Kirshner To Lecture On What May Be The "Runaway" Universe

Rene Siqueiros
Oct. 11, 2000

Robert P. Kirshner, professor of astronomy at Harvard University, will talk on "A Runaway Universe? Supernovae and Cosmic Expansion"

Thursday, Nov.9, at 7:30 p.m.

Steward Observatory Lecture Hall, Room N210 --
933 N. Cherry


PARKING: Parking is free after 5 p.m. on surface lots near Cherry. Parking is also available at the nearby Second Street garage for a small fee.

Sharon Jones, (520) 621-6082

Robert P. Kirshner, professor of astronomy at Harvard University and an associate director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, will talk on recent results that suggest a strange new picture of the universe - a "runaway" universe.

Kirshner is the author of over 200 published articles on supernova explosions and their use for measuring the cosmos. Supernovae are exploding stars that are bright enough to observe halfway across the universe. Using supernovae as distance indicators to probe the past, astronomers can now investigate the history of cosmic expansion.

The latest evidence is that the universe is not slowing down, the expected result of gravity, but instead has been expanding at an accelerating rate for the last 8 billion years.

"If this new picture is correct," Kirshner says, "it predicts the universe will expand at an increasing rate as time goes by - a runaway universe."

Kirshner is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Science magazine hailed his research on cosmic acceleration as the "Science Breakthrough of the Year" in 1998. A popular lecturer, he gave a featured talk to the National Science Teachers Association National Meeting in 1999, and plenary addresses to the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the International Astronomical Union in 2000.

Kirshner is a 1970 graduate of Harvard College and received his doctorate from Caltech University. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Kitt Peak National Observatory and then joined the University of Michigan faculty before moving to Harvard in 1985.

The Annie W. Riecker Foundation Lecture is sponsored by the UA Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, the astronomy department, the Optical Sciences Center and the planetary sciences department.

The lectureship foundation was established in 1953 through a gift to the University of Arizona from Eleanor Riecker Ritchie in memory of her mother, Annie W. Riecker, (1858 - 1937), one of the pioneers of the Tucson area. Annie Riecker was connected to the UA through her two sons, who enrolled at the university in 1894. The Annie Riecker Lectureship Fund was the first endowment at the UA for lectureships of any kind.


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