News release: Stars in a different sky

Media and Promotion Office (2003) News release: Stars in a different sky. Other. University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Preston.

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Astronomers Professor Don Kurtz and Dr Robert Walsh, from the University of Central
Lancashire will be brightening up the 1gloom' of winter down under when they join the
world's leading experts at the Australian Festival of Astronomy in July.
Professor Kurtz and Dr Walsh, from the University's Centre for Astrophysics, have been
invited to lecture at the International Astronomical Union General Assembly at Sydney
in July. In addition to this, they will be joining a prestigious group of roving
astronomers giving lectures and answering questions about life, the universe and
everything in a series of tours around Australia. There's a lot of excitement about the
event, funded by the Australian Government and the British Council, with extensive
coverage in the Australian press.
Professor Kurtz has promised to share the musical secrets of the universe with
audiences in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. As the world-authority on
asteroseismology (the vibrations of the stars), he wi11 be asking Aussies to tune their
ears to the 'singing'of the stars. Not actually the music of Kylie Minogue and her
friends, but ringing which can be detected by sound waves in the stars that cause them
to vibrate, get hotter and cooler, brighter and dimmer, bigger and smaller and change
shape. The audience will get the chance to ilear' the sounds of an amazing group of
stars discovered by Professor Kurtz himself.
Meanwhile Solar physicist Dr Walsh has been rivalling Mulder and Scully in
investigating his own Astrophysics X-file. Lucky Astronomy buffs in Sydney,
Canberra, Wollengong and Adelaide will get the chance to hear about the magnetic
personality of our closest star, the Sun. His research into the halo of electrified gases
(the corona) that surround the Sun is uncovering fascinating information about its strong
magnetic field. For example, while the light surface of the Sun has a temperature of
6000 degrees, the corona is at a temperature of two million degrees.
"It really is like an X-file", he says. "It is totally counter-intuitive that the Sun's
temperature should rise as you move away from its surface .. .it's like walking away
from a fire and suddenly hitting a hotspot, thousands of times hotter than the fire itself!"
So it's not actually a holiday in the sun or a night out with the stars for the two wellrespected astronomers from the Preston-based University.
"It'll be hard work,", says Dr Walsh. "But we're looking forward to the trip and to
sharing our research with our peers and with the Australian public."
Further details of the International Astronomical Union Conference can be obtained
from the website at . For more information about the work
of the Centre for Astrophysics, go to www.uc or
contact the University of Central Lancashire, tel: 01772 201201.
1 July 2003
Note to editors:
1. Professor Kurtz received his PhD from the University of Texas, USA, in
1976. He was at the University of Cape Town in South Africa from 1977-
2001, when he joined the Centre for Astrophysics at the University of
Central Lancashire, UK. Professor Kurtz is a world authority on the highaccuracy
measurement of the brightness of variable stars. He discovered a
new and unexpected type of variable star, and his work in this area has led to
a greater understanding of the internal structure of such stars.
2. Dr Robert Walsh is currently holding a prestigious Research Fellowship by
the Leverhulme Trust, and will conduct research in Solar Astrophysics,
concentrating on how the Sun's atmosphere is heated. In December 2000, Dr
Walsh was bestowed the title of 'Scientist for the New Century', after
delivering an award-winning lecture at the Royal Institution of Great Britain
in London.
3. Both Dr Walsh and Professor Kurtz can be contacted at the Centre for
Astrophysics, University of Central Lancashire, tel: 01772 201201. For
Media Enquiries, please contact Pam Culley, Media & Public Relations
Office, University of Central Lancashire, tel: 01772 894425,

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