Tides in the (Magellanic) Clouds

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A public lecture by Professor Malcolm Coe


Tides operate at many levels – from the beach where you take your holiday, to interactions between the most massive structures in the universe. Such large scale interactions between galaxies can sometimes trigger huge waves of starbirth, producing large numbers of massive stars and their evolved products – neutron stars and black holes.

This talk will describe why we believe such an event took place 200 million years ago in the Small Magellanic Cloud (a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way), and how X-ray telescopes are now discovering a huge nest of neutron stars produced from those tidal interactions.

Along the way we will look at the observational history of the SMC from the first drawings by John Herschel done in Cape Town, to a massive X-ray survey just completed last year.

Professor Malcolm Coe trained as an astronomer at Imperial College, London University before moving to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Washington DC for several years. At NASA, and since, he worked with space-based telescopes to investigate the Universe at extreme temperatures and gravities, exploring the boundaries of Einstein's theory of General Relativity. Since 1980 he has been a member of staff at Southampton University.

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