Science Newsletter #AAS243 Special Edition

Find out everything there is to know about GBO at AAS 243! See a list of our latest publications, a digital swag bag, and more. Don’t forget to visit our booth in the exhibit hall!

Greetings from the Observatory Director

Jim Jackson, GBO Director

It has been a busy semester at the Green Bank Observatory, and I have a lot of positive news to share.

At an event at the NSF headquarters in June, the NANOGrav team announced a very significant result, the discovery of a stochastic nanohertz gravitational wave background. This result used pulsar timing measurements to show the tell-tale statistical signature of passing gravity waves.  Green Bank Telescope data figured prominently in this discovery. Indeed, about 50% of the sensitivity was due to the inclusion of GBT data.

The refurbishment of the Green Bank Telescope is proceeding nicely. Over our summer shutdown period, we replaced a large section of the concrete foundation that had shown signs of wear and damage. This is the second large section of the foundation that has been repaired, and we have already noted substantial improvements in the flatness of the track and the telescope pointing model. 

Thanks to a generous increment in funding from the National Science Foundation, the GBO was able to procure a new set of wheels for the GBT. In January 2023, one of these large steel wheels was damaged and this incident led to a suspension of operations for several weeks. The new wheels will allow us to replace two wheels that show some small regions of cracking or spalling, and we intend to replace all of the wheels over the next few years. 

Drone inspection of the upper feed arm has revealed some areas of corrosion, and recoating the GBT, especially its feed arm, remains our highest priority to complete the GBT refurbishment.  While the GBT remains structurally sound for now, we will need to begin the recoating process as soon as funding becomes available.

At the request of the NSF, last summer the Green Bank Observatory and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory submitted a proposal for the reintegration of GBO back into the NRAO.   This proposal is under review. I do have some personal news to share. Soon I will be undergoing some medical treatment that will require several weeks of recovery. I will need to take a leave of absence while I recover. In the meantime, David Frayer will be taking on my duties as Interim Director. David has my complete confidence and support. I am happy to see the Observatory in such good hands, and I will be eager to return to the team just as soon as I am able.

2024B GBT Proposal Call

The 2024B GBT Call for Proposals is open, deadline January 31 at 22:00 UT. The 2024B semester includes increased Open Skies time along with new joint observations with JWST. Observations below 8 GHz using up to 200 hours per source/field are encouraged. Find more information here.


GBT Training Workshop, February 6-8, 2024 (remote)

Open to GBT users and the scientific community: Applications for this fully virtual workshop will close on January 12, 2024. This will be a 2.5 day virtual training workshop. We have a limited number of spaces and will prioritize applicants with upcoming GBT projects. This workshop is meant for people who will need to control the GBT for an observing project over the next year. The application can be found here.

Single Dish Summer School, June 23-29, 2024 (in person)

Open to GBT users and the scientific community: The Single Dish Summer School will be hosted by the Green Bank Observatory in Green Bank, WV and include a week of astronomy tutorials. This workshop is perfect for astronomy/physics graduate students and professionals looking to get experience in single dish astronomy. The Single Dish Summer School will run from June 23-29, with lectures from Monday-Friday. Applications will be open from January 1 – March 1, 2024, and applicants will be informed of their acceptance by mid-March. The application can be found here. The Single Dish Summer School will be in-person only this year, and there will not be GBT remote access training as part of the workshop (TBA Fall 2024).

REU Program Applications

Are you an undergraduate or graduate student looking for a research opportunity in summer 2024?  Apply for one of our research student opportunities! Green Bank Observatory has several programs that offer a research experience during a 10-12 week summer residency. Students receive a stipend to offset housing and living expenses during their experience onsite in Green Bank. 

These programs include:

  • The Undergraduate Summer Student Research Intern program is for undergraduate students or graduating college seniors who are U.S.citizens, are from an accredited U.S. Undergraduate Program, or are otherwise eligible to work in the United States. This experience is funded by the National Science Foundation as part of the Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) program.
  • The Physics Inspiring the Next Generation (PING) program was created to expose youth from traditionally underrepresented groups to radio astronomy, science, and engineering. The program is a 2-week, residential summer camp for rising 9th graders, and undergraduate students are needed to serve as mentors to student research groups. Mentors will also be engaged in their own research and work directly with a Green Bank scientist or engineer for an 8-10 week experience, similar to the REU program. Anyone who qualifies for the REU program can apply for PING, but the PING program can also support students who do not meet the REU guidelines, such as foreign undergraduate students. 
  • The Graduate Summer Student Research Intern program is for graduate students who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States and are enrolled in an accredited U.S. Graduate Program. Graduate intern funds are subject to availability, and we do not host graduate interns in Green Bank every Summer. 

