events in the Universe with Prof Jocelyn Bell-Burnell

David Elder Lecture Programme 2016/17


with Prof Jocelyn Bell-Burnell

2 Mar 2017 | 1830 & 2000


An interview with Prof. Jocelyn Bell-Burnell in advance of the lecture

Often when we view the Universe in a new way, new and unexpected phenomena are discovered. Recent developments in detectors and in computers are now allowing astronomers to search systematically for short duration phenomena – flares, bursts and other kinds of changes in the brightness of stars and galaxies. Some such phenomena were already known (supernovae, for example), and some have been accidentally discovered (gamma ray bursts, for example). There has also recently been more systematic searching for moving objects, such as asteroids that might impact the earth.

We are now entering a new phase with more and bigger telescopes, larger data flows, and observations with new, lower frequency, radio telescopes. In this talk Prof Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, the discoverer of pulsars, will describe this burgeoning field and speculate on what might be found.

Jocelyn Bell-Burnell inadvertently discovered pulsars as a radio astronomy graduate student, opening up a new branch of astrophysics - work recognised by the award of a Nobel Prize to her supervisor. She has subsequently worked in many roles in many branches of astronomy, working part-time while raising a family. Now much in demand as a speaker and broadcaster, in her spare time she gardens, listens to choral music, collects poetry with space or astronomy themes, and is active in the Quakers.

An audio podcast of Prof. Bell-Burnell's talk is available below.


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