(Sept. 6, 2013) -- In July, the biggest optical/infrared telescope in the world was put in the hands of UTSA astronomers. For a week, two graduate students, Laura McMaster and Lindsay Fuller, and post-doctoral researcher Enrique Lopez-Rodriguez from the UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy performed astronomical observations at the 10.4-meter Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) at La Palma in the Canary Islands, Spain.
Their goal was to observe the central regions of active galaxies that have a supermassive black hole at their center to advance their research about the structure and evolution of the objects.
The GTC is at the top of La Palma, one of the steepest islands in the world at 7,438 feet above sea level. At that altitude, the clouds are almost always below the telescope allowing for stable and clear skies. These conditions are excellent for using the telescope's infrared instrument called CanariCam. UTSA Assistant Professor Christopher Packham was one of the lead scientists in its development.
"Since relatively few 10-meter class telescopes exist, it is essential for students to travel there in order to train and collect data. This will be only one of many observing trips for them," said Lopez-Rodriguez.
McMaster and Fuller were instructed in how to perform astronomical observations by Lopez-Rodriguez and the GTC support astronomers. For the students, it was a quick introduction to the operation of scientific equipment and data analysis. "While there, we were able to observe the center of the Milky Way as well as several other distant galaxies," McMaster said.
Observations in infrared light, a form of light with a longer wavelength than visible light, are used by astronomers to better study dusty areas in galaxies. In the infrared, the dusty clouds appear bright, instead of dark and obscure as they do in visible light.
The trip was not just an observational training for the students but also an introduction to the collaborative format that the field of astronomy encourages. By creating partnerships, UTSA has the ability to enhance its scientific productivity using world-class facilities.
"The trip was literally on-the-job training, which just happened to be at the largest optical-infrared facility available in the world," said McMaster.
All UTSA faculty, staff and students are invited to attend open forums featuring finalist candidates for the dean of the UTSA College of Sciences.
Various Locations, Main Campus
UTSA is an early voting site for the statewide General Election.
H-E-B Student Union Bexar Room (HSU 1.102), Main Campus
The UTSA Office of the President and the UTSA College of Public Policy present a discussion on San Antonio’s charter amendments. Event will be livestreamed to UTSA Main Campus, Travis Room – HSU 2.202
Buena Vista Street Building Aula Canaria (BVB 1.328), Downtown Campus
More than 75 local, state and national graduate and professional schools will showcase their programs at the Main Campus. It's free and open to the public. Interested attendees are encouraged to register for the event in advance.
Sombrilla Plaza, Main Campus
Hosted by the UTSA Office of Information Technology Student Innovation Coalition, Tech Talk is a forum for students to share thoughts about technology on campus with IT professionals and learn about products and services available to help them succeed.
Student Union Denman Room (SU 2.01.28), Main Campus
UTSA Libraries will host Claudia García-Louis, assistant professor, at the Downtown Library for her presentation AfroLatinxs: Navigating Blackness and Latinidad in the Age of Trump, as part of the popular Pizza and Research series.
Buena Vista Street Building Downtown Library (BVB 2.314), Downtown Campus
Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" with a viewing of the 1931 film adaptation. A discussion on the impact and evolution of the novel will introduce the film, led by English, Music and Medical Humanities faculty.
John Peace Library North Commons, 2nd Floor
UTSA Libraries will host K. Jill Fleuriet, Ph.D., for her lecture, Flipping the Script: U.S.-Mexico Border in the News and Alternative Visions.
John Peace Library Assembly Room (JPL 4.04.22), Main Campus
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