Thank you, Arecibo!

Jan 10, 2012

In December, Astronomy 113 (Hands on the Universe) students had a rare opportunity to operate the giant Arecibo (Puerto Rico) radio telescope as part of their hands-on exploration of the Universe.

Observatory director Dr. Bob Kerr granted an hour of telescope time to each of the five class sections. Under the guidance of their instructors, Professor Snezana Stanimirovic and graduate student Natalie Gosnell, each section was able to remotely point the telescope in the direction of several known galaxies and obtain spectra of atomic hydrogen at the wavelength of 21 cm. They retrieved more than a dozen beautiful galaxy profiles, which they used to estimate how fast these galaxies are moving away from the Milky Way, and how both visible and dark matter inside them governs the rotational speed of hydrogen clouds.

To express their appreciation for this unique educational opportunity, the class sent a Badger thank-you card to the Observatory.

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