Published: June 15, 2006
Dr. Loughran has worked (through the end of May) with two high school students (Vinay Patel and Matt Pellegrino) to prepare them (and himself)for participation in their study of star formation rates in three high-redshift galaxy clusters. The students have finished reading three chapters (1, 2, and 4) of Spark & Gallagher's Galaxies. These same two students along with Dr. Loughran added a second teacher (Aaron McNeely of Bremen High School, an astronomy teacher supported by an NSF RET grant) and a third high school student (Sunil Agarwal from Elkhart Central High School) to prepare for work on the Spitzer project, as well as a number of other projects (including the AGN and remote observing projects of the TLRBSE program, and a binary star observing program.) They will work together for 25 hours each week for six weeks this summer. They are also reading through the five documents posted at the MIPS data handbook site.
The Spitzer space telescope and the star formation rate project in particular were presented to 20 middle school students participating in the Sensing Our World program of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophyics (JINA) on 6/29/06. Middle school students interacted with the three high school students who had just used Spitzer's Leopard software to download results (pbcd files) for the first of three observations scheduled with Spitzer for our galaxy cluster star formation rate project; they were using PhotoShop equipped with the NASA/ESO FITS Liberator plug-in to create first-look images of our cluster by colorizing and combining the 24, 70 and 160 micrometer pbcd .fits files. (See attached-Matt Pellegrino's first attempt at creating a colorized astroimage.) Student-processed Hubble images of the Eagle Nebula, as well as student-observed (via the New Mexico Skies/TLRBSE remote observing program) and student-processed images of M-63 were used in the description of star formation and galaxies, leading into a discussion of star formation rate in clusters of galaxies. Middle school students in groups of five interacted for ten minutes each with the three high school students engaged in this Spitzer research project.