I'm enthralled by dirt -- at least the astronomical kind. The dust out of which
our planet formed, originally came from the stars. For many years, I have
been studying the conditions under which this dust condenses out of hotter gases.
Novae, for example, are stars that undergo non-fatal explosions that expel enormous
amounts of dust into space. I have played major roles in the decades-long
planning and development of the Spitzer Infrared Telescope, now bringing us
spectacular images of our dusty space environment. I am looking forward to using
the infrared-optimized LBT to study dust in interesting systems such as the RY
Scuti binary system, with two stars orbiting each other so closely that they touch.
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