[Currents header graphic]

April 19, 1999

Astronomer to speak on "Cosmic Catastrophes"

By Tim Stephens

Astronomers who study the stars and galaxies that sparkle serenely in the night sky often find evidence of astonishingly violent events. Supernova explosions and gamma-ray bursts are among these highly energetic celestial phenomena, and recent observations are shedding new light on their origins and significance.

Astronomer Neil Gehrels, head of the Gamma Ray and Cosmic Ray Astrophysics Branch at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, will discuss supernovae and gamma-ray bursts on Thursday, April 22, in a public lecture at UCSC. His talk, "Cosmic Catastrophes," will begin at 7 p.m. in Room 105, Oakes College. Admission is free. Parking is available in the nearby College Eight lots.

Two of NASA's orbiting observatories, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory, are returning beautiful images and other valuable data on supernovae and gamma-ray bursts.

"It is becoming clear that the universe in general, and even life on Earth, can be profoundly affected by such cosmic catastrophes," said Gehrels, who is project scientist for the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory.

His talk, presented by the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP), is part of the Delphasus Lecture Series, funded by a private gift to UCSC to increase public appreciation of issues in physics, astronomy, and astrophysics. There will be a reception after the lecture in the Oakes Learning Center.

For more information, call SCIPP at (831) 459-4499.

To the Currents home page

To UCSC's home page