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STScI Webcast

2017 Fall Science Colloquia

Heavy Metals from the First Stars to Today

Presented by: Ian Roederer (University of Michigan)
Category: Science Colloquia   Duration: 1 hour   Broadcast date: October 25, 2017
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: NASA's Cosmic Origins program aims to address the question, "How did we get here?" My work addresses this question through three broad themes: the nature of the first stars, the formation and evolution of the Milky Way and Local Group, and the origin of the elements. I study dwarf galaxies, globular clusters, and stars in the halo using optical and ultraviolet high-resolution spectroscopic data from various telescopes on the ground and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). I will present observations of heavy elements that change our understanding of when and how they were first produced in the early Universe, including perhaps by the first stars. Observations of heavy elements in a recently-discovered low-luminosity galaxy, Reticulum II, reveal that the r-process---one of the fundamental ways that stars produce heavy elements---may occur in mergers of neutron stars. I will highlight our collaborations with the nuclear astrophysics community, the important contributions of HST, and the sizable impact that future UV spectrographs in space could have on our understanding of nucleosynthesis and galactic formation.