"Can a Bright Star Find Happiness in the Deadly Embrace of a Black Hole?" Scheduled for 24 February 2002 at Penn State
A free public lecture titled, "Can a Bright Star Find Happiness in the Deadly Embrace of a Black Hole?" will be given at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, 24 February, in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park Campus by Michael Eracleous, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics. The talk is the third of the 2001-2002 Friedman public lectures sponsored by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State, which this year have the theme, "Black Holes and Time Machines."
"Black holes are a realized dream of science fiction writers," says Jane Charlton, an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State. "Black holes are now known to exist throughout the universe, in a variety of sizes, from the mass of our Sun to billions of times that massive." The lecture on 24 February will cover the fascinating effects that occur when material falls into a black hole from an orbiting star.
"Eracleous is an excellent, very dynamic speaker, who is quite entertaining for an audience of non-experts," says Charlton. "He presented a very popular talk called 'Mind Bending Black Holes' at the Astrofest, a public outreach event last summer that attracted more than 2000 people, and Sunday's lecture should be even more fun," she adds.
Eracleous is researching the processes that fuel "black hole machines" of all sizes throughout the universe. He studies the rapidly rotating disks of material falling into giant black holes at the centers of galaxies. He also studies pairs of binary stars, in which the material of one star is falling into another, giving astronomers a dynamic show that provides clues to the mechanisms involved.
Eracleous joined the Penn State faculty in 1998 after holding a Hubble Fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley from 1995 to 1998. He received his doctoral degree in 1992 from Columbia University.
Remaining lectures in the 2001-2002 Friedman series, all in 100 Thomas Building, include: Back to the Future: Time Travel in Modern Physics" by Sarah Gallagher of Penn State at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 17; and The Physics of Star Trek" by Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 7. The "Black Holes and Time Machines" series is hosted by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and is largely funded by the Ronald M. and Susan J. Friedman Outreach Fund in Astronomy. Friedman is a member of the department's Board of Visitors.
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Jane Charlton, associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics, 863-6040 or 865-0418