Dark Energy, Explosions & Zombie Stars

JANUARY 13, 2012

Dr. Andrew Howell

Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network

What is the talk about?

What do you see when you look at the night sky? If you are Dr. Howell and his team, you discover a supernova within hours of its explosion (a rare feat) and use it to help measure the history of the expansion of the universe and the dark energy causing it to accelerate.  His team showed that these supernovae are from white dwarf “zombie” stars that were once dead, but came back to life by sucking matter from a companion star before exploding. Explore supernovas, dark energy, and zombie stars with Dr. Howell, and hear how learning more about these phenomena helps us understand our universe.

About our presenter

Dr. Andrew Howell

Dr. Andrew Howell

Dr. Andrew Howell is a staff scientist at the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of California Santa Barbara, and was a host of the third season of the National Geographic Channel series “Known Universe.” He is a member of the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF), the Supernova Legacy Survey, and Pan-STARRS1, three teams which have found and followed thousands of explosive and transient events in the universe, providing our best measurement of the mysterious dark energy.  This followed his work with the Supernova Cosmology Project, whose leader, Saul Perlmutter, was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics, along with Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess, for the discovery of the acceleration of the universe.  Dr. Howell recently published some of his research on Type Ia Supernovae as Stellar Endpoints and Cosmological Tools in Nature Communications, and the PTF team’s recent discovery of the supernova in M101 was reported worldwide in the summer of 2011.