Below are some excerpts from the FSU CSM Newsletter coming out next month...
"Michael Gariety’s M.S. thesis was selected as Outstanding Thesis for the College of Science and Mathematics for 2011. It was a theoretical analysis of three recently developed methods of estimating distances to cataclysmic variables, compared with Hubble Space Telescope and other observations.
Astrophysics Research at Fresno State is carried out by Dr. Frederick A. Ringwald and his students. It mainly concerns cataclysmic variable stars and related objects, such as novae and black holes. We also observe exoplanets, which are planets of other stars, and stellar flares.
In a cataclysmic variable, a normal star (like the Sun) spills gas onto a burned-out cinder that once was a star, called a white dwarf. The normal star and the white dwarf orbit each other very quickly, in as little as 80 minutes, so the gas deflects around the white dwarf into an accretion disk, or cosmic whirlpool.
The disk can easily dominate the light, so we use cataclysmic variables to study accretion disk physics. There are disks of many kinds across the Universe, from the rings of Saturn, to star formation, to the disk of our galaxy, the Milky Way. The Milky Way rotates once every 250 million years, though. Cataclysmic variables operate on human timescales: the wonders of the Universe unfold before our eyes.
Most astrophysics research at Fresno State uses Fresno State’s station at Sierra Remote Observatories, which Dr. Ringwald and his students operate by remote control from campus, over the Internet. It is at a superb dark site in the Sierra Nevada, near Shaver Lake."
AFTER the symposium Michael took me out to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory...We sampled the corn fritters...
And Michael tried the super-fantastic, ultra-delicious Memphis Burger. It was a burger with slow roasted BBQ pork, bacon, cheese, crunchy onion straws and coleslaw on top. Amazing!