Dr. Maryam Modjaz

Columbia University, Post-doctoral Researcher

Cosmic Fireworks: The Explosive Deaths of Massive Stars

Massive stars die violently. They produce the most powerful explosions in the Universe during their death-throes: supernovae and gamma-ray bursts. Supernovae are brilliant firework displays that become as bright as a billion suns combined, and gamma-ray bursts are monster explosions that launch jets moving nearly at the speed of light and outshining the whole gamma-ray Universe in a few seconds. Both explosions produce and expel heavy elements and an enormous amount of energy; they leave behind fascinating objects such as black holes and pulsars, and like beacons they are visible over billions of light years across the vast Universe. How are these types of explosions related? Are they dangerous to life on earth? How may they be vital for life on earth? These are some of the questions Dr. Modjaz will discuss during her breathtaking tour of the most powerful explosions of the Universe.