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Astronomy Colloquium
The Yin and Yan of Slowly-Pulasting B Stars: Asteroseismology and Angular Momentum Redistribution
Date: Thursday, September 12th
Time: 3:30 pm
Place: 4421 Sterling Hall, Coffee and cookies 3:30 PM, Talk begins 3:45 PM
Speaker: Professor Richard Townsend, UW Madison Astronomy Department
Abstract: During their main-sequence evolution, almost all B-type stars will pass through a phase where they are unstable toward oscillation in one or more global internal gravity waves ('g modes'). The g modes, driven by iron and nickel opacity in the stars' outer envelopes, generate surface temperature and velocity changes with periodicities on the order of days.

In the 'Yin' part of my talk, I'll discuss how time-series spectroscopy and photometry of these `slowly-pulsating B' (SPB) stars can be leveraged into asteroseismology --- probing the stars'interiors by careful analysis of their oscillation spectra. I'll highlight in particular how the Kepler mission, together with the MESA stellar evolution code and my GYRE stellar oscillation code, has allowed novel constraints to be established on the internal rotation and mixing physics of SPB stars.

I'll then pivot to the 'Yang' part of my talk. Although we typically regard stellar oscillations as passive tracers of stellar structure, they can also modify this structure. I'll present recent work with Jacqueline Goldstein and Ellen Zweibel, exploring angular momentum redistribution by g modes. Modeling this process in SPB stars, we find that significant modification of internal rotation profiles can occur on timescales as short as centuries. This suggests that the g modes can impact the stars' life trajectories, a possibility that's been hitherto ignored in stellar evolution calculations.
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