Monday, April 17, 2017

Astronomy on Tap: Black Holes and Exoplanets!

Astronomy on Tap hit two very different topics tonight: black hole simulations, and observations of our nearest exoplanet, Proxima b.  Starting us off, Maria Okounkova, discussed the history of numerical relativity simulations of how black holes behave when interacting and merging, and made this easily understandable by comparing it with the television program The Great British Bakeoff.  Numerical relativity has enabled such recent discoveries as the LIGO gravitational wave detection of 2015.

After Maria, we had a talk by visiting scientist, Dr. Devin Silvia, who described the recent discovery of Proxima b, an exoplanet orbiting the closest star outside of our solar system.  With a bit of humor, he covered why it's important to have discovered this planet, and the possibility of us ever visiting it in our lifetime!

Thanks to everyone for the great turnout, and good job to all participants in a very difficult quiz.  See you next month!