Free Drinks, Fast Science: Stellar Death & Cosmic Fireworks

Free Drinks, Fast Science: Stellar Death & Cosmic Fireworks

Free Drinks, Fast Science: Stellar Death & Cosmic Fireworks

Coming? Please RSVP here.

Speaker: Professor Maryam Modjaz

6:30-7 Welcome Reception
7-7:30 Talk by Professor Modjaz
7:30-8 Tours of the BioBase

Massive stars die violently. They produce the most powerful explosions in the Universe during their death-throes: supernovae and gamma-ray bursts. Supernovae become as brilliant as a billion suns combined, and gamma-ray bursts are monster explosions that launch jets moving nearly at the speed of light and that outshine the whole gamma-ray Universe in a few seconds. Both explosions produce and expel heavy elements and an enormous amount of energy; they leave behind fascinating objects such as black holes and pulsars. Like beacons they are visible over billions of light years across the vast Universe.

How are these types of explosions related? Are they dangerous to life on earth? How may they be vital for life on earth? These are a few of the questions Professor Modjaz will discuss during her tour of cosmic fireworks, the most powerful explosions of the Universe.

Maryam Modjaz is an Assistant Professor of Physics at the Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics at New York University. In a form of “stellar forensics” investigation, she and her team of stellar death detectives are pinpointing the stellar progenitors and the explosions conditions that lead to the various forms of stellar death for a massive star, in particular by examining the habitats of different kinds of explosions. She received her Ph.D. from the Harvard University in 2007 and a B.S. from the University of California at Berkeley in 2000, where she also worked as a Miller Fellow from 2007-2010. In 2010-2011 she was a Hubble Fellow at Columbia University. The recipient of Harvard University’s Fireman Prize for an outstanding PhD dissertation, her work has been featured on NPR, in the Christian Science Monitor, Astronomy Now, and in a feature article in UC Berkeley’s “California” magazine.