HFC’s first time hosting regional astronomy conference

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A group of people who attended the COMO conference posing for a picture.

In mid-May, HFC hosted the annual astronomy conference called Compact Objects in Michigan and Ontario (COMO) for the first time and pulled off a very successful event.

"Last year we attended COMO at Wayne State University, and recent HFC alumnus Anthony Preston presented the preliminary results of the black hole research we were doing with the Chandra telescope. This year we hosted COMO at HFC, and Cortney Rinehart, a current student, presented on the preparatory science we're doing with the LSST telescope. To transition from first-time attendee to host in just one year speaks volumes about the drive and dedication of our research team, as well as the enthusiastic support HFC gives to its students when they are pursuing their career dreams,” said HFC physics and astronomy instructor Jesse Mason.

Researchers in from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Canada

Representatives from colleges and universities in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and even Canada attended COMO. NASA Hubble Fellow Dr. Elias Aydi of Michigan State University gave the keynote presentation titled, “OUR ANCESTORS: The Evolution of Stars.”

“The conference exists to bring together researchers and promote interaction on topics such as white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes,” said Mason. “Dr. Aydi told the stellar origin story of the matter in our bodies, which is how we trace elements to ancient stars that exploded in supernovas, generating and scattering the heavier elements that are necessary for life.”

Putting HFC on the map in astronomy research

Mason’s student research group, the Dead Stars Society, served as ambassadors at COMO. Among them were Preston and Rinehart.

“This event was a great turnout!” said Rinehart. “We had many researchers with great presentations and discussion, bringing new insight and information to all of us. We are all so proud of how it turned out and proud of the opportunity to be host at HFC. I am grateful to have the opportunity to present on our research group, the Dead Stars Society, and to connect with others about extending our research abilities for their purposes.”

Preston echoed Rinehart’s sentiments.

“COMO was incredible! This was an amazing experience that I hope will put HFC on the map in the research game in the future!” he said. “Being able to hear from so many different researchers from different institutions was amazing. I am incredibly happy to have been a part of bringing the conference to HFC.”

Related Content: National Geographic’s “Black Holes 101”