Does such an event horizon really exist? Can one see it? In 2019 the Event Horizon Telescope made the first ever image of a black hole. The speaker was one of the pioneers of this experiment and the talk will review the results of the Event Horizon Telescope, its scientific implications, and future developments.
Heino Falcke (1966, Cologne) is professor of Radio Astronomy and Astroparticle physics at Radboud University Nijmegen. He performs groundbreaking research into one of the most mysterious phenomena of the universe, black holes. Heino Falcke works at the boundaries of his discipline and therefore at the limits of the universe. Falcke is a versatile researcher. He is a leading theoretician and carries out experimental research in the fields of astroparticle physics and astrophysics, a unique combination. In addition to this he develops research instruments.
In 2004, his group managed to make measurements close to the edge of a supermassive black hole in the centre of our galaxy. Four years previously he had already predicted that this would be possible. He hopes to use the same measurement technique to image the edges of the black hole.
Falcke is one of the driving forces behind LOFAR, a revolutionary radio telescope that is made up of hundreds of small antennae that together considerably expand their measurement range. Falcke is also playing a key role in the development of SKA (Square Kilometre Array), a square kilometre of telescopes planned for construction in the southern hemisphere. The radio astronomer studies the radiation emitted by planets, stars and galaxies that the radio telescopes receive. This technology reveals the architecture of objects in the universe.
Heino Falcke studied physics at the universities of Cologne and Bonn and graduated in 1992. In 1994, he gained his doctorate summa cum laude from the University of Bonn. After various scientific positions at the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, the University of Maryland and the University of Arizona, he acquired his 'Habilitation' from Bonn in 2000. In 2003, he was appointed as adjunct professor of Radio Astronomy and Astroparticle Physics at Radboud University Nijmegen. He also accepted a position at ASTRON Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, the founding body of the LOFAR project. In 2007, Radboud University Nijmegen appointed him as a full professor.
The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10,000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of up to 3 000 km from the central regions.
The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the big bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. The target construction cost is €1,500 million and construction of Phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters in Manchester UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.
Professor Diamond has 30 years’ experience in the field of radio astronomy and a long standing involvement in the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope project. Previously he served as Chief of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS) organisation in Australia. He has worked as a professional astronomer in five countries (UK, Sweden, Germany, USA and Australia) and has also served as Director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. During his time in Australia, Prof. Diamond directed the operation of two major facilities: the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF: comprising Parkes Observatory, the Australia Telescope Compact Array and the Mopra telescope) and the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex (CDSCC) at Tidbinbilla, part of NASA’s Deep Space Network. In addition, he was responsible for the team designing and constructing ASKAP, the Australian SKA Pathfinder, currently being built in Western Australia.
He first became involved in the SKA in 2000, shortly after his return to the UK from 12 years at the NRAO in the USA, when he organised one of the early meetings of the International SKA Steering Committee (ISSC). Since that time, he has been heavily involved in various SKA activities. He was one of the longest-serving members of the ISSC, which later became the SSEC, and chaired the committee in 2005/6.
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For almost 20 years, Prof. Bernard Schutz played a key role in the international success of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, being instrumental in revitalising research into applying Einstein's theory of general relativity in astrophysics.
At the Albert Einstein Institute, Prof. Schutz led the Astrophysical Relativity department. His work in theoretical astrophysics - studies on theoretical calculations of gravitational wave signals, and the development of methods for analysing gravitational wave signals – have made him one of the internationally leading experts in the field of general relativity research.
Prof. Schutz was awarded the Amaldi Gold Medal of the Italian Society of General Relativity and Gravitation. He is an Hononary Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a Fellow of the International Society for General Relativity and Gravitation and a Fellow of the American Physical Society as well as the Institute of Physics in the UK. He also received an honorary Doctorate of Science from Glasgow University.
Presently Director of the Data Innovation Institute at Cardiff University, he is the Principal Investigator responsible for data analysis for the GEO600 collaboration - part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration - and a member of the eLISA Science Team guiding the development of the ESA mission to place a gravitational wave detector in space. eLISA is currently approved for launch in 2034-6.
By looking far out into space, we can see back almost to the dawn of time. Faint microwave light is reaching us now that set off on its journey almost 14 billion years ago. It carries a picture of what the Universe looked like back then, and helps us find out how galaxies like our own Milky Way came to be here billions of years later.
It also helps us discover what was happening at the Big Bang itself. In her lecture, Professor Dunkley talked about the space satellites and telescopes at the South Pole and in Chile that are being used to study this light, and what we are learning from them about the beginning of the Universe.
Jo Dunkley is a Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford. Her research is in cosmology, studying the origins and evolution of the Universe, and Jo teaches undergraduate and graduate physics students. She was awarded the Maxwell Medal and the Fowler Prize for work on the Cosmic Microwave Background.
The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) is a future ground-based optical and infrared telescope. With a primary mirror diameter of 39m, it will be the largest optical-infrared telescope in the world when it enters operation in the middle of the next decade.
Construction work is underway at the telescope site in Chile. In this talk Isobel discusses some highlights from the science case for the E-ELT, which ranges from studies of exo-planets to the most distant galaxies and cosmology. She describes the telescope design and plans for the instrumentation suite, before discussing the current status of the project.
Professor Isobel Hook is from the University of Oxford and INAF - Observatory of Rome. As the Chair of the E-ELT Science Working Group and a current member of the E-ELT Project Science Team, Isobel Hook has been central to the development of the most ambitious project ever attempted by European astronomers.
The Herschel is a European Space Agency satellite launched in May 2009 to study the far infrared properties of the Universe. The satellite has performed well above expectations and has produced important results ranging from asteroids to the most distant galaxies. In his lecture, Professor Griffin will describe the scientific impact of Herschel and the future prospects for far infrared wavelength astronomy.
Professor Matt Griffin is the Principle Investigator of the SPIRE instrument on the Herschel Space Observatory.
Called "Are we alone?", the lecture explored the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the prospects of finding it in the next few decades.
Aliens abound on the movie screens, but in reality we are still trying to find out if we share our universe with other sentient creatures. Intelligence is very difficult to define, and impossible to directly detect over interstellar distances.
Therefore, SETI is actually an attempt to detect evidence of another distant technology. If we find such evidence, we will infer the existence of intelligent technologists.
For the past 50 years, the SETI community has had a very pragmatic definition of intelligence - the ability to build large transmitters.
The majority of SETI searches to date have looked for radio signals coming from distant civilizations. We've recently begun looking for very short optical pulses as well. As our own technology matures and innovates, we may try other means of searching, and we will certainly improve upon the searches that we are already conducting.
Dr Jill Tarter is from the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) in San Francisco, California.