A Week in Review: NITARP 2013

This has been a fine week for collaboration and discovery. This year our NITARP group contains three teachers, four including myself as the mentor teacher, and eleven students from four states: Tennessee, Wisconsin, New York, and Connecticut.  Our project has been to utilize data from the GALEX (Galaxy Evolution Explorer) and SDSS (Sloan Digital Sky Survey) to determine correlations between Seyfert galaxy luminosities and their temperatures. Our abstract:

Data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) satellite will be used to extend the work of the 2010 and 2012 NITARP teams in demonstrating a hypothesized correlation between the luminosity and color (temperature) of the accretion disk within Type I Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN). The 2012 NITARP team was successful in finding a trend in the UV luminosity and color of the AGN in Type I quasars, however the sample size was not sufficient in demonstrating a substantial correlation. More data are needed to see if a more substantial correlation exists; therefore, data from less luminous AGN must be used. Our project will attempt to investigate whether a more significant trend is revealed when Type I Seyfert galaxies with redshifts 0.1 < z < 0.5 are added to the 2012 team’s quasar sample.

We spent this week pouring over the data and making our initial analysis of the MANY plots that we have generated. The group has achieved a notable synergy, which, I believe, comes from all being together for the week, largely in the same space, a large work area within the NASA IPAC building on the Caltech campus in Pasadena. When the day is in progress, the mutterings and discussions between people are just roll right along. At the end of the day, the work “ends” and relaxation mode begins. Some of the post-work activities this week have included some time at the beach, the end of Route 66 on Santa Monica Pier, touring through the main drags in Hollywood, visiting Old Pasadena, touring Caltech, and catching up with friends in the area. I love the Caltech canpus and have run into a couple of alumni here this week. The campus is in full glory with an 85F dry heat, sunny days and everything in bloom. That citrusy smell abounds with other flowers making themselves known: honeysuckle among them. The olive trees have just ripening dark fruit on their branches. Hummingbirds zip in and out of the many flowering trees and the yuccas.

Today is our last day: we aimed to get the students to mingle a bit more by working to finish off the various plots we need for analysis. We’re also aiming to wave at Saturn for the largest ever global scaled photobomb,,,, more on that here:  http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/waveatsaturn/viewing/

‘Nuff said. See you all back in New Hampshire, soon enough!