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Hearing the Stars:
New Insights into Stellar Interiors
Space-based observations from the Kepler satellite have provided a remarkable new tool for studying stars. Simply by measuring how bright a star is over many years, we can now directly measure its mass, radius, rate of rotation, and sometimes, the magnetic field it possesses. This has now been done for tens of thousands of stars across the Milky Way, also allowing us to identify those few stars that are in short-lived phases of their evolution. It’s a great story of how theory and observation, together, can make a remarkable impact on our understanding of the universe.
Lars Bildsten is the Director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) and the Gluck Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his PhD in theoretical physics from Cornell University in 1991, where he held a Fannie and John Hertz Graduate Fellowship. Dr. Bildsten is a theoretical astrophysicist recognized for his work on the properties and behaviors of stars, both when they are burning their thermonuclear fuel for billions of years and when they explode as supernovae or emit gravitational waves. He was at Caltech for three years as the Lee A. DuBridge Research Fellow in Theoretical Astrophysics and was an assistant and associate professor in both the Physics and Astronomy departments at University of California, Berkeley. Moving to Santa Barbara in 1999 as a Permanent Member at the KITP, he held the Rosing, Raab Chair in Theoretical Astrophysics prior to becoming Director in 2012. Among his awards are the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, the Cottrell Scholar of the Research Corporation, the Helen B. Warner Prize from the American Astronomical Society and the Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, the American Astronomical Society and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2018. He is presently Chair of the Board of Directors of both the Research Corporation for Science Advancement and the Las Cumbres Observatory.