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Space Warps: Citizen Scientist Powered Gravitational Lens Discovery A talk by Dr Aprajita Verma
Hampshire Astronomical Group
Cclanfield Memorial Hall, South Lane Clanfield Hants PO8 0RB
Fri Jun 9, 2017
Time: 7.30pm
Price: £3 at the door for non-members
IMAGINE A GALAXY BEHIND ANOTHER GALAXY: THINK YOU WON’T SEE IT – THINK AGAIN! Gravitational lenses are remarkable phenomena – a striking visual demonstration of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity – where the light from a distant galaxy is bent by the gravity field of an intervening massive foreground galaxy or group of galaxies lying along the line of sight. This results in an amplified, magnified and distorted image of the distant background galaxy often resulting in multiple images or complete and partial rings. The separation and distortion of lensed images is entirely determined by the total matter distribution in the intervening ‘lens’, this includes both luminous (i.e. stars) and elusive dark matter. Therefore lensing is one of the only means to weigh galaxies and constrain dark matter providing one of the most direct pieces of evidence for its existence. However, finding gravitational lenses remains a difficult task with large numbers of false positives (configurations that mimic lenses) requiring significant effort in visually inspecting the candidates. In this talk, Dr Verma will discuss the gravitational lensing, its numerous astrophysical applications and the methods used to discover them. In particular, Dr Verma will talk about our recent results from the Space Warps project where our Citizen Scientist collaborators have contributed to the discovery of new lenses in sensitive and wide area imaging surveys.
Brave new worlds: the planets in our galaxy A talk by Professor Giovanna Tinetti
Hampshire Astronomical Group
clanfield Memorial Hall, South Lane Clanfield Hants PO8 0RB
Fri Jul 14, 2017
Time: 7.30pm
Price: £3 at the door for non-members
The Earth is special to us – it’s our home. But is it really special as a planet? Every star we can see in the night sky is likely to be orbited by planets. There are probably a hundred billion planets in our galaxy alone. In about twenty years, more than 3000 “exoplanets” have been discovered in distant solar systems. There are planets completing a revolution around their mother star in less than one day, as well as planets orbiting two or even three stars or moving on trajectories so eccentric as to resemble comets. Some of them are freezing cold, some are so hot that their surface is molten. But beyond that our knowledge falters: What are they made of? How did they form? What’s the weather like there? Are they habitable? 
 Finding out why are these new worlds as they are and what is the Earth’s place in our galaxy and –ultimately– in the universe, is one of the key challenges of modern astrophysics.

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