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  • Maria Mitchell Association’s Winter Science Speaker Series Presentation Featuring Alexandra Mannings

    Maria Mitchell Association’s Winter Science Speaker Series Presentation Featuring Alexandra Mannings

    Nantucket, MA –Each winter, former interns rejoin the Maria Mitchell Association to discuss their fascinating research and the projects they have been involved with since their time on Nantucket. Topics include astronomy, natural history collections, marine science research, and more. All presentations take place on alternating Wednesday evenings from 7-8:00PM and are free via Zoom.

    Next up on Wednesday, February 23rd is Alexandra Mannings, a former MMA National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) Astronomy Intern from 2018. Her talk, “Using Hubble to Investigate the Mystery of Fast Radio Bursts” will focus on the fascinating research conducted on Fast Radio Bursts and the theories surrounding this newly discovered astronomical phenomenon.

    Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are mysterious pulses of radio light that we detect from space. The pulses only last for a few milliseconds ̶some one-off and some repeating. There is much work being done to figure out the origins of these bursts. Are they proof of aliens, results of exotic stellar phenomena, or a newly detected companion to supernovae signals? The most popular theory connects FRBs to magnetars, but it seems there are other plausible possibilities for what could be causing them. We have detected hundreds of them, but only a few FRBs are associated with specific host galaxies, and this association is necessary to determine FRB origins. In this study, we use optical images from the Hubble Space Telescope to study the host galaxies of eight FRBs. The Hubble Space Telescope allows us to take a detailed look at the overall galaxy properties as well as the FRB’s local environment, so that we can better understand the objects responsible for this new and exciting astronomical phenomenon.

    Alexandra Mannings is a 3rd year PhD student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has spent the last three years studying Fast Radio Bursts and their host galaxies, which combines two of her favorite subjects ̶galaxy formation and evolution and transient studies. Originally from Georgia, Mannings attended The University of Alabama as an undergraduate where she discovered her love for astronomical research.

    Future Winter Science Speaker Series presenters include: Mark Losavio, MMA Aquarium Intern, 2014 (March 9th); Emmy Gagne, MMA Natural Science Intern, 2018 (March 23rd); Julia Blyth, MMA Natural Science Intern, 2010 and 2011 and current MMA Natural Science Collections Manager (April 6th); and Meg Lysaght Thacher, NSF-REU Astronomy Intern, 1986 (April 20th).

    To register for the February 23rd event, please follow the link below: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_GUdI4OT7QVyXMH8nUUAIWw

    For the full Winter Science Speaker Series schedule, please visit our website here: https://www.mariamitchell.org/winter-science-speaker-series

    The MMA’s Science Speaker Series is made possible by the sponsorship support of our Lead Sponsor, Bank of America and Supporting Sponsors: Cape Air, Cisco Brewers, The Osceola Foundation, Thirty Meter Telescope, and the White Elephant.

    This series is organized by the Maria Mitchell Association, a private non-profit organization. Founded in 1902, the MMA works to preserve the legacy of Nantucket native astronomer, naturalist, librarian, and educator, Maria Mitchell. The Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories, a natural science museum, an aquarium, a research center, and preserves the historic birthplace of Maria Mitchell. A wide variety of science and history-related programming is offered throughout the year for people of all ages.


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