Astronomy News for Spring 2013

Release date: August 05, 2013

Dr. Ben Sugerman, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, was awarded a highly-coveted joint Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescope observing campaign on May 30, 2013.  Entitled "Six in One Blow: Reconstructing the Circumstellar Environments of Supernovae in NGC 6946 with Light Echoes," Sugerman and his international collaboration of researchers have been awarded 5 orbits of the Hubble Space Telescope and 1.4 hours of Spitzer Space Telescope time to observe six of the seven known supernova remnants within The Fireworks Galaxy (NGC 6946, imaged below) during the 21st year of Hubble's operation.  This year, a total of 822 proposals requesting 20,000 orbits were submitted, of which only 2,800 orbits of observing time were available.  Sugerman has also requested approximately $150,000 in research funding to support student research for the next three years. 

Working with Dr. Sugerman during the 2012 summer, Physics majors Paul Meyer and Lindsey Long analyzed nearly 20 years' worth of Hubble Space Telescope images of the "born-again" star V605 Aquilae.  The central star of the ancient planetary nebula Abell 58, V605 Aql erupted in 1919, sending dusty material into the surrounding space.  Mr. Meyer and Ms. Long analyzed emission-line and polarization images of this material taken between 1991 and 2009 to determine its rate of expansion and the resulting distance to the central star.  Their results have been reported in July, 2013 edition of The Astrophysical Journal (Clayton et al., 2013, ApJ, 771, 130).