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Exploring the Universe Using Exploding Stars, Geological Society Lecture Theatre
The Geological Society
Burlington House
Start Time: 9 Dec 2014 - 13:00
End Time: 9 Dec 2014 - 14:00

An RAS Public Lecture: Exploring the Universe Using Exploding Stars

Dr Stacey Habergham (Liverpool John Moores University)

(Geological Society Lecture Theatre)


Massive stars, at least eight times the mass of the Sun, lead very short lives which come to a dramatic end in a huge explosion, a supernova. Supernovae are amongst the most violent, energetic, and beautiful events in the Universe, and themselves represent physics at the extremes, the like of which could never be recreated here on Earth. Although these events are rare, they have shaped the Universe we live in – creating most of the elements of which we, the planets, and all current stars are made of. They can, however, also help us to probe star formation in the Universe by utilising there short, rock and roll, lifetimes, and the immense brightness of each explosion, leading us back in time to galaxies more and more distant. I will specifically look at the role of supernovae in helping to probe the differences in star formation within normal spiral galaxies, like the Milky Way, and colliding galaxy systems, like the Antennae galaxy, by analysing over 400 galaxies in the local Universe containing these explosions. Can this tell us anything about the way galaxies form and evolve and can the galaxy help us to understand the stars' prior to explosion?


Dr Stacey Habergham is a post-doctoral researcher at the Astrophysics Research
Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, where she studies the host galaxies of local core-collapse supernovae explosions to try and investigate the conditions which lead to the variety of different explosions we observe. Her work so far has concentrated on the distribution of supernovae in interacting galaxies, and looking at a mysterious class of supernova explosions, known as type IIn. As an observational astronomer she uses the telescopes on La Palma extensively for her work, including the Liverpool Telescope, Isaac Newton Telescope and William Herschel Telescope. She is also the Ogden Science Officer for the department spending half of her time doing outreach with local schools and groups. She previously completed her PhD at Liverpool John Moores University, a Post-Graduate Certificate of Education in Secondary Science at Liverpool Hope University and her undergraduate Masters degree at the University of Liverpool. Stacey originates from Bradford in West Yorkshire where she attended Queensbury School.


The Royal Astronomical Society's Library exhibition cases have been displaying books and other artefacts that relate to the themes of the monthly public lectures. The Library will be opening to the public attending the lectures either before the lecture from 11.45 – 12.45 or after from 2 – 3 pm so that people attending can view these items.

Space is limited in the library, so it might be necessary to wait to enter if there are more than 20 visitors in the room at one time.