Cool Star Lab Presents at Cool Stars Conference

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Adam Burgasser and Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi were among hundreds of attendees at the 18th Cambridge Workshop on Cool Stars, Stellar Systems and the Sun, held in Flagstaff, AZ, June 8-13.  This biennial conference highlights the latest research in low-temperature, low-mass stars and brown dwarfs, and this year had its fair share of exciting results in both observation and theory.

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Talk on the Future of the SpeX Prism Library

Prof. Adam Burgasser gave a talk on March 21, 2014 at the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, describing the impact and future of the SpeX Prism Library (SPL).  The talk can be viewed in its entirety through YouTube:

Initiated over 5 years ago, the SPL is a compilation of nearly 1000 low-resolution near-infrared spectra of M, L and T dwarfs measured with the SpeX spectrograph on the 3-meter IRTF telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.  The data were acquired by several groups over the past decade.  Used in over 100 publications to date, the SPL has been an invaluable resource for studies on cool stars, brown dwarfs, exoplanets and even high redshift quasars!  In addition, SPL data has been used for art (through Project Planetaria) and public outreach/education.

In his talk, Adam described his vision of the future of the SPL , which is aimed at making it a fully curated dataset and more user-friendly for non-expert use; e.g., for research projects for students from middle school to college levels. Some of the main tasks he foresees in realizing this vision are (1) providing a more uniformly calibrated set of spectra through re-reduction of older data; (2) expansion of the dataset, including data published in the literature or languishing in the SpeX computers; (3) development of Python software tools to visualize, measure and manipulate the spectra; and (4) development of visual programming tools so non-experts can explore the data in new ways.  Adam has requested funding from the NSF and NASA to pursue this work.

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Some of the work is already underway, as the Cool Star Lab has started development of the SpeX Prism Library Analysis Toolkit, or SPLAT.  In weekly coding sessions, the group has produced the first iteration of the toolkit, allowing for spectral data reading, plotting and index measurement.  More to come soon!

Adam Burgasser visits Morehouse College in preparation for Summer Bridge Program

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Cool Star Lab PI Adam Burgasser visited Morehouse College November 19th to meet with Physics faculty members, including Profs. Willie Rockward (left) and Aakhut Bat (right), and students, in preparation for this summer’s UCSD-Morehouse Physics Summer Bridge Program.  Three Morehouse students will be supported this year for an 8-week summer research and graduate training program at UC San Diego.   Adam gave on talk on brown dwarf astrophysics to Morehouse Physics majors, which can be seen on YouTube.

Adam Burgasser elected co-lead of LSST working group on Low-mass Stars and the Solar Neighborhood

Adam Burgasser has been elected as one of two lead organizers for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) science working group on Low-mass Stars and the Solar Neighborhood.  A member of the LSST Science Team since 2009, Adam will work with George State University colleague Todd Henry to define science goals and opportunities using what will be the most productive monitoring telescope ever created, capable of imaging the entire available sky every few nights. Construction for LSST is expected to begin in 2014.

Cool Star Lab helps with Cross-Border Science Journalism Conference

Members of the Cool Star Lab were both organizers and participants at the Cross-Border Science Journalism Conference held at the Institute of the Americas at UCSD on April 27th, 2013.  This conference/workshop brought together science journalists from the US and Mexico to strengthen cross-border exchanges on science, environment, agriculture, health, and other issues in which the U.S. and Latin America have a shared link and vital stake. Panelists also discussed resources of identifying and reporting, markets on both sides of the border, cyber security and new reporters’ tools.

Adam Burgasser and Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi were technical consultants for the conference, setting up and operating the Google webcast that is now available on Youtube (see below).  Dianna Cowern attended the conference, and learned some new tools for her science reporting toolbox.

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