Black holes and death stars: free public symposium

28 November 2016

Leading astrophysicists from around the world gather in Auckland this week to talk about massive stars, black holes and supernovae, with a public event on latest developments in astronomy to follow.

The meeting of 180 international astronomers is sponsored by the International Astronomical Union, the body that names planets, stars and supernovae (it was responsible for demoting Pluto from a planet to dwarf planet) and has over 12,000 members.

Very massive stars, more than 10 times the mass of our sun, are born out of clouds of dust called nebulae. When a nebula collects enough mass, it begins to collapse under its own gravity. The star then shines, creating energy from making new elements by nuclear fusion until it forms iron, the most stable element in the Universe. It then dies in a spectacular explosion called a supernovae.

After the star has died it leaves only a remnant, a neutron star or black hole, with the latter formed by only the most massive stars.

Black holes have fascinated scientists since first identified in 1971, although Albert Einstein predicted Black Holes through his theory of relativity in the 1900s. Black holes are so dense, and the gravity within them so strong, that nothing can escape them, including light.

Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland’s Department of Physics, JJ Eldridge, says the Conference will discuss supernovae explosions and how black holes are formed.

“It’s very exciting to have a gathering of the world’s leading space scientists here in Auckland and the latest research linking massive stars, their deaths in supernovae to form black holes and neutron stars. All the while discussing how these affect galaxies, from our own Milky Way to galaxies many billions of light years away.

“We really hope star-gazers and amateur astronomers will enjoy the public symposium that follows the Conference and which will discuss latest discoveries from outer space and nclude a presentation on kiwi science fiction.”

A range of international speakers will address the Conference, which runs from 27 November to December 2, with the public symposium on Saturday, 3 December.

More details about the The lives and death throes of massive stars symposium.


For more information contact

Anne Beston
Media Relations Adviser,
University of Auckland.

Tel: +64 9 923 3258
Mobile: + 64 (0) 21 970 089