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The University of Tennessee

University of Tennessee | Department of Physics and Astronomy | Theoretical Astrophysic Group

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The ultimate fate of a star depends primarily on its mass when thermonuclear fusion first ignites in its center and whether it is a single star, streaming alone through the Galaxy, or if it shares an orbit with companion star. For single stars whose mass is less than approximately 8 times the mass of the sun, their ultimate fate is to become a Red Giant star and ultimately loose their hydrogen-rich envelope as a Planetary Nebula. The core of such a star becomes a White Dwarf, composed of Helium or a mixtures of Carbon and Oxygen or Oxygen and Neon, depending on the original mass of the star. Left alone, this white dwarf slowly cools and fades from view. However, if the white dwarf has a binary companion, as many stars do, other fates may await, including recurrent explosions as a Nova or a catastrophic death as a Thermonuclear Supernova. The fate of a more massive star is a short life (by astronomical standards) and a violent death. At the end of its life, the collapse of the star's core to form a neutron star (or perhaps a black hole) unleashes a burst of neutrinos and a Core Collapse Supernova.

Our research covers a variety of topics in nuclear astrophysics, including


All senior members of the group are involved in supervision of graduate and undergraduate research. Senior members, principally Guidry and Hix, also teach courses in the UTK Department of Physics and Astronomy.

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Guidry has also authored several textbooks, including

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Members of the group have given a number of public lectures to schools and interested civic organizations. Recent examples include

The Stories Your Atoms Could Tell, a lecture delivered at the Sigma Xi Annual Meeting & Student Conference, November 2006. See Presentation (Movie)