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Life, death and afterlife of stars

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21 May 2019




Goudsbloemstraat 50, Leuven






When most people look up at stars, they only see them as beautiful sparkly dots, but stars are born, live and die like people do. What do we know about their lives and deaths? What happens with them when they switch off and what kind of products are left behind when they die? Tonight, our experts will answer these and many other questions about the life, death and afterlife of stars.

Massive stars - the engines powering our Cosmos

Julia Bodensteiner

Ph. D. student

Massive stars are cosmic engines that drive the evolution of the Universe. Studying their formation, evolution, and especially their spectacular explosive deaths is thus crucial to understand what we see in our Universe. In my talk I will explain how these massive stars formed in the past, how they will evolve in the future, and how they will die by studying the characteristics of whole populations of massive stars in clusters, both in the Milky Way and our neighbouring galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds.

Spaceship Landing on Earth

KU Leuven

Have we seen Gargantua?

Tom Lemmens

Ph.D. student, member of an ERC-funded team

Have we actually seen a black hole in real life? The movie Interstellar gave us the most accurate representation of a black hole in a movie to date but how was this image made? And can't we just point our most powerful telescopes at the nearest black hole and find out? Black holes are a common occurrence in science fiction and they are equally common in ongoing research. There's much about them which we still don't know even though they have been around in physics for more than a 100 years. So how do we know for sure that they actually exist at all?

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KU Leuven

From dying stars to life on Earth

Marie Van de Sande

Postdoctoral researcher

We all think about big questions of who we are and where we come from. These questions are also a driving force in astronomy, where we study stars and galaxies in our quest to answer them. Like people, stars are born and die. As they die, they expel dust and freshly-forged chemical elements in their final breaths. These are the building blocks of a new generation. Though small, the specks of dust will eventually become planets. By studying the chemistry around young and old stars we understand more about the origins of life and why we are here.

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KU Leuven