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Where Do Baby Stars Come From?

by Imiloa Astronomy Center on January 20th, 2018

‘Imiloa presents Dr. Steve Mairs, Support Astronomer at James Clerk Maxwell Telescope
Date: Fri. Feb. 16
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $10, $8 for members (member level discounts apply)

Deep within the cold dust and gas which resides in our Milky Way Galaxy, a dramatic story is unfolding: the birth of stars. Understanding the formation and evolution of stars is not only quintessential to describing the visible universe but it is also important for recognizing and appreciating our origins. The Sun and planets did not always exist and it is through comparing careful observations of our solar neighborhood to cutting-edge theoretical simulations that we are able to investigate our cosmic history and perceive our Solar System in the broader context of the Galaxy and, indeed, the universe.  Learn where baby stars originate and the current theory of star formation at ‘Imiloa’s Maunakea Skies talk, presented by Dr. Steve Mairs, Support Astronomer at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) on Friday, February 16, 2018 at 7:00pm.


Dr. Mairs will highlight his research in capturing submillimetre light to probe cold dust in the process of forming stars. Situated atop Maunakea, JCMT is the largest single dish telescope of its kind. 


Since 2015, Dr. Mairs has been working with a large group of astronomers around the world using the JCMT to conduct observational programs known as the JCMT Transient Survey. By the end of 2018, they aim to obtain the deepest ever maps of eight nearby stellar nurseries. Their primary goal is to detect brightness variations around forming stars in order to investigate how these brand new suns are currently gaining their mass. 


Dr. Mairs will share images of star forming regions in the directions of famous constellations like Orion, Perseus, Ophiuchus, and Serpens and compare them to advanced computer simulations at the forefront of the field. He will also show how stellar growth spurts are measured in real time and highlight observations of a “twinkling” young star, EC53, which confirm the existence of a newly discovered planet. 


Dr. Steve Mairs is a support astronomer at JCMT. He received his PhD in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. For the past 6 years, his focus has been on researching the connection between the largest and the smallest scales in the Milky Way Galaxy, specifically in the context of the Solar System’s origin. Prior to relocating to Hilo in September, 2017, Dr. Mairs was the outreach coordinator for the observatory at the University of Victoria. Passionate about science education and outreach, he has hosted many public events and has taught thousands of students of all ages.


Hosted by Planetarium Technician Emily Peavy, ‘Imiloa’s monthly Maunakea Skies program includes observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai‘i, with the audience able to view prominent constellations and stars visible during this time of year. Maunakea Skies planetarium presentations are held on the third Friday of each month. General admission tickets are $10, $8 for ‘Imiloa members (member level discounts apply). Pre-purchase tickets at ‘Imiloa’s front desk or by phone at 808-932-8901.


About ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center:

The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is a world-class center for informal science education located on the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo campus. Its centerpiece is a 12,000 sq. ft. exhibit hall, showcasing astronomy and Hawaiian culture as parallel journeys of human exploration guided by the light of the stars. The visitor experience is amplified with programming using ‘Imiloa’s full dome planetarium and 9 acres of native landscape gardens. The center welcomes approximately 100,000 visitors each year, including 10,000+ schoolchildren on guided field trips and other educational programs. ‘Imiloa is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off of Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the UH Hilo Science and Technology Park. For more information, visit or call 808- 932-8901.

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