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The New Universe Revealed by Space Observatories
Speaker: Dr. Alaa Ibrahim, Associate Professor of Physics, American University of Cairo
Since Galileo startedto explore the sky with the telescope nearly 400 years ago, arevolution in astronomy (and a parallel one in science) started to unfold. TheEarth-centered universe that prevailed for 2,000 years was rectified,new planets and members of our solar system were discovered, more galaxies thanour Milky Way were found, and the universe was discovered to beexpanding. Astronomy advanced in these ~ 300 years more than it did sinceits inception as one of mankind's first science disciplines.
Yet, another revolutionwas awaiting when telescopes and light detectors were placed in space. Theuniverse was seen for the first time to be vibrant at invisible wavelengths tothe human eye, such as x-rays and gamma-rays, revealing a host of new cosmicobjects, regions, and phenomena that are otherwise absent in the opticalspectrum, and also shedding new insights in the optical band. These includeobserving the exotic activity of black holes and neutron stars, detecting theremnant radiation from the Big Bang, determining the age of the universe,constraining dark matter and dark energy, discovering the acceleratingexpansion of the universe, and detecting other planets and solar systemsin and outside our Milky Way galaxy. The availability of the observations fromthese space telescopes via online data archives creates rich opportunitiesworldwide in research and education (including experiential, project-basedlearning and undergraduate research) among students and researchers, not onlyin physics and astronomy but also in computer science, mathematics, andastro-biology.
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