April 2, 2009 "Our Sun – Its Influence on Climate and Life" to be Discussed at Library of Congress, April 22

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Science, Technology and Business Division (202) 707-5664; Holly Gilbert of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (301) 286-3042

Edward Guinan, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Villanova University, is a scientist on NASA-sponsored research programs that explore the behavior of the sun – and stars like the sun – to determine the effects of their radiation, magnetic activity and ejected plasmas on planets and life.

Guinan will address the topic in a lecture titled “Our Sun – Its Influence on Climate and Life” at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 22, in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; tickets are not needed.

The illustrated lecture is presented through a partnership between the Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

The sun has been a reliable energy source for more than 4.5 billion years. Scientists have learned that X-ray and ultraviolet emissions of the young sun were 1,000 times stronger than today’s sun. Guinan will discuss how the young sun’s high-energy emissions played a major role in the loss of all water on Venus and much of Mars’ original atmosphere, and how the Earth survived the early ravages of the young sun.

In addition, Guinan will address the effects of the sun’s magnetic-generated energy on the Earth’s climate, possibly playing a major role in the “Little Ice Age” from 1500 to 1850, a time when the sun had low levels of magnetic activity and the Earth had a cooler climate. Also, he will discuss the role the sun may have played in global warming over the past 150 years. Is the sun to blame? Guinan will conclude with a discussion of the sun’s future and how the sun’s ever-increasing luminosity affects the Earth’s long-term climate and its habitability.

The principal investigator on more than 40 NASA research projects, Guinan has utilized more than 10 different orbiting space observatories, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Chandra and XMM-Newton X-Ray telescopes.

Guinan also studies the habitability of planets hosted by other stars. He is working on improving the cosmic distance scale by measuring accurate distances to nearby galaxies using binary stars. Under a grant from the National Science Foundation, Guinan is developing an artificial intelligence program for coping with the deluge of data streaming in from ground-based and NASA orbiting missions.

Guinan has published more than 500 papers, edited three books and has been the recipient of the Outstanding Research Award and Alumni Award from Villanova University. Guinan earned his academic degrees from Villanova and from the University of Pennsylvania.

Guinan has served as president of the International Astronomical Union’s Commission 42 on Close Binary Stars and on Division V Variable Stars. Since 2006, he has served as co-chair of the astronomy education and outreach program for the International Astronomical Union.

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PR 09-068
ISSN 0731-3527