Kurtis A. Williams

A Large, Homogeneous Open Cluster White Dwarf Sample
Contact information:
University of Texas at Austin
Astronomy Dept.
1 University Station C1400
Austin TX 78712
Fellowship status:
Starting year: 2006
AAPF alumnus
Fellowship institution: University of Texas at Austin
Current (or last known) position: Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University Commerce
Research Interests:

White dwarfs are the slowly fading embers left behind when a star exhausts its fuel supply. Measurements of the masses and temperatures of white dwarfs allow us to study the end stages of stellar evolution, such as how much mass a star loses as a red giant and what mass of star explodes as a supernova instead of forming a white dwarf. I am working on building a large sample of white dwarfs to study in regard to these questions. For something completely different, I also work on studying groups of galaxies at distances of several billion light-years (z~0.2-0.75, for those who speak redshifts), as I look for evidence of how the galaxies in these groups have changed over time.

Education and Outreach Interests:

I run a website called Professor Astronomy in an attempt to describe the exciting daily life of professional scientists and astronomers. I also assist with a yearly continuing education course for science teachers at McDonald Observatory, in which we introduce teachers to research involving white dwarfs using a series of activities closely tied to national science teaching standards. The teachers are encouraged to use these activities with their own students to illustrate basic concepts in physics.