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Special Talk with Maxwell Moe


Title: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Eclipsing Binaries

Relatively massive B-type stars with closely orbiting stellar companions can evolve to produce Type Ia supernovae, X-ray binaries, millisecond pulsars, stripped core-collapse supernovae, neutron star mergers, gamma-ray bursts, and sources of gravitational waves. However, the formation mechanism, intrinsic frequency, and evolutionary processes of B-type binaries are poorly understood. Fortunately, large samples of B-type eclipsing binaries (EBs) in the nearby Magellanic Cloud galaxies provide a unique perspective into massive binaries with low metallicities, extreme mass ratios, and intermediate orbital periods. While analyzing this large dataset, we serendipitously discovered a new class of nascent EBs embedded in the hearts of star-forming H II regions. I will discuss how the measured binary statistics of B-type stars constrain the formation models of massive binaries, give powerful diagnostics for the evolution of binaries and their environments, and provide initial conditions for binary population synthesis. As an incoming post-doc, I will share my plans for possible future research projects, including studies of Type Ia supernovae, X-ray binaries, binary star formation and pre-MS evolution, triple star dynamics, mass transfer and tidal evolution in close binaries, dust evolution and feedback in H II regions, and the search for extreme mass-ratio binaries via photometric variability monitoring and interferometry.

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