Hélène R. Dickel - "Birth & Death of Stars"

American Astronomical Society - Harlow Shapley Visiting Lecturer (1981-2007)
American Chemical Society Tour Speaker (1986-2008)

Adjunct Professor of Physics and Astronomy
University of New Mexico
Emerita Research Professor of Astronomy
University of Illinois


The space between the stars is not a perfect vacuum but contains a small amount of hydrogen plus various contaminating atoms and molecules. This material is collected into giant cloud complexes. Although typical densities are only a few particles per cubic centimeter, the volumes are so vast that the clouds often contain several thousand times the mass of the sun. Such regions are continually in violent activity - material in some spots is contracting to create brand new stars, other clouds are bursting apart at thousands of kilometers per second from the sites of exploding stars. The study of the Universe is really a study of extremes from the cold molecular clouds with temperatures just a few degrees above absolute zero to the blast waves of supernovae with temperature reaching millions of degrees, producing x-ray emission. The presentation will include images of the Orion region in the optical, infrared, and of radio emission from carbon monoxide molecules. High resolution Hubble Space Telescope images of the center of the Orion nebula show leftover solar-system-size disk-debrie from the star-forming process. Recent images of the X-ray emission from exploded stars have been made with the Chandra X-ray Observatory and include the swirling gas and two-sided jet eminating from the pulsar at the heart of the Crab nebula. The talk should be of interest to the general public as well as for professional scientists.

Need: Power Point Projector & Computer (pc)
Alternative titles to above lecture:
"Cosmic Recycling Center"
"Matter between the Stars"

AAS: Evening Public Lecture

ACS: Public Lecture (ACS Topic 1A): Subject Category AC, GSc, GP; Audience Level 2,3,4