Monday, 6th September 2010 at 19:00 in the bar of The Showroom
'How I Wonder What You Are: The Birth, Life and Death of Stars'
Dr Paul Ruffle, Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester
"Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are!" How often did we sing that as a child without realising what we were asking?
Well, with the aid of some of the latest astronomical images, the wonder of what stars are is revealed in this highly informative presentation that includes: how stars form in clouds of molecular gas and dust scattered about in the interstellar medium (ISM) of our Milky Way galaxy; how they then evolve and synthesise the elements that make life possible; and how at the end of their lives, they return this material to the ISM for the next generation of stars, either as red giants and planetary nebulae or more catastrophically as exploding supernovae.
The speaker also provides a feel for the sheer number of stars in the Milky Way, the enormous distance scales in our Galaxy and the range of densities encountered, from the most tenuous parts of the ISM to the compact cores of the most massive stars.