Thursday, 14 May 2015

Astronomy public talk: "Journey to the centre of the Milky Way"

Contact: Stas Shabala, University of Tasmania
p: 6226 8502   e: Stanislav.Shabala@utas.edu.au

Date: 19 May       RSVP Not Required
Location: University of Tasmania

Intended Audience: General Public, Including School Children of all ages

Abstract - Journey to the Centre of the Milky Way

The Centre of our Milky Way Galaxy is vastly different than the place where the Sun resides (the "Solar Neighborhood"). The physical conditions are significantly more extreme in the Galactic centre: denser molecular clouds (which are the birth place of new stars), star clusters more closely packed than in the rest of the Galaxy, and a 4 million solar mass black hole confirmed to be at the very core. Detailed observations of our own nucleus provides us with a window into understanding other galaxies in our universe. Cornelia Lang (from the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Iowa) will describe her observations using telescopes like the Very Large Array radio interferometer, the Spitzer infrared space observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope that reveal the extreme astrophysics of this unusual environment.

Bio – Cornelia Chesley Lang

Cornelia Chesley Lang is an Associate Professor at the University of Iowa (USA) and a University of Tasmania Visiting Scholar. Her research interests focus on understanding the astrophysics at the very centre of our Milky Way Galaxy and of other nearby galaxies using radio telescopes (including in Australia) and also satellites such as the Hubble Space Telescope. Professor Lang's research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA. She has recently served as the chair of a major international science symposium on the Galactic centre, and during the last 5 years she has served on the US National Academy of Sciences Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics committee (2009-2010) and the National Science Foundation's Portfolio Review of Astronomical Sciences committee (2010-2012). Professor Lang especially enjoys teaching large introductory astronomy and general education classes. Her latest course entitled "Origins of Life in the Universe" is a multi-disciplinary, inquiry-guided course taught by faculty across five departments.