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Public Outreach

Stars: Our wireless connection to the Universe

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Dr Simon Campbell

Research Fellow
School of Physics and Astronomy
Monash University

Abstract

It turns out that the light from those twinkling stars is full of information about the Universe. In fact starlight is the main reason we know what we know about much of the Universe. Some stars are so bright that they can be seen from enormous distances. This is very useful since it means we have a 'wireless' connection that enables us to gather information from across the Universe without leaving our home planet! In this talk I will explain how we decipher the information contained in the starlight using telescopes and other instruments, and give some examples of what we have learned about the Universe so far. I will also discuss what we know about the life-cycles of the stars themselves - from small stars like the Sun to massive stars that end their lives in violent supernova explosions. Finally I will show some of my own research involving state-of-the-art 3D supercomputer simulations of stars.

Biography

Dr Simon Campbell is a research scientist in the Monash Centre for Astrophysics (MoCA). His work centres on understanding stars, in particular the life-cycles of stars. This interest has led him to use some of the largest telescopes in the world. He also performs simulations of stars on supercomputers. After completing his PhD at Monash he worked at Academica Sinica in Taiwan and Catalonia University in Spain. Back at Monash since 2011 he has been co-organising the Monash astronomy public talks for a number of years. Before formally studying astrophysics Simon was a backyard astronomer. He still has his 4 inch catadioptric telescope.