MIT Astrophysics Colloquium 05/09/2023 — Illuminating The Origins Of The Universe’s Fastest Transients (speaker: Wen-fai Fong)

Tuesday May 9, 2023 4:00 pm

Environmental portrait of Wen-fai Fong

Abstract: When we look up at the night sky, we see a static universe. However, observational surveys have revealed that our universe is dynamic, with a myriad of transient events. One of the most captivating contributors to our transient universe are energetic and fast explosions called short gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs). Derived from the mergers of neutron stars and/or black holes, they serve as unique laboratories to study the launching of relativistic jets, the production of heavy elements, and the emission of gravitational waves. In this talk, I describe our quest to understand the imprints of SGRBs on the universe through our superlative discoveries and observational legacy catalogs. In particular, I present our results on their role in heavy element nucleosynthesis, the environmental conditions for their formation and evolution over cosmic time, and their connection to the transformative era of multi-messenger gravitational wave astronomy. I also demonstrate how the skills leveraged in illuminating the origins of SGRBs can be directly applied to the relatively new and enigmatic class of fast radio bursts.

via Zoom

Host: Erin Kara




  • Wen-fai Fong, Northwestern University

Event Contact

Nayanika Yellepeddi