Dr Belinda Wilkes - Astrophysicist Back to archive
23rd September 2015

On Monday 21 September the Science Department hosted Dr Belinda Wilkes who is a Senior Astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory which is attached to Harvard University and the Director of the Chandra X-Ray Center.  She is the first female director of a NASA Great Observatory.

Dr Wilkes talked about the Chandra, its unique and special refinements which have allowed scientists to see and record, with greater clarity, what is happening in the universe around us. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is a telescope specially designed to detect X-ray emission from very hot regions of the Universe such as exploded stars, clusters of galaxies, and matter around black holes. Because X-rays are absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, Chandra must orbit above it, up to an altitude of 139,000km (86,500 mi) in space.

Dr Wilkes went in to depth about what happens when a star dies and the information that Chandra has gathered about the formation of black holes. For the budding physicists in her audiences, her talks were totally fascinating and allowed for further understanding about the universe, about which we still have so much to learn.