RASC Regular Meeting, June 10, 2024

Globular Clusters and Their Weird Binary Stars

7:30 pm, Monday, June 10, 2024

TELUS World of Science – Zeidler Dome
FREE and open to the public.

This is a hybrid meeting. You may attend in person or via zoom.

Zoom link!

Globular Clusters and Their Weird Binary Stars

Guest Speaker: Dr. Craig Heinke, University of Alberta

Hubble Space Telescope image of Terzan 5

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.  I will discuss what we learn from studying these unusual objects in different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, from X-rays and gamma-rays to optical, infrared, and radio waves.

Dr. Craig Heinke

Craig Heinke is a professor of physics at the U. 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 obtained his PhD at Harvard, and worked as a postdoc at Northwestern University (Illinois) and the University of Virginia before joining the U. of Alberta in 2008.