With every passing hour our solar system comes forty-three thousand miles closer to globular cluster 13 in the constellation Hercules, and still there are some misfits who continue to insist that there is no such thing as progress.
- Ransom K. Ferm
Stars are the fundamental building blocks of the
Universe. The two research observatories operated by the Astronomy Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield study 20 nearby hot stars (spectral-type B), larger and more massive than the Sun, that change their energy output, and hence their brightness, in a few minutes to a few days.
The Henry R. Barber Research Observatory is dedicated to the study of changes in the spectra of these stars at exactly the same time that the dedicated photometric observatory studies changes in brightness of these same stars. The two observatories working together give researchers high quality data with which to analyze the underlying physical mechanisms of these B-type stars.
It is thought that the observations of these massive stars are the result of a complex interaction of thin disks of gas orbiting the stars, exchanging the material with them, rapid stellar rotation, powerful magnetic fields, and periodic swelling and contraction of the stars.
It is important to understand these stars and how they fit into the overall physical development and evolution of all stars, including the Sun, and hence in long-term changes in the stellar Universe.