Nobles Astronomy Workgroup 2014-15Four student representatives from Nobles’ Astronomy Workgroup, headed by science faculty member David Strasburger, shared the team’s research findings at the winter 2015 meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Seattle, Wash. on January 4-8. The representatives were (left to right) Toni Abate ‘15, Ishaan Bhojwani ‘16, Olivia Harden ‘16, Skyler Beach ‘16.

The group has been working diligently all year on the SIRXS (SEIP Infrared Excess) project under the aegis of the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program (NITARP). Their task was to use the source list from the Spitzer Enhanced Imaging Products (SEIP) to catalog objects with unusual or elevated infrared colors. Infrared excess can be the result of young stellar objects (YSOs), evolved low- to intermediate-mass stars, active galactic nuclei (AGN), and interacting galaxies. Objects they identified as exceptional could then become candidates for further, more detailed study by astronomers working with the most advanced telescopes.

Funded by NASA, the NITARP program partners small groups of educators with a  mentor research astronomer for a year-long research project. The Nobles group enjoyed working with Dr. Varoujan Gorjian, a research astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the leading U.S. center for robotic exploration of the solar system, managed by CalTech for NASA. The educator mentor for the team is actually Nobles grad Caroline Odden ‘93, who teaches physics and astronomy at Phillips Andover, and heads the school’s observatory and astronomy research program.

David Strasburger formed the Nobles astronomy workgroup in 2014 to foster student research and collaboration in the spirit of EXCEL, Nobles’ emphasis on experiential learning. Since then, those students have developed valuable skills in scientific research and analysis, as well as productive collegial work and effective networking in the larger scientific community. They look forward to sharing their findings with the science department and larger school community this spring.

Learn more about the project.

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