Monday, February 04, 2008

To London to see the Queen

Later this week, I will travel to London to attend a special meeting hosted by the Royal Astronomical Society. To my knowledge, the Queen will not be in attendance, but one can never be certain. :)

The meeting deals with a very specific topic, a type of star called "Super AGB stars." "Super-AGB" stars are stars near the end of their lives in a fairly small range of mass (about 7 to 9 times the mass of the sun, whereas stars can have masses between 8% of the sun's mass and 100 times the sun's mass).

Why are we interested in what is a short time in the life of very small number of stars? It is because of what happens to the stars after this brief phase of their lives. Stars end their lives in one of two ways. Either they form a white dwarf (the stars I study, essentially the fading ashes and embers of a star), or they explode as a supernova. And most people think that the dividing line lies in these stars. So, maybe these stars can teach us about what stars explode and which don't.

I don't know a lot about the super-AGB stars, so I'm looking forward to learning a little bit about them. And, while I'm there, I'll talk about my work on white dwarfs (stars that definitely dod not explode!).

So, I'm looking forward to my visit to England, even if it is in the middle of February. There should be some interesting science, and I hope to do a little sightseeing, too.

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