The AAVSO Program: A Resource for Variable Star Research
Stella Kafka, AAVSO
The AAVSO was formed in 1911 as a group of US-based amateur observers obtaining data in support of professional astronomy projects. Now, it has evolved into an International Organization with members and observers from both the professional and non-professional astronomical community, contributing photometry to a public photometric database of about 25,000 variable objects, and using it for research projects. As such, the AAVSO’s main claim to fame is that it successfully engages backyard Astronomers, educators, students and professional astronomers in astronomical research. I will present the main aspects of the association and how it has evolved with time to become a premium resource for variable star researchers. I will also discuss the various means that the AAVSO is using to support cutting-edge variable star science, and how it engages its members in projects building a stronger international astronomical community.
Dr. Stella Kafka, is the Director of the AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers). Before her tenure at the AAVSO, Dr Kafka held positions at CTIO, Spitzer Science center/Caltech, Carnegie Institution of Washington/DTM and AIP Publishing. The AAVSO is an international non-profit organization of variable star observers whose mission is to enable anyone, anywhere, to participate in scientific discovery through variable star astronomy.
Starless clumps and the earliest phases of high-mass star formation in the Milky Way
Brian Svoboda, NRAO Jansky Fellow
High-mass stars are key to regulating the interstellar medium, star formation activity, and overall evolution of galaxies, but their formation remains an open problem in astrophysics. In order to understand the physical conditions during the earliest phases of high-mass star formation, I will present observational studies we have carried out on dense starless clump candidates (SCCs) that show no signatures of star formation activity. We identify 2223 SCCs from the 1.1 mm Bolocam Galactic Plane Survey, systematically analyse their physical properties, and show that the starless phase is not represented by a single timescale, but evolves more rapidly with increasing clump mass. To investigate the sub-structure in SCCs at high spatial resolution, we investigate the 12 most high-mass SCCs within 5 kpc using ALMA. We find previously undetected low-luminosity protostars in 11 out of 12 SCCs, fragmentation equal to the thermal Jeans length of the clump, and no starless cores exceeding 30 solar masses. While uncertainties remain concerning the star formation efficiency in this sample, these observational facts are consistent with models where high-mass stars form from initially low- to intermediate-mass protostars that accrete most of their mass from the surrounding clump. I will also present on-going research studying gas inflow signatures with GBT/Argus and ALMA, and the dense core mass function with the JVLA.
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Using every photon to learn about the physics of solar plasmas
Phil Judge, High Altitude Observatory, Boulder CO.
Role of solar Rossby waves in causing space weather on intermediate time-scales
Mausumi Dikpati, HAO
Forecasting our weather was built on the recognition that global Rossby waves, interacting with mean east-west flow on the Earth’s atmosphere, produce jet streams, which are responsible for causing winter storms, and cold outbreaks that we experience in midlatitudes. Rossby waves arise in thin layers within fluid regions of stars and planets. These global wave‐like patterns occur due to the variation in Coriolis forces with latitude. It has recently been discovered that the Sun has Rossby waves too. Therefore, the Sun’s global magnetic fields and flows are also influenced by these global‐scale waves. But unlike the Earth’s Rossby waves, due to the presence of strong magnetic fields solar Rossby waves are magnetically modified. In this talk, I will demonstrate through model-simulations how solar Rossby waves, nonlinearly interacting with differential rotation and spot-producing magnetic fields, can cause the seasonal/sub-seasonal (6-18 months) variability in solar activity, which is, in turn, the origin of space weather on intermediate time-scales. Space weather occurring on a very short time-scale (hours-to-days) and on much longer time-scale (decadal-to-millennial) have been studied extensively, but there exists a gap, namely the occurrence of space weather on intermediate time-scale of a few weeks to several months. I will also demonstrate that combining observations with our model by data-assimilation procedure it is possible to forecast an upcoming space-weather season several months ahead of time.