In a new book published this month, MIT astronomer Anna Frebel chronicles her work as a stellar archaeologist, scanning the skies with telescopes and spectroscopes to study ancient stars and their chemical composition. Frebel and her colleagues have identified some of the oldest known stars, which help researchers learn about what the universe looked like in its first billion years.
“Why is that interesting? Because stars in general make all the chemical elements we know from the periodic table, inside their cores,” said Frebel in an interview with MIT News. “So everything we know and love, all the matter we’re made of today, had to be cooked up in stars and supernova explosions for billions of years.”
In her book Frebel highlights contributions to astronomy made by women, including the “Harvard Computers,” dozens of women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who catalogued stars, classified spectra, and did their own research in the Harvard College Observatory. “My work kind of goes back to many of the things they did,” said Frebel. “And I find it really important to remember what has been done before, and what the contributions of women were in science. In my book, it comes through here and there, that I’m just one of those sisters, and that we keep doing what we’re doing, and so will many others after me, I’m sure.”
Explore Professor Frebel’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.
Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009, they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series that links news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.