Lisa gave an entertaining and informative talk of the history of oxygen atoms in the Universe – how they were created, their journey through time and space, and how they got to be on Earth with us breathing oxygen molecules.
The audience was largely interested members of the public, with a large percentage of children and teenagers, eagerly awaiting new astronomy knowledge. Lisa was able to explain concepts in a way non-astronomers could readily understand, whilst introducing some of the observational and theoretical cosmology that ASTRO 3D is working on:
ASTRO 3D not only observes stars and galaxies using light, x-ray, infrared and radio waves through telescopes, we also use Australia’s best supercomputers to input that data and model what we think the evolutionary processes in the Universe were:
After the first stars formed, gravity then clumped together the stars to form the first galaxies:
But how did the oxygen get out of the stars? Either from supernovae exploding or from solar winds:
Lisa then explained how ASTRO 3D is using new technologies to gather spectroscopic data from the stars and galaxies, so that for every pixel of light we gather from our telescopes, we are also able to understand the chemical makeup of stars and galaxies – this will help us understand star and galaxy evolution, with the help of supercomputers, in a way we’ve never been able to before.
It is also a really exciting time in astronomy because we are using and developing the next generation of ground and space telescopes, which will allow astronomers to view even fainter, further away and older objects than ever before. Astronomers are increasingly using Gravitational Lensing as a way of seeing very old and distant galaxies.
And Lisa finished up with a video of the future James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) being developed by NASA in collaboration with a huge number of international partners. The JWST will be an infrared telescope, positioned further out in space than any other telescope, and will serve thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.
There were some really interesting questions from the audience, who really appreciated learning more about this fascinating aspect of ASTRO 3D research from Prof. Lisa Kewley!