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The Universe Tonight

Dec 1, 2012 6:00pm
James Clerk Maxwell Telescope


Saturday, December 1st, 2012

 Dr. Doug Johnstone

of James Clerk Maxwell Telescope


Unveiling the Turbulent Birth of Stars: Why Many (Different) Eyes Are Better Than One

 Stars are not eternal. Our galaxy teems with stellar nurseries and graveyards. But while the death of stars can be seen in spectacular explosions called supernovae, or the slow cooling of smaller stars to a quiet dormant state, their birth remains shrouded in mystery. We can't just look at stars being born because they form inside thick, murky puddles of gas located primarily along the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Instead astronomers use radio telescopes to peer in and through these puddles to witness the birth of stars. Recent observations with the Herschel Space Observatory, the SCUBA-2 Camera at the JCMT, and the soon to be completed ALMA Observatory in Chile, are transforming our understanding of stellar birth. Lem me take you on an incredible journey from telescopes on remote, dry mountain tops, like Mauna Kea, to the depths of space in order to reveal how stars, and the planets around them, form.


Dr. Doug Johnstone is the new Associate Director of the James Cleark Maxwell Telescope, a 15-m telescope on Mauna Kea devoted to sub- observations of the sky at sub-millimeter wavelengths. Doug's main research interests follow the formation of stars and planetary systems.He began his professional life as a theorist at the University of California, Berkeley, working on the evolution of circumstellar disks around young stars, back before extra-solar planet detections were common. He has spent time at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, the University of Toronto, and the National Research Council of Canada, in Victoria, BC. Today, Dr. Johnstone’s research focuses on the formation and evolution of structure in molecular clouds, attempting to disentangle the physical processes through which a molecular cloud sheds into individual stars.




On the first Saturday of each month, the Visitor Information Station (VIS) hosts The Universe Tonight, a special presentation on the current research and discoveries occurring on Mauna Kea. The presentation begins at 6:00 PM and is followed by the regular evening stargazing program at the VIS.

The Universe Tonight typically features an astronomer from one of the observatories on Mauna Kea giving a presentation on recent observations and discoveries from their telescope. Observatories are on a rotating schedule. If you would like to know about upcoming presentations, please call the VIS at (808) 961-2180 during operational hours.

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