COSMIC FIREWORKS FROM DYING STARS
Dr Shazrene Mohamed, astrophysicist, Department of Astronomy, University of Cape Town
While most stars (including our own Sun) will shine for billions of years and eventually fade with a ‘whimper’, other stars undergo violent explosions, instead going out with a ‘bang’ at the end of their lives. Although much rarer, these exploding stars have a tremendous impact on their immediate surroundings and on larger cosmic scales, lighting up the sky, injecting shocks and energy, and changing the chemical make-up of the Universe. This course will begin with a brief history of the discovery of stellar explosions and then explore how and why some stars explode, and why they are so important and interesting to study. Finally, some of the new, advanced surveys with powerful telescopes and techniques that are once again changing our view of these cosmic fireworks will be discussed.
1. Stellar explosions: background and history
2. Explosions of high-mass stars
3. Explosions of low-mass stars
4. The known unknowns: weird and wonderful transients
5. New surveys: a new era in time-domain astronomy