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King Edward's School BATH

From Big Bangs to Black Holes

From Big Bangs to Black Holes

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15 March 2018

The School was delighted to welcome the distinguished astrophysicist, Professor Carole Mundell, to King Edward's earlier this week to give the sixteenth annual Wroughton Lecture. The lecture series is sponsored by former Headmaster, Dr John Wroughton, with all ticket sales directed towards the School’s Bursary Fund.

Professor Mundell is Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy and Head of the Department of Physics at the University of Bath. A leading observational astrophysicist, she works in international research teams, using and developing cutting-edge technology on Earth and in space to study the physics of black holes in real time.

Her captivating lecture entitled Big Bangs and Black Holes took the audience of over 200 people on a fascinating whirlwind tour of black holes to explain why questions about their origin and influence remain at the forefront of modern astronomy. Using imagery, animation and sound, Professor Mundell described black holes of all sizes and scales and explained their importance for galaxy evolution and the cataclysmic death of massive stars. She also introduced the audience to the most distant and powerful explosions in the Universe - gamma ray bursts - and revealed how robotic technology is opening new windows on the black hole-driven dynamic Universe for astronomers as they search for the birth cries of new black holes.

Her exciting presentation, which was packed with information and insight, included an historical overview of cosmic endeavour from Copernicus to Einstein, the recorded sound of ripples in space time caused by black holes colliding in the distant Universe, and an explanation of why the black hole portrayed in Hollywood blockbuster Interstellar should have failed its screen test!

Professor Mundell began her research career as a radio astronomer at Jodrell Bank Observatory. She then diversified to exploit international ground and space-based facilities across the electromagnetic spectrum with the goal of understanding cosmic black holes and their environments. She was appointed to a Professorship in 2007 and has held a number of prestigious fellowships including a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2011-2016). In 2016, she was named Woman of the Year in the FDM Everywoman in Technology Awards.

 

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