Discovering the Hidden Universe
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia is in the National Radio Quiet Zone, an area where radio interference is minimized to allow astronomers to detect low energy electromagnetic waves from astrophysical phenomena. Green Bank is home to the largest fully steerable telescope in the world, the 100 meter diameter Green Bank Telescope. The GBT is used by astronomers all over the world. It is especially well-suited for studying pulsars, stellar remnants that offer unique opportunities for us to improve our understanding of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. The observatory is about a four hour drive from GWCS.
Students from Dr. Cox’s Astrophysics class visited Green Bank to tour the observatory and to use the 40 foot diameter teaching telescope. They scanned a part of the sky that includes a star forming region (The Great Nebula in Orion) and a supernova remnant (the Crab Nebula). Data was recorded on a strip chart. After several hours of data reduction, they produced a contour map (shown here). In the southern part of the map you can see the radio emission from the star forming region. In the northern part of the map you can see the emission from the pulsar in the supernova remnant along with a background of emission from hydrogen clouds our Milky Way. They were assisted in their observations by Dr. Cox’s husband, Dr. Schulman, who spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow at NRAO.