January Public Meeting : Gravitional Lensing and Introduction to ‘Spacetime’

Event Details

  • Date:

Happy New Year!
Details of our first 2018 meeting.
Meetings are free for members, and non-members can attend once for free and are then encouraged to join.
Short Presentation : Jonathan Ranallo, VIU Student.
An Introduction to ‘SpaceTime
Main Presentation : Dr. Karun Thanjavur (UVIC)
Peering through Nature’s telescope – Gravitational Lensing as a window into the distant universe
Gravitational lensing, the “bending” of light in a gravitational field is one of the many awe inspiring phenomena predicted by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, and which have since been unambiguously borne out by observations. Since the first confirmation of a gravitational lens in 1979 -nearly 45 years after it was hypothesized- the catalog of confirmed lenses now runs to a few hundreds. Aided by the rapid advances in telescope and instrumentation technologies, the magnification boost provided by gravitational lensing – Nature’s telescope – is now being harnessed to probe astrophysical processes in extremely distant, faint objects even in the very early universe with a level of detail that would otherwise be exceedingly challenging. My presentation aims to explain the principles of gravitational lensing using basic physics, trace its development as a powerful observational tool, and present two applications and related results drawn from my own research.
As an observational cosmologist, discovering new gravitational lenses and developing innovative techniques to harness them as observational tools are amongst my research interests. As part of my doctoral thesis at UVic in 2009, I developed an automated technique to search for lenses in wide-field, pan-chromatic images. These explorations of the distant universe come after a full career as a mechanical engineer, specializing in control systems and robotics. Born and raised in a small town in South India, I completed my education up to a bachelors degree in engineering there, before emigrating to Canada to pursue graduate studies first in Robotics, and later in Astrophysics. Even though undergraduate teaching is the focus of my current position as a senior lab instructor in astronomy at UVic, I enjoy sharing the excitement of science and my research efforts with the public through these outreach initiatives.
January Public Meeting : Gravitional Lensing and Introduction to ‘Spacetime’