Student Spotlight - Katy Accetta, Astronomy
Katy Accetta spent time in the sun (and under the stars) near LaSerena, Chile to observe at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. She was part of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Katy used RR Lyrae variables to study the depth of the Large Megellanic Cloud. The research experience ran from January-March, and Katy is the first student from YSU to be involved.
James J. Carroll, professor, Physics and Astronomy, along with former YSU student Ron Propri, former YSU staff Phil Ugorowski and international colleagues, published, “Discovery and investigation of heavy neutron-rich isotopes with time-resolved Schottky spectrometry in the element range from thallium to actinium," in the June 2010 issue of Physics Letters B.
James J. Carroll, professor, Physics and Astronomy, along with P. Walker from the University of Surrey, and F. Currell of Queen's University in Belfast, organized the recent International Workshop on Atomic Effects in Nuclear Excitation and Decay in Trento, Italy. Forty scientists from around the world attended the workshop hosted by the European Centre for Theoretical Studies in Nuclear Physics and Related Areas, and supported in part by YSU using grant funds from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
Atomic Force Microscope
A new microscope that can make surface profile measurements on the order of a billionth of a meter is now part of the Department of Physics & Astronomy at YSU. The $150,000 atomic force microscope, which has the capability to image small objects down to the size of an atom, was funded as part of a $900,000 grant from the Ohio Research Scholarship Program. The program provides grants to strengthen and increase the number of collaborative research clusters across the state. The grant will help YSU advance its research into the surface of materials such as polymer multilayer structures being developed in collaboration with Case Western Reserve University as part of a National Science Foundation–supported Center for Layered Polymeric Materials, with which YSU is affiliated.YSU received the allocation of $900,000 as part of a $15 million grant to the Research Cluster on Surfaces in Advanced Materials, ofwhich YSU is a member along with Kent State and Case Western Reserve universities.
James Andrews, professor of Physics and Astronomy, said the cluster was formed in response to a fall 2007 joint request for proposals from the Ohio Department of Development and Board of Regents under the Ohio Third Frontier Initiative.
The AFM has a tiny probe tip which scans the surface of a material to create a 3–D image, as opposed to using traditionalmicroscope techniques which utilize light to display a two–dimensional image.
"It has become one of the fundamental tools for looking at surface materials," Andrews said.
Andrews, along with YSU physics professor Tom Oder and research scientist Guilin Mao, are the only members of the faculty whohave been trained to work with the instrument so far, though they are looking forward to broadening its use and incorporating themicroscope into the classroom.
"In addition to involving YSU students in our research efforts, coursework based on the AFM will be integrated into our upper–division courses on condensed matter, semiconductors and advanced instrumentation," Andrews said.The remaining grant funds will primarily be used to purchase other instruments, including an optical parametric oscillator (tunable laser source), a Raman Microscope, a solar stimulator, a programmable spin coater and various related pieces for studying surfaces. Source: YSU's eUpdate, October 23, 2009.
Jim Andrews, professor of Physics & Astronomy, co-authored the paper “Continuous melt processing of all-polymer distributed feedback lasers” with research from Case Western Reserve University’s Departments of Physics and Macromolecular Science and Engineering. The paper appeared in the Journal of Materials Chemistry. Source: YSU News Briefs, June 28, 2010.
James Carroll, right, professor of physics, is shown in his nuclear isomer research lab in Moser Hall with students, from the left, Geoff Trees, Ben Detwiler, Isaac Mills, Trevor Balint and Tim Detwiler. From Japan to Germany, Carroll and his team of students have traveled the globe as part of the research in nuclear isomers.
YSU astronomer is part of Hubble research group
Imagine finding a living dinosaur in your backyard.
An international team of astronomers, including Pat Durrell, associate professor of physics and astronomy at YSU, has found the astronomical equivalent of prehistoric life in our intergalactic backyard: a group of small, ancient galaxies that has waited 10 billion years to come together.
Durrell, a research associate at Pennsylvania State University before joining the YSU faculty in 2004, is also director of YSU's Ward Beecher Planetarium. One of his primary areas of research is the study of ancient star clusters, both within and outside of galaxies.
On this project, he was heavily involved in the planning and targeting of the observations using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. He also led the part of the project dealing with the oldest star clusters, known as globular clusters, which are located around all of the galaxies in the group.
Encounters between dwarf galaxies are normally seen billions of light–years away and therefore occurred billions of years ago. But these galaxies are relatively nearby, only 166 million light–years away, according to a news release on HubbleSite.org.
New images of the galaxies by Hubble offer a window into what commonly happened in the universe''s formative years, when large galaxies were created from smaller building blocks, the news release says.
The Hubble observations have added important clues to the story of this interacting foursome, allowing astronomers to determine when the encounter began and to predict a future merger.
"We found the oldest stars in a few ancient globular star clusters that date back to about 10 billion years ago," said astronomer Sarah Gallagher of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, leader of the study. "Therefore, we know the system has been around for a while." The team's results appear in the February issue of The Astronomical Journal.
Everywhere the astronomers looked in this compact group they found batches of infant star clusters and regions brimming with star birth. Hubble reveals that the brightest clusters, hefty groups each holding at least 100,000 stars, are less than 10 million years old. The entire system is rich in hydrogen gas, the stuff of which stars are made.
The astronomers used Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys to resolve the youngest and brightest of those clusters, which allowed them to calculate the clusters'' ages, trace the star–formation history, and determine that the galaxies are undergoing the final stages
of galaxy assembly.
"The four small galaxies are extremely close together, within 75,000 light–years of each other – we could fit them all within our Milky Way," Durrell said.
Source: YSU's eUpdate, March 2010.