The wavelength spectra that a star emits can give us an approximation of some of the most important information that we need from stars – their temperature and their luminosity. Max Planck’s famous radiation law and subsequent equations derived from it describe the relationship between the temperature of an object and the electromagnetic radiation it emits.
What we see with our eyes is often an incomplete story of what a nebula can tell us about itself. Students at the University of Nevada, Reno used the Great Basin Observatory to study six nebulae in an effort to connect their classification to physical properties, such as density and temperature.
The Crab nebula has spectacular colors due to being the remanent of a massive supernova explosion. Supernovas can vary widely between explosion energy and expansion rate. From relatively mundane explosions that expand at 9,000 miles per second to violent explosions that expand at a blistering 25,000 miles a second. University of Nevada, Reno students used the Great Basin Observatory to image the Crab nebula and made estimates on the energetics of the supernova.
In the fall of 2021, University of Nevada, Reno students used the GBO’s 0.7m diameter telescope to study several potential planetary-forming regions. They looked at densities in the star HL Tauri and the Trapezium of the Orion Nebula. Density is a predictor of planetary formation because in the early phases of the collapse of a protostar, a disc of material forms around the star almost like the rings of Saturn. It is within these rings of material that the first stages of planetary formation occur.
Great Basin National Park Foundation, working with Great Basin National Park and Great Basin Observatory scientists, has released science teaching materials specially designed for the COVID-19 learning environment. Six new lessons for 5th-grade students teach about stars, our solar system, gravity, national parks, and light pollution. The resources contain on and off-screen activities, all of which can be done in a classroom or home environment and afford social distancing.
Starfest is the annual astronomy research conference of the Great Basin Observatory(GBO). Speakers range from high school students to college undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, faculty, staff, and distinguished keynote speakers. This year's symposium was hosted by Concordia University in Irvine, one of the four partner universities that maintain and operate the GBO in conjunction with Great Basin National Park and the Great Basin National Park Foundation. Learn more about each presenter and their talk in the STARFEST Program PDF below.
The Summer Research Institute is a 38-year old tradition in the Chemical Physics Laboratory at Concordia University. "I was not about to abandon that tradition because of COVID-19", remarked the leader of the institute, Professor John Kenney. This summer the institute pivoted to be online and used the remote, robotic GBO for an astronomical research component.
Over 30 people attended Starfest 2 in Cedar City, Utah on October 26 & 27. Starfest celebrates the research stemming from the Great Basin Observatory (GBO) and allows our four university partners (Concordia University Irvine; CUI, Southern Utah University; SUU, University of Nevada Reno; UNR and Western Nevada College; WNC) to build a collegial community of practice. Research presentations included work done on double stars, exoplanet transits, eShel spectogragh development, and ideas for using the GBO with undergraduate students.