University of Connecticut

Events Calendar

Astronomy Seminar

Monday, February 1, 2016
2:00pm – 3:30pm

Storrs Campus
Gant Science Complex, Physics, Room PB-121

Dr. Michael Dunham, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

“The Formation of Stars: Revealing the Physical Processes of Stellar Mass Assembly”

Stars are the fundamental building blocks of galaxies, the source of all elements in the Universe heavier than lithium, the energy source for life, and the primary night sky objects visible throughout human evolution. As a result the study of stars is one of the oldest fields of astronomy. While many aspects of stellar astrophysics are now relatively well understood, at least compared to most other types of astronomical objects, significant gaps in our knowledge of stars remain. One such gap is how stars form. In particular, we don't yet fully understand the physical processes governing how stars gain their mass, why stars end up with the masses they are observed to have, and why the distribution of stellar masses is more or less invariant everywhere we look. In this talk I will give a basic, conceptual overview of how stars form and how astronomers study stars in the process of forming. I will present results from my recent work studying the very youngest stars still actively forming and growing in mass, focusing on a resulting paradigm shift in our understanding of the stellar mass assembly process. I will end with an overview of exciting current work and future directions aimed at further advancing our understanding of how stars form.


Dawn Rawlinson, 486-4916,

Physics Department (primary)

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