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Wilmslow Scibar: Seeing the Invisible: Observing the Dark Side of the Universe

  • The Old Dancer 16 Grove Street Wilmslow, England, SK9 1DR United Kingdom (map)

Seeing the Invisible: Observing the Dark Side of the Universe

It seems that most of the universe is made up of mysterious ingredients which we cannot see directly. I will describe "gravitational lensing", the bending of light by gravity, which is predicted by Einstein's General Relativity. The dark components of the universe do not emit or absorb light, but do exert a gravitational attraction, and it turns out that gravitational lensing is one of the most promising methods for finding out more about them. This is very similar to looking through a bathroom window at streetlamps outside, and using the distorted images to learn about the patterns in the glass. I will describe the latest results from the Dark Energy Survey, which is observing shapes and approximate distances to 300 million galaxies over one eight of the entire sky.

Prof Bridle obtained her PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK in 2000 and has been a Professor at the University of Manchester, UK in 2013, after research in France, Cambridge (UK) and University College London. She has had prestigious awards in the UK and Europe including a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, the Royal Astronomical Society’s Fowler Award and European Research Council Starting and Consolidator Grants. She is author of over 70 refereed publications which have over 3500 citations. Most of her work has focussed on trying to uncover the nature of dark energy using data from the biggest ongoing cosmological imaging survey, the Dark Energy Survey, which is imaging one eighth of the sky and measuring shapes and approximate distances to 300 million objects. Motivated by the need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, she has diversified her research interests to applying her cosmology experience to agriculture and food research. In addition to her research applying astronomy image analysis techniques to earth observation data she leads the STFC Food Network+, which brings together STFC capabilities and food challenges.

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Earlier Event: March 20
Beartown Bobbins Craft Group
Later Event: March 21
Wine Wednesday