ASNY Poster Abstracts (Saturday Session)

Measuring Cosmic Velocity Field Evolution with a Novel Millimeter-wave Spectrometer

Victoria Butler
RIT

The Tomographic Ionized Carbon Mapping Experiment (TIME) is a novel millimeter-wave imaging spectrometer designed to make the first high speed kinetic Sunyaev-Zeldovich (kSZ) effect survey. TIME is a heritage instrument in that it improves upon several previous instruments attempting to measure this affect. Its most important advances include atmospheric monitoring channels for noise reduction, and measurements in a waveband of roughly 200-300 GHz, where the tSZ signal is at a null and the kSZ signal is at a peak. This high significance kSZ signal can then be used to compute the peculiar velocities of hundreds of galaxy clusters, and lead to a mapping of the cosmic velocity field at various epochs. This also correlates to the cosmic gravitational field, and is a direct tracer for the effect of dark matter on large scale structure evolution.

 

An Analysis Using H-alpha to Probe Star Formation in the Filament Behind the Virgo Supercluster

Natasha Collova
Siena College

After imaging a filamentary structure behind the Virgo Supercluster at Kitt Peak National Observatory in May, we obtained radial profiles for several galaxies indicating star formation. In doing so, we compared the spatial distribution of this star formation in the filament to a nearby group of galaxies. Galaxies in filaments have been known to funnel into denser environments thereby sometimes depleting star formation.The goal of this project was to compare galaxies in the denser group, to galaxies in the filament to confirm and probe the various mechanisms that are possible culprits of diminishing star formation. The Virgo Supercluster is a highly studied environment, and we look forward to comparing our results to previously published data.

 

Do Perturbations from Dwarf Galaxies Produce Moving Groups in the Milky Way Disk?

Peter A. Craig, Heidi Jo Newberg, Sukanya Chakrabarti
RPI

We compare Solar neighborhood disk moving groups with velocity perturbations produced in hydrodynamic simulations of dwarf galaxy interactions with the disk. The hydrodynamic simulations were generated using Gadget 2, and mimic the interaction of the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy and several others with the Milky Way. The properties of the identified moving groups change as the simulations evolve. We identified moving groups in regions of the simulation that are within 1 kpc of the nominal location of the Sun (8 kpc from the Galactic center) that are similar to moving groups observed within the Milky Way. Such groups are found at locations all the way around the disk. This suggests that some of the groups that are observed near our sun are a result of an interaction between the Milky Way and a colliding dwarf galaxy. It also suggests that the existence of such groups here implies the existence of similar groups in other parts of the Milky Way.

 

Analysis of Dark Frames and the Consistency of Flat Field Frames

Sean Dempsey-Gregory
Fredonia

A 17 inch PlaneWave Instruments telescope with a SBIG STT-8300M CCD camera was recently installed on the State University of New York at Fredonia campus, for use in education, outreach, and research. Our current goal is to characterize the noise properties of the camera, in particular the noise added by calibration procedures, so that we are able to minimize the noise added by calibration to our science images. In order to achieve this goal we have analyzed the relationship between the number of dark frames used and the noise in the combined master dark frame. We have also performed a preliminary analysis on the stability and consistency of flat field frames across different nights.

 

Molecular Line Emission in the Disk Orbiting the Young, Close Binary V4046 Sgr

Annie Dickson-Vandervelde
RIT

We present analysis of a suite of subarcsecond ALMA Band 6 (1.1 – 1.4 mm) molecular line images of the circumbinary, protoplanetary disk orbiting V4046 Sgr. The ~20 Myr-old V4046 Sgr system, which lies a mere ~73 pc from Earth, consists of a close (separation ~10 Rsun) pair of roughly solar-mass stars that are orbited by a gas-rich crcumbinary disk extending to ~350 AU in radius. We summarize the insight into the physical and chemical processes within this evolved protoplanetary disk that can be obtained from comparisons of the various emission-line morphologies with each other and with that of the continuum (large-grain) emission on size scales of tens of AU.

 

Quasi-normal modes of black holes in scalar-tensor theories with non-minimal derivative couplings

Ruifeng Dong, Jeremy Sakstein, and Dejan Stojkovic
SUNY Buffalo

We study the quasi-normal modes of asymptotically anti-de Sitter black holes in a class of shift-symmetric Horndeski theories where a gravitational scalar is derivatively coupled to the Einstein tensor. The space-time differs from exact Schwarzschild-anti-de Sitter, resulting in a different effective potential for the quasi-normal modes and a different spectrum. We numerically compute this spectrum for a massless test scalar coupled both minimally to the metric, and non-minimally to the gravitational scalar. We find interesting differences from the Schwarzschild-anti-de Sitter black hole found in general relativity.

 

Evolution of Protostellar Outflows

Kassidy Howard
Fredonia

Protostellar outflows, which are ubiquitous in the star formation process, remove mass and angular momentum from the forming star and trace the underlying mass accretion process. In an effort to better understand how outflows evolve and how they regulate star formation, we have previously measured the dynamical properties for a large sample of isolated protostellar outflows. The goal of this present research project is to assemble complete spectral energy distributions for each protostar, calculate evolutionary signatures for each object, and place them into a relative evolutionary sequence, so that we may study how outflows evolve as protostars evolve.

 

New Algorithm Identifies Tidal Streams Oriented Along our Line-of-Sight

Ziyi Lin, Heidi Jo Newberg, Paul Amy, Charles Martin, and Keighley Rockcliffe
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The known dwarf galaxy tidal streams in the Milky Way are primarily oriented perpendicular to our line-of-sight. That is because they are concentrated into an observable higher-surface-brightness feature at a particular distance, or because they tightly cluster in line-of-sight velocity in a particular direction. Streams that are oriented along our line-of-sight are spread over a large range of distances and velocities. However, these distances and velocities are correlated in predicable ways. We used a set of randomly oriented Milky Way orbits to develop a technique that bins stars in combinations of distance and velocity that are likely for tidal streams. We applied this technique to identify previously unknown tidal streams in a set of blue horizontal branch stars in the first quadrant from Data Release 10 of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). This project was supported by NSF grant AST 16-15688, a Rensselaer Presidential Fellowship, the NASA/NY Space Grant fellowship, and contributions made by The Marvin Clan, Babette Josephs, Manit Limlamai, and the 2015 Crowd Funding Campaign to Support Milky Way Research.

 

Don’t Be Blinded By the Light

Courtney Maki, Joshua Thomas, Mike Ramsdell
Clarkson University

The August 21, 2017 solar eclipse sparked an interest in science. Many people viewed the Sun with eyewear approved by NASA with the ISO 12312-2:2015 standard printed on them, while others purchased potentially unsafe eyewear, or used homemade eyewear with commonly available items. We present a relatively simple experiment that can be done in a classroom setting to demonstrate why it is unsafe to look at the Sun with non-approved eyewear. This experiment can connect students with real-world events and perhaps spark a deeper interest in STEM. Students compare spectra of the Sun taken through various eyewear to the officially approved eyewear. The students also learn about light that is not perceived by the eye, but let through the eyewear that can cause irreparable damage to the human eye.

 

Analysis of micrometeorites at the National Synchrotron Light Source II; Introducing secondary education teachers to beamline science

Lauren Osojnak(1), Bernadette Uzzi(2)
(1) Vassar College
(2) Brookhaven National Laboratory

