"Things that go bump in the night...sky" features three OUSTEM Academics sharing their research and their favourite things about it! From gravitational lensing, black holes to binary stars, each academic will walk you through their love for outer space! Then, each will explain how you can get involved in their research through citizen science!
Our Academic Presenters & Chair:
Dr Natalie Starkey is a Public Engagement Officer in Physical Sciences at The Open University. Natalie has a background in geology and space science research, having completed her MSci. at Durham University, PhD at The University of Edinburgh, followed by two post-docs at The Open University. She moved into science communication and writing full-time from 2015, and has written two popular science books (Catching Stardust; Fire & Ice), science articles for popular publications such as The Guardian, New Scientist, All About Space, and BBC Science Focus, as well as the planetarium space show for the American Museum of Natural History. Natalie is a keen presenter of popular science for the public, working with StarTalk Radio in New York and regularly speaking at schools, astronomy clubs and science festivals.
Dr Beatriz Mingo I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Open University, where I use data mainly from radio and X-ray telescopes to study the jets (extremely fast streams of particles) launched by supermassive black holes. Studying their interactions with their host galaxies and the galaxy groups and clusters they live in is crucial to help us understand the evolution of our Universe. I am originally from Spain, where I completed my BSc and MSc and carried out an undergraduate traineeship at the European Space Agency, before moving to the UK in 2009. I completed my PhD at the University of Hertfordshire in 2013, and subsequently worked at the University of Leicester, before joining the OU in 2017. I have only recently become a radio astronomer, having worked mostly with X-ray satellite data in the past, and I am still involved in the planning and development of future X-ray telescopes.
Professor Stephen Serjeant I'm a professor of astronomy at the Open University, where I work on finding warps in space and time, known as gravitational lensing. Everything warps the space around it, and when you have a foreground galaxy and a background galaxy almost perfectly lined up, you see the background one through the warp surrounding the foreground one. These alignments are pretty rare, but by scanning the sky in infrared wavelengths, you find places where a background galaxy has been magnified brighter by the warping. These warps are one of the few ways to trace where dark matter is located. I also have a team working on using machine learning to find these warps with future space telescopes. I'm also interested in how galaxies evolve, and in getting the general public directly involved in scientific discovery through citizen science. I'm also a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a Chartered Physicist, meaning that I have three F-words and one C-word after my name, all well deserved.
Miss Heidi Thiemann I am a PhD student in astronomy at The Open University, and I work on using huge astronomical surveys of data to find the weirdest stars in the night sky. Even though we can't see it with our eyes, most stars aren't alone, in fact stars are often are gravitationally bound to one or more stars. We call these binaries or triple systems, and by studying these binaries and triples, we can better understand the underlying astrophysical processes going on inside and in between stars. We can also turn the clock forwards and work out how these binaries might end their lives. I've also been using these huge astronomical datasets to investigate other interesting aspects of stars, such as the relationship between how fast a star spins and how much X-ray emission it gives out. I completed by MSc at the University of Leicester in 2013, and joined the OU in 2017. As well as studying the stars, I've been down on Earth too, working on analysing data on jobs adverts and skills provision in the UK space sector.
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