Although there are numerous telescopes – both large and small – examining the night sky at any one time, the heavens are so vast and so densely populated with all manner of exotic objects that it is extremely easy to overlook a significant random event. Fortunately, a new generation of scientific instruments is now enabling UK astronomers to prepare for the unexpected and become leaders in so-called “Time Domain Astrophysics”.
Exciting new observations of many different, time-variable celestial objects, ranging from black hole X-ray binaries to flare stars and Saturn’s moon Titan will be presented at a Royal Astronomical Society Specialist Discussion Meeting on Friday, 13 February (details below). The meeting will also feature presentations on several ground-breaking UK instruments which make these observations possible.
The Universe around us is constantly changing. Sometimes, the map of the heavens is rewritten by sudden, violent events such as gamma ray bursts (GRBs) and supernovae. Sometimes, a wandering near-Earth asteroid or a gravitational lensing event makes its unpredictable appearance. Most frequently, a star will undergo a modest fluctuation in optical brightness or energy output.
Prof. Mike Bode | alfa
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