AST 221: Stars & the Solar System

Fall 2017, Marten van Kerkwijk

Suggested Topics for Oral Presentations

Below, you will find a range of suggested topics for the presentations. You can start notifying me of your choice of partner (another student) and preferred topic starting Oct. 11th. The deadline is Oct. 23rd, after which I will assign a partner and topic. If you prefer a topic different from the ones listed below, you have to get my approval before the same deadline.

Presentation requirements

  1. Two people in the group should partition their work equally. Easiest is for one to give the presentation and for the other to answer questions. The total time alloted is about 10 minutes (depending on the total number of students), with at most half the time for the presentation and at least half the time for questions/discussions. You will be penalised if your talk runs overtime.
  2. Be physical and quantitative in your discussion — from a presentation by a science major I expect more than just descriptive words. Ask whys and hows, and answer them synthesizing the information you found.
  3. You will fare better if you can produce an estimate -- an estimate that discloses the essence of the phenomenon and gives your audience a good quantitative understanding.
  4. I would discourage using computer slides — you have very little time and have to be physical in your discussion. If you insist, however, you can email a presentation to me and I can project using my laptop.
  5. The audience is encouraged/required to ask questions. You can get up to 2 bonus marks (in addition to the 10 marks for your presentation) if you ask particularly interesting questions. In the past, this has been the most fun part and both the audience and the speakers learn from it.
Category/Date Topics Presenters
Sun & stars (Nov. 17) Age of the Sun/Solar system Ethan Read & Joe Valookaran
FULL Solar interior/solar neutrinos


Sun spots/solar cycle Janssen Woo & Pierino Zindel

Solar/stellar rotation

Binary evolution Emily Chang & Seyon Kugaan

Brown dwarfs Xander Dufresne & Samuel Wong
Stellar evolution (Nov. 22) Star formation in giant molecular cloud Hadya Ashraf & Najihah Saugi
FULL Helium flash Udhay Dogra & Johnson Zheng

Formation of planetary nebulae Chloe Cheng & Alisha Kad

Blue stragglers

Accretion disks Ankita Khanda & Daniela De Armas-Kakorina
Stellar corpses (Nov. 24) Core-collapse supernovae Hansen Jiang & Keslen Murdock
FULL Structure of neutron stars
Pierce Balko & Simon Smith

Pulsars and magnetars Nicholas Pavenel & Nicholas de Sousa

Accreting white dwarfs

Thermonuclear supernovae

Accreting neutron stars and black holes

Neutron star mergers

Gamma-ray bursts Spencer Ki & Ayush Pandhi
Space missions/telescopes (Nov. 29) Curiosity


Jamie LeFort & Kayenta Schmidt

Cisco Juanes & Arthur Qiu


Deflecting an earth-threatening asteroid Ariane Guiot & Kevin Rodrigues

Moon or Mars colonies Andrew Dyck & Jacob Shekter
Giant (exo)planets (Dec. 1) Cassini Janson Fu & Matthew MacDonald

Formation and cores

Atmospheres, winds

Giant planet moons

Dynamical interaction with other planets

The Giant Red Spot

Saturn's rings Haoqing Chen & Jiawen Shen

Evaporating hot Jupiters Celina Pasiecznik & Julia Pasiecznik
Terrestrial (exo)planets (Dec. 4) Habitable zones around stars
Ryan Frost & Ling Yuen
FULL Greenhouse effect

Atmospheric composition

Tornados and cyclones Zhao Peng Tao & Yoshia Yoshimoto

Planetary cores


Planetary magnetic fields Jia Xi Chen & Wei Wei Su

Planetary tectonics

White dwarf mergers Raphael Kinney & Luka Vujeva