Research

April 10, 2017 at 7:11 pm

Jacob Williamson | Burning Out Swiftly: SN 2005da and Its Curious Nature

Jacob Williamson

Jacob Williamson presented “Burning out swiftly: SN 2005da and its curious nature” at the 2017 Ohio University Society of Physics Students Research Conference held in March.

Williamson continued his work with Dr. Ryan Chornock from the previous summer.  Williamson examined the light curve and spectra of supernova (SN) 2005da.  This object had previously been classified as a SN with high velocities from an energetic explosion.

“I worked with Dr. Chornock on classification of supernovae based on light curves and spectral data. Specifically, I worked with one supernova from 2005, SN 2005da, which was classified as a run-of-the-mill Type Ic supernova, meaning it lacks any hydrogen or helium, but it is relatively normal otherwise.  However, according to the data we found, SN 2005da appears to be of a much more interesting nature; while still lacking hydrogen and helium lines, the supernova dimmed much faster than most Type Ic supernovae.  This indicated a different mechanism powering the light curve from normal Type Ic supernovae.

In the process I learned how to work my way around IDL, a programming language used for data analysis and graphing, as well as Python, another programming language for data analysis.  I wrote at least 10 different programs to process the data I was given; in doing so, I learned how to effectively and efficiently plot and analyze data.

In addition, we discussed the major types of supernovae, Types Ia, Ib, Ic, and II, as well as how we classify them.  Also, I learned how we measure the light from supernovae using the UBVRI (or Ultraviolet-Blue-Visible-Red-Infrared) light filter system and how to correct this data for reddening caused by dust.  In addition, I learned a bit about spectral “fingerprints” of different elements and how to analyse spectral graphs for these ‘fingerprints’.

Dr. Chornock and I met at least one day a week, with multiple meetings per day for guidance and data I needed to analyze.  Through this, I was able to create professional, publication-quality graphs that I would never have been able to do before.”

Jacob Williamson – Astrophysics major, Class of 2017, College of Arts & Sciences

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