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October General Meeting

Steve Stahler: Why are there Stars?


On a clear night, the sky is filled with countless stars. These objects must be the natural outcome of processes that occur all the time, throughout our Galaxy and others. Indeed, images taken with radio and infrared telescopes show us new stars forming relatively nearby. The progenitor objects are large clouds permeating interstellar space. These clouds undergo gravitational collapse to form primitive stars, which then evolve to become mature objects like our own Sun. A large body of research, mostly undertaken within the past few decades, has led to a good understanding of the basic evolutionary process. Nevertheless, deep mysteries remain in this active and exciting field.

Our speaker Dr. Steven Stahler is an astrophysicist at U. C. Berkeley. Raised in Maryland, he attended graduate school at Berkeley in physics. He was a professor at MIT before returning to the Bay Area in 1992. His research centers on the problem of star formation, and he recently coauthored the first comprehensive textbook in the field (“The Formation of Stars,” Stahler & Palla, Wiley-VCH, 2004). Trained as a theoretical physicist, Steve especially delights in the esthetic aspect of his research, which he tries to convey in his numerous public talks.


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