Stellar Society Lecture – part of the NC Science Festival

Each year, typically in April, GTCC’s student astronomy club, the Stellar Society, teams up with Cline Observatory and the GTCC Foundation to present the Stellar Society Lecture, featuring an astronomer from a regional institution to give a free public lecture on a Friday night before our regular public viewing. This event is usually held in conjunction with the North Carolina Science FestivalA complete GTCC NSCF Calendar is listed at the bottom of this page.

The 2016 Stellar Society Lecture will be held Friday, 21 April 2017, 7:00 p.m. in the Auditorium of Koury Hospitality Careers Center, on GTCC’s Jamestown Campus

“Supernovae and You: Tracking Stellar Explosions through Their Remnants”

Featuring Dr. Stephen P. Reynolds, North Carolina State University

This event is made possible by the GTCC Foundation, GTCC’s student astronomy club, the Stellar Society, and the NC Science Festival.

About the Talk

Most stars die quietly, but a few go out with a bang: a supernova explosion.  These events release in seconds an energy comparable to what the Sun will radiate in its entire 10-billion-year lifetime.  The initial burst of light is so bright that supernovae can be seen across the Universe, and are used as cosmic yardsticks to gauge the Universe’s expansion.  In the explosion, heavy elements are synthesized and ejected into the surrounding material.  The shock wave driven in front of the expanding stellar ejecta heats gas to X-ray emitting temperatures initially, gradually slowing down over tens of thousands of years.  The expanding gas also produces radio and optical emission, and is called a supernova remnant.  If the explosion was that of a massive star, a pulsar may be left behind, a rotating magnetized neutron star that can inflate a bubble of energetic particles and magnetic field inside the remnant.  Supernova remnants contain essential information on the nature of the explosions and the formation of the heavier elements that are essential for the formation of new stars, planets, and you.  I shall bring news from the front in our studies of the remnants of recent Galactic supernovae.

Cline Observatory will be open after the talk for telescopic viewing, weather permitting.

About the Speaker

Stephen Reynolds attended public schools in Seattle.  He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard in 1971, and MS and PhD degrees in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1973 and 1980, respectively, where he specialized in theoretical astrophysics. During this time he also worked as a professional violinist, performing with the Oakland Symphony, San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and other Bay Area musical organizations.  He did post-doctoral work in the University of Virginia Astronomy Department and at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.  In 1985, he joined the Physics Department at North Carolina State University, where he was charged with founding a research group in astrophysics.  That group, now numbering nine faculty, is known worldwide for expertise in high-energy astrophysics, with a particular focus on supernovae and their remnants.  Reynolds was promoted to Associate Professor in 1990 and to Professor in 1995.  He is an Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor, and received the 2012 Board of Governors Teaching Award for NC State University.  He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Visit Dr. Reynolds’ research page at NCSU.

Complete Calendar of NC Science Festival events held at GTCC in April 2017.  (All GTCC NCSF events are FREE and open to anyone with an interest in science):

  • Our April Public Viewing Sessions are part of the Statewide Star Party.  We’ll kick off the month of enhanced viewing sessions on Friday, 7 April 2017 after the Science Hall Open House (weather permitting), and continue the sessions on Fridays through the full NCSF – wrapping up after the supernova lecture on the official SWSP date, 27 April.)
  • That same evening (Friday, 7 April), there will be an evening of interactive science demonstrations in Science Hall on the GTCC Jamestown campus, featuring presentations and demonstrations by faculty and students in GTCC’s Chemistry, Geology, Physics, Biotech, and Engineering Programs.  We’ll also have information available about the August 2017 solar eclipse, and will set up for solar viewing if weather permits.  The venue opens at 6:00, and sessions will run from 6:30-8:30 p.m.  Science Hall is Building 24 on this campus map. Cline Observatory will be open for viewing after the event (weather permitting).
  • Dr. Reynolds’ Stellar Society Lecture at 7:00 p.m. in Koury Auditorium on Friday, 21 April 2017 (with observing afterward, weather permitting). Koury is Building 19 on this campus map.
  • Visit the NC Science Festival website or follow @ncscifest on Twitter to find out more about this multi-day celebration showcasing science and technology in NC.

Past Stellar Society Lectures