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Professor Astronomy

a visit from a famous scientist

4 Mar 2011, 16:49 UTC
a visit from a famous scientist
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Image Credit: Department of Physics, University of Oxford

This week, our department was honored to host a visit by Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Dr. Burnell is most famous as having discovered pulsars while a graduate student at Cambridge University. Her thesis work involved building a radio telescope (radio astronomy was still a young field at the time) and searching the sky for radio sources. She discovered multiple sources that emitted strong pulses of radio waves every second or so. These sources turned out to be neutron stars, or stars with the mass of the sun squeezed in to a ball about 10 miles across. Neutron stars are the remnants of many stars that end their lives as supernova explosions. The discovery of neutron stars revolutionized our understanding of how stars live and die. You can read her own description of her discovery here. Dr. Burnell's thesis advisor was awarded a share of the Nobel prize for this discovery, but Dr. Burnell did not receive that recognition. Her contributions to this discovery have been well-recognized and rewarded since, and Dr. Burnell has had a long and fruitful career in astrophysics.

Dr. Burnell visited our department through the efforts of one of ...

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