Café & Kosmos — Supernovae - unravelling the mysteries of the biggest cosmic explosions

Exploding and colliding stars, seen as supernovae and cosmic gamma-ray bursts, produce the brightest and most powerful radiation outbursts in the Universe. Their observation to a distance of billions of light-years gives us information about the accelerated expansion of the cosmos. When a neutron star or a black hole is born during the explosion, this releases in a very short time more energy than a star such as our Sun produces in its whole lifetime.

Supernovae and their remnants are studied by observations at different wavelengths of radiation (center) as well as supercomputer simulations (left and right). The Image at the center shows the Cassiopeia A gas nebula, the diffuse remnant of a supernova that exploded around 1680
(green and blue: X-ray; yellow: optical; red: infrared;
souces: NASA/CXC/SAO; NASA/STScI; NASA/JPL-Caltech/Steward/Oliver Krause et al. (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie)).

On the one hand such an event can be very destructive, but on the other hand there would not be any planets, plants or animals without these cosmic catastrophes. These explosions drive the galactic matter cycle, during which many generations of stars and supernovae forge the heavy elements (heavier than helium) before these are - distributed by the stellar explosions into the surrounding universe - being recycled in new stars and planetary systems.

The astrophysicist Hans-Thomas Janka studies the complex, physical processes in supernova explosions with computer models. In the next Café & Kosmos he will talk about the fascination regarding these events, the large challenges associated with the exact modelling of the explosion in three dimensions, and the hopes (and fears) connected with the next stellar explosion in our Milky Way.

What: Café & Kosmos
When: 8 November 2011, 19:00
Where: Vereinsheim, Occamstr. 8, 80802 München (U3/U6 Münchner Freiheit)
Entrance free.
Please note that the event will be conducted in German.