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St. Lawrence News

Jeff Miller, Heather Cutler '12 & Aileen O'Donoghue
Heather Cutler '12, Priest Associate Professor of Physics Aileen O'Donoghue and Physics Lab Coordinator Jeff Miller attended the 5th ALFALFA Undergraduate Team Workshop at the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, held January 15-18. The National Science Foundation-funded workshop centers around research examining cool hydrogen in distant galaxies.

The event marked Cutler's third visit to the observatory, having gone with O'Donoghue and Miller for an observing run during Thanksgiving break in 2010, and the January 2011 workshop. She has also worked with O'Donoghue and Miller remotely observing, controlling the Arecibo telescope from St. Lawrence. This places her among a small group of advanced student observers attending the workshop. which features tours of the Arecibo Radio Telescope, the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world. Students have the opportunity to operate the telescope during observing runs and participate in exercises designed to familiarize them with the operation of the telescope and the techniques of analyzing the data it collects.

The photo shows the trio in front of the 900-ton platform containing the telescope's measuring instruments. The platform is suspended 450 feet over the main dish, which itself is 1,000 feet in diameter.

St. Lawrence University is a member of the Undergraduate ALFALFA Team, a consortium of 16 institutions engaged in a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation to promote undergraduate research within the ALFALFA project. The Arecibo Legacy Fast ALFA (ALFALFA) survey is an on-going blind survey of extragalactic neutral hydrogen (HI). The survey uses the 305-meter (1,000-foot) dish at the Arecibo Observatory. When the survey is completed, ALFALFA will have detected more than 25,000 extragalactic HI line sources.

Posted: January 27, 2012

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