When Galaxies Collide

29 October 2012

Come to tonight’s Sydney Ideas lecture to hear what happens when galaxies crash into each other, and how astrophysicists go about the work of reconstructing past collisions.

"Studying galactic interactions is like sifting through the forensic evidence at a crime scene," says Richard de Grijs from the Kavli Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, Peking University.

"Astronomers wade through the debris of a violent encounter, collecting clues so that they can reconstruct the celestial crime to determine when it happened."

Professor de Grijs will look at the case of Messier 82, a small, nearby galaxy that long ago bumped into its larger neighbour, Messier 81. He will present new infrared and visible-light pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope which reveal for the first time important details of large clusters of stars which arose from the interaction.

Professor de Grijs is the 2013 Selby Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. The fellowships are aimed at increasing public awareness of science by bringing distinguished overseas scientists to Australia for a lecture tour. Professor de Grijs will be visiting the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) on campus this week.

"Professor de Grijs’ talk on colliding galaxies includes some of the latest results from the Hubble Space Telescope, and will provide a fascinating picture of the violent events which can shape the lives of galaxies," said Elaine Sadler , a Chief Investigator with CAASTRO.

About Richard de Grijs

Richard de Grijs is Professor of Astrophysics and Associate Director of the Kavli Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics at Peking University (China). He is Deputy Editor of The Astrophysical Journal Letters and Founding Director of the East Asian node of the International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development. His research focuses on the processes of star and star cluster formation in gravitationally interacting, colliding and "starbursting" galaxies.

Event details

What: When Galaxies Collide , a Sydney Ideas lecture co-presented with the Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) at the University of Sydney

When: 6pm, Monday 29 October

Where: Foyer, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus. See map and directions

Cost: This event is free and open to all, registration required

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