This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).
Dr. Michal Simon and students will undertake a project to explore the formation of single and binary stars. The research will provide theorists with precisely measured masses of young stars to enable critical tests of theoretical calculations of early stellar evolution. Astronomers use theoretical calculations describing the evolution of young stars to estimate their masses and ages. Unfortunately, for stars less massive than the Sun, the calculations yield discrepant results. For stars less massive than about 0.5 solar mass, the calculations are essentially uncalibrated by empirical data. Masses of low mass young stars will be measured by their gravitational interaction. The project will also identify new, low-mass stars near the Sun from their motions in space. This will provide improved samples of young binaries for mass measurement, along with desirable targets for exoplanet searches by high resolution, high contrast imaging.
This research offers graduate students the opportunity to learn how to use the best contemporary instruments and to collaborate with astronomers who are expert in their use. Dr. Simon will also continue his outreach efforts with other astronomers at Stony Brook, in particular via the long-running program "Open Nights in Astronomy."