The final stages of stellar evolution: white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes

Dr Lilia Ferrario will be presenting a special lecture for MSI's Alumni, friends and colleagues. The presentation will be followed by drinks, hors-d'oeuvres and a chance to meet and chat with the speaker and other members of the MSI. 

Attendance at these special lecturers is by invitation only, so if you would like to attend, please register as a friend of MSI to recieve your invitation.


In this seminar I will talk about the origin of compact stars, those extremely dense, dead remains of stars that no longer burn nuclear fuel in their interior. Then I will discuss the exotic properties of the highly magnetic white dwarf stars, the rapidly spinning neutron stars known as ‘pulsars’, and the strongest magnets of the universe, the mysterious 'magnetars'. I will also introduce the topic of magnetic accretion, whereby strongly magnetic compact stars slowly devour their companions and produce the most spectacular phenomena observed in our Galaxy.  No knowledge of Physics and Astrophysics will be assumed, so everyone is welcome.


Dr Lilia Ferrario graduated at the University of Bologna, Italy, and completed her PhD at the ANU Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories. After a couple of years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Leicester, England, she returned to Australia and became a joint Research Fellow at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics and at School of Mathematical Sciences. She was appointed as a lecturer in the ANU Department of Mathematics in 1996.  She is currently the MSI Associate Director Education and she is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  Her research has been wide-ranging and she has made leading contributions to several topics.  In stellar structure and evolution she tackled the vexed question of why stars become red giants. She then moved to the modelling of the atmospheres of magnetic white dwarf stars and of magnetically confined accretion flows and cyclotron shocks in the interacting binary stars known as the 'Magnetic Cataclysmic Variables'.  More recently, she has studied the radio, X-ray and birth properties of the strongly magnetised, rapidly spinning neutron stars known as 'pulsars' and 'magnetars'. She is currently  working on the dynamical properties of white dwarfs to conduct archaeological studies of our own Galaxy, the Milky Way. She has also embarked on the search for the elusive progenitors of type Ia Supernovae which are used as standard candles to study the accelerating expansion of the universe.