When Galaxies Collide

Professor Richard de Grijs, Kavli Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, Peking University

Co-presented with the Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) at the University of Sydney

29 October

Studying galactic interactions is like sifting through the forensic evidence at a crime scene. Astronomers wade through the debris of a violent encounter, collecting clues so that they can reconstruct the celestial crime to determine when it happened. Take the case of Messier 82, a small, nearby galaxy that long ago bumped into its larger neighbour, Messier 81. When did this violent encounter occur? New infrared and visible-light pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope reveal for the first time important details of large clusters of stars, which arose from the interaction. The talk focuses on the train wrecks resulting from galaxy collisions and the implications for us in the Milky Way.

Professor De Grijs

Richard de Grijs is Professor of Astrophysics at and Associate Director of the Kavli Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics at Peking University (China). He obtained his PhD at the University of Groningen (Netherlands) in 1997, with subsequent postdoctoral appointments at the Universities of Virginia (USA) and Cambridge (UK). He was a senior faculty member at the University of Sheffield (UK) before his move to Beijing. His research interests focus on the processes of star and star cluster formation in gravitationally interacting, colliding and "starbursting" galaxies. He is Deputy Editor of The Astrophysical Journal Letters and Founding Director of the East Asian node of the International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development.