The light we see with our eyes, only reveals a very small portion of the mysteries of the Universe. Therefore, astronomical observations are now routinely done with various telescopes across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves through visible light, all the way to gamma-rays, but even the combination of all these observations often leaves many fundamental questions unanswered. However, the violent processes producing gamma-rays in the Universe, must accelerate particles to energies that exceed the capabilities of man-made accelerators a billion times. Such particles can reach the Earth as Cosmic Rays, which can be directly measured. 

They also interact along the way to produce elusive particles called neutrinos, which are extremely difficult to detect, but the past decade has seen the first clear detection of such neutrinos by the IceCube detector at the South Pole. Finally, most known sources of gamma-rays (and likely cosmic-rays and neutrinos) are associated with black holes  or neutron stars. Two such compact objects in orbit around each other distort space-time through their extreme gravity, producing gravitational waves. The Nobel-prize winning direct detection of gravitational waves now offers yet another window through which astronomers can "listen to" the violent Universe. This development culminated, on August 17, 2017, in the first detection of gravitational waves from the merger of two neutron stars, and a gamma-ray burst (first discovered in gamma-rays, but later detected throughout the electromagnetic spectrum) produced  by the same event. It ushers in a new era in astronomy, true multi-messenger astronomy. 

This talk will introduce the exciting developments and prospects of multi-wavelength and multi-messenger astronomy and the insights into the most violent phenomena in the Universe, that they promise. 


Prof Markus Boettcher is a professor at the North-West Univeristy's Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science's Centre for Space Research. 

DATE: 28 March 2018

TIME: 19:00 - 20:30 (Prof Boettcher will facilitate a Q&A after his lecture)

PLACE: North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, Sanlam Auditorium



Prof Markus Boettcher (Presenter): Markus.Bottcher@nwu.ac.za

Ms Ashleigh Pieterse (Organiser): 018 299 2711 |  22821988@nwu.ac.za