Thursday, April 13, 2006

I'd like to thank the academy

On Monday I am giving a public lecture on my research here at Steward Observatory.

As part of my talk, I want to show a movie explaining how stars change with time, but most of the movies I found on the web were lame. So I decided to make my own lame movie, representing my first attempt at production and direction of a motion picture.

This movie is the result of my efforts. (Note it requires Apple's Quicktime player to view.) It shows how the brightness and temperature of stars in a star cluster changes with the age of the star cluster. The diagram, known as a Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, is often used by astronomers in research.

In the diagram, hotter stars are to the left, and brighter stars are to the top. The sun is shown as a big open star, the other points are stars of various masses. As the movie starts, the brightest stars use up their fuel and disappear (as big supernova explosions, which are not shown). Later, fainter and fainter stars use up their fuel, swell up and cool off (becoming red giants), and then shrink into a very hot, dense star called a white dwarf (these are the blue points that appear after a while). The white dwarfs slowly cool and fade, while new white dwarfs are made as more stars use up their fuel and die.

I don't expect an Oscar for my efforts, but I'm pretty happy with the results.

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