UTSA student astronomers use world's largest optical, infrared telescope
(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.
UTSA will offer science, engineering, architecture, sports, music, writing and language and culture camps for kids, teens and adults. Register now.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
Join Dr. Max Kilger for a fascinating look at the research illuminating the motivations behind malicious online actors, a key component to combating our nation’s digital national security issues.Geekdom Event Centre, 131 Soledad, San Antonio
Roadrunners get involved in fun, engaging and interactive experiences to gear up for the new school year.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The success of African Americans in popular sports has been well documented, while less attention has been given to their intellectual achievements. Utilizing historical, sociological, and cultural perspectives, Dr. Langston Clark will explore the intersection of Black Intellectualism and Black Athleticism.The Garage at the Pearl, 250 E. Grayson, San Antonio
Join the UTSA Small Business Development Center for its 5th annual day of immersion into digital marketing through seminars, Q&A sessions, and networking. Industry-expert presenters include Mark Nanez, Cory Ames, Charity Matthews, and Steven Bullard.Durango Building (DBB 2.316), Downtown Campus
The Roadrunners open up 2019 play against hometown rival UIW Cardinals.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio
UTSA hosts Army West PointAlamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio