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Astronomy Colloquium
"Open Cluster Variables: Essential Astrophysical Probes"
Date: Thursday, October 24th
Time: 3:30 pm
Place: 4421 Sterling Hall, Coffee and cookies 3:30 PM, Talk begins 3:45 PM
Speaker: Melinda Soares, Princeton University
Abstract: A layer of complexity is missing from the prevailing standard stellar evolution model. Peculiar stars, particularly those found in coeval, isometallic systems like open clusters, play a critical role in its refinement. The blending of stellar light in densely populated clusters poses a formidable challenge in the generation of high-precision light curves. To mitigate such concerns, our team produced an image subtraction pipeline that reveals a diverse population of periodic variables in the K2 dataset. This technique has unveiled new candidate exoplanets, eclipsing binaries, rapidly rotating stars, and pulsating variables. Moreover, we detect sources that are not revealed by other methods, indicating that the image subtraction technique is required to fully exploit cluster fields. I discuss the potential of utilizing cluster variables to probe critical open questions in stellar astrophysics.
Host: Professor Robert Mathieu
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