Exploring the deadliest places in the universe, from black holes to supernovae.
This course will introduce you to the deadliest and most mysterious parts of our universe. Black holes, which warp the very fabric of space-time around them. White-dwarf stars and neutron stars, where the mind-bending laws of quantum mechanics collide with relativity. Dwarf novae, classical novae, supernovae and even hypernovae: the most violent explosions in the cosmos. We will look at what we know about these objects, and also at the many unsolved mysteries that surround them. This course is designed for people who would like to get a deeper understanding of astronomy than that offered by popular science articles and shows. You will need reasonable high-school level Maths and Physics to get the most out of this course. This is the third of four ANUx courses which together make up The Australian National University’s first year astrophysics program. It follows on from a course on the Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe, and a course on exoplanets. It is not necessary to have done the previous courses first: all necessary background material is repeated here. It will be followed by a course on cosmology.
Brian Schmidt led the team that discovered dark energy – work which won him the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics. He is a Laureate Fellow and Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University. Raised in Montana and Alaska, USA, he obtained a PhD from Harvard before coming to Australia, where his passions include astrophysics and his vineyard in the hills near Canberra. Brian has won almost every possible award and distinction for his work – work that has revolutionised our understanding of the origin and fate of our universe. He is continuing his work using exploding stars to study the Universe, and is leading Australian National University’s effort to build the SkyMapper telescope, a new facility that will provide a comprehensive digital map of the southern sky from ultraviolet through near infrared wavelengths.
Paul Francis is a prize-winning educator, science communicator and astrophysics researcher. He obtained a PhD from the University of Cambridge, has worked with NASA, and is well known for his work on the spectra of quasars. Famous for his unorthodox teaching style, his strange taste in waistcoats and for his discovery that some black holes are actually pink, he divides his time between astrophysics research and teaching. His research interests include comets, giant space blobs and hidden quasars. He has won many awards for both teaching and science communication. He is currently trying to work out why the tails of distant comets don’t point the direction they should.
High school maths and physics.