Interstellar space is not truly a vacuum devoid of matter. Mixed
into vast diffuse clouds of atomic gas are minute grains of silicate and
carbonate materials known as 'dust', alongside complex molecules deep in the
cold hearts of nebulae. We shall look at how we can detect and observe this
tenuous material, through the processes by which dust scatters and absorbs
visible light, and emits its own infrared glow. This interstellar matter is of
fundamental importance to us all, as it is the reservoir from which all planets
form... and any lifeforms living on those planets.
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Professor Carolin Crawford
Outreach Officer at the Instituteof Astronomy and Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, Professor Carolin Crawford is one of Britain's foremost science communicators.
After receiving her PhD from NewnhamCollege, Cambridge, Professor Crawford went on to a series of fellowships from BalliolCollege, Oxford, Trinity Hall, Cambridge and the Royal Society. In 2004 she was appointed as a Fellow and College Lecturer at EmmanuelCollege, Cambridge, where she is now also the undergraduate Admissions Tutor for the Physical Sciences. Since 2005 she has combined her college role with that of Outreach Officer at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge.
Professor Crawford’s primary research interests are in combining X-ray, optical and near-infrared observations to study the physical processes occurring around massive galaxies at the core of clusters of galaxies. In particular, she observes the complex interplay between the hot intra-cluster medium, filaments of warm ionized gas, cold molecular clouds, star formation and the radio plasma flowing out from the central supermassive black hole.
In 2009 Professor Crawford’s outstanding abilities at science communication were recognized by a Women of Outstanding AchievementAward by the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, presented for “communication of science with a contribution to society.”
Appointed as the 36thGresham Professor of Astronomy in 2011, Professor Crawford looks forward to presenting her Gresham lectures wherein she plans “to showcase the very latest developments and ideas in astronomy and cosmology, whilst putting them into the context of the process of scientific discovery.”