A group of high school science teachers from Long Island were granted beam time on
the Submicron Resolution X-Ray Spectroscopy (SRX) Beamline at the National Synchrotron Light
Source II (NSLS II) at Brookhaven National Laboratory to analyze micrometeorites. I
collaborated with this group to facilitate the data analysis of their micrometeorite samples and
to introduce secondary education teachers to the NSLS II. This project has both a scientific and
educational purpose. Scientifically, analyzing micrometeorites with the NSLS II may provide
insight into the origin of our universe. Educationally, this was an opportunity to demonstrate
how to conduct a science research project to teachers and students using the NSLS II. Spatially
resolved X-ray Absorption near edge Structure (XANES) and X-Ray fluorescence spectroscopy
were used to identity specific elements in micrometeorites in this experiment. The beam used
during this experiment was an undulator beamline that enables x-ray fluorescence and
nanometer spatial resolutions. Micrometerorites (MMs) are 2-100μm in diameter and slowly
fall to the Earth trapped in atmospheric wind and rain. These teachers, along with their
students, created their own experiments to collect these MMs and the samples were brought
to the NSLS II to be analyzed. I used PyXRF, a python based analysis package, to analyze the
data from the beamline. I also used the Athena Program which has the capabilities to process
data from X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopy. This data analysis is still in process, but should
confirm that some of the samples collected are MMs and provide more comprehensive data
analysis of the composition of MMs in general. This was both an educational and scientific
opportunity for me as I worked with high school science teachers and beamline scientists. I
added new data analysis programs to my repertoire and spent time with science teachers who
were eager to continue experimenting as well as sharing that passion with their students.

 

Challenges and Joy of Teaching an Undergraduate Course in Gravitational Astronomy

Manju Prakash
Hofstra University

 Hundred years after the prediction by Albert Einstein, the gravitational waves were detected directly on September 14, 2015 at 5:51 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time by the twin LASER Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatories (LIGO) detectors  located in Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford, Washington. These gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time and originated when a 36 solar mass black hole merged with its binary companion of 29 solar mass black hole, nearly 1.3 billion light years away. These observations confirm the dawn of gravitational astronomy and have opened whole new frontiers for understanding exciting phenomena occurring in the cosmos, such as collision of black holes, dense matter inside neutron stars, and early universe. Electromagnetic waves that are currently used as a tool in astronomy are inadequate to shed light on these phenomena.

Gravitational Astronomy holds the potential to bring a paradigm shift in how we view and understand our universe. This presentation will discuss different teaching approaches, strategies, and curriculum modules to teach Gravitational Astronomy to undergraduates students. These efforts will train a next generation of scientists and teachers who will advance the field of gravitational astronomy through education, novel experimental, and theoretical ideas.

 

Mapping the circumnuclear gas of NGC 4180 and MCG-06-30-015

Trent Seelig
RIT

The growth process of supermassive black holes (SMBH) in the centers of galaxies has been observed to influence the stellar evolution of the host galaxy by radiative and kinematic feedback mechanisms. At distances of tens of parsecs from the nucleus, how does the inwards flow of material fueling the growth process relate to the luminosity and the kinematic power of the Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) and associated outflows? As part of a larger team studying AGN spanning a broad range of powers we are analyzing two galaxies MCG-06-30-015 and NGC 4180. Observations were performed with the GEMINI Multi Object Spectrograph Integral Field Units(GEMINI GMOS IFU) located in Hawaii and Chile. Our goal is to map the gas flows and disentangle the non circular motions from the circular rotation patterns to determine the rates of mass inflow and outflow. We search for evidence of structures that may be feeding the AGN as well as feedback resulting from the SMBH growth. IFU datasets allow us to produce maps of the motion of the gas, as well as its temperature and density, in the central region of these galaxies to
determine these parameters. The results of our study will eventually be included with those of similar studies to understand the relation of galactic host properties and the properties of their AGN.

 

Tracing the Origin of Black Hole Accretion Through Numerical Hydrodynamic Simulations

Sandy Spicer
Siena College

It is now widely accepted that supermassive black holes co-evolve with galaxies, and may play an important role in galaxy evolution. However, the origin of the gas that fuels black hole accretion, and the resulting observable radiation, is not well understood or quantified. We use high resolution “zoom-in” cosmological numerical hydrodynamic simulations including modeling of black hole accretion and feedback to trace the inflow and outflow of gas within galaxies from the early formation period up to present day. We track gas particles that black holes interact with over time to trace the origin of the gas that feeds supermassive black holes. These gas particles can come from satellite galaxies, cosmological accretion, or be a result of stellar evolution. We aim to track the origin of the gas particles that accrete onto the central black hole as a function of halo mass and cosmic time. Answering these questions will help us understand the connection between galaxy and black hole evolution.

