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Lecture Season 2012
Christopher McKee
University of California at Berekely, Astronomy

Star Formation in the Universe
Stars are the "atoms" of the universe: although they are parts of clusters and galaxies,
they themselves are indivisible. The first stars formed shortly after the Big Bang,
and are still forming today. The elements that we are made of were transmuted
from hydrogen in the nuclear furnaces of stars. The Earth formed shortly
after the Sun, just as the formation of the many known exoplanets
accompanied the formation of their host stars.
How is it possible for stars to form out of the tenuous interstellar medium,
which has a density so low that a liter of interstellar matter would fill the volume of
the Earth? As they form, stars produce powerful jets that extend for light years.
Stars much more massive than the Sun roil the surrounding medium with powerful
outflows and intense radiation; how can stars form in such turbulent circumstances?
We and others are using simulations on powerful supercomputers to understand these mysteries of star formation. I shall describe some of the latest results of this work.
 27/ 03/2012    HH-109    8:00pm   Campus Map   Parking Info

Website: http://astro.berkeley.edu/~cmckee/

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Origins Institute at McMaster University, 2004-2009
Photo credits: Milky Way - J. Stanley (CC)
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