Press Release

Eva Laplace Wins Communication Prize for Software That Shows Life Cycle of Stars

By SpaceRef Editor
November 11, 2020
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PhD candidate Eva Laplace (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands) will receive the ET Outreach Award of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities. She is awarded the communication prize for her project that portrays the life of stars in an intuitive way. Until now, all teaching methods use hard to comprehend diagrams, such as the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, which is more than a hundred years old.

French-born Eva Laplace made the program because she experienced that various types of diagrams, including those of Hertzsprung-Russell were obsolete, complex and difficult to explain to students. She wants to deploy her software for students and fellow astronomers and hopes that her software will make it easier to understand what’s going on in stars.

Laplace’s tool not only allows astronomers and nonprofessionals to see the size and color of the star. Other properties such as the changing composition of a star and the processes that take place in the interior of the star also become visible. In addition, stars are easier to compare with each other.

Laplace named her software TULIPS: Tool for Understanding the Lives, Interiors and Physics of Stars. Laplace’s software shows the evolution of a star in short movies. The videos not only reveal the evolution and different combustion stages of stars, but also show how those stars appear to us, observing them from Earth. In the lower left corner of the screen, the well-known diagrams, like those of Hertzsprung-Russell, are still visible.

Eva Laplace adds: “TULIPS also provides insight into Kippenhahn diagrams that show the structure and evolution of stars and into diagrams that tell us more about the composition of a star.”

Laplace used the Python programming language and based her program on models and simulations of the MESA simulation platform. Laplace wants to expand her tool in the near future so that it can also handle her own specialization: the life cycle of binary stars. She also wants to create a web application and produce example animations with common star types. In the future the application and the movies can be used by secondary schools and universities. The programs will be available to everyone free of charge in the first half of 2021.

SpaceRef staff editor.