Monday, August 17, 2009

Stellar Death and Supernovae

This week I am conferencing. I'm in Santa Barbara, California, at a conference called "Stellar Death and Supernovae". As you might guess from the name of the conference, we're spending the week talking about the ends of the lives of stars (the tiny points of light in the sky, not the stars of the silver screen that live about 60 miles down the coastal highway in Hollywood).

The conference is being held at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Not only is Santa Barbara a gorgeous place, with the campus right on the coast, but the KITP staff really excel at putting on these conferences.

This week we will be learning about all aspects of the ends of the lives of stars. Today involved a lot of talk about white dwarfs. I led off the day talking about the relationship between the mass of white dwarfs and the mass of their parent star (not surprisingly, bigger stars make bigger white dwarfs). And I talked about the new type of variable star my collaborators and I found last year. I think the talk went well. I'm still digesting a lot of the other talks, I made some good contacts, and I reconnected with several people. So, all in all, a good day.

Tomorrow, we talk about the explosions of white dwarfs, also known as Type Ia supernovae.

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