Teaching the Thrill of Discovery: Student Exploration of Ultra-Faint Dwarf Galaxies with the NOAO Data Lab
We describe an activity aimed at teaching students how ultra-faint Milky Way dwarf galaxies are typically discovered: through filtering of optical photometric catalogs and cross-examination with deep images. The activity, which was developed as part of the Teen Astronomy Café program (https://teensciencecafe.org/cafes/az-teen-astronomy-cafe-tucson/), uses the NOAO Data Lab (http://datalab.noao.edu) and other professional-grade tools to lead high school students through exploration of the object catalog and images from the Survey of the Magellanic Stellar History (SMASH). The students are taught how to use images and color-magnitude diagrams to analyze and interpret stellar populations of increasing complexity, including those of star clusters and the Magellanic Clouds, and culminating with the discovery of the Hydra II ultra-faint dwarf galaxy. The tools and datasets presented allow the students to explore and discover other known stellar systems, as well as unknown candidate star clusters and dwarf galaxies. The ultimate goal of the activity is to give students insight into the methods of modern astronomical research and to allow them to participate in the thrill of discovery.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #231
- Pub Date:
- January 2018