Halley Darling ‘13 attends NSF-Sponsored Workshop at Arecibo Observatory, Organized by Prof. Koopmann

Prof. Koopmann and Halley Darling ‘13 at the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico

Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Rebecca Koopmann, ’89, organized the fourth annual NSF-sponsored ALFALFA (Arecibo Legacy Fast ALFA) Undergraduate Team Workshop at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico January 16-20, 2011. The Arecibo Observatory is home to the 305-m diameter Arecibo telescope, the largest telescope in the world.

Halley Darling, ’13, a Physics & Astronomy major, accompanied Koopmann and a select group of 16 other undergraduate students and 12 faculty members from 14 colleges and universities across the United States. Together they conducted observing runs, toured the telescope, and worked on group activities designed to model scientific collaborations.

As part of the workshop, Darling presented a poster about her Summer 2010 research project at Union (sponsored by NASA New York Space Grant). Entitled “ALFALFA HI Observations of the NGC 5846 Group of Galaxies,” the poster described the Union team’s research on environmental effects (such as gravitational interactions) on a concentration of galaxies. Ana Mikler, ’12, and SreyNoch Chin, ’12, were coauthors on the poster.

Darling used her new skills to help Koopmann conduct a remote observing run from her Union campus lab in Science and Engineering. Two first-year students, Lucas Viani ’14 and Alexandrea Safiq ’14, were enthusiastic participants. They can be seen steering the telescope on the ALFALFA blog.

The ALFALFA project, led by astronomers Riccardo Giovanelli and Martha Haynes of Cornell, is a multiyear survey of a large area of the sky at radio wavelengths appropriate for the detection of neutral hydrogen gas in other galaxies. It is expected that more than 30,000 galaxies out to a distance of 750 million light years will be detected by the survey.