2018 Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lecture

When: Tuesday 9th October, 7:00pm

Where:  Horne Lecture Theatre, Level 12 Ward Support Block, Wellington Hospital (directions).  Seating is limited so please register for your free ticket.

What:  The Dawn of Gravitational Wave Astronomy

Dr Paul Groot (Professor of Astronomy, Radboud University, The Netherlands)

Dr Grooup

Paul Groot is professor of astronomy at Radboud University, located in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He obtained his PhD in 1999 at the University of Amsterdam, among others on the first detection of optical afterglows from gamma-ray bursts. After a stay at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics as a CfA fellow he returned to the Netherlands in 2002 to co-found the Department of Astrophysics at Radboud University. He served as chair of the Department from 2006 – 2016 and as chair of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA) from 2012 – 2016. In this role he played a very active role in setting the research and instrumentation strategy for Dutch astronomy. His research is focused on compact binary systems, transients in the Universe and gravitational wave astrophysics. He has a keen interest in astronomical instrumentation, among others as Project Scientist on the VLT X-Shooter spectrograph and Principal Investigator on both the MeerLICHT telescope and the BlackGEM array. He is a member of the Virgo Collaboration for the detection of gravitational wave signals. He is the co-recipient of the 2002 EU Descartes Prize, the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics and the 2016 Gruber Prize in Cosmology.

The direct detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO and Virgo laser interferometers has opened a completely new field in astrophysics. The merger events of binary black holes and neutron stars have now been detected. The electromagnetic radiation from one event (GW170817) has also been detected in a world-wide effort by thousands of astronomers. After the current upgrades the LIGO/Virgodetectors will detect a gravitational wave signals at a likely rate of one per week. This amazing development also raises many questions and opens up new opportunities: How do these binary black holes form? Where and when were they formed? How do they link to massive stars? Are they really the production site of gold in the Universe. What is the highest and lowest mass black hole? What are neutron stars made up of? Can we find these events even without gravitational wave signals, by looking at short duration transients in the optical sky?

During the lecture Dr Groot will give a short overview of the amazing results obtained so far and look ahead to the new possibilities for understanding black holes, neutron stars and the violent Universe.

Beatrice Hill Tinsley

Beatrice Hill Tinsley was a Professor of Astronomy at Yale University when she died, aged 40, of melanoma in 1981. Until she came on the scene, people believed that galaxies were fixed, immobile and unchanging in the universe. She discovered (among many other things) that galaxies are both changing and interacting with one another. She proved that the universe is still evolving.

Born in England, her family came to New Zealand when she was 5. She was educated first in New Plymouth and then at the University of Canterbury. In 1961 she married Brian Tinsley. In 1963 they travelled to the USA, where they remained.

Beatrice was celebrated for her work as a synthesiser, the bringing together of apparently unrelated and individual scraps and strands of knowledge and theory, to help create a whole.
These Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lectures are our way of celebrating the life and work of this extraordinarily appealing and altogether remarkable young woman.

The Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lectures are administered by the RASNZ Lecture Trust.

For a more detailed biography of Beatrice Hill Tinsley see https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/obituaries/overlooked-beatrice-tinsley-astronomer.html