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Image of Belinda Wilkes

Belinda Wilkes brings the high-energy universe to Jesus College

On 5 February 2020, Dr Belinda Wilkes showed enthralled audiences images taken from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

During her talk, Dr Wilkes took us through the history of the famous X-Ray Centre, beginning with its launch in July 1999. With her, we travelled through the universe, exploring what X-ray emissions can tell us about the many different kinds of celestial source, from the most distant supermassive black holes to our own planets, from the birth, life and death of stars to the structure of the galaxies in which they live.

Dr Wilkes used high-resolution images from the Observatory, as well as videos, to highlight some of the many breakthroughs in our understanding of the new, focussed window on the universe which Chandra continues to provide. Side-by-side the audience saw Chandra's images with other images devised from radio sources.

After the event, Dr Wilkes said: "It was wonderful to be back at Jesus, visiting my old haunts and exploring the changes since I left. West Court is a wonderful new area, and the Frankopan Hall a great space in which to speak and the audience was great. The huge TV display screen was the biggest and best I had ever seen! I also enjoyed meeting our new Master, Sonita Alleyne, and her partner and love the energy and excitement she brings to everything she does. "

The Director of the Intellectual Forum, Dr Julian Huppert, said: "Belinda’s talk was richly illustrated with amazing X-ray images of some of the most momentous events in the observable universe, from supernovae to galaxies colliding, with black holes and dark matter to boot. It was a huge pleasure to have her with us."

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