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Announcements of Opportunity

SURF: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty and JPL technical staff for the SURF program.

Each AO indicates whether or not it is open to non-Caltech students. If an AO is NOT open to non-Caltech students, please DO NOT contact the mentor.

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. Click here for more tips on finding a mentor.

Announcements for external summer programs are listed here.

New for 2021: Students applying for JPL projects should complete a SURF@JPL application instead of a "regular" SURF application.

Students pursuing opportunities at JPL must be
U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.

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Project:  The Case of the Most Mysterious Star in the Milky Way
Discipline:  Astronomy
Mentor:  Josh Simon, Dr., (PMA), jsimon@carnegiescience.edu
Mentor URL:  https://users.obs.carnegiescience.edu/jsimon/  (opens in new window)
Background:  Several years ago, Boyajian's Star captured the world's attention when it was observed to exhibit a series of unprecedented dimming episodes. These brightness changes were so puzzling that they spawned hypotheses ranging from a black hole along the line of sight to an artificial megastructure in orbit around the star. Although further monitoring has now ruled out the latter explanation, Boyajian's Star is still unique in the astronomical literature, and the mystery it poses remains unsolved.
Description:  In this project, we will analyze high-resolution spectra from the Gemini-North telescope of Boyajian's Star and its nearest neighbors. Using these data, we will map the spatial extent of the interstellar clouds between Boyajian's Star and the Sun. Our measurements will provide a critical test of the location of the dust absorbing the light from Boyajian's Star: is it in the interstellar medium, or associated with the star itself? The clues obtained from this study should help us finally understand the behavior of the most mysterious star in the Galaxy.

This SURF research project will be hosted at Carnegie Observatories, which is located roughly a mile north of 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.
References:  Boyajian et al. 2016 (https://academic.oup.com/mnras/article/457/4/3988/2589003)
Wright & Sigurdsson 2016 (https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8205/829/1/L3)
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 14th - Aug 20th. 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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