UI Astronomer to Discuss Lives, Deaths of Galaxies in February

UI Astronomer to Discuss Lives, Deaths of Galaxies in February

Staerkel Planetarium to Present Kaler Lecture on Galaxies

Galaxies will feature in February's edition of the James B. Kaler Science Lecture series at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College.

On Friday, Feb. 4, at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Decker French, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Illinois, will present "The Lives and Deaths of Galaxies." All Kaler lecture tickets are $2 and are free for Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium members.

While galaxies like the Milky Way are actively forming new stars, other galaxies appear to have rapidly ended their star formation after an intense starburst. What makes these galaxies stop forming stars? Researchers have some interesting evidence that supermassive black holes may play an important role.

French researches how galaxies evolve over time using telescope observations of visible light and radio waves. Since light has a finite speed, astronomers observe more distant galaxies to see how they appeared at earlier points in the history of the universe. This information gives astronomers a better sense of how galaxies behave over time.

French received her undergraduate degrees in physics and planetary science at MIT, then earned her PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Arizona. She was a Hubble post-doctoral fellow at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, Calif., before joining the UIUC in 2020.

Kaler Science lectures are filmed by Parkland College Television (PCTV) for later viewing on the station. After the talk, the seats will be cleaned before the 8 p.m. show, "Skywatchers of Africa," a program about the astronomy of diverse African cultures. Admission to fulldome shows is $6 for adults or $5 for children, students, or seniors. Please visit for the show schedule or call 217/351-2568 for information about booking the dome.

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