QUO Fast Radio Bursts

A Star Is Born ft. Sarah Sadavoy

February 15, 2021 Queen's Observatory Season 2 Episode 5
QUO Fast Radio Bursts
A Star Is Born ft. Sarah Sadavoy
Show Notes Chapter Markers


  • Prof. Sarah Sadavoy is an Assistant Professor at Queen's University
  • She studies star forming regions and the dust within them
  • Star forming regions are large clouds of gas that compress under their own gravity. The gas collects tor form stars and disks of material around the stars
  • Dust in astronomy refers mostly to silicate and carbon particles, unlike the dust you find around the house
  • protoplanetary disks are disks of dust and gas that form around new stars
  • It is easier to observe star forming regions in infrared light

Studying Star Forming Regions:

  • The ALMA observatory has many telescopes that work together to take excellent astronomical pictures 
  • Light from star forming regions is often polarized, this can be from scattering or from magnetic alignment of dust grains
  • Sarah finds that protoplanetary disks have polarized light from scattering while the filaments between stars have polarized light from magnetic alignment (although it can change depending on factors like the dust grain size)
  • Dust plays a critical role in star formation, and is the basis of planet formation
  • Dust is created by dying stars, although the mechanisms are still being worked out

Going Bigger:

  • Dust wouldn't have been around when the first stars formed, meaning they were possibly quite different from stars we see today. More research will be needed to find out
  • The dust we see today may be able to tell us what those first stars were like
  • Star forming regions have many stars forming at the same time, this has several effects
  • Stars often form so close that they become a pair (or triple, or more) and can affect each others protoplanetary disk
  • Bright stars can change nearby protoplanetary disks
  • New material can be added to protoplanetary disks after they first form by following filaments

Links to Science Outreach Material:

Special thanks to Colin Vendromin for the music, also thanks to Zac Kenny for the logo!

Break 1
Dust and Star Formation
Break 2
The Big Picture
End Note