Public Science Lecture Series

Public Science Lecture Series

Public Science Lecture Series

Hosted by Physics and Space Sciences, the Public Lecture Series is an evening lecture on a topic of general interest in science. After the lecture, attendees are invited to visit the Olin Physical Sciences Building rooftop to view the stars from the Ortega telescope, weather permitting. 



Lectures are typically held 4th Friday of each month during the academic year.

Spring 2019

January 25th, Dr. Erin Kara, University of Maryland.

Tidal Disruption Events: How one star’s death gives life to a black hole
In a galaxy, once every hundred thousand years, an unsuspecting star finds itself on a collision course with the supermassive black hole quietly sitting at the center of galaxy. The gravitational forces from the black hole are just too strong for the wimpy star, and it gets torn apart. We call this violent episode a Tidal Disruption Event, and since telescopes are continuously monitoring hundreds of thousands of galaxies, astronomers actually observe these rare events a few times per year. In this lecture, we will discuss what happens after this stellar disruption: how it produces the light we see through our telescopes, and what these events can tell us about how black holes feed and grow. In particular, Dr. Kara will present a cutting-edge technique called X-ray reverberation mapping that gives us a close-up look at Tidal Disruption Events. Just as bats use echolocation to map out the structure of a dark cave, we are using light echoes to map out the gas near the black hole.



February 22nd, Dr. Misty Bentz, Georgia State University.

March 22nd, TBA

April 26, 2019, Dr. Tabetha Boyajian, Louisiana State University. 


8:00 p.m - 9:00 p.m. - Lecture.
9:00 p.m - 10:30 p.m. - Public observatory open house, weather permitting.

Locations and Parking

F. W. Olin Engineering Complex, auditorium room 118 (lecture).

F.W. Olin Physical Sciences Building, 4th floor accessed via elevator (public observatory open house, weather permitting).

Once on campus, the nearest parking is on "Engineering Street" and in the "Panther Place".

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