Scientific Zoom-Meeting of the Genootschap

When: Thursday January 28th 2020, 19.00- 20.30h
Access: Open to the public, registration required
Where: via Zoom, link available upon registration (please use the form below)

News from Astronomy

Dr Silvia Toonen (UvA- FNWI): Lighting up the skies with bright and energetic transients

At the advent of large-scale time domain surveys we are revealing for the first time the existence of a large and diverse zoo of transients; from the brightest stellar explosions ever seen in electromagnetic light, to the gravitational wave events distorting space and time, and from the common transients that can be used as tools to constrain general relativity and cosmological parameters, to the rare & exotic transients that are observed for the first time. However, despite their impact in astronomy, the origin of transients is often unknown, except for a link to stellar systems and interactions. In this talk I will discuss the current breakthroughs in unraveling the origin of the most mesmerizing transients, and the prospects for the future.


Dr. Antonija Oklopcic (UvA- FNWI): The Extreme Atmospheres of Extrasolar Planets

Since the first discoveries of planets outside of our Solar System in the 1990s, great progress has been made in studies of extrasolar planets (exoplanets). There are currently over 4,000 confirmed exoplanets whose basic properties, such as their size and orbital distance from the host star, have been determined through astronomical observations. Statistical studies tell us that most stars in our Galaxy have planets orbiting around them. Interestingly, the majority of known exoplanets have properties quite different from planets in our own Solar System. Exoplanets orbiting their host stars at very short distances—much closer than the orbit of Mercury around our Sun—are remarkably common. These “close-in” exoplanets endure extreme environmental conditions: they are exposed to high levels of radiation and bombarded by intense fluxes of charged particles streaming from their host star. As a result, the atmospheres of close-in exoplanets are heated to very high temperatures, reaching a few thousand degrees Kelvin and making these planets as hot as some stars. In some cases, the hot atmosphere of an exoplanet is evaporating so efficiently that we can see evidence of this process in the planet’s spectrum. Using spectroscopic observations obtained with the world’s largest telescopes, astronomers are learning about the atmospheric chemical composition and the physical processes governing the formation and evolution of these exotic worlds.

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