Dream team of astrophysicists explore massive stars at Western-led international space conference

An international all-star gathering of 70 astrophysicists from six of the world’s seven continents will converge at Western University next week in an effort to better understand stellar disks, which ultimately give researchers answers on how planets like the Earth are formed.

The Bright Emissaries Conference, which runs from August 11-13 in the Physics and Astronomy Building, Room 106, is co-chaired by Carol Jones and Aaron Sigut from Western’s Faculty of Science.

The dream team of space scientists, which includes Stanley Owocki from the University of Delaware’s Bartol Research Institute and Atsuo Okazaki from Hokkai-Gakuen University in Japan, will collectively investigate groundbreaking and innovative research currently underway around the world related to all observational and theoretical aspects of B-emission stars, better known as Be stars.

Be stars are 10 times more massive than the Sun and emit between 100-10,000 times its energy. Most importantly, Be stars spin at very high rates of rotation and as a result, material is launched from their surfaces to form stellar disks. Disks are ever-present in the universe with the Milky Way, the galaxy that contains Earth’s Solar System, being a prominent example.

“These systems can help us understand the effect of stellar rotation and may ultimately provide a clearer picture of stellar evolution,” says Jones, a professor at Western’s renowned Department of Physics and Astronomy, who also serves as Associate Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the Faculty of Science. “In short, Be stars and stellar disk systems help us better understand how the Earth came to be.”

Six keynote presentations, 34 talks and two poster sessions will be delivered during the three-day conference, which is supported by Research Western, the Faculty of Science and the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

For a complete schedule, please visit https://bestars2014.uwo.ca/program/schedule.html

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Renaud, Senior Media Relations Officer, 519-661-2111, ext. 85165, jrenaud9@uwo.ca, @jeffrenaud99

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