Northwestern Events Calendar


Colloquium: Wen-fai Fong: Illuminating the Origins of the Universe's Fastest Transients

When: Friday, September 30, 2022
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM Central

Where: Technological Institute, L211, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Joan West   (847) 491-3645

Group: Physics and Astronomy Colloquia

Category: Academic


Abstract: When we look up at the night sky, we see a static universe. However, observational surveys have revealed that our universe is dynamic, with a myriad of transient events. One of the most captivating contributors to our transient universe are energetic and fast explosions called short gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs). Derived from the mergers of neutron stars and/or black holes, they serve as unique laboratories to study the launching of relativistic jets, the production of heavy elements, and the emission of gravitational waves. In this talk, I describe our quest to understand the imprints of SGRBs on the universe through our superlative discoveries and observational legacy catalogs. In particular, I present our results on their role in heavy element nucleosynthesis, the environmental conditions for their formation and evolution over cosmic time, and their connection to the transformative era of multi-messenger astronomy. Looking forward, I discuss how our results lay the groundwork for the upcoming decade of gravitational wave discovery. I also demonstrate how the skills leveraged in illuminating the origins of SGRBs can be directly applied to a new and enigmatic type of transient: fast radio bursts.

Speaker: Professor Wen-fai Fong, Northwestern University

Host: Vicky Kalogera

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