Small Stars in a Large Context: All Things White Dwarf

January 14, 2014 - Houston Museum of Natural Science

Join Dr. Don Winget on Tuesday, January 14, for a Distinguished Lecture Series presentation at The Houston Museum of Natural Science celebrating McDonald Observatory's 75th anniversary. A free 5 p.m. reception will be held prior to his 6:30 p.m. lecture on white dwarf stars and their many uses. Tickets are required for the lecture, and are available from the museum.

Dubbed “Impossible Stars” by the famous astronomer Arthur Eddington, white dwarfs are the simplest stars with the simplest surface chemical compositions known. At McDonald Observatory's May 5, 1939, dedication, it was announced that, "One of the first tasks to be undertaken by the staff of the McDonald Observatory will be to investigate further the mysteries of the white dwarfs.” Today, as the observatory prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary, McDonald leads in investigating white dwarfs along several avenues: telescope observations, theory, and most recently, the making of star-stuff using the most powerful X-ray source on Earth at Sandia National Laboratory. This talk by McDonald Observatory astronomer Don Winget, one of the world's leading experts on white dwarfs, will examine the how studies of these stars can shed light on everything from the age of the universe to the understanding of dark matter and dark energy.

Don Winget is the Harlan J. Smith Centennial Professor in Astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses the burnt-out stars called white dwarfs and their many uses as cosmic clocks, dark matter detectors, and more. He recently received a Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award from the University of Texas System Board of Regents. 

Tickets for this event are available from the museum's online box office.