Presentation: Where do Baby Stars Come From? With Steve Mairs, James Clerk Maxwell Telescope

Steve Mairs will highlight his research in capturing submillimetre light to probe cold dust in the process of forming stars.

Poster with information found in the content of this post.

SPEAKER: Steve Mairs, Support Astronomer at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope.
TITLE: Where do Baby Stars Come From?
DATE: Friday, Feb 16, 2018.
TIME: 7:00 p.m.
PLACE: ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, 600 ‘Imiloa Place, off of Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the University Park of Science and Technology, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (campus map).


Learn where baby stars originate and the current theory of star formation.

Deep within the cold dust and gas which resides in the Milky Way galaxy, a dramatic story is unfolding: the birth of stars. Understanding the formation and evolution of stars is not only quintessential to describing the visible universe but it is also important for recognizing and appreciating the origins. The sun and planets did not always exist and it is through comparing careful observations of the solar neighborhood to cutting-edge theoretical simulations that scientists are able to investigate the cosmic history and perceive the solar system in the broader context of the Galaxy and, indeed, the universe.

James Clerk Maxwell Telescope
James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, Maunakea

Steve Mairs will highlight his research in capturing submillimetre light to probe cold dust in the process of forming stars. Situated atop Maunakea, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope is the largest single dish telescope of its kind.

Since 2015, Mairs has been working with a large group of astronomers around the world using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope to conduct observational programs known as the JCMT Transient Survey. By the end of 2018, the researchers aim to obtain the deepest ever maps of eight nearby stellar nurseries. The primary goal is to detect brightness variations around forming stars in order to investigate how these brand new suns are currently gaining their mass.

Mairs will share images of star forming regions in the directions of famous constellations like Orion, Perseus, Ophiuchus, and Serpens and compare them to advanced computer simulations at the forefront of the field. He will also show how stellar growth spurts are measured in real time and highlight observations of a “twinkling” young star, EC53, which confirm the existence of a newly discovered planet.


Steve Mairs is a support astronomer at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope. He received his doctor of philosophy in physics and astronomy from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. For the past six years, his focus has been on researching the connection between the largest and the smallest scales in the Milky Way galaxy, specifically in the context of the solar system’s origin.

Prior to relocating to Hilo in September, 2017, Mairs was the outreach coordinator for the observatory at the University of Victoria.

Passionate about science education and outreach, he has hosted many public events and has taught thousands of students of all ages.

Maunakea Skies Program

‘Imiloa’s monthly Maunakea Skies presentations are hosted by Emily Peavy, planetarium technician. The evening’s program includes observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai‘i, with the audience able to view prominent constellations and stars visible during this time of year. Maunakea Skies planetarium presentations are held on the third Friday of each month.


$10, $8 for members (member level discounts apply).  Pre-purchase tickets at ‘Imiloa’s front desk or by phone at 808-932-8901.