ETSU scientists part of groundbreaking team studying massive stars

Published 9:14 am Wednesday, July 26, 2023

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JOHNSON CITY – A team of scientists from around the world have launched a groundbreaking study aimed at analyzing the most massive stars near the Milky Way.
A pair of East Tennessee State University professors are part of this international team.
“This study, and all the papers that will follow, will produce scores of scientific insights,” said ETSU’s Dr. Richard Ignace and Dr. Christi Erba, both members of the Department of Physics and Astronomy who worked on the report.
Collaborating scientists gathered ultraviolent data from the Hubble Space Telescope, famous for capturing breathtaking images of the cosmos, as well as information taken from the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, a flagship facility for astronomy in Europe.
So far, the research team has demonstrated that metallicity, an important parameter for understanding how galaxies have changed and evolved, changes key physical properties of stars.
From the start of the universe, the scientists note, metal content – anything in the atmosphere greater than hydrogen and helium – has continuously grown in space thanks in part to supernova explosions.
These interactions have helped create the environment of the Milky Way Galaxy, the home galaxy of earth.
The paper, “X-Shooting ULLYSES (a reference to the Hubble Telescope’s UV Legacy Library of Young Stars as Essential Standards): Massive Stars at Low Metallicity,” was published by “Astronomy and Astrophysics.”
“This paper is the first in a series by this worldwide collaboration of scientists,” the ETSU professors noted. “It is a privilege to be part of such important work.”
From discoveries entirely new to science to books about little-known maladies, Ignace and Erba are members of an ETSU faculty that regularly generate cutting-edge scholarship.

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