2020 Kavli Prize Winners – ASTROPHYSICS: Andrew Fabian | Summary and Q&A

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September 3, 2020
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World Science Festival
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2020 Kavli Prize Winners – ASTROPHYSICS: Andrew Fabian

TL;DR

Astrophysicist Andrew Fabian discusses his groundbreaking work in x-ray astronomy, revealing that the universe is not as silent as once thought due to the presence of low-frequency sound waves.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How does Andrew Fabian's work challenge the idea of the universe as a silent expanse?

Fabian's work shows that even the tenuous gas between galaxies can have organized motions and pressure waves, suggesting the presence of sound waves and significant energy moving through the clusters of galaxies.

Q: What frequency range do the sound waves in astrophysics fall into?

The sound waves in astrophysics have very low frequencies, with one cycle per 10 million years, which is far beyond the range of human hearing.

Q: How do x-rays play a role in astrophysics?

X-rays are a form of light with frequencies a thousand times higher than visible light. They allow scientists to observe objects that are millions to billions of degrees hot, such as black holes, neutron stars, and very hot gas in the universe.

Q: Why is studying black holes and the cosmos important, considering the real-world challenges we face?

According to Fabian, studying subjects like black holes and the cosmos helps stimulate the next generations of scientists and promotes the scientific method. It also generates interest and excitement in science and can lead to breakthrough discoveries.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Astrophysicist Andrew Fabian's work focuses on x-ray astronomy, studying objects that are millions to billions of degrees hot, such as black holes and neutron stars.

  • He has found evidence of sound waves propagating through the tenuous gas between galaxies, suggesting that there is considerable energy in the clusters of galaxies.

  • Fabian's work aims to understand how the energy from black holes gets transmitted into the surrounding gas in cluster atmospheres.

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