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W.I. Hartkopf (U.S. Naval Observatory)
Just how many stellar masses are actually known to 1% or 5% or even 10% accuracy? How well do they really define the Mass-Luminosity relation? Is anything known about the M-L relation for post-Main Sequence stars? What progress is being made in improving the situation? How much of an impact did Hipparcos make? What about the new interferometers?
This talk will focus on the advances which are finally being made in the determination of stellar masses. I believe we are about to enter a "golden age" for stellar evolution studies, when masses can be determined to sufficient accuracy and in sufficient numbers to define the M-L relation for different luminosity classes and perhaps even discern the subtle effects of metallicity and age. I'll discuss the new observing tools (now at hand or about to come on line) which will be responsible for bringing about these advances in our knowledge of this basic, but all-important stellar property.