Professor Michael Zingale
Department of Physics and Astronomy
7:30 pm Room 001 ESS Building
Friday, May 6, 2011

Stellar Violence

Stars are dynamical objects. As they evolve throughout their lifetimes, they burn through enormous fuel reserves to produce their incredible energy output. As they exhaust one fuel supply, they begin burning heavier and heavier elements. For massive stars, this pattern continues until they run out of fuel, leading to an energetic core-collapse supernova explosion and leaving behind a neutron star or black hole. Low mass stars, like our Sun, ordinarily end their lives as a dense stellar remnant, a white dwarf, that slowly cools and dims. However, this is not necessarily the end of the story. If this compact remnant (white dwarf or neutron star) is in a binary system, it can be revived by material flowing onto it from its companion. This can lead to a host of different explosion scenarios, including nova and X-ray bursts, as well as thermonuclear supernovae. It is also possible that two white dwarfs or neutron stars can merge, with explosive results. In this talk, we will survey the wide range of explosive activity that arises through stellar processes.

Prof. Zingale is an Assistant Professor of Astronomy in Stony Brook's department of Physics and Astronomy. This is his sixth year at Stony Brook, coming most recently from a postdoctoral position at the University of California at Santa Cruz. His research is in modeling stellar explosions and the basic physics therein, and he is an expert in numerical hydrodynamics.