The submillimeter wavelength band of the electromagnetic spectrum is the last unexplored territory of ground-based astronomy. This summer, I worked with the Submillimeter Astrophysics Group at Cornell University, under the direction of Professor Gordon Stacey, as part of the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. I will first present a brief overview of submillimeter astronomy and the unique challenges posed by observing a wavelength that is minimally transmitted through the atmosphere. Next, I will introduce the two instruments used by the Submillimeter Group, the South Pole Imaging Fabry-Perot Interferometer (SPIFI) and the High-Redshift (Z) Early Universe Spectrometer (ZEUS). Finally, I will discuss the fantastic star forming region known as the Carina Nebula, which was the focus of my study over the summer. We were working on creating a full map of the nebula in the first ground-based observation of the 205 micron [NII] spectral line. The ratios of this line to other previous published submillimeter lines provide valuable information regarding the density, structure, and relative chemical abundance of the star forming region.
Julia Kamenetzky, ’08 Bettendorf, IA
Sponsor: Kara Beauchamp