From the Big Bang to the Start of our Solar System

On May 20, 2015, Prof. Sandra Faber gave a lecture at NAOC entitled "9 Billion Years in 60 Minutes" about the history of the Universe and the development of galaxies and planetary systems. Prof. Faber is famous in Astronomy for discovering the Faber-Jackson relation that can be applied to calculating distances to galaxies, and she has won many prestigious awards, including the National Medal of Science from President Obama in 2013. Prof. Faber started her talk by saying that the history of our Solar System started about 4.5 Billion years ago, and the Universe is about 13.5 Billion years old, so from the perspective of trying to understand the cosmic origin of life on Earth, we should consider the intervening 9 Billion years. She continued by describing the development of galaxies as the most important milestone between the Big Bang and the development of life, since without galaxies, the materials and dynamical interactions necessary for life to develop might never have happened. She then showed a video that highlighted our Solar System's location in the Milky Way, along with a number of structures that are located in the Milky Way including nebulae and HII regions. The video later zoomed out to illustrate how the Milky Way is part of the Local Group and larger Virgo Cluster of galaxies. Prof. Faber next discussed the Hubble Ultradeep Field and explained how it showcases the development and evolution of galaxies during the history of the Universe. She continued by displaying images of protoplanetary disks, also called proplyds, that were taken with the Hubble Space Telescope and explained how these signified the locations of planetary systems that are condensing from a large cloud of material. She also commented on recent advances in the field of exoplanets. Prof. Faber ended her talk by saying that astronomers should explain the importance of their discoveries to other people so that humans can appreciate how lucky we are to have a habitable planet like Earth.

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