On Friday 27th January we were treated to a talk by Jost Migenda of Sheffield University, a PHD student of Dr Matthew Malek pictured above.

His talk entitled The Death of a Star: Observing Supernovae with Neutrinos was both interesting and amusing.

He explained Neutrinos are ghost-like particles that can literally “go through walls”. He had us laughing at his graphics from a Harry Potter film of a ghost scene.

He first gave us a brief but exciting history of neutrinos, describing how they can be used to look inside a supernova in the moment of explosion and what we might learn from this.  What fascinated me was the amount of time it took from a star losing its fuel to falling in under its own gravity – milliseconds.  When the heavy elements have fallen into the core of the star and compressed to when it explodes – 10 seconds.

Fascinating to  think it takes billions of years for a star to come to life, but its death occurs almost in an instant.  Of course the shockwave that comes afterwards initiates star formation in other interstellar clouds.  Thus we are recycled!!

He outlined what has already been achieved in neutrino detection and told us of a new detector to be built in Japan starting next year.  He is hoping that Betelgeuse will wait until the detector is ready in 2024 before it goes supernova.  I personally hope it will happen in my lifetime!!!