BU Explores Stars with Hubble Telescope

October 15, 2013

BRANDON, MB – A professor at Brandon University (BU) is working with researchers around the globe, exploring some of the most important stars in our sky with the Hubble Space Telescope.

#1 Dr. Austin Gulliver reviews Hubble Telescope data_Oct_2013 (web)This is an unusually large and significant project,” says Dr. Austin Gulliver, chair of BU’s Physics and Astronomy Department. “The information that we gather could lead to new discoveries about these stars and our universe, by us or researchers in the future using new techniques yet to be developed to review the data we have collected and archived.”

Dr. Gulliver is the lone Canadian among 30 researchers from the US, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, and New Zealand using the Hubble to observe ‘hot stars’, which are 10,000 to 100,000 degrees compared to our sun at 6,000 degrees.

Hubble’s orbit above the Earth’s atmosphere allows it to take extremely high-resolution images without atmospheric distortions, giving researchers a deep view into space and time. Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as accurately determining the rate of expansion of the universe.

“Enormous amounts of information are contained in the ultraviolet light of these hot stars which can only be captured in space,” says Dr. Gulliver. “The first star we just observed is rich in rare earth elements, which are important in the making of exceptional strong magnets, TVs, computers, and lasers.”

While the project will last several months, Dr. Gulliver is anxious to observe Vega, the second most important star in astronomy after our own sun. Vega has been used for more than a century to calibrate astronomical measurement systems. Dr. Gulliver was part of a research team in the 1990s that discovered Vega was a hot star rotating at such an extreme speed that it bulges around the equator.

“Understanding other stars helps us to better understand our Sun and the world we live in,” he says.

“Outstanding researchers, such as Dr. Gulliver, are forging the future of Brandon University as well as bringing the latest knowledge and research to the fingertips of our students,” says Dr. Andrew Egan, Dean of the Faculty of Science.

Brandon University, founded in 1899, promotes excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship; educating students so that they can make a meaningful difference as engaged citizens and leaders.

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For more information, please contact:
Dr. Austin Gulliver
Chair, Physics and Astronomy Dept
204-727-7441
gulliver@brandonu.ca
Glen Kirby
Communications Officer
204-727-9762
kirbyg@brandonu.ca