‘The SKA and the accelerating Universe’

May 17, 2013 No Comments by

Is the title of a talk by Professor Roy Maartens of the Department of Astrophysics at University of the Western Cape which will be presented on Wednesday, 19th June at 5pm at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) Auditorium,*

Abstract: The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be the biggest ever radio telescope array, able to reach even  deeper into space and further back in time, and to resolve even finer features than  ever before. This will revolutionize radio astronomy and cosmology – and will  also have a major impact on South Africa and its African partners, who will  host about 70% of the SKA. Indeed, the SKA success signals a new dawn for  science in Africa, helping to tap into the vast potential of the continent. I  will describe these developments, and then go on to discuss one of the big  science questions that the SKA will help to answer: Why are the galaxies  flying apart from each other faster and faster instead of slowing down as  expected? What is the nature of the mysterious ‘Dark Energy’ field that is  driving this acceleration of the Universe? Or is the acceleration a signal of  the breakdown of Einstein’s theory on the largest scales?

About the Speaker

Roy Maartens is a cosmologist. His research focuses on answering fundamental questions about the universe, including:
The ‘dark energy’ problem – why is the universe expanding faster and faster? The smoothness problem – is the universe smooth on very large scales and how can we test this? The Einstein problem – when does the Newtonian approximation break down in cosmology and how can we detect this?
He obtained his BSc and Honours degrees in physics and applied maths from the University of Cape Town and then won a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford University. He was awarded a PhD in cosmology by UCT, under the supervision of George Ellis. From 1983 to 1994 he was a lecturer and then senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand. Between 1994 and 2010, he was at the University of Portsmouth in the UK. In the period 2002-2010, he was the founding Director of the Institute of Cosmology & Gravitation at Portsmouth, which grew to become one of the top cosmology groups in the UK. He was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship by the UK’s Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council during 2002-2005, and later served on the UK Particle Astrophysics Advisory Board. He currently holds the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Research Chair in Astronomy & Astrophysics at UWC.
Roy has co-authored the book Relativistic Cosmology (Cambridge, 2012) with George Ellis and Malcolm MacCallum. He has published more than 150 articles in international refereed journals. Since 2003, he has been a member of the Editorial Board of General Relativity & Gravitation, and was an editor for the influential Special Issue of GRG on Dark Energy. From 2012, he and Abhay Ashtekar are the GRG editors-in-chief. He has been invited to numerous international conferences as a plenary speaker, and has supervised over 20 postdoctoral and 15 doctoral researchers.


*Directions to SAAO Auditorium : Coming from the N2, turn off to the M57 – Liesbeek Parkway; turning in the direction of Cape Town and continue to the traffic lights with Hartleyvale (hockey and football) on your left. Turn right at traffic lights into Observatory Road, pass the River Club; the S A Astronomical Observatory is next on the left. Once through the security gates bear left following the SALT signs to the last building on the left (white with stoep & ramp).

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