Cosmic collisions kick off a series of talks

Public talk by Dr. Michael Koppitz (Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics and Zuse Institute Berlin) at URANIA Potsdam.

September 21, 2009

Date and location: Wednesday, 23 September at 7:00 p.m.

Gutenbergstraße 71/72, 14467 Potsdam

Cosmic collisions

The collisions of two astronomic objects are among the most powerful events in space. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics calculate what happens when black holes and neutron stars collide, as well as the unbelievable energy that is thereby set free. Thanks to these calculations, observations of gamma ray eruptions and stellar explosions can be explained. The talk will focus on the newest insights into cosmic collisions with the help of spectacular visualisations.

On the occasion of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, the Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) and the University of Potsdam have organized a series of talks at URANIA Potsdam focussing on astronomy and astrophysics. The talks, which reflect the broad spectrum of astronomic research in Potsdam, will range from the Big Bang to the Leonid meteor shower. Parallel to this, an art exhibition will be presented on URANIA’s premises.

Further talks in the series at URANIA Potsdam

7 October 2009: The stormy Sun
Speaker: Prof. Dr. Gottfried Mann, Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam

The Sun as the central star of our planetary system is not a tranquil star. On the Sun there are often explosions which even have an effect on the climate of Earth and on our technical devices.

4 November 2009: The Leonid meteor showers yesterday and today
Speaker: Dr. Rainer Arlt, Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam

The Leonid meteor showers have, in the past few years, attracted great attention. The major showers in 1998, 1999 and 2001 may be in the past - however, this year we may once again see strong activity.

This talk is devoted to the genesis of a meteor shower, and the various observational methods this year.

25 November 2009: Brighter than three million suns
Speaker: Prof. Dr. Wolf-Rainer Hamann, University of Potsdam

Last year we identified the “Peony Nebula Star” in the area of the galactic centre, which is in all probability the second brightest star in our Milky Way. This talk will focus on the study of such massive stars, their life’s journey and the important role they play in the cosmological matter cycles.

2 December 2009: Understanding the Big Bang: Physics in extreme cosmic situations
Speaker: Prof. Dr. Hermann Nicolai, Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute)

Modern physics rests on two pillars: on quantum mechanics, which describes processes on the very smallest level (molecules, atoms and elementary particles), and on Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which applies to gravity and thus to phenomena at vast distances in space. Quantum theory and relativity theory “meet” in the Big Bang, and physicists must therefore look for ways to reconcile both theories in order to achieve a better understanding of the Big Bang and other extreme cosmic situations.

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