SLAS Regular Meeting
Friday, May 21, 2010
Decoding the Message of Starlight
The stars in the night sky appear to be fastened to a great dome suspended just above us. But the closest bright star to the sun is an unimaginable distance away ? more than 25 trillion miles. Yet we can determine the properties of some stars that are a million times farther away than the closest stars. We can tell what stars are made of, how big they are, how hot they are, how fast they are moving, and the strength of their electric and magnetic fields, even from such distances. We can do this by decoding the message of their starlight. Rich Heuermann will explain how this is done and something about what we have learned about the different types of stars by analyzing the light they emit.
Rich Heuermann is the Outreach Program Coordinator of the NASA Missouri Space Grant Consortium at Washington University. He is also an amateur astronomer and long-time member of the Saint Louis Astronomical Society.