lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

National Poetry Day Films, Supernova

Film number eight today in the series of National Poetry Day films where people whose ways of life or jobs are connected with light read poems incorporating light.

When I was researching people whose jobs were connected with light, the obvious choice was an Astrophysicist/Cosmologist. Consequently I wrote to the Physics Department at Bristol University, and received several offers of readers for a poem.

I chose Furqaan Yusaf, whose information was given to me as ‘I work with data from Gravitational Lensing’.

I had no idea what this meant, but decided I’d read about it and find out.

It’s about light – objects that are and events that happen very, very far away in space can be seen by ‘Gravitational Lensing’.

Gravitational Lensing is the effect of gravity on light over massive distance. Any matter has a gravitational field, even you do, although it is very small.

In space, there a lot of matter and way more dark matter in the vast distances, so much that their combined gravity can bend light.

If a supernova (the death of a star) happens over the far side of the universe, it could be seen here a long, long time later, millennia perhaps, when the light given off has travelled between the supernova and us, even though there might be galaxies galore in between us, because the light could be bent around the intervening objects.

The light will go in all directions around the supernova, and some might take a different path and be bent around different objects – so take longer to get to us. So you might see the same event happen one day, and yet again in a week, month or years from now.

I decided to try and write a poem about this. It was tricky.

This is Dr Furqaan Yusaf, Teaching Associate and Researcher in Cosmology, Extensions of General Relativity, of Bristol University Physics Department, who kindly agreed to read my poem, Supernova.

Thank you Furqaan Yusaf for a fabulous reading, and to Malcolm Bremer and Helen Heath at Bristol University for their help.


Supernova © Liz Brownlee

Filmed at Bristol University Physics Department

Film by Chew Valley Films


  1. You may have found it tricky to write a poem on this subject, but you nailed it!


    • Thanks, Susan! It did take a while to whittle down all that info! Fun finding out all about this subject, though.


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