The conference "Gamma-Ray Bursts: Probing the Science, Progenitors and their Environment" will be held at Lomonosov Moscow State University from June 13th through June 22nd, 2012. It is organized by the Extreme Universe Laboratory led by Physics Nobel Laureate Prof. George F. Smoot at the Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics, Lomonosov Moscow State University.
One of the most compelling challenges facing modern astrophysics in the 21st century is understanding the early Universe, and in particular the epoch known as the Cosmic Dawn. This is the epoch when starlight from the first generation of stars initiated the re-ionization of the neutral intergalactic medium, and when the currently observable structure of the Universe first formed.
Looking back in time, the process of re-ionization was completed by redshift z~6. While it is challenging to study the Universe at such high redshifts, significant progress has been made in the field in recent years, and the highest gamma-ray burst (GRB) redshift observed at present is z~9.4.
GRBs are among the brightest phenomena observed in the sky, allowing their use as probes of the interstellar gas and dust of host galaxies, even in cases where the hosts are extremely faint.
For this reason, GRBs and their afterglow can prove to be a valuable tool to investigate the evolution of the early Universe, shortly before and during the re-ionization epoch.