2015 Summer Internship – Alan Vasquez Soto


Alan Vasquez Soto (SuRPS @ HPU)

As part of the previously-mentioned SUmmer Research Program in the Sciences (SuRPS) at HPU, Alan Vasquez Soto is helping Dr. Barlow finish a 6-year long project to monitor a pulsating star named CS 1246. Similar to a vibrating string, this star periodically changes its structure once every six minutes, growing brighter and fainter over a single pulsation cycle. Alan is using the robotic SKYNET telescopes in Chile to monitor the star and has found something interesting: CS 1246, which was once one of the strongest pulsators known (of its kind), is now barely a pulsator at all. Alan is hard at work trying to make sense of the data, which he will present this coming January at the next American Astronomical Society meeting.

The picture shows Alan hard at work on one of several pieces of code he’s written in Python. Together, his suite of programs will allow him to (i) create light curves from a series of SKYNET images, (ii) extract the pulsational period, phase, and amplitude for each light curve through sinusoidal fitting, and (iii) analyze variations in the pulsational amplitude over many years.