Free Public Talk on Black Widow Stars

Free Public Talk on Black Widow Stars Free Public Talk on Black Widow Stars
  • Contact

    Foothill College, Smithwick Theater
    12345 El Monte Rd., Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
    phone: 6509497888

  • Keywords

    astronomy, public lecture, stars, pulsars, neutron stars, black holes

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  • Updated on 2014-01-07 12:39:00

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Dr. Roger Romani (of Stanford University) will give a free, illustrated, non-technical talk on:

Black Widow Pulsars: Vengeful Star Corpses

in the Smithwick Theater at Foothill College, in Los Altos Hills.
The talk is part of the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series, now in its 14th year.

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has revealed a violent high-energy universe full of stellar explosions, black hole jets, and pulsing stars. These cosmic objects are often faint when observed with visible light, but glow bright with gamma rays. Dr. Romani will describe the quest to discover the true nature of the most puzzling of these gamma-ray sources. Several turn out to be a kind of star corpse called a 'black widow' pulsar. When a massive star dies, it leaves a collapsed remnant called a neutron star. When such a star corpse has a companion star, it can be reanimated by material from the companion. Ironically, the revived corpse then begins to vaporize its mate. Dr. Romani will discuss his group’s discovery that these black widows may be the heaviest neutron stars known, on the edge of final collapse to black holes.

Roger Romani is professor of physics and member of the Kavli Institute at Stanford University. His research focuses on neutron stars and black holes. He enjoys finding new, strange phenomena in the sky and then building theoretical models to explain them. Past recognition for his work include Sloan Foundation and Cottrell Scholars fellowships and the Rossi Prize of the American Astronomical Society.

Foothill College is just off the El Monte Road exit from Freeway 280 in Los Altos. For directions and parking information, see:
For a campus map, see:

The lecture is co-sponsored by:
* NASA Ames Research Center
* The Foothill College Astronomy Program
* The SETI Institute
* The Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

We expect large crowds, so we ask people to try to arrive a little bit early to find parking. The lecture is free, but there is a charge of $3 for parking and exact change is appreciated.

NOTE: Past Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures are now available free on YouTube, at the series' own channel at:

The site gives instant access to over two dozen past lectures, including Steve Beckwith on the Hubble Telescope’s deepest views, Mike Brown on his discovery of worlds beyond Pluto, Natalie Batalha on the Kepler mission planet discoveries, Chris McKay on what it’s like on Saturn’s moon Titan, Sandra Faber on the origin of galaxies, Alex Filippenko and Roger Blandford on black holes, and Seth Shostak on new approaches to finding extra-terrestrial civilizations.