Rice astronomers Patrick Hartigan and Chris Johns-Krull together with Ryan Oelkers and Keivan Stassun of Vanderbilt acquired a large, 3-week bloc of observing time on the 4-meter diameter telescope in Chile as part of a big-data project to study young stars in the Carina Nebula. The images, acquired during March 2019, produced over 6 Tb of data and will be used to quantify how the brightnesses of the hundreds of thousands of stars in the region vary with time. The project coordinated with telescopes in South Africa and Australia to produce 24-hour coverage of selected areas. Combining the data together will produce the first multicolor deep image of the entire region, and will highlight the intricate nebular structures that surround the massive star and likely supernova progenitor Eta Carina. The time-series data are similar to those expected to come from the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, a major national initiative scheduled to begin operations in the next few years. Rice undergraduate student Rae Holcomb traveled to Chile and assisted with the data acquistion.
Physics and Astronomy professor Patrick Hartigan and Rice undergraduate senior Rae Holcomb at the 4-meter telescope atop Cerro Tololo in the Chilean Andes.