General Meeting - Dr. Emily Petroff

  • OMSI Auditorium 1945 Southeast Water Avenue Portland, OR, 97214 United States

Astronomy in the Blink of an Eye: Transient Events in the Universe


Most things in the Universe happen over millions or even billions of years but some things change on the timescales of human life and can be seen to change in a matter of months, days, or even seconds. These sources are called transients and are some of the most extreme events in the Universe, things like the collapse of a dying star, or a collision of two massive objects. Humans have been observing astronomical transients for centuries, from supernovae to gamma ray bursts, but recent advances in telescope power and technology mean we’re observing more and more transients each year and even finding new types such as the discovery of fast radio bursts in the past decade. This talk will focus on these elusive and ephemeral objects, how they are found, and where they are coming from.


Emily just finished her PhD in astrophysics at Swinburne University of Technology in the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing (CAS) where she began in August of 2012.

She completed her undergraduate work at Carleton College in Minnesota, USA in 2012 working with Dr. Joel Weisberg investigating pulsar polarization. This work took her and Joel to the CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS) center in Sydney during the summers. At CASS she worked with Dr. Simon Johnston and Dr. George Hobbs on pulsar polarization and pulsar timing.

Before college Emily was just another young person who loved astronomy in Portland, Oregon, USA. She participated as a contestant and judge in local, and state level science fairs. Work on infrared studies of local galaxy clusters took her to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in 2007 where she won the Bok Second Prize. She also participated in the Rose City Astronomers astronomy club, and held telescope nights for her school.