The second speaker in the 2017-18 Frontiers of Astronomy Lecture Series will be Philip Hopkins from the California Institute of Technology. He will present “The Universe on a Computer: The Formation of Galaxies, Stars and Planets in a Violent Cosmos” Thursday, Nov. 16, from 8 to 9 p.m. at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (1 Wade Oval Dr.).
Hopkins also will give a special astronomy colloquium Friday, Nov. 17, at 11 a.m. in the Sears Library Building, Room 552.
In cooperation with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Astronomical Society, and through the support of the Arthur S. Holden, Sr. Endowment, the Department of Astronomy is sponsoring the 2017-18 Frontiers of Astronomy Lecture Series. Renowned astronomers from across the country will give five free lectures throughout the year at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History at 8 p.m.
Astronomers have now discovered planets around distant stars—the relics of the “first generation” of stars in the universe and the light from the first galaxies when the universe was but a fraction of its present age.
However, a human life is infinitesimally small compared to the cosmic time scales over which these systems evolved, so we see only snapshots, instants in time.
To link them together and understand how the universe evolved, scientists rely on theoretical models and massive computational simulations. Fortunately, advances in computing power mean that it is possible to begin to understand the birth and death of galaxies, stars and planets. What this has shown, in stark contrast to beliefs from the last century, is that the universe is a violent place; it only appears calm because of the brief history of observations.
Hopkins will describe how planets are born, galaxies collide, stars explode, solar systems launch planets outside of them, and stardust is ejected from some galaxies and “stolen” by others. Together, this forms the background understanding of how humans arrived at this unique moment in time.