During the first week of February, five UWM undergraduates were given the opportunity to attend the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) spring conference at the Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Renee Spiewak (senior), Kaleb Maraccini (senior), Steven Hawkins (junior), Nicole Hawkins (sophomore), and William Fiore (freshman) participated in a two-day student seminar that introduced them to the science behind Pulsar Timing Arrays (PTAs), which are sets of pulsars analyzed for correlated offsets in pulse arrival times. NANOGrav is creating such an array to detect and study low frequency gravitational waves. This student meeting was organized and led in part by UWM graduate student Joseph Simon, and postdoc Megan DeCesar.
There were 25 students in attendance from institutions all across North America. In addition to listening to lectures and participating in hands-on activities specific to PTA science, the students all stayed on site at the telescope, participated in an observation from the telescope’s command center, and received a guided tour of the telescope (see picture). These five UWM undergraduates are members of the Arecibo Remote Command Center (ARCC) program at UWM, which allows students to remotely control the Arecibo radio telescope and participate in searching the galaxy for radio pulsars.
For more information on ARCC please see the ARCC website