Helen Sawyer Hogg Public Lecture

The Helen Sawyer Hogg Prize Lecture was initiated in 1985 by the Canadian Astronomical Society with the participation of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the Planetarium Association of Canada, and the Royal Canadian Institute. It continues as an annual public lecture co-sponsored by Cascatrust and the RASC, given alternately at the annual meetings of both societies, in recognition of the sustained and diverse contributions of Helen Sawyer Hogg to public appreciation of the universe around us. Selection of the Lecturer is made by a committee consisting of the Presidents of CASCA and the RASC, and the chairman of the Local Organizing Committee hosting the meeting (either CASCA or RASC).

2019 Helen Sawyer Hogg Public Lecture

Sera Markoff, University of Amsterdam.

Black holes are one of the most exotic consequences of Einstein’s General Relativity, yet they are also very common, from stellar remnants up to beasts over a billion times more massive than our sun. Contrary to their reputation as cosmic vacuum cleaners, they actually serve as engines for extremely energetic processes, converting a large fraction of the ‘fuel’ they capture into other forms that can majorly impact their surroundings. For instance, some black holes launch enormous jets of relativistic plasma, bigger than their host galaxies, that accelerate particles to energies millions of times higher than the Large Hadron Collider at CERN! Astronomers, astrophysicists and physicists all want to understand black holes, yet we have been limited by the resolution of our telescopes from actually seeing one directly. This situation has changed dramatically with the Event Horizon Telescope, an Earth-sized millimeter-wavelength array that revealed to the world what a black hole actually looks like just this past April. I will put this exciting result into context by explaining more about how black holes become such efficient, gravity-powered engines, and why they are important players for many different fields of study. Along the way I will also discuss the areas where we still have major questions, and thus the challenges for the coming years.

Recipients to date have been:
2019 Sera Markoff Imaging (and Imagining) Black Holes
2018 Emily Lakdawalla The Golden Age of Solar System Exploration
2017 Fiona Harrison From Spinning Black Holes to Exploding Stars: A New View of the High Energy Universe
2016 Ann Hornschemeier All the X-ray binaries in the Universe
2015 Roberto Abraham First Results from Dragonfly
2014 Laura Ferrarese The Hidden Lives of Galaxies
2013 Malcolm Longair Cosmology – its tortuous history, glorious present and bright future
2012 Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell Will the World End in 2012? The astronomical Evidence.
2011 Dimitar Sasselov The Search for a Sister Earth
2010 René Doyon First Images of Exoplanets
2009 Lawrence Krauss Life, the Universe and Nothing
2008 Phil Plait Bad Astronomy
2007 Steven Squyres Science Results from the Mars Exploration Rover Mission
2006 Alan Hildebrand Hunting for Doomsday asteroids from Earth and Space
2005 Michel Mayor Des planètes gazeuses aux planètes rocheuses: Dix ans de découvertes de planètes extrasolaires
2004 Sara Schechner Politics and the Dimensions of the Solar System: John Winthrop’s Observations of the Transits of Venus Expedition to St. John’s, June 1761
2003 Michael Shara Stellar Promiscuity and Destruction
2002 Paul Hodge Barnard’s Galaxy: Its Mysteries Revealed
2001 Jill Tarter Pulling Signals out of Noise
2000 Wendy Freedman The Age and Size of the Universe
1999 Paul Chodas The Impact Threat and Public Perception
1998 David Crampton Exploring the Frontier of the Universe with New Eyes
1997 Vera Rubin What Hubble Didn’t Know About Our Galaxy
1996 Werner Israel Black Holes
1995 David H. Levy Springtime on Jupiter – a personal perspective on Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9
1994 George Efstathiou The Origin of Galaxies
1993 Margaret Geller Mapping the Universe: So Many Galaxies, So Little Time
1992 Alan R. Hildebrand The Cretaceous / Tertiary Boundary Impact (or the Dinosaurs Didn’t Have A Chance)
1991 Kimmo A. Innanen The Prediction and Discovery of a New Solar System Object: The Planetary Trojan Asteroids
1990 Joseph Veverka Exploration of the Solar System: Voyager and Beyond
1989 Roger Cayrel La construction du téléscope CFH
1988 Hubert Reeves Early Moments of the Universe
1987 René Racine Small is Beautiful: The Quest for High Resolution Imaging in Astronomy
1986 Barry Madore The Hubble Space Telescope
1985 Owen Gingerich The Mysterious Nebulae, 1610-1924

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