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Public Outreach

Supernovae and the First Stars in the Universe

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Prof. Alexander Heger

ARC Future Fellow
Monash Centre for Astrophysics & School of Mathematics
Monash University

Abstract

A few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang the primordial gas recombined, and became transparent - the last light from that, we now see as Cosmic Microwave Background. There was very little structure in the universe at that time, no source of light — we call it now the Cosmic Dark Ages. It would take several hundred million years before the first stars in the universe formed, making the first source of light after the big bang. Current theories suggest that the first stars were much more massive, on average, than stars that form today. But no one actually has ever observed a "first star" to date, or one of its terminal explosions as supernovae. In this talk Alex will discuss the evolution of these first stars, their supernovae, and how they synthesized the first heavy elements in the universe.

This talk is co-presented by the Astronomical Society of Victoria (ASV), which is holding their monthly meeting for February immediately before the public talk, hence the later than usual start than previous MoCA lectures.

Biography

Alex holds a PhD from the Technical University of Munich. His research interests span a broad range, from the first, massive stars in the universe, to their end-products, including supernovae, neutron stars, as well as thermonuclear X-ray bursts. Alex joined Monash in July 2012 from the University of Minnesota.

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