(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.
This high school student exhibit features images, videos, interviews and writings that the students learned about while participating in "The Will to Adorn: African American Dress and the Aesthetics of Identity."
Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
UTSA has a greater focus in 2018 to serve the local community. Learn the many opportunities you can get involved.
Student Union, 1st floor corridor, Main Campus
Come meet STEM recruiters in person from companies across the nation that have full-time, part-time and/or internship opportunities.
Convocation Center, Main Campus
The summit is an opportunity to create an open forum for the community to share ideas and perspectives on civic engagement.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom (HUC 1.104), Main Campus
Meet recruiters in person from companies across the nation that have full-time and/or internship opportunities. Professional dress required.
Convocation Center, Main Campus
New exhibit of Latino and Latina artists is curated by Arturo Infante Almeida, art specialist and curator for the UTSA Art Collection. Opening Reception is Feb. 8; exhibit runs through June 10.
Centro de Artes Gallery, 102 S. Santa Rosa, San Antonio
The UTSA commnity is encouraged to get involved in this city-wide initiative to clean up the San Antonio area waterways. Roadsrunners will be cleaning up Maverick Creek on the west side of Main Campus.
Maverick Creek, Main Campus
Ron Ellis conducts the student instrumental ensemble in a free concert that is open to the public.
Arts Building, Recital Hall (ARTS 2.03.02), Main Campus
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