Presentation Abstract

Presentation Number 248.10
Presentation Time: Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011, 9:00 AM - 6:30 PM
Title Educational Aspects of Searching for Variable Stars in the Mid-IR Sky
Author Block Margaret (Peggy) Piper1, B. Thomas2, R. DeCoster3, R. Rosignolo1, J. Romero1, J. Christensen1, O. Rudio2, D. Brennan2, A. Antonow3, A. Sehgal3, D. Hoard4, S. Howell5
1Lincoln-Way North High School, 2North Middle School, 3Niles West High School, 4Spitzer Science Center, 5NOAO.
Abstract Using archival Spitzer Space Telescope Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) data, our team of students, educators and astronomers attempted to discover new variable stars in mid-infrared (3-8 micron) wavelengths. Our educational goal was to learn, and then disseminate, methods to ways to (a) utilize various image processing software tools and (b) subsequently analyze and display gathered data in a meaningful form in order to identify variable stars. We processed a total of 6447 images in three target fields, examining a total of 227 stars for this project. Photometric data were produced for each point source and that data was used to create light curves and brightness vs. standard deviation curves. Our target fields were taken from Spitzer observations of exoplanet transits, which utilized comparatively long, uninterrupted sequences of IRAC observations. This poster will illustrate how students and teachers learned to use imaging software to gather and display photometric data for targets in this project, and created tutorials to enhance the use of these tools in astronomy classrooms. This work was supported by the NASA’s Spitzer Science Center and NOAO (National Optical Astronomy Observatory).