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Release: Sept.. 4, 2001

UI professor receives NSF grant for theoretical astronomy

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Kenneth G. Gayley, assistant professor in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, department of physics and astronomy, has been awarded a three-year, $192,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for theoretical astronomy.

His project -- titled "Are Optically Thick Winds Regulated by the Distribution Over Line Wavelength Rather Than Line Strength?" -- is aimed at understanding how the hottest stars rapidly lose mass. Unlike the sun, this class of stars no longer contains hydrogen. Such stars are shrouded in an outward flow of ionized gas, or stellar wind, believed to be driven by their intense luminosity. Gayley says that the reason such dense winds exist is unknown, adding that his project seeks to determine whether the answer involves the elimination of wavelength gaps within which the wind would be transparent, allowing the light to escape.

Gayley, who received his doctorate from the University of California, San Diego in 1990 and joined the UI faculty in 1997, has research interests in radiative transfer, radiation hydrodynamics and spectral line diagnostics.