Science Presentation: Astronomy with Emily Griffith

I am very fortunate to be able to take Astronomy 2895. This is a course that helps Astronomy majors navigate the major, maximize opportunities within the department, and hear about current and past research done by astronomy professors. As an Astrophysics major, it is very helpful because I do not feel lost or singled out. Actually, taking the class has made me love the major even more because I’m getting to know others that are in the major as well. Aside from all of the helpful academic information, I also learn a lot about what graduate students and professors are doing for research. I always find it fascinating to hear their research processes and what they are finding along the way.

This week we heard a lecture from Emily Griffith. She is a graduate student studying Galactic Nucleosynthesis Right here at The Ohio State University. In a nutshell, Galactic Nucleosynthesis is when the chemical elements within the stars react to create heavier elements. Now, I don’t know if I did Galactic Nucleosynthesis justice, but the topic is really cool because it finds where elements, such as oxygen, originate from. Two of the stars that Emily spoke about were Core Collapse Supernovae and Type Ia Supernovae. She compared Core Collapse Supernovae (CCSN) to a Hummer and the Type Ia Supernovae (SNIa) to a Smart Car! CCSN’s are like Hummers because they have a lot of fuel but they are so massive that they burn through it quickly. On the other hand, SNIa’s are like Smart Car’s because even though they have less fuel, their small size allows them to use less of it over a long period of time. The SNIa’s were found to produce no O and Mg, while the CCSN’s produced all O and Mg. Both were found to produce some heavier elements such as Ca, Si, Fe, Ti, Mn, Ni, and Cu. So what does this mean? This means that the chemicals that the stars expel get mixed into new observable stars. Furthermore, understanding that the chemicals within our observable universe come from dying stars no longer leaves us wondering where and how we were made. 

I enjoyed the lecture a lot. I knew some of the material, but definitely not all of it. It made me excited to learn more about space. One thing that surprised me about the presentation is how it left me wanting to evangelize the wonders of space. I find the vastness of space to be riveting. There are so many questions that are waiting to be answered. There are so many questions that have yet to be asked! I cannot wait to see where the future of astronomy and space exploration goes. I wonder how new information will challenge old beliefs and ways of living. How will we adapt? I still cannot believe that in a few years, when I look up at the moon, scientists will be living on it. Anyways, I cannot wait for the future of space travel and its outcomes.

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