Astronomy Lecture Series—How the Universe Ends

“New Vistas in Astronomy Lecture” is for you if you’ve ever looked up at the stars and amazed at the immensity and majesty of the Universe.

The very first star’s sound

Astronomers in outback Western Australia have found radio signal evidence of the very first stars to emerge in the cosmos, some 180 million years after the Big Bang, for the first time.

This study provides an ancient view into a relatively unknown period in the history of our universe—the conclusion of the Cosmic Dark Ages, just as the first stars were emerging. It paves the path for researchers to study these ancient stars as the universe took shape.

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The anticipated signal many years ago, but astronomers had only a hazy sense of what frequency it would have. The expected signal was thousands of times smaller than the universe’s background radio noise. It’s difficult to hear a mosquito buzz on another side of a stadium during a rock performance.

They did, however, identify it using the EDGES ground-based radio telescope, which was used to detect the feeble radio signals from 13.6 billion years ago. Adapted from CSIRO Australia; used with permission.

But how can a tiny radio wave tell us about an event that occurred billions of years ago?

In terms of astronomy, looking back on time is relatively simple. Because the cosmos is so vast, any light or signal we see from faraway stars or systems is rather ancient by the time it reaches Earth. Even our own sun’s light is eight minutes old by the time it reaches us, and light from the next nearest star (in the Alpha Centauri system) is over four years old. The farther you look, the deeper back in time you go, and the more powerful telescopes and tools you require.

What comes next? Astronomy Lecture

We only need better instruments to measure the signal now that we know which frequency to look at and that it is observable. With planned projects like the Square Kilometre Array (part of which will have built in Western Australia) and other big radio astronomy consortia capable of measuring within this band, we can expect much more research into this epoch of the universe’s history.

The researchers have even proposed that installing a radio telescope on the Moon’s far side might assist boost radio communications even more because there would be less interference from our atmosphere and the Moon itself would help hide the antennae from human-generated radio pollution.

Stellar archaeology – Astronomy Lecture

The Milky Way’s star clusters come in two varieties: open and globular. However, other galaxies reveal these objects may be more similar than we imagined.

One of astronomy’s fundamental ideas is that Earth orbits an ordinary star as it travels through a mundane section of our Milky Way, a conventional spiral galaxy.

Astronomy lectures

It’s an idea that harkens back to Copernicus — after all, he shifted Earth away from the center of the cosmos — but it also fits with our natural human predisposition to regard what we’re most familiar with as normal.

Astronomers can see how stars live and die because of our placement in the Milky Way Galaxy. Star clusters, which are groups of newborn and elderly stars that cling together and provide crucial information about the past, are one of the finest methods to see this.

What has become clear in the last 25 years is that the way astronomers have traditionally classified star clusters — as open or globular, as seen in our galaxy — no longer holds up. Colliding galaxies and those undergoing rapid bursts of star formation appear to be teeming with objects that don’t fit well into either category. In recent years, astronomers have discovered difficult-to-classify clusters even in regular spiral galaxies, which are essentially similar to our own.

For more than a century, star clusters have been the subject of considerable research. They are the gleaming jewels of the night sky, assemblages of a few hundred to a million stars that normally make up a single gravitationally bound entity.

In Search of Our Origins in Stars and Galaxies

Throughout the year, free astronomy lectures by some of today’s most notable archaeologists offered. Are you interested in knowing more about upcoming talks and Astronomy Lecture?

The Universe’s Creation and Evolution

We originally considered that our Milky Way Galaxy contained the whole known cosmos. Our cosmos now contains billions of galaxies, and its history traced back to its beginnings.

The Big Bang created our cosmos by exploding space itself. Space expanded, the cosmos cooled, and it created the basic elements, beginning with extraordinarily high density and temperature. Gravity brought matter together gradually to build the first stars and galaxies. Galaxies organized themselves into groups, clusters, and superclusters. Some stars died in supernova explosions, and their chemical leftovers fertilized new generations of stars and allowed rocky planets to develop. Life strengthened to consciousness on at least one of these planets. “Where did I come from?” it wonders.

Cosmic Dawn

The universe plunged into darkness shortly after its birth. When heated gas clumped around clumps of dark matter, it contracted and grew dense enough to ignite the nuclear hearts of infant suns.

The first stars emitted ultraviolet light into the universe, their photons mixed with primordial hydrogen gas, causing it to absorb background radiation and become translucent. When this occurred, the hydrogen atoms produced radio waves that went through space at a predictable frequency, which astronomers can still study with radio telescopes today.

The same thing is happening with modern stars as they continue to emit light into the universe. However, the radio waves emitted by those earliest stellar outbursts have been stretched, or redshifted, by the passage of time.

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