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Amgen Scholars: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty for the Amgen Scholars program.

Announcements of Opportunity are posted as they are received. Please check back regularly for new AO submissions! Remember: This is just one way that you can go about identifying a suitable project and/or mentor. For additional tips on identifying a mentor click here.

Please remember:

  • Students pursuing Amgen must be U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, or students with DACA status.
  • Students pursuing Amgen must complete the 10-week program from June 21 - August 25, 2023. Students must commit to these dates. No exceptions will be made.
  • Accepted students must live in provided Caltech housing.

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Project:  Searching for Binary Stars in the Smallest Galaxies
Discipline:  Astronomy
Mentor:  Josh Simon, Dr., (PMA), jsimon@carnegiescience.edu, Phone: 626-304-0256
Mentor URL:  https://users.obs.carnegiescience.edu/jsimon/  (opens in new window)
Background:  Most stars are located in binary or multiple star systems, with two or more stars orbiting their common center of mass. Recent studies have shown that old stars lacking in heavy elements are more likely to be members of a binary system than younger stars are.

Dwarf galaxies orbiting our Milky Way contain especially old and heavy-element-poor stars. The amount of dark matter in these galaxies is determined by measuring the velocities of their stars, which in principle may consist of a combination of the orbital motion of a binary star around its companion star(s) and the orbital motion of the binary system around the dwarf galaxy. This situation raises the concern that dwarf galaxy dark matter measurements could be biased if some of the observed stars are actually binaries.
Description:  In this project, we will use spectra from the 6.5-meter Magellan telescopes in Chile to measure the velocities of the brightest stars in several of the Milky Way's nearest neighbor galaxies over periods of ~5 years to determine whether the stars are in binary systems. If they are binaries, then the inferred dark matter content of these galaxies may need to be revised. If they are not binaries, then previous dark matter determinations should be reliable. With the velocity measurements, we will place limits on the orbital period and companion mass for the stars that do not show evidence of binarity, and determine the orbits for any binary stars we find.

This SURF research project will be hosted at Carnegie Observatories, which is located roughly a mile north of the Caltech campus. Carnegie hosts undergraduate research summer students from a variety of colleges and universities across Southern California. In addition to research, Carnegie summer interns (including those from the SURF program) participate in a wide variety of professional development activities, including a coding bootcamp at the beginning of the summer, scientific communication workshops throughout the program, and seminars on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in science. Upon successful completion of the program, all students will also be given the opportunity to attend the American Astronomical Society meeting and present their research the following January. Additional information about the Carnegie Summer program can be found at https://obs.carnegiescience.edu/CASSI
Student Requirements:  Position available to Caltech students only. Research will be conducted at Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena as part of the Carnegie Astrophysics Summer Student Internship (CASSI) program, which runs from June 19th - August 25th. Students must be present for the full duration of the program.
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    Caltech students only 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.

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