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Undergraduate Researchers Converge on Rice to Unlock the Secrets of the Cosmos


 3rd Texas Astro Symp Photo

On Friday, October 4, 2013, the Departments of Physics and Astronomy and the Rice Space Institute hosted the 3rd Texas Astronomy Undergraduate Research Symposium at the BRC. Undergraduate researchers from Rice University, The University of Texas at Austin, Baylor University, Texas A&M University, and The University of Texas at Brownsville all presented their research. Students and their faculty advisers and other attendees also took time out to tour the National Space Biomedical Research Institute headquarters in the BRC. The full program of the day’s activities can be found here.

Research presented at the one day conference ranged from studies of variations on the Moon’s regolith to searches for the highest red-shift galaxies using the Hubble Space Telescope.  Rice students presented their work on a variety of topics, which in the morning session included observational determinations of the physical properties of jets from young stars (S. Jones), developing and testing new numerical methods to solve differential equations which describe various plasma processes important in astrophysics (J. Junno), and studies of hydrogen line profile variations produced by accretion and winds from young stars (K. Arquilla). After lunch several more Rice students presented their research including a study of radiative forces acting on dust grains in protoplanetary disks (J. Kimery), a computational study of polarized emission from gamma-ray bursts (M. Richardson), and work describing how magnetic fields can be measured in proto-stellar jets (A. Wright). The last session of the very active day saw Rice students discuss their work on searching for comets around very young stars (G. Perin) as well as using gravitational lensing to study galaxy morphology in the distant universe (H. Gilmer).

The day was a great opportunity for undergraduate student researchers from Rice and around Texas to showcase their work in Astronomy. The next meeting of this annual series is tentatively scheduled to be in Austin, TX in the Fall of 2014.