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Physics and Astronomy

Physics & Astronomy Colloquium

3:30 PM, Friday, November 19, 2010
Room 155, Chem-Phys Building

Dr. Yong-Zhong Qian
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Minnesota

The Origin of the Elements: A Modern Perspective

Since the pioneering works of Burbidge et al. and Cameron more than five decades ago, there has been major progress in our understanding of the origin of the elements. This is brought about by great improvements in our knowledge of nucleosynthesis and stellar evolution through decades of theoretical works with crucial inputs from nuclear experiments and astronomical observations. As an outstanding example, big bang nucleosynthesis (BBN) together with observed abundances of deuterium at high redshifts gives a baryonic content of the universe that coincides with what is derived independently from measurements of the cosmic microwave background. Other major advances include: (1) the realization that neutrinos play many important roles in stellar evolution, explosion, and nucleosynthesis, (2) discoveries of new astrophysical phenomena such as gamma ray bursts and the associated hypernovae, (3) a large number of data on abundances in stars and galaxies provided by large telescopes, and (4) the emergence of a firm cosmological framework for understanding structure formation, the making of the first stars, and chemical evolution. These advances will be reviewed and the strong interplay among fundamental physics, astrophysics, and observations will be emphasized.

Refreshments will be served in CP 179 at 3:15 PM