IC Students Work at Palomar Observatory

09/02/2004

Contributed by Luke Keller

IC Physics senior, David Whelan, is spending his holiday weekend using the 200 inch telescope at Palomar Observatory near San Diego California.

David and his research adviser, physics assistant professor Luke Keller, have been granted three nights on the famous telescope, once used by 20th century astronomer Edwin Hubble in his studies of galaxies and the expanding universe.

The telescope's name indicates the diameter of its primary mirror, nearly 17 feet across. David is using the telescope with an infrared spectrometer to measure the chemical composition and physical structure of dusty disks of material orbiting several distant stars. David's work will help determine how close these young star systems are to forming their first planets. Stop by the physics department in the Center for Natural Sciences later this month for a look at David' results!

Contributed by Luke Keller

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