RASC Regular Meeting
May 9, 2016
Globular Clusters and Their Weird Binary Stars

Hubble image of the nearby globular cluster NGC 6397. Credit: HST/NASA/ESA

RASC Regular Meeting
TELUS World of Science – Margaret Zeidler Star Theatre
FREE and open to the public.

7:00 PM Pre-meeting mix and mingle.
7:30 PM Guest Speaker

Craig Heinke
Globular Clusters and Their Weird Binary Stars

Globular clusters are old, dense conglomerations of stars, which are also unique physical laboratories. The denser globular clusters have stars packed so tightly together that stars occasionally collide with each other. More often, binary stars (pairs of stars orbiting around each other) have their orbits disrupted by other stars, leading to the replacement of one star in the binary with the intruder star and the formation of unusual binaries. Binaries including extremely dense dead stars, like neutron stars or black holes, can produce X-ray binaries, where the dense star steals mass from its companion. As the matter spirals down from the companion to the dead star, it heats up to millions of degrees and emits X-rays, permitting us to study these exotic systems.

20160509_Craig_LakeLouise2013About Craig Heinke
Craig Heinke is an associate professor of physics at the University of Alberta. His research focuses on neutron stars, X-ray binaries, and globular clusters. Dr. Heinke uses a range of telescopes, particularly X-ray observatories, but also optical, infrared, and radio telescopes. He did his PhD at Harvard, and postdocs at Northwestern University (Illinois) and the University of Virginia before joining the University of Alberta in 2008.