Astronomer to talk about star formation at Turin Memorial Lecture

April 28, 2009 | Events
By Shannon Wermer



Dr. Karl Gordon, assistant astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, will present the Turin Memorial Lecture, “Dust Processing in Galaxies Due to Massive Star Formation,” Thursday, April 30, at 4 p.m. in McMaster Hall Room 1005 on Main Campus.

His lecture will deal with interstellar dust found in the space between stars in a variety of galaxies, including the Milky Way galaxy. This dust consists of tiny particles made of heavy elements that were produced by earlier generations of stars. The dust plays a central role in the formation of subsequent generations of stars and Earth-like planets.

Gordon will present evidence that the nature of this dust is not the same everywhere and that the observed differences in the sizes and compositions of the dust grains may be a result of energetic processes related to ongoing star formation in galaxies. This suggests that dust undergoes a high degree of processing in interstellar space long after the original grains have been produced.

According to Dr. Adolf Witt, professor emeritus of astronomy, the talk will be a research colloquium, primarily of interest to physicists and astronomers, but it will highlight some significant research contributions made by Gordon using a variety of instruments, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Infrared Space Telescope and several large ground-based instruments.

“We are happy to recognize Gordon’s impressive research successes following his PhD work at The University of Toledo, and we are proud of his accomplishments,” Witt said.

Gordon graduated with a PhD in physics and astrophysics from UT in 1997 and went on to post-doctoral training at Louisiana State University and the University of Arizona.

While at UT, Gordon will receive the John J. Turin Award for Outstanding Career Accomplishments.

The lecture and award are named after Turin, who was chair of the UT Department of Physics and Astronomy from 1942 to 1972 and dean of the Graduate School from 1969 to 1973.

Prior to the talk, there will be a reception with refreshments in McMaster Hall Room 4009.

For more information on the free, public lecture, contact the Department of Physics and Astronomy at 419.530.2241.

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