Institute of Astronomy

Galactic Cannibalism

SpeakerTalk DateWeekly Handout
Kathryn Johnston8 March 2017
Additional Information
Group:12th Cambridge scouts
Number of Visitors:171

Talk Summary

Galaxies! Images of these objects are awe-inspiring - spirals of billions of stars, along with the gas and dust from which stars form, spinning slowly in the sky. Yet these majestic objects are thought to have formed quite violently through the agglomeration of smaller objects. Even our own home - the Milky Way galaxy - seems to be in the process of devouring several smaller galaxies! This talk examines why we think galaxies are cannibals in general, and what this means about the past and future evolution of the Milky Way in particular.

The speaker is visiting the IoA as the Eddington Lecturer:
Kathryn V Johnston is an astronomer who studies how galaxies form and evolve, what they contain and how they are structured. She describes some of these interests in a recent article in the December 2014 issue of Scientific American.
She is now the Chair of the Department of Astronomy at Columbia University, where she teaches undergraduate courses and mentors graduate students in research projects.  She completed an undergraduate degree in mathematics at Cambridge University, a PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California at Santa Cruz, postdoctoral work at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and her first faculty position at Wesleyan University. 


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