ASX 12th Annual Symposium “Stellar Graveyard”

Location and Time:JJR MacLeod Auditorium (MS 2158), 1 King’s College Circle from 7-10 pm the night of Friday, January 23, 2015.

We are honored to be featuring:

Professor Christian Ott from California Institute of Technology,

The Theory of Stellar Death and Explosion: Massive stars die in spectacular core-collapse supernova explosions and leave behind neutron stars or black holes. The explosions eject the products of stellar nucleosynthesis into the interstellar medium from which planets form and life is made. I discuss the physics of massive stars, their evolution towards collapse, and the complex and rich physics of core collapse and the subsequent explosion as elucidated by new three-dimensional supercomputer simulations. I outline how observations with new messengers — gravitational waves and neutrinos –can yield new insights and test our theories about the highly dynamical processes occurring at the heart of the next core-collapse supernova that exploding in the Milky Way.

Professor Samar Safi-Harb from University of Manitoba,

Supernova explosions are among the most energetic explosions in the Universe. As the main ingredients for recycling of both matter and energy in the Universe, they enrich the interstellar medium with the elements we are made of, accelerate cosmic rays to extremely high energies, and (sometimes) leave behind neutron stars: highly compact and hot stars whose central densities are comparable to nuclear densities and whose magnetic fields can exceed the Earth’s a trillion-fold or even much more! I will share both the excitement and the physics learnt from studying these fascinating, extreme, objects and highlight the growing diversity of compact objects and nebulae unveiled through high-energy observations. I will conclude with an outlook to the future with highlights of Canada’s recent involvement in high-energy missions, including the upcoming ASTRO-H X-ray satellite.

Professor Harvey Richer from University of British Columbia,

White dwarf stars are the end product of stellar evolution for stars up to about 8 times the mass of the Sun. About 98% of all stars will end their lives as white dwarfs, thus demanding that we understand them in detail. We have been observing these stars in ancient star clusters and are using them to study a number of interesting questions. Among these are:
1) What are the ages of the oldest visible stars?
2) Can we use white dwarfs as dynamical clocks?
3) What can we learn about the interior physics in white dwarfs?
Most of our data come from observations with the Hubble Space Telescope. I’ll describe why we choose to use this instrument and provide a primer on how to get time on it.

Quick Links: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Students: FREE (with ID and pre-registration) from ANY university, college or school

Public: $15

Ticketing: Eventbrite

This is the 12th annual symposium organized by ASX. In the past, the symposium has featured famous astronauts, numerous top researchers, and leaders in the space industry. Previously, this annual event had attracted more than 1000 audience members.

Symposium Volunteers Needed

ASX is seeking volunteers for the Symposium. If you are interested in participating in the planning of one of the largest events run at the University of Toronto, send us an email to, with subject line “Symposium Volunteering”. Let us know if you would like to help in a particular area (e.g promotions, program logistics, day of event tasks, etc).


Are Humans Ready to Land On Mars?

ASX is partnering with the Canadian Nuclear Society to bring you a special event: Are Humans Ready to Land On Mars? On Friday, November 21, at 6:30 pm in the Bahen Center (40 St. George St.) room 1170, Nicholas Sion will describe the dangers of getting to Mars and how we can overcome them. ASX will then provide a telescope observing night. Please book your free tickets using Eventbrite here.

Since the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) landed on Mars, there has been increasing interest as to whether humans can travel to this neighbouring planet. This presentation will outline the known hazards in outer space missions, and draw attention to the issues of incessant radiation, microgravity effects, shielding inadequacy, and the psychological effects of a long lonely journey. The presentation will also outline the concepts of getting to Mars and the possible countermeasures against the hazards, including the latest research. You can view the full event poster here.


Star Talk: More to the Universe than Meets the Eye

ASX will be holding our monthly Star Talk on November 13 at 8pm. The speaker is James Taylor, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo. The talk will be given in McLennan Physical Labs (60 St George Street). The room is number 102 on the first floor. This is a FREE event and open for all ages.

Professor James Taylor is originally from Ottawa. He received an undergraduate degree in Math and Physics and an M.Sc. in Astronomy from the University of Toronto, and then moved to Victoria, B.C. to do his Ph.D. in Astrophysics. Taylor then worked at the University of Oxford and at Caltech, before moving back to Canada in 2006 to take up a position at the University of Waterloo, where he is an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. What little spare time he has is spent climbing, building things and cooking, depending on the season.

James Taylor writes, “Thousands of years from now, this age – your lifetime – will be remembered as a great period of scientific discovery. In the past few decades we have learnt some profound and unanticipated things about the nature of our universe, in particular that it contains forms of matter and energy previously unknown on Earth. Dark matter is the source of all structure in the universe, yet it is almost impossible to detect directly. Dark energy is the name given to whatever causes the accelerated expansion of the universe, but its true nature is even more mysterious. In this talk I will describe my recent work using dark matter around galaxy clusters to measure the expansion of the universe and probe dark energy, and also current work trying to detect dark matter structures around tiny dwarf galaxies in our own extragalactic back yard.”


New Ways to Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

ASX will be holding our monthly Star Talk on October 23 at 8pm. The speaker is Shelley Wright, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics at University of Toronto. The talk will be given in McLennan Physical Labs (60 St George Street). The room is number 102 on the first floor. This is a FREE event and open for all ages.

Shelley Wright received her Ph.D. in Astrophysics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Wright’s research focuses on both innovative astronomical instrumentation and observations using some of the world’s largest optical telescopes. Wright is the Project Scientist for a first light instrument for the future Thirty Meter Telescope. Wright also has been involved with SETI instrumentation and search strategies for over a decade.

Shelley Wright writes, “How common is life in the universe? Is there other intelligent life? These are some of the largest puzzles to understanding our place in the Universe. For over 50 years, astronomers have been conducting the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). These searches have primarily been focused at radio wavelengths, but in the last decade astronomers are thinking of new ways to search for extraterrestrial communication. Our SETI team is focused on carrying out the first SETI effort designed to detect infrared communication beacons from advanced civilizations. I will give an overview of humanity’s quest in finding extraterrestrial intelligence, as well as future methods and programs that are on the horizon.”


Important Update for First Star Talk

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the speaker for next week’s Star Talk will be unable to join us – but never fear, ASX has got you covered! Come out and get to know the ASX’s executive team, each of whom are never happier than when discussing astronomy. Check out a film on the Hubble Space Telescope and then have a look at the on campus telescopes on the top of McLennan Physical Labs. The event will be held in the same room (MP102) at the same time (8pm). We hope to see Dr. Sills at a later date, but we’ll see you there next week!