At this month’s Midday Science Cafe, we’ll take a star-studded intergalactic journey to see some of the universe’s hottest and brightest objects. First stop: quasars. Berkeley Lab’s Dr. Satya Gontcho A Gontcho will explain how quasars - the most luminous astronomical objects in the universe - are used as “lighthouses” to help locate hidden matter. Although this matter makes up most of the universe, because it does not emit light, Dr. Gontcho A Gontcho has to use ingenious techniques like this to study it. We’ll then travel to solar systems with stars hotter than the Sun that emit extreme amounts of ultraviolet radiation and can fully strip nearby planets of their atmospheres. UC Berkeley’s Steven Giacalone studies this phenomenon in order to determine how prevalent this process is and, more importantly, if planets orbiting these hot stars can be habitable. So grab your sunscreen and hop in for a trip that’s out of this world!
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