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Bending light in deep space
Dr James Nightingale (Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, Durham University)
Einstein's theory of general relativity famously unified gravity with the geometry of the Universe, making two remarkable predictions: light travels straight through space-time and mass bends the space-time around it. This means that light appears bent where there is mass! Astrophysicists have transformed this into a tool known as gravitational lensing and can use it to study everything in the Universe; from Earth-like planets to weighing the entire Universe. Come and see how!
Super-massive black holes: drivers of the universe
Jake Mitchell (Member of the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy)
Potentially compressing some ten billion suns worth of mass into a volume a fraction of the Earth, super-massive black holes are the most dense objects in the known Universe and are thought to inhabit the centre of nearly every galaxy. Despite this, they had not been observed directly until 2019, leaving astronomers to instead study the dramatic effect of their energetic feedback processes. I provide an overview of super-massive black holes and discuss how they are now believed to drive the evolution of every galaxy in the Universe, despite contributing a small fraction of their overall mass.