Free public lecture "When Galaxies Collide", Sydney
Richard de Grijs is a Professor of Astrophysics at the Kavli Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics and Department of Astronomy, Peking University (China). He is in Australia as the recipient of the Selby Travelling Fellowship for Excellence in Science, awarded by the Australian Academy of Science.
His research interests focus on the processes of star and star cluster formation in gravitationally interacting, colliding and "starbursting" galaxies. He is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Astrophysical Journal Letters and a member of the editorial board of the Communicating Astronomy with the Public journal.
Studying galactic interactions is like sifting through the forensic evidence at a crime scene. Astronomers wade through the debris of a violent encounter, collecting clues so that they can reconstruct the celestial crime to determine when it happened. Take the case of Messier 82, a small, nearby galaxy that long ago bumped into its larger neighbour, Messier 81. When did this violent encounter occur? New infrared and visible-light pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope reveal for the first time important details of large clusters of stars, which arose from the interaction. The talk focuses on the train wrecks resulting from galaxy collisions and the implications for us in the Milky Way.