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"How Superman Sees the Stars" A Free Public Lecture Set for October 24

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A free public lecture titled "How Superman Sees the Stars" will be given at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 24, in 101 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park Campus by David J. Helfand, professor of astronomy at Columbia University in New York.  There will be an opportunity to meet with the speaker and faculty members from the Penn State Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics following the lecture.

This event is intended for curious members of the community who wonder how a super-hero would see the universe using X-ray vision.  From voracious black holes to the edge of spacetime, X-rays reveal a dark and violent universe.

Helfand's talk is the first in a series of lectures titled "The X-Ray Universe."  The topic of the series was selected to celebrate the successful launch and first scientific results from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.  Gordon Garmire, Evan Pugh Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State is the Principal Investigator of the ACIS X-ray camera on the Chandra Observatory.  Other lectures in this series will focus on the most exciting scientific discoveries of Chandra's first year of operation.

Helfand's research has covered many areas of modern astrophysics including radio, optical and X-ray observations of celestial sources ranging from nearby stars to the most distant quasars.  He is currently involved in a major project to survey the radio sky with a sensitivity and angular resolution fifty times greater than has previously been available.  Last year he appeared weekly on the Discovery Channel program "Science News," bringing the latest astronomical discoveries to the U.S. television audience.

Helfand received his doctoral degree in astronomy from the University of Massachusetts in 1977.  He joined the faculty at Columbia University in New York in 1978 as professor of astronomy, and served as head of the Department of Astronomy from 1986 to 1992 and from 1994 to 1997.

Helfand's talk is part of a series of lectures hosted by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and largely funded by Ronald M. and Susan J. Friedman Outreach Fund in Astronomy.  Mr. Friedman is a member of the department's Board of Visitors.

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For information or access assistance, contact the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at 814-865-0418

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