Spectral Energy Distributions or SEDs are a critical component to understanding the nature of many astrophysical systems. Single stars produce approximate black body curve emissions that help astronomers identify their temperature and stellar type. More complex systems are often better understood by comparing their SED to the SEDs of the components that make up the system. For example, some eclipsing binaries, such as epsilon Aurigae, incorporate a dusty disk in addition to its two stellar components.
Planetary nebulae, such as My Cn 18, have both gaseous and dusty components. These example systems can be better understood by studying their SEDs. Students gain a valuable tool for understanding astronomical objects by understanding how to make and interpret SEDs. We will develop an educational archive of SED data and SED templates, teach students to use the templates, and extend the use of SEDs into student research projects.
The educational archival data sets, templates and lesson plans will be posted on the College of San Mateo and Spitzer Science Center education websites and will be accessible to all teachers and other interested parties.
San Mateo High School, San Mateo, California
There is a nice article in the Mercury News about the SED team's work.
On Feb 1, we released a media notice re: the participating teachers. A customized version of this went to local media as provided by each participant.