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  • Thu 10 Feb 2022, 7:30pm–9:30pm


All Ages

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A Deadly Dance: When black holes and neutron stars collide – Dr. Héloise Stevance

What happens when the densest objects in the universe collide at half the speed of light? It starts with a stretch of a wobble in the fabric of spacetime and sometimes ends in cosmic explosions that create some of the rarest and shiniest elements in the Universe. Together we’ll learn how some of the most massive stars in the cosmos live and die with a bang, to create the black hole and neutron star mergers we can “hear” colliding a hundred million light-years away. This 45-minute “lecture” will combine cutting-edge science and wacky humor to make the mysteries of merging black holes and neutron stars accessible to all ages and backgrounds.

Dr Stevance was born and raised in France, she moved to the UK to study Physics and Astronomy at the University of Sheffield. After working as a support astronomer at the Isaac Newton Group in La Palma for a year, she obtained my Masters of Physics in 2015. She subsequently started a PhD studying the 3D shape of Core Collapse Supernovae, and earned her title in Spring 2019. In July of that year, she joined the University of Auckland as a Research Fellow to research the evolution of massive stars to better understand how they die and produce Supernovae and Kilonovae.

Beatrice Hill Tinsley in 1977
Beatrice Hill Tinsley was a Professor of Astronomy at Yale University when she died, aged 40, of melanoma in 1981. Until she came on the scene, people believed that galaxies were fixed, immobile and unchanging in the universe. She discovered (among many other things) that galaxies are both changing and interacting with one another. She proved that the universe is still evolving.

Born in England, her family came to New Zealand when she was 5. She was educated first in New Plymouth and then at the University of Canterbury. In 1961 she married Brian Tinsley. In 1963 they travelled to the USA, where they remained

Beatrice was celebrated for her work as a synthesiser, the bringing together of apparently unrelated and individual scraps and strands of knowledge and theory, to help create a whole.

These Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lectures are our way of celebrating the life and work of this extraordinarily appealing and altogether remarkable young woman. This lecture is brought to you by the RASNZ Lecture Trust who may be contacted by email at and the Wellington Astronomical Society.

This years lecture is “A Deadly Dance: When black holes and neutron stars collide” with Dr. Heloise Stevance from the University of Auckland.

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