Press Release

Berkeley Astronomer to Discuss Mysterious Brown Dwarfs

By SpaceRef Editor
January 27, 2003
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“Failed Stars or Supergiant Planets: A Cosmic Identity Crisis” will be the topic of a free, non-technical talk at 7 p.m. PST on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif. The public is invited.

Dr. Gibor Basri, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, will discuss the mysterious objects called ‘brown dwarfs’ and the shadowy realms they inhabit, between being a planet and being a star.

“The Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series is a fine example of a robust collaboration resulting in excellence in outreach,” said NASA Ames Center Director G. Scott Hubbard. “NASA Ames is proud to co-sponsor the series.”

Basri, who has made pioneering observations of brown dwarfs, will discuss how astronomers are learning to make more sophisticated distinctions about exactly what it takes to be a star.

Brown dwarfs, which have been described as failed stars, are celestial objects more massive than planets like Jupiter, but not large enough to sustain the thermonuclear reactions that make stars shine. Like planets and stars, they have gravitational fields and atmospheres that get cooler the further one moves from their core.

This is the fourth year of the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series, which is co-sponsored by NASA Ames, Foothill College’s Division of Physical Science, Mathematics and Engineering, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and the SETI Institute.

The lecture series is held at Foothill College’s Smithwick Theater in Los Altos Hills. From Interstate 280, exit at El Monte Road and travel west to the campus. Visitors must purchase a one-day campus-parking permit for $2. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Children over the age of 13 are welcome. More informatiepors available by calling the series hotline at 650/949-7888.

SpaceRef staff editor.