Astrophysical Multi-messenger Observatory Network
Period: March 2012 – May 2014
Adviser: Miles Smith

This project involved desiging and testing new multi-messenger statistical analysis models for event correlation. Essentially we asked the question: If we see a neutrino and a gamma ray from two different observatories, can we correlate them and say they came from the same source? To do this, we developed several toy models of observatories and used spectral models to represent sources. We looked at the potential gains of combinging several different observatories: Icecube doublets, Icecube and Swift BAT, and Icecube and Fermi LAT. The result was a shared followup analysis between the different pairings which demonstrated a significant improvement (10^6) in the new multi-messenger correlation model over previously un-excluded parameter space. These results were presented in the 2013 AMON paper in Astroparticle Physics, and were the subject of my Senior Honors Thesis.

Stability Analysis of Asteroids in the Solar System
Period: June 2011 – March 2012
Adviser: Steinn Sigurdsson

We applied classical mechanics and orbital dynamics to analyze the time evolution of small bodies (i.e. asteroids) in the solar system. To do so, we used the well known N-body integrator Mercury6, with a few modifications allowing for multiple instances to run in the same directory. Additionally, an initial condition and analysis wrapper was written in C++ and parallelized via Posix Threads to allow for many simulations with different initial conditions to run simultaneously. The analyzed numerical results were used to improve upon initial predictions and characterize the orbital chaos of the asteroids, by using a Lyaponov stability analysis. Unfortunately, we came to the conclusion that any generalized characterization was impossible due to the effect of large bodies in the solar system (i.e. Jupiter). Throughout this project, I developed an understanding of orbital chaos and stability analysis of bodies in the solar system, as well as an understanding and experience with different N-Body ODE Integrators that were used within Mercury6.

Characterization and Classification of Radio Frequency Interference on the Allen Telescope Array
Period: Summer 2011
Adviser: Gerry Harp

This project involved identifying trends in the analyzed data by SETI’s SonATA observing program on the ATA. We looked for ways to group and isolate man made RFI, as well as predict and trac the RFIs behavior. The majority of the summer was spent developing the tools that performed the statistical analysis of the signal database, as well as correcting for selection effects, and attempting to understand the signal database in general. Another aspect of the project was to characterized the capability and accuracy of SonATA (SETI’s autonomous observing and signal analysis program), which allowed us to find a flaw in the hardware design which introduced a signal into the data at an unintended frequency. This signal was then picked up by SonATA and classified as a “signal”, but not flagged as a candidate for followup as it did not have a transient Doppler-shift.

Search For Low Mass Stars
Period: September 2010 – June 2011
Adviser: Kevin Luhman

We synthesized low quality dithered images of NGC 1333 from the WISE telescope in an effort to location potential brown dwarfs. The images were analyzed via IRAF to obtain spectral information in different filter bands. As part of the project, I developed IRAF script generators in C++ and an overall Image Pipeline in Python using PyRAF, which reduced the image reduction process from 8 hours per filter to 1.5 hours per filter. The project ended due to lack of funding for me to continue, and did not result in any real results.

Faint Radio Survey and 21cm Signal Detection with the NRAO 12 meter Transit Radio Telescope
Period: September 2009 – May 2011
Adviser: Ann Schmeidekamp

We performed several radio observation runs on Extra-Galactic and Galactic HI sources using the NRAO 12 meter transit radio telescope in Green Bank, WV. We developed a method for interfacing with their analog electronics to record the radio data digitally, allowing for a more in depth post analysis to be preformed (previously data had been recorded to chart recorder). We tested methods of signal processing and reconstruction on the digitally collected data, such as model fitting, and several deconvolution techniques. As part of the project, I led the team of freshman and sophomores to conduct data, and managed the observing schedule with another team that was doing HI galactic observations. The project that I led did not continue due to lack of student interest, however, the digital data recording system is still in use.

Investigation of Asteroid Deflection Techniques
Period: September 2009 – May 2010
Adviser: Mikhail Kagan

We investigated several proposed methods of asteroid deflection both on a physical and practical basis. The initial problem that we considered looking at was that of the gravitational tractor, we concluded that this method would be impractical due to the fuel consumption required to maintain the tractor distance. We also considered the possibilities of using a gravitational slingshot, and performing a simple momentum transfer via collision. The gravitational slingshot proved to be ineffective as the required velocity is less than that of the escape velocity. The most promising method was the momentum transfer method which required momentum transfer to slow down the asteroid, allowing the earth to pass by safely. The results from the research were presented at the Abington Undergraduate Research Fair in April 2010 and an animation demonstrating the results can be seen here. The results were then presented at the Smith Symposium at Penn State York in fall of 2010, and were published in the conference proceedings. The resulting paper has been submitted for publication in AJUR and has been tentatively accepted.