When a star dies, its final gasps can trigger the most powerful blasts of energy in the universe. They can also lead to a bizarre death dance as the voracious corpse of a dead star begins consuming a nearby companion.
This animation shows the most common type of gamma-ray burst, thought to occur when a massive star collapses, forms a black hole, and blasts particle jets outward at nearly the speed of light. A Fermi image of GRB 130427A ends the sequence. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)
On February 5 from 3:00pm – 3:30pm EST (12:00noon to 12:30pm PST), learn about the recent detection of a dying star igniting the most powerful blast ever seen – something so powerful it radiated energy that was nearly 50 billion times that of visible light. Also learn how scientists have discovered that a familiar sight in the skies is actually our earliest view yet of a star being consumed by the remnant of a nearby exploded star. Joining the discussion: two of the astronomers key to these discoveries, Norbert Schulz and Nicola Omodei. What do these discoveries tell us about the death of stars and the birth of immensely energetic phenomena that follow? How do they change our view of the life cycles of stars?
The Kavli Foundation Spotlight Live webcast is available here.
About the Participants:
NICOLA OMODEI – Dr. Omodei led an analysis of observations of the most powerful stellar blast yet detected, a gamma-ray burst called GRB 130427A. A research associate at the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory at Stanford University, Dr. Omodei is also an Associate Member of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.
NORBERT SCHULZ – Dr. Schulz was key to the discovery that an exploded star and its binary partner is in fact the youngest of its kind ever identified. Dr. Schulz leads the technical effort to set up observations of this X-ray binary star system, Circinus X-1, and he’s a research scientist at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
BRUCE LIEBERMAN (moderator) – Bruce is a freelance science writer with nearly 25 years of experience in journalism. Along with The Kavli Foundation, he has also written for Air & Space, Scientific American, Nature and other media outlets about a variety of science topics.
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See also MKI News dated December 4, 2013.