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2018 Project Proposal

Determining viability of exoplanet candidates from KELT survey

Colette Salyk (Astronomy)

For this project, the student will work at the Class of 1951 observatory to obtain lightcurves of candidate extrasolar planets.  This work is part of an international collaboration known as the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope follow-up network (KELT-FUN).  Brightness dips are detected by KELT but can be due to either planets or eclipsing binary stars.  The follow-up work involves obtaining high quality lightcurves (plots of brightness vs. time) of the candidates and determining the source of the dips.  These lightcurves are then submitted to the KELT team, who announce the detections of exoplanets in peer-reviewed papers.  The URSI student should be prepared to perform night-time observations in addition to performing daytime data analysis.  They should be prepared to be flexible with their weekly schedule, as observing is subject to weather conditions.  In addition, this student will work in concert with a non-Vassar REU student as part of the Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium.     

Prerequisites:  Course Prerequisites: At least one 200-level astronomy course.  ASTR 240 preferred. Preferred skills: Experience at campus observatory and experience with data analysis and/or programming.      

How should students express their interest in this project?  I recommend that all students interested in this position send me an email and set up an appointment to discuss the position and their relevant work/academic experience.