AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 88. Undergraduate Astronomy Instruction, Labs and Research
Poster, Wednesday, January 8, 2003, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall AB

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[88.05] Research Results from the MIT Haystack Observatory Undergraduate Education Program

P. Pratap (MIT Haystack Observatory), R. French (Wellesley College)

The undergraduate education program at MIT Haystack Observatory includes the development of a small radio telescope (SRT) and access to a research grade 37-m radio telescope.

The SRT is intended to provide students and faculty with an introduction to radio astronomy and is now commercially available .The SRT has been used to measure the total flux of the sun and study its variation during a 15-day period of intense solar activity. Several radio flares were detected. A comparison of the emission with radio emission at 327MHz and X-ray emission showed that there was not always a correlation between the radio events and the X-ray events, indicating that the origin of the activity at different wavelengths may be related to the differences in the physical mechanisms causing the flares.

The 37-m telescope is available to students and faculty for research projects. We have instituted several observatory projects that are available for individual students wishing to perform a research project. This paper will discuss the results of one of the observatory projects: a search for Class I methanol masers toward regions of star formation. Class I methanol masers are often found offset from sites of star formation. Traditional searches for these masers have focused on known star forming regions and hence have missed detecting several maser sites. The goal of this project is to perform unbiased searches toward molecular clouds to detect all the observable masers. The results are then used to build a model for the environment of these masers and determine whether they are a result of outflows from the known star formation or whether they are indicative of very young, embedded stars. The study has involved undergraduate students from several institutions around the country. Several new sites of maser emission have been detected so far toward five molecular clouds.

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