NSF Grant Funds Florida Tech Research on Star Rotation

– Florida Tech assistant professor of physics and space sciences, Sydney Barnes, earned an $80,000 National Science Foundation grant from the NSF’s Stellar
Astronomy and Astrophysics Division. His research will focus on the rotation rates of Sun-type stars in open clusters, that is, stars that are from 300
million years to one billion years old.
“Stars are not just giant light bulbs, but are also magnets” said Barnes. “In fact, measurements of stars’ rotation rates can lead to unique insights into
the internal and external processes on stars, such as the magnetic storm activity on our star, the Sun.” The immediate goal of his project is to measure
the rotation rates of late-type stars in clusters. “Rotation is a particularly good probe of many of the changes that occur as stars age. As a bonus, this
can be measured very precisely,” said Barnes.
Scientists recently have found evidence for two major families of rotating stars. Some of the stars are in the process of migrating from one family to the
other. “Our hope is to be able to delineate these families precisely and to understand how stars make the transition from one to the other,” Barnes
Before coming to Florida Tech in 2003, Barnes was a Gibbs Lecturer and associate research scientist at Yale University . Undergraduate student Luz Angela
Cubides is working with Barnes this semester on aspects of this work. Florida Tech’s is one of the largest undergraduate astronomy program in the country,
in terms of enrollment.

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