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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 18 - August 23, 2024. Students must commit to these dates. No exceptions will be made.
  • Accepted students must live in provided Caltech housing.

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Project:  Simulating multiwavelength emission from tidal disruption events and predictions for ongoing and future surveys
Discipline:  Astronomy
Mentor:  Vikram Ravi, Professor, (PMA),
AO Contact:  Jean Somalwar,
Background:  It is thought that most or all galaxies host a massive black hole in their centers. In some cases, the black hole is actively accreting surrounding matter, causing it to produce detectable emission. However, many of these black holes are in a quiescent state, making it very difficult to find them and study their properties. One key method of identifying quiescent black holes in distant galaxies is through searches for tidal disruption events (TDEs). TDEs occur when a star ventures within the tidal radius of a massive black hole and is shredded, eventually triggering accretion onto the black hole. They produce bright flares across the multiwavelength spectrum on ~month timescales. Wide-field, cadenced surveys are discovering samples of TDEs in the X-ray, optical, IR, and radio. TDEs selected at different wavelengths appear to evolve differently, likely due to a number of factors. Importantly, dust obscuration will play a significant role, although the selection effects imposed by dust extinction have not been fully explored. In this project, we will use simple models of TDE accretion and emission to assess the role in which dust will affect TDE samples detected at different wavelengths, to make predictions for the types of TDEs expected to be detectable by future surveys, and to propose optimal bands at which TDE searches should be performed.
Description:  For this project, the student will use a simple model of TDE accretion and emission to predict the observable X-ray, optical, IR, and radio lightcurves as a function of the geometry and density of the dust surrounding a massive black hole. The student will first need to study the physics of emission due to massive black hole accretion and how that emission propagates through and heats the surrounding dust. The student will develop a mathematical model for the UV, optical, IR, and radio emission expected, which they will use to create a computer program that can generate plots of the emission at each wavelength as a function of time for different dust geometries and densities. The student will also test how varied assumptions about black hole accretion will change the results. The student will use parameters for common surveys to identify the range of parameter space each survey will be sensitive to, and to identify any gaps in parameter space that are currently undetectable.
References:  Please copy and paste this link in a new browser tab
Student Requirements:  Coding experience (preferably python), Ay20, Ay104 strongly recommended. Familiarity with basic radiative processes is also recommended.
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    both Caltech and non-Caltech students 

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

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