Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Massive Stars Conference: Day 1

First day of my conference is over, second day is starting. The jet lag is still nagging at me, as I woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 5am, and now that breakfast is over, I'm tired again. Oh well,

Yesterday, the conference focused on the line between stars that end their lives as supernova explosions, and those that end their lives as a slowly fading ember called a white dwarf. I talked about my studies of white dwarfs, a couple of other people talked about their studies of supernovae, and a lot of people talked about detailed physics of the interiors of stars. I won't bore you with those details; I found it very interesting, but even 75% of astronomers' eyes would glaze over with the details.

Today will be more difficult for me, because we are going to a topic I don't understand very well: stellar atmospheres. This just means the structure and appearance of the outermost layers of a star. Most of the information we get about a star comes from these layers, and in the big red giant stars (stars nearing the end of their lives that have swelled up over 200 million miles across), the atmospheres are really complicated. It will be enough to make my eyes glaze over.

Thank goodness for coffee.

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