Our next edition will take place on Monday 27 November at 20h in Grand Cafe De Burcht (Burgsteeg 14, 2312 JS Leiden). Join us for an evening of informal astronomy and great beer! In this occasion, Anthony Brown and Elena Maria Rossi will tell us about using Gaia (the latest satellite that has surveyed the sky) to map the stars the Milky Way.
Anthony Brown is a staff member at Leiden Observatory and has been involved in the ESA Gaia mission since 1997. He currently chairs the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium, a team of over 500 European astronomers and IT specialists who are in charge of turning the raw measurements from the Gaia spacecraft into a three dimensional map of over one billion stars in our home galaxy, the Milky Way. In his talk, he will discuss how carefully ‘staring at the stars’ enables us to measure their distances and even their motions through space, and why you should get excited about this.
Elena Maria Rossi is an associate professor at Leiden Observatory. Her work is mainly theoretical: she is trying to understand how stars and gas behave in the presence of black holes and other extreme objects. She is also studying the trajectories of stars through the dark matter that surrounds our own Galaxy: the Milky Way. In this talk she will present how her research group is trying to find very rare “hypervelocity” stars in the ocean of stars that the satellite Gaia will detect. These stars suffered a close encounter with a black hole a million times more massive than our Sun, acquiring unsurpassed velocities. To meet the challenge to find those stars, they developed an algorithm that mimics the human brain.