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Citadel News Service
25 Jun 2007

Physics professor published in journal Nature Physics

Saul Adelman, professor of physics at The Citadel since 1989, will be published in the June 25 edition of the journal Nature Physics.

Adelman and two co-authors write about weather in stellar atmospheres. According to Adelman, stars also experience weather.

Adelman, Oleg Kochukhov and Nikolai Piskunov of Uppsala University in Sweden, and Austin F. Gulliver of Brandon University in Canada challenges the century-long belief that spots on the stellar surface always form under the influence of strong magnetic fields as occurs in the Sun. Using an indirect image reconstruction technique, the authors construct detailed maps of mercury spots on the surface of alpha Andromedae, the brightest star in the constellation of Andromeda. They reveal that, while this star does not possess a measurable magnetic field, it shows a non-uniform distribution of mercury over its surface.

By tracking the mercury spot geometry over a seven-year observing period at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Canada and the Special Astrophysical Observatory in Russia, the authors discovered that chemical clouds in alpha Andromedae slowly evolve with time, a phenomenon strikingly similar to the variation of clouds in the atmosphere of Earth and other planets. This first observation of weather in a stellar atmosphere provides a new insight into the mechanism of the natural formation of complex systems. Further it also offers a possible solution for the long-standing puzzle of the chemical diversity among stars without magnetic fields of similar mass and age.

Adelman is a graduate of the University of Maryland, and the California Institute of Technology. He teaches calculus based physics at The Citadel.

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