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Source: University of Canterbury

Internationally renowned University of Canterbury (UC) astrophysicist Dr Michele Bannister will take us on a journey to explore interstellar worlds in her upcoming free UC Connect public talk at the University of Canterbury.


“We are now in an exciting era where roaming asteroids and comets from other stars are being found as they pass near our Sun,” Dr Bannister says. “These tiny worlds record how their home systems formed and evolved.”


Observations of the first two interstellar objects, 1I/`Oumuamua and 2I/Borisov, show these visitors have many curious properties, with some kinship to the tiny worlds in our own system, she says. 


“Their vast population of cousins wandering the Galaxy are part of a cycle of planet formation over billions of years. Many more interstellar worlds will be discovered with the new Vera Rubin Observatory – and with the upcoming Comet Interceptor space mission, we may even go see one up close.”


Dr Michele Bannister is a planetary astronomer who specialises in the discovery and exploration of small worlds in the Solar System and beyond. Her work with the Outer Solar System Origins Survey, which discovered more than 800 trans-Neptunian objects, was recognised by the Royal Astronomical Society with their 2020 Winton Award.


Dr Bannister is involved in the European Space Agency’s first F-class mission, Comet Interceptor, in the development of concepts for a future giant planet and Kuiper belt flyby mission, and in planning the Vera Rubin Observatory’s upcoming decade of Solar System surveying.


Aside from her academic research, Dr Bannister is active in disseminating knowledge through high-profile outreach and media activities. Asteroid (10463) Bannister was named in her honour in 2017. A UC alumna, she is now a lecturer at the University of Canterbury’s Te Kura Matū | School of Physical and Chemical Sciences, and a visiting scholar at Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom.


UC Connect public talk – Interstellar worlds: tiny arrivals from other starspresented by Dr Michele Bannister, on Wednesday 20 May, 7pm-8pm, streamed online and (if attending events is permitted) in C1, Central lecture theatre, University of Canterbury’s Ilam campus, Christchurch. Register to attend


NB: due to New Zealand Government COVID-19 Alert Level 2 guidelines on health and safety, we require attendees to be seated 1-metre apart. No more than 100 people will be seated in each lecture theatre, so if necessary this event will be streamed into adjacent lecture theatres (C2 and C3) to accommodate attendees. 
If you wish to attend virtually, this lecture will be live-streamed via the UC Facebook event page. There is no need to register to watch the live-stream.