LOCATION: 159 Mulford Hall, UC Berkeley.
The galaxies of our night sky are as diverse and colorful as any garden—and for the most part, just as tranquil. When we look back at the ancient universe, however, a different picture emerges: a cosmos that buzzes with activity and teems with the fresh growth of stars and black holes. How did these processes that formed our Milky Way begin? Why did they stop? And where did it all come from, anyway?
This talk will explore the tumultuous history of our universe, focusing on its evolution from a (mostly) uniform cloud of plasma to the dizzyingly complex array of stars and galaxies we see today. We’ll discuss how the seeds of galaxy formation were planted during the Big Bang, how budding galaxies collect the food for new stars, and how, like a cosmic autumn, this rampant growth transitioned into the fading colors and staid calm of our current galactic epoch.
Leaving horticultural metaphors aside, we’ll also discuss topics that have no terrestrial analogy: the mysterious, yet essential, contributions of dark matter and black holes to galaxy evolution. They may not make wormholes (sorry, Interstellar fans), but we’ll examine the ways in which astronomers can actually harness the incredible power of black holes to study the most baffling aspects of galaxy growth.
Ryan Trainor is a postdoctoral fellow in astrophysics at the Miller Institute for Basic Research at UC Berkeley. After growing up in the foothills of Lake Tahoe, he went south to complete a BS at UC Irvine and a PhD at Caltech. Having happily returned to northern California, he now splits his time between studies of galaxy growth and more hands-on experiments on vegetable growth with his wife in their backyard garden.
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