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Observing 27 Euterpe the Asteroid
College Park Scholars Academic Showcase
May 6, 2016
Shervin Razazi, [email protected], SDU
Research Question
How can we determine the rotation rate of an
Why Research This?
Astronomers use the data in order to find out more
specific properties of asteroids. For example, an
asteroid with a rotation period of under 2.2 hours is
generally considered too small to be a self sustaining
structure, which means that while in the asteroid belt
they are too small to be held together by themselves
This suggests that these smaller bodies were once
parts of larger asteroids. The data from all the
thousands of asteroids being observe allow us to learn
more and more about the solar system and its origins.
My Project group is called Explore the Universe
and we are a group of mostly SDU scholars
students who conduct research on various
observable astronomical phenomena. My specific
project was to observe an asteroid and then
determine the rotation rate of that asteroid. The
asteroid I ended up observing is named 27
Photo C.R. Shervin Razazi
• Weather
• Clouds
• Humidity
• Wind
• Position of Asteroid
• Past the horizon
• Position of nearby stars
• Time
• Asteroid not observable at some times
of the night
• Hard to go observe at 3 am
How This Affected Me
Doing this project was not my first choice. As a Chemical
Engineer astronomy is not something I have ever studied or
thought I would ever be doing. Even though it is not relevant
to my major it did teach me how hard it is to collect accurate
scientific data. After spending time on this project I have
learned how to observe space phenomena. This project also
taught me a lot about responsibility and how to manage my
time in order to meet project deadlines while balancing
schoolwork at the same time.
• Analyze with Astro Image J
• Calibrate raw images
• Align calibrated photos
• Generate light curve
• Gives a lot of information about asteroid
• The time difference between peaks is the
estimated rotation period.
• Different asteroid generate different
shaped light curve due to their different
First step whenever we have to start an
observation is to get the telescope in focus. After
that we have to sync the telescope onto a star near
our target. The next stop is to generate an
ephemeris which lists the coordinates of the
asteroid on different days and times. From there
we generate star chars which show our asteroid in
the night sky with stars around it. This is in order to
locate our asteroid in the images. We then set up a
sequence in the software Maxim DL This sequence
tells our telescope how many pictures to take, at
what exposures, and which filters to use.
The countless amount of hours that astronomers
spend observing small bodies such as asteroids may
seem fruitless, considering that in most telescopes the
size of the asteroid is a single pixel. Combined with the
inherent dependency on weather for getting quality
data astronomy is a long and tedious process. But one
that is very useful for physicists and scientists
worldwide. The data that astronomers get from their
observations allows scientists to form predictions
about how planets are formed, how the effect of light
from a nearby star influences the light another space
body emits as well.
Photo C.R. Stephens et al
Acknowledgements to Elizabeth Warner, Mentor and the Director of the UMD observatory