Starting dates for summer REU and internship positions are flexible, usually beginning in late May. These positions can run 10-12 weeks, based on the arrangement made between the student participant and their mentor. Applications will open December 2023 with a deadline on February 1st, 2024. Learn more.

dysh Demo & Feedback

dysh is a Python-based data reduction package for GBT spectral line data being developed by GBO & the Laboratory for Millimeter Astronomy (LMA) at the University of Maryland (UMD). dysh will be a portable package providing the capabilities for handling GBT spectral line observations by GBT observers, GBO staff and scientists working with archival GBT data. The development of dysh is expected to last around 2.5 years. 

The first beta release of dysh is now available for testing, and we invite the community to participate in this process. Instructions on how to install dysh and provide feedback can be found on the dysh documentation page. If you’re interested in beta testing, please contact Pedro Salas (ude.o1716980241arn@s1716980241alasp1716980241) to be added to the list of testers. If you would like to try out dysh without installing it, you can run examples on binder.

Surveys @ #AAS243

Photo credit Jay Young.

Green Bank Observatory is seeking feedback from users and the broader astronomical community at AAS! We are running two surveys during the course of the conference: one for anyone who has observed with the Green Bank Telescope, and one for astronomers who have never used the GBT

Stop by our booth in the NSF pavilion to receive some exclusive swag upon survey completion, and be sure to share this opportunity with all of your colleagues!

ngRADAR Passes NSF Conceptual Design Review

A Synthetic Aperture Radar image of the Moon’s Tycho Crater, showing 5-meter resolution detail. Image credit Raytheon Technologies.

ngRADAR, the NSF-supported project to design a next-generation planetary radar system using a high-power transmitter on the GBT and the Very Long Baseline Array as receivers, passed its conceptual design review in November.  The ngRADAR project continues moving forward in partnership with Raytheon, an RTX business, to mature the design of the high-power radar system.  In the meantime, the ngRADAR team is looking to refurbish its highly successful, low-power, proof-of-concept transmitter for further testing in 2024.

Welcome New Staff

Jacob Turner, Postdoctoral Fellow:  Jacob Turner recently completed his PhD at West Virginia University, where he worked with Maura McLaughlin on pulsars, including the use of cyclic spectroscopy to study how free electrons in our Galaxy affect pulsar signals. In addition to pursuing his own research projects, Jacob co-organizes lunch talks and colloquia, helps with observer support, and is involved in the ongoing cyclic spectroscopy project at GBO.

Daniel Bautista, Scientific Data Analyst: Daniel is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. He was a member of the Breakthrough Listen team, and previously worked on analyzing GBT data for Breakthrough. In addition to providing GBT scientific support, Daniel is working with the NRAO as part of the National Radio Dynamic Zone program.

New Short Educational Film on National Radio Quiet Zone

The NRAO commissioned a new short educational film, and series of shorter videos, exploring the Nation Radio Quiet Zone and the newly proposed National Radio Dynamic Zone. These designations are intended to protect the radio spectrum and the work of our instruments, as we further our understanding of the Universe. This media is available for educational use by staff and out community.

GBO Designated as American Physical Society Historic Site

GBO and APS leadership presenting and receiving the designation.

The American Physical Society has designated the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Observatory (GBO) as a Historic Site, recognizing it as the location of some of the most fundamental discoveries in astrophysics and astronomy. Read more.

National Science Foundation Explores the GBT in New Video

The NSF created a short educational film exploring the GBT and opportunities for STEM education shared by the Green Bank Observatory, featuring NSF program officer Harshal Gupta.

Most sensitive search for intelligent life beyond our galaxy to date

Breakthrough Listen announced findings from the most sensitive search to date for ‘technosignatures’ – signs of intelligent life. More than 140 terabytes of data (the equivalent of watching more than five years of continuous high definition video) were acquired and analyzed and while no ‘anomalies’ were reported, the search marks another milestone in the Breakthrough Listen program. 

This new paper searched the centers of 97 nearby galaxies, observed with the Green Bank Telescope. Daniel Bautista, a data analyst at the Green Bank Observatory, was a co-author on this paper. Read More.

New type of Fast Radio Burst discovered in Green Bank Telescope data

An international team of researchers have discovered radio pulses from the distant universe that last only millionths of a second. They found these microsecond bursts after a meticulous examination of archival data from the GBT. It’s unclear how the ultrafast bursts were created. Read more.

Nature Astronomy GBT Cover

Did you catch the GBT on the cover of Nature Astronomy? Featuring the science of Mark Snedlers and ultra fast radio bursts.


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