Cambridge Astronomical Association
Cambridge Young Astronomers


Speaker Meeting

Why do Galaxies Die?
Friday 17th September 2021
Start time : 20:00

Speaker : Dr. James Trussler

Chronicling the history of extragalactic astronomy, I will take you on a
journey through space and time to address the key question: why do
galaxies die? Our search for an answer will begin with the pioneering
discoveries made by Edwin Hubble a century ago, as I discuss the trail
of observational findings that led astronomers to ponder about the very
life and death of galaxies. Moving on to the present-day, I will
highlight the current state-of-the-art, describing how the world’s
largest telescopes and cutting-edge computer simulations have given
astronomers fresh new clues on the leading cause of galaxy death. In our
attempt to identify the main culprit, we will encounter an extraordinary
array of astronomical phenomena and objects, ranging from exploding
stars (supernovae) and actively accreting supermassive black holes, to
the densest clusters of galaxies in the Universe. We will come to find
that nature and nurture are key suspects, having both played a crucial
role in the life and death of galaxies. Finally, I will present an
outlook for the future, describing how this cosmic mystery can be better
solved by delving deep into the cosmic past.

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About our speaker:

After growing up in The Netherlands, James moved to England to study physics at Imperial College London. He then obtained both a Masters and a PhD in physics at the University of Cambridge, where he used data from the largest galaxy survey of our time—the Sloan Digital Sky Survey—to identify the leading cause of galaxy death. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Manchester, where he will use premier data from Hubble’s spiritual successor—the soon-to-launch James Webb Space Telescope—to study the birth of the very first galaxies in the Universe, just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

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