NASA Awards Second Research Grant to HPU Astrophysics Professor

Dr. Brad Barlow, associate professor of astrophysics and director of the Culp Planetarium at High Point University, was recently awarded a second grant by NASA to continue research.


HIGH POINT, N.C., Aug. 11, 2020 – Dr. Brad Barlow, associate professor of astrophysics and director of the Culp Planetarium at High Point University, was recently awarded a second grant by NASA to continue research.

The $50,000 grant will be funded over two years and allow Barlow and several undergraduate students to work with data received from NASA’s Transitioning Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Using this research grant money, Barlow and his students expect to find several new compact binary stars that might shed light on supernovae explosions and stellar evolution as a whole.

“I am thrilled to have received this research grant from NASA and to have its TESS spacecraft obtain high-quality observations of our targets,” says Barlow. “Nothing beats space-based data. Equally exciting is the fact that HPU undergraduates will be directly downloading and analyzing data from this satellite themselves.”

Last year, Barlow was awarded a $29,999 research grant by NASA to begin observing new variable stars. Over the past nine months, Barlow and several HPU undergraduates have been downloading and analyzing data from TESS for this project. They have found their method for identifying new variable stars from Gaia’s uncertainties works. More than 95% of the stars they observed are bona fide variables. Barlow and his students have discovered several new extreme binaries that they will publish in the coming months.

“They will undoubtedly be making cutting-edge discoveries that drive science forward,” says Barlow. “These rare experiences will help set them apart from others as they apply for positions in the industry and graduate school.”

Barlow will lead his students as they work with astronomers from institutions around the world, including Boston University; University of Potsdam in Germany; University of Liege in Belgium; Université de Toulouse in France; and the University of Valparaiso in Chile.

With the two NASA grants and the $349,621 National Science Foundation grant, there is nearly $430,000 worth of research being conducted in HPU’s Department of Physics.

 

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