To the casual observer, the heavens may seem rather unchanging: the steady procession of the constellations as the Earth spins on its path around the Sun, punctuated by the wandering of the planets, the regular cycle of the Moon and the occasional spectacular appearance of a comet. To the more discerning observer though, the sky is far from steady. Indeed with the advantage of modern technology, the Universe is remarkably volatile. In this talk, Tim will discuss some current examples of how the Universe continues to surprise us on timescales ranging from years to fractions of a second.
Tim O’Brien is a Professor of Astrophysics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Manchester. He is also an Associate Director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, with responsibility for Public Engagement and Communications. Tim’s main research involves trying to understand novae, a particular type of exploding star, but his interests lie in the broad area of astrophysical gas dynamics mainly applied to circumstellar phenomena. These include theoretical and observational studies of classical and recurrent nova explosions, supernovae and planetary nebulae at wavelengths ranging from the radio to the X-ray. Tim teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students and also carries out a wide range of public engagement activities including being the primary media contact for Jodrell Bank.