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This Week at Physics

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Event Number 2353

  Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Astronomy Colloquium
Imaging the Surfaces of Stars
Time: 3:30 pm
Place: 4421 Sterling Hall
Speaker: John Monnier, University of Michigan
Abstract: Under even the best atmospheric conditions, telescope diffraction fundamentally limits the angular resolution for astronomical imaging. Using interferometry, we can coherently combine light from widely-separated telescopes to overcome the single-telescope diffraction limit to boost our imaging resolution by orders of magnitude. I will review recent technical and scientific breakthroughs made possible by the Michigan Infrared Combiner of the CHARA Array on Mt. Wilson, CA, with baselines of 330 meters allowing near-infrared imaging with sub-milli-arcsecond resolution. I will present the first resolved images of main sequence stars besides the Sun, focusing on the oblate and gravity-darkened photospheres of rapidly rotating stars. We can now also resolve the interacting components of close binary stars for the first time and I will give an update on the remarkable on-going eclipse of epsilon Aurigae.

Host: Prof Richard Townsend
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