Society Lecture: The History and Future of X-Ray Astronomy – Prof. Andrew Norton

March 3, 2018 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Willingdon Memorial Hall
Church St
Eastbourne BN20 9HT

Title: The History and Future of X-Ray Astronomy – Prof. Andrew Norton


In this talk I will give an overview of the field of X-ray astronomy. I will describe how X-rays are emitted by astronomical objects, how X-rays interact with matter and how that allows astronomers to detect them using space-borne telescopes. I will discuss the history of X-ray astronomy from the 1960s to the present day and describe the various types of cosmic X-ray sources including how we may study X-ray images, X-ray spectra and X-ray time series from these objects. Finally I will discuss a proposed future satellite mission taking X-ray astronomy into the next decade.

Biographical details

Prof. Andrew Norton

Andrew Norton FRAS FInstP SFHEA, is Professor of Astrophysics Education in the School of Physical Sciences at the Open University, where he has worked since 1992. He is a former vice president of the Royal Astronomical Society.


He began his career as a researcher working at Leicester and Southampton Universities in the field of X-ray astronomy, but soon broadened his observational astronomy activities to encompass the radio, infrared and optical wavebands too, and also worked for some time on computational modelling projects in the area of accretion. His research has mostly focussed on stellar astrophysics, starting with compact accreting binary stars, but in the past decade or so he has also worked on exoplanets as part of the SuperWASP project, and this has led him to a broader range of research in the realm of time domain astrophysics in general, where he now works on aspects of stellar variability including eclipsing binaries, stellar rotation and stellar pulsation.


In his role as an educator at the Open University, his teaching has involved the whole range of the astronomy (and physics) curriculum, at all levels from introductory to advanced courses. He has taught planetary and exoplanetary science, stellar astrophysics, accretion physics, theoretical and observational cosmology, extragalactic astrophysics, and practical observational astronomy too, both in the field and using robotic optical and radio telescopes. His latest teaching project is writing a case study about the Gaia mission for a Masters course in Space Science.


He has always been very involved with public outreach and engagement with research and is a registered Public Engagement Ambassador for the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement and also a registered STEMNET Ambassador. He was co-author of the OU’s “60 second adventures in astronomy” videos funded by STFC and has also written over a dozen online articles for the OU’s OpenLearn website and for the Conversation website, on topics ranging from the science of Dr Who and Star Trek to exoplanets, supernovae, and black holes. In 2011, he had a fully illustrated book for young children published about exoplanet science.