Public Talk

The Spinning Sun, The Twirling Stars

August 9, 2017

When: August 9, 2017 7:00PM
Where: Center Stage Theater, 751 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara

Tim Brown

Las Cumbres Observatory

All stars rotate.  The Sun spins roughly once per month;  some stars -- ones that are otherwise similar to the Sun --  spin several times per day. It turns out that this huge difference is related to age:  like people, young stars move faster than old ones.  But why?

A picture addressing this question is just now becoming clear. I will tell the story of how astronomers have gained this clarity, and what the picture is.  It describes a tangled relationship between the magnetic fields that cause sun- and starspots, rotation that carries spots around their stars, and the still-mysterious processes that drive stellar magnetic cycles.  Studying these phenomena has required all the tools of modern astronomy, from imaging of the Sun's outermost atmosphere (the same "solar corona" that will be on dramatic display in this month's solar eclipse), to supercomputer models, to space-based photometry.  Unexpectedly, the new understanding based on these studies suggests that our own Sun's magnetic behavior changed markedly at least once in the distant past, and that in the fairly near future it may change again.

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Tim Brown

We are pleased that our own Dr. Tim Brown of Las Cumbres Observatory will be speaking at our event in August! Dr. Tim Brown is Principal Scientist at LCO and Adjunct Professor with the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy (CASA) at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Before joining LCO, he spent over 25 years with the High Altitude Observatory, a division of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and was concurrently an Adjoint Professor in the department of Astrophysical, Planetary, and Atmospheric Sciences, at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In 2016, Dr. Brown was awarded the prestigious James Craig Watson Medal for Astronomy by the National Academy of Sciences. The Academy awarded him this honor for “his visionary scientific and technical advancements that have been critical to the fields of helioseismology, asteroseismology, and the emerging field of spectroscopy of transiting exoplanets, and for his critical role in helping a new generation of scientists and facilities to succeed.”

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