2.40pm Friday 2nd February 2024

Professor Chris Lintott is a Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford, and a Research Fellow at New College. Educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge and University College London, his research now ranges from understanding how galaxies form and evolve, through using machine learning to find the most unusual things in the Universe, to predicting the properties of visiting interstellar asteroids. He is Principal Investigator of the Zooniverse citizen science platform, which provides opportunities for more than two million online volunteers to contribute to scientific research, and which was the topic of his first book, ‘The Crowd and the Cosmos’. He is presenter of the BBC’s long-running Sky at Night programme. Away from work, he cooks, suffers through being a fan of Torquay United and Somerset cricket, and spends time with a rescued lurcher, Mr Max, with whom he presents the Dog Stars podcast.

Interstellar objects and their influence on planet formation.

The arrival of the first interstellar object ‘Oumuamua, in 2017, surprised the astronomical world. A tiny object, just a few hundreds of meters across, it sped through the Solar System before returning to deep space, though it was followed by a second visitor – Borisov – a couple of years later. In this talk, full of up to the minute research, Chris Lintott tells us about the mysteries ‘Oumuamua left behind, and what we can learn from this first visitor from another solar system, and how visitors such as this may have played a crucial role in the history of the Earth itself. Interstellar objects turn out to be the most common things in the galaxy – and with a new survey promising to find a hundred of them in the next decade, there has never been a better time to pay attention to these enigmatic, fast-moving objects.

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