Lecture Weds 21st March - First Contact: Uncovering An Interstellar Visitor.” - Prof Alan Fitzsimmons, QUB

Prof Alan Fitzsimmons

On 19 October 2017 an Interstellar Object was spotted passing through our Solar system, the first of its kind to be discovered. With little warning, astronomers had only a few days to study it before it became too faint for detailed investigation, even when using the world’s largest telescopes. Studies revealed a body that matched some of our expectations, but that differed significantly in other aspects. This talk will cover how it was discovered, and what we have learned so far.

Lecture Weds 7th March - “Mars Sample Return technology: development and testing in Antarctica” - Dr Patrick Harkness, Univ of Glasgow

Dr Patrick Harkness

Planetary drilling is more difficult than drilling on Earth. Low gravity reduces the possible weight-on-bit, and freezing conditions can seize the bit downhole. Furthermore, to reach any depth, it will be necessary to assemble the drillstring in-situ, which is a challenging task for robotic systems.

Lecture Weds 21st February 7:30pm - Erin Higgins (AOP) - "The Life of a Cosmic Rockstar"

Erin Higgins
The stellar giants of our universe are notorious for their drastic lifestyles : live fast, die young. Burning up to hundreds of times the mass of our Sun, these stars produce the heaviest elements in the natural universe. Though they are born in a stellar nursery like all stars, their violent deaths can shine brighter than entire galaxies. 

Lecture, Weds 7th Febuary, 7.30 p.m. "Exploring the end of the Dark Ages" -Dr Stephen Wilkins, (Univ of Sussex)

Stephen Wilkins
In the early Universe the only source of light was that left over from the big bang. As the Universe expanded this light was shifted out of visible wavelengths and the Universe entered the (cosmological) dark ages. The dark ages were brought to an end by the formation of the first stars and super-mass black holes a few hundred million years later. As these first stars died in supernova explosions they likely enriched their surroundings with the heavy elements, ultimately allowing the formation of rocky terrestrial planets and even life.