Dr. Emily Rice (from College of Staten Island), "Stars, Planets, and In Between: The Mysteries of Black Dwarfs"
Time: 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Sponsored By: School of Science and Engineering
Location: Coykendall Science Building Auditorium
Contact: Dr. Julio Jorge Gonzalez, x3724, firstname.lastname@example.org
Finding planets around other stars and distinguishing them from other
astronomical objects can be a tricky task. In particular, objects called
brown dwarfs blur the boundary between star and planet. Brown dwarfs are
below the mass required to sustain hydrogen fusion, yet their star-like
formation (from collapsing clouds of gas and dust) distinguishes them
from planets (formed in disks around stars). Because brown dwarfs
gradually cool, shrink, and fade with time, they will resemble very low
mass stars when they are young and gas giant planets when they are old.
Thus brown dwarfs are crucial for understanding both the low-mass end of
star formation and the atmospheric properties of extra-solar gas giant
planets. Understanding planets and their impostors will bring us closer
to answering the question "Are we alone in the Universe?"