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Physicists and Astronomers Address Dark Matter and Dark Energy at University of Liverpool Meet

Speakers were invited from LJMU and the universities of Durham, Leicester, Lancaster, Manchester, Liverpool; while audience members included local scientists and students from LJMU and the University of Liverpool.

Covering diverse topics such as the Higgs boson, exotic neutrino particles, gravitational waves and string theory, the goal of the meeting was to bring together physicists and astronomers from a broad background to address major questions in science such as what is dark matter and dark energy - components which are thought to make up nearly 96% of the Universe but whose nature remain unknown.

Professor Carole Mundell, leader of the Gamma Ray Burst group at LJMU's Astrophysics Research Institute was invited to present new discoveries made by her team using the robotic Liverpool Telescope to study on black hole systems and cosmic magnetic fields. She commented:

"This was an exciting opportunity to take our work beyond the traditional frontiers of astrophysics and look for new connections with theoretical and experimental particle physicists from some of the the UK's leading physics departments," she said. "It was a fascinating workshop where we discussed physics from the smallest to the largest scales imaginable!"

In her presentation - The Dynamic and Explosive Universe - Professor Mundell introduced the audience to the most powerful explosions in the Universe called Gamma Ray Bursts, showing results from her team's programme to catch the optical light from these dying stars with the fully autonomous, robotic Liverpool Telescope. Their work with the RINGO polarimeters lead the world in the study of the magnetic fields thought to power these explosions. She also discussed work by her galaxy team, that showed the first direct evidence that supermassive black holes at the heart of galaxies can be triggered into a phase of cosmic indigestion if gas and stars at the heart of the galaxy become disrupted, and explained that their approach of comparing active and inactive galaxies is now a standard approach in this field.

ARI's Dr Shiho Kobayashi - an expert on the theory of black hole mergers and the mathematics of stellar disruptions - presented new work on the role played by black holes in devouring material at the centres of galaxies similar to our own Milky Way.

It is hoped that a similar meeting will be held on an annual basis, to be hosted by the other universities involved.


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