Artist image of an extreme star

Stellar cannibalism and the messy etiquette of the universe's most extreme stars

Public talks and lectures
Knowledge of physics?
No, knowledge of physics not required
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Speaker: Dr Jakob van den Eijnden

Living on Earth, we are used to a single star, the Sun, rising and setting every day. That is quite unique, however, as most stars in the Universe live in pairs. While those binary stars often co-exist peacefully, their relation can turn violent: if the stars are orbiting each other in close proximity, the star with the strongest gravity can strip the other star of its outer layers, slowly devouring its companion. Stars are no neat diners, though, and tend to spit out most of this stellar material across many light years into surrounding space. In this seminar, I will describe what extreme physics, beyond the reach of laboratories on Earth, can be learned from observing these systems. I will also delve into the more practical aspects of observing: how do we study these double stars with satellites and large arrays of building-sized telescopes, especially when we cannot predict when they start their dinner?

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This is an Oxford IOP Branch talk. More information and booking can be found here