Where do baby stars come from? Telescope astronomer to deliver galactic insight during talk at ‘Imiloa

  • Steve Mairs
  • Image courtesy of NASA Eagle nebula, pillars of creation.

Deep within the cold dust and gas that reside in the Milky Way Galaxy, a dramatic story is unfolding: the birth of stars.

Understanding the formation and evolution of stars is not only quintessential to describing the visible universe, it also is important for recognizing and appreciating our origins.


The sun and planets did not always exist and it is through comparing careful observations of our solar neighborhood to cutting-edge theoretical simulations that researchers are able to investigate our cosmic history and perceive our solar system in the broader context of the galaxy and, indeed, the universe.

Learn where baby stars originate and the current theory of star formation at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 during ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s next Maunakea Skies talk, presented by Steve Mairs, support astronomer at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope.

Mairs will highlight his research in capturing submillimeter light to probe cold dust in the process of forming stars. Situated atop Maunakea, JCMT is the largest single dish telescope of its kind.

Since 2015, Mairs has worked with a large group of astronomers around the world using the JCMT to conduct observational programs known as the JCMT Transient Survey.

By the end of 2018, they aim to obtain the deepest ever maps of eight nearby stellar nurseries. Their primary goal is to detect brightness variations around forming stars in order to investigate how these new suns are currently gaining their mass.

Mairs will share images of star-forming regions in the directions of famous constellations such as Orion, Perseus, Ophiuchus and Serpens and compare them to advanced computer simulations at the forefront of the field. He also will show how stellar growth spurts are measured in real time and highlight observations of a “twinkling” young star, EC53, which confirm the existence of a newly discovered planet.

Mairs received his Ph.D. in physics and astronomy at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. For the past six years, his focus has been on researching the connection between the largest and the smallest scales in the Milky Way, specifically in the context of the solar system’s origin.

Passionate about science education and outreach, he has hosted many public events and taught thousands of students of all ages.

Hosted by planetarium technician Emily Peavy, ‘Imiloa’s monthly Maunakea Skies program includes observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawaii, with the audience able to view prominent constellations and stars visible during this time of year.


Maunakea Skies planetarium presentations are the third Friday of each month. General admission tickets are $10, $8 for ‘Imiloa members (member-level discounts apply). Prepurchase tickets at ‘Imiloa’s front desk or by phone at 932-8901.

For more information about ‘Imiloa, visit www.ImiloaHawaii.org or call 932-8901.

  1. bmairs February 2, 2018 7:40 am

    Congratulations Steven!

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