Saturday Physics for Everyone

Title Saturday Physics for Everyone: When Stars Attack! In Search of Killer Supernova Explosions
Speaker Professor Brian D. Fields, Astronomy and Physics
Date: 10/25/2014
Time: 10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

141 Loomis Laboratory, 1110 W. Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801


Department of Physics University of Illinois

Contact: Toni Pitts
217 244 2948
Originating Calendar: Physics - Saturday Physics for Everyone

Popular Lecture: The most massive stars are the celebrities of the cosmos: they are very rare, but live extravagantly and die in a spectacular and violent supernova explosion. While these events are awesome to observe, they can take a more sinister shade when they occur closer to home, because an explosion inside a certain "minimum safe distance" would pose a grave threat to Earthlings. We will discuss these cosmic insults to life, and ways to determine whether a supernova occurred nearby over the course of the Earth's existence. We will then present recent evidence that a star exploded near the Earth about 3 million years ago. Radioactive iron atoms have been found in ancient samples of deep-ocean material, and are likely to be debris from this explosion.
These data, for the first time, allow sea sediments to be used as a telescope, probing the nuclear fires that power exploding stars. Furthermore, an explosion so close to Earth was probably a "near-miss," which emitted intense and possibly harmful radiation.

View Professor Fields presentation slides.

To request disability-related accommodations for this event, please contact the person listed above, or the unit hosting the event.