Astronomy and Astrophysics
Ithaca College is currently a member of a team that is building the Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST), a mid-infrared camera that will operate on an airborne observatory. We are designed and is helping test the FORCAST optical system. Professor Luke Keller is also leading the development of the FORCAST data analysis software. Our next project is an upgrade to FORCAST that will allow the instrument to record spectra in addition to images.
Ithaca College faculty and students are also looking at the chemistry and evolution of proto-stellar and proto-planetary objects. We are a member of a team using the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope to gather infrared spectra of dust and gas orbiting stars other than the sun. Professor Luke Keller and his students reduce spectra from Spitzer data archives and analyze the results, looking for atomic and molecular signatures of material that may be forming planets. They also uses ground-based observatories to gather spectra and images of these objects. Our current focus is on Herbig AeBe stars, a class of stars that are several times more massive than the sun and show evidence of disks of gas and dust orbiting them, which are