 

Resolved Stellar Populations in High Redshift Galaxies

Meaghann Stoelting
RIT

I aim to investigate individual stellar populations within galaxies from the COSMOS survey between 1 < z < 3. Using the relationship between global and local galaxy properties, one can study galaxy evolution on a small, resolved scale for an individual galaxy. To achieve this, I am fitting spectral energy distributions (SEDs) per resolution element for a sample of galaxies in order to derive galaxy properties such as, star formation rate (SFR), stellar mass, stellar age, and dust content. From these SEDs, we can define particular regions in each galaxy that have differing local properties and compare these regions to the overall integrated galaxy properties. Defining these properties locally can tell us how galaxy structure evolves internally, which in turn, we can relate to overall the evolutionary sequence

 

Time Delay Orbiting Around A Schwarzschild Black Hole

Yifan Tang
Ithaca College

Imagine a spaceship starting from very far away in flat spacetime region and travels towards a Schwarzschild black hole. I am interested in finding how much the time dilates in the reference frame of the spaceship with respect to the one of the observer located at far away. In this project, Schwarzschild metric is used in all my calculations. I investigated the time delays for various initial conditions determined by energy of the spaceship per unit mass and angular momentum of the spaceship per unit mass. The results are presented in both bar graphs and physical orbits.

Order or Disorder? A Kinematic Analysis of Starburst Galaxies at z ~ 1.5

Brittany Vanderhoof
RIT

Luminous infrared galaxies are gas-rich, starburst galaxies that are common around redshift 2-3. Understanding the dynamics of these unique objects gives insight into the major contributing processes that shape the galaxies we observe today. Using H alpha measurements from Keck telescope, I conduct a kinematic analysis of the bulk motion of these galaxies to determine the role of mergers in the morphology and extreme luminosity of these objects.

Making Lemonade out of LEMON: Improved Photometry Processing Software

Mackenna Wood, Joshua Thomas
Clarkson University

Photometry is the measurement of the brightness of stars. This information can be useful in the study of stars, and particularly the study of variable stars, the brightness of which changes over time. When studying variable stars it is often necessary to view the brightness of the star over a period of time spanning multiple observations. While there is software available for the analysis and plotting of photometric data, it is not capable of combining the data from multiple observation sets. The goal of this research is to create a program which will work with existing software to combine multiple observational sets, do long term photometric analysis of stars, and flag potentially variable stars. By being able to easily view the photometry of stars over extended periods of time it will be easier to notice changes in brightness over long periods, or confirm changes in brightness over short periods. The additional ability of the program to remove noisy stars and mark potentially variable stars will allow the astronomer to narrow the number of stars which require personal attention. This will then be used as a tool to locate and analyze variable stars.

 

Measuring the Mass of a Supercluster with the Arecibo Pisces-Perseus Supercluster Survey

Zihui Zeng, Rebecca Koopmann, Undergraduate ALFALFA Team
Union College

The Arecibo Pisces-Perseus Supercluster Survey (APPSS) aims to determine the total mass of the Pisces- Perseus Supercluster by measuring the peculiar velocities of a large sample of galaxies that are falling into it. By using emission from atomic hydrogen (HI), we measure the Hubble distance, HI mass, and total mass of galaxies in the vicinity of Pisces Perseus which will be compared to the Tully- Fisher distance to determine peculiar velocities. In this project, we mainly focused on analyzing the galaxies in a slice of sky at 35 degrees declination. Many of the galaxies are lower mass galaxies that were too faint to be detected by the ALFALFA HI survey. This work has been supported by NSF AST – 1637339.

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