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.
Our Future in Space: The Moon and Beyond
Jack Burns, University of Colorado Boulder
Why do we explore space? How do we explore
space? Where should we explore? What are
the tools for space exploration? These questions will be addressed in this talk focused on
the future of human and robotic exploration of
the solar system and beyond. Since the end of
the Apollo program, the justification for the human space program has proven elusive. We will
borrow a page from the computer and new
commercial space companies to argue for an
inspirational approach to the next phase of
exploration beyond Earth orbit. The “how” is
addressed with NASA’s new Orion and Space
Launch Systems along with new launch systems being developed by private companies
such as SpaceX and Blue Origin. We will argue
that both the Moon and Mars can be explored
through a combination of governmental programs, international partnerships, and public-
private partnerships. The tools for exploration
include telerobotics where astronauts aboard
NASA’s Lunar Gateway in orbit of the Moon
will operate rovers and deploy telescopes on
the lunar surface in a new synergy between
robots and humans.
A Masing BAaDE’s Window
Ylva Pihlström, University of New Mexico
Evolved, intermediate mass stars are tracers of an intermediate age stellar population. Due to high mass-loss rates, they harbor circumstellar envelopes, in which different types of molecular maser emission can be observed. The maser emission allows not only studies of the physical conditions in the circumstellar envelope itself, but also can be used to test Galactic dynamics. Both these facets are investigated in the Bulge Asymmetries and Dynamical Evolution (BAaDE) survey, using 28,000 SiO maser emitting stars in the Milky Way galaxy observed by the VLA and ALMA. I will give an overview of this survey and discuss a few of our results and challenges: A marginal flux bias exists in our sample due to two different sets of frequencies observed, which could partly be corrected for using longer integration times at ALMA. We have collected an extensive infrared data set for our sample, providing a means of modeling parameters such as bolometric luminosities and mass loss rates. Infrared colors further helps to separate C-rich from O-rich stars, and may also be tied to line ratios, tying back to the conditions in the circumstellar envelope.
Searching for diffuse radio emission in merging galaxy clusters with LOFAR
Amanda Wilber, Universität Hamburg
Galaxy cluster mergers are powerful drivers of turbulence and shocks, which can accelerate cosmic-ray electrons within the magnetic field of the intracluster medium (ICM) to generate Megaparsec-sized radio structures. Actively merging clusters are excellent astrophysical laboratories for studying the nature of magnetic fields and the physics of particle acceleration. Questions still remain in identifying the source of cosmic-ray electrons that appear to fill the ICM so uniformly, and in determining the origin and amplification mechanisms of cluster magnetic fields. With its high-resolution, extended coverage, and sensitivity to radio emission with low surface brightness, the LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) Two-metre Sky Survey (LoTSS) gives us an unparalleled opportunity to hunt for diffuse radio sources in distant galaxy clusters. In this talk I present the results of LoTSS observations which reveal never-before-seen diffuse radio emission in the merging galaxy clusters Abell 1132 and Abell 1314.