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"How to Make a Star," a Free Public Lecture Scheduled for 14 July

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A free public lecture titled "How to Make a Star" will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, 14 July, in 101 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus.

Eric Feigelson, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State, will present the lecture about how planets and stars in the Milky Way Galaxy condense from giant clouds of dust and gas. Gravity pulls matter inward, making the proto-star, while the rotation of the dust-and-gas system prevents some matter from succumbing to the gravitational pull, making a disk where planets form.  These young systems exhibit a variety of unusual behaviors with jets shooting out in two directions, gas funneling inward along magnetic fields, and violent magnetic explosions producing abundant X-rays.

Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and other orbiting telescopes, Feigelson and collaborators study the X-ray emission of young stars. The talk will highlight Feigelson's recent discoveries of a young star cluster over the South Pole and studies of X-rays from the Orion Nebula.

Feigelson's research emphasizes the relationship between X-ray astronomy and star formation.  He also is a leader in the cross-disciplinary field of astrostatistics.  In addition to teaching and research, he serves as assistant department head for the undergraduate program and directs summer workshops in astronomy for high school science teachers.  He won a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1984.

His lecture is hosted by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and funded largely by the Ronald M. and Susan J. Friedman Outreach Fund in Astronomy.  Mr. Friedman is a member of the department's board of directors.

The special lecture coincides with AstroFest, a four-night event-Wednesday, 12 July, to Saturday, 15 July-sponsored by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Penn State Astronomy Club.  Scheduled from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. each night, AstroFest features star-gazing opportunities, planetarium shows, hands-on activities, astronomy-themed art, short presentations, and slide shows.  All events are free and open to the public.  For more information, call (814) 863-6040.

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