Astrophysicist confirms theory about dying stars
Theory about relationship between dying stars and companion objects confirmed
A revolutionary technique developed by an NTID astrophysicist at Rochester Institute of Technology could allow for a better understanding of the fates of solar systems when their stars cease to shine.
Jason Nordhaus, an NTID assistant professor of physics and a program faculty member in RIT’s astrophysical sciences and technology Ph.D. program, has developed a system of complex 3D super-computer algorithms able to pinpoint the existence of previously undiscovered planets and celestial bodies associated with dying stars. His research is partially funded by a three-year grant from the NASA/Space Telescope Science Institute.
“The deaths of ordinary stars are marked by extraordinary transitions,” explains Nordhaus. “Iconic high-resolution images of dying stars have transformed our understanding of these events. In the past decade, we have discovered that this process of death that produces these spectacular images is linked to the presence of another star or planet in the system. However, large amounts of dust that mask these companions make them difficult to directly detect. We will continue to uncover the nature of these hidden companions and pin down where they orbit in these systems.”
Nordhaus explains that when a star dies, its physical size drastically increases and changes its shape. In fact, Nordhaus predicts that when our sun dies—billions of years from now—it will expand, reaching Earth, and will interact with other nearby planets, such as Jupiter.
Nordhaus’ technique was previously used to infer the presence of a hidden planet in the dying star L2 Puppis, which was later detected by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, a collection of radio telescopes in northern Chile that observe electromagnetic radiation.
This summer, Nordhaus will work with several deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing students at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf to study four systems for which Nordhaus has comprehensive data obtained over the past two decades. They are hoping that their 3D computer simulations will help determine which planets survive the death of their parent stars and which are ultimately destroyed.
“This helps us understand the fate of our own solar system, the fates of other star systems in the galaxy, and improve our understanding of how stars and planets interact,” said Nordhaus.
In addition to performing this groundbreaking research, Nordhaus is a member of RIT’s Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation, whose simulations of merging black hole binaries were used by the LIGO Project to confirm the breakthrough detection of gravitational waves from binary black holes in space.
April 26, 2019
RIT places third at national cyber defense competition
RIT’s cyber defense team took home third place at the 2019 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, held April 23-25 in Orlando.
April 26, 2019
Imagine RIT festival starts tonight
The 12th annual Imagine RIT: Creativity and Innovation Festival kicks off at 6 tonight in Ingle Auditorium with Dr. Munson’s Performing Arts Competition. Then, tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., we pull back the curtain on creativity and innovation with some 400 interactive exhibits in science, technology, engineering, the arts and more, plus live entertainment.
April 25, 2019
High school students publish paper with RIT scientists analyzing rare bacterium
Three high school students working in a science lab for the first time made a surprising discovery with an RIT professor. Now, the young women are co-authors on a scientific paper announcing a rare bacterium that kills e-coli.
April 25, 2019
Animation Career Review names RIT among nation’s best colleges to study video game design
Animation Career Review has again named RIT one of the top game design schools in the country. RIT ranked fifth on the list of Top 50 Game Design Schools in the U.S. and second in New York state.