Twinkle, Twinkle, Spinning Star
presented by Elizabeth Tilly, C'18
Wednesday, April 5, 7:30 - 8:30pm, Woods Labs 216
On the cosmic scale, matter interacts in ways that are not observable or replicable on Earth. In the quest to understand the workings of the universe, astrophysicists must observe these interactions from afar and create models based on their observations. One such system, which occurs around many different types of celestial objects, is the accretion disk: matter, gravitationally pulled into orbit around a massive object, forming a disk.
The best way to observe real accretion disks is through dwarf nova-type cataclysmic variable stars, stellar systems whose luminosities are observed to vary periodically by several orders of magnitude. From the light curves of these stars, valuable information can be gleaned about the interactions inside their accretion disks. In this talk, I will give an overview of cataclysmic variable star systems, discuss the star I have observed over the course of several weeks, and explain the current model for accretion disks..
Elizabeth Tilly, C'18, is a junior at the University of the South pursuing a B.S. degree in Physics. Before coming to Sewanee for her undergraduate education, she lived in Kijabe, Kenya, for seven years. She is the current Secretary/Treasurer of the Sewanee chapter of the Society of Physics Students and a member of the national physics honors society Sigma Pi Sigma. Recently, Elizabeth completed the 2016 international University Physics Competition, ranking as an accomplished competitor. She is also one of the leaders of Sewanee CRU and in her free time enjoys leading rock climbing and caving trips with the Sewanee Outing Program.