UNR graduate Ben Pearson successfully defended his Senior Thesis in May 2022, with the title “Automating differential photometry of Intermediate Polars to study and quantify their low-flux states.”
Ben wrote a python program to automatically analyze new GBO images of intermediate polars, a class of binary systems containing a highly magnetic white dwarf accreting matter from a Sun-like companion.
Ben’s program checks the GBO archive every day for new images, runs Alexis Tudor’s photometry+ program on the new images, and uploads light curves to a Dropbox folder.
The motivation behind Ben’s thesis project is the puzzling tendency for intermediate polars to show random decreases in flux called low states, and our desire to understand the physics behind this process. Ben’s program automates the data reduction and photometry such that we are able to quickly determine if a low state is happening in one of our many targets and, if necessary, request follow up observations with other observatories at multiple wavelengths.
Check out the recording of his presentation: