science newsletter aas244

Greetings from the Observatory Director

Jim Jackson, GBO Director

After a long medical leave, I am delighted to be back at Green Bank. In December, I had some extensive surgery to remove a tumor in my left cheek, and in February and March I underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I am happy to say that all went well. I am feeling well, and I am eager to resume work here at the Observatory. I want to thank David Frayer for stepping up to act as Interim Director in my absence. David’s leadership ensured the continued smooth operations of the Observatory while I was away. He did an outstanding job.

The GBT continues to deliver remarkable science results. Two recent highlights are the discovery of a gas-rich but star-poor galaxy, possibly composed entirely of primordial gas, and the discovery of a mysterious companion to a pulsar that is either the most massive neutron star or the least massive black hole ever seen.

As we enter our summer season, I am heartened to see that GBO is busier than ever. The NSF has funded our much-needed work on the Green Bank Telescope to shore up the foundation, to replace the wear plates on the track, and to replace the azimuth wheels and bearings. These are all major undertakings, and will result in a much more robust telescope that will deliver higher quality data.

The campus is vibrant with student groups and undergraduate summer interns. The Science Center is teeming with visitors at levels matching or exceeding pre-pandemic levels. Surely among our visitors are future workers in STEM and future astronomers, perhaps even future GBO staff. I commend our EPO team, our cafeteria and housing staff, and our staff scientists for their hard work in supporting the large number of summer visitors.

As we look to the future, in the coming few years the GBO plans to complete its GBT upgrade, and especially to begin the major project to recoat the GBT structure with fresh coats of primer and paint. We aim to complete the foundation, track, and wheel replacement in the next few years. Once the upgrade is complete, the GBT will produce world-class science for decades to come.

In addition, we are studying several future enhancements to the GBT’s capabilities, including the Ultra-Wideband Receiver, new array cameras, and expanding the bandwidth by upgrading the IF chain and the VEGAS backend. Finally, a new data processing technique, cyclic spectroscopy, will improve our pulsar timing and the measurement of pulsar profiles. This new technique should be available to observers within the year.

Green Bank Observatory 2024B Science Program & Time Allocation Committee Report

A total of 99 proposals requesting NSF funded “open skies” time were submitted to the Green Bank Observatory’s Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) for the January 31, 2024 semester 24B deadline. A table is available on our website that summarizes the approved observing programs, including the PI name, proposal ID, proposal title, maximum hours approved and proposal type (Regular, Triggered, Large or External). Proposals from previous semesters that were awarded time in the 24B semester are also included in that information. The table includes HSA and GMVA proposals that were awarded time on the GBT as a VLBI station, as well as proposals accepted via external agreements with CHANDRA, HST, JWST, FERMI, NICER, Swift, and XMM.

View the Proposal Call Results here

Single Dish Summer School and Upcoming Training Workshops

The Green Bank Telescope with a dark sky of stars.

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

GBT Training Workshop – October 8-10, 2024 (remote)

GBT Training Workshop – March 18-20, 2025 (in-person)

The GBO Single Dish Summer School provides students, post-docs, and experts in other fields of astronomy with both knowledge and practical experience of the techniques and applications of single-dish radio astronomy. The workshops are based around an intensive series of lectures from experts, as well as hands-on radio-astronomy projects and tutorials. Topics covered include key science areas for single dish radio telescopes, radio emission properties, fundamentals of radio telescopes and radio frequency instrumentation, observing techniques and strategies, calibration and data processing, and complementary use of single dish and interferometric telescopes.

While the registration deadline for this summer’s session has closed, please keep this and other trainings in mind for your future needs! The next Single Dish Summer School will be held in 2026. A remote training workshop will be held in October 2024, and the next in-person training workshop is planned for March 2025.

Keep your eyes on this page for all upcoming trainings and workshops

2024 GBO REU Summer Students

GBO welcomes this year’s cohort of students to research alongside our GBO staff. Applications for 2025 will open this winter, learn more here

Sophie Nathanson (University of California, San-Diego) – Brenne Gregory – RFI Exhibit for the VLA Science Center

Kaitlyn Chen (Harvey Mudd College) – Evan Smith – Comparison of RFI Mitigation Techniques on GBT Data

Luke Datsko (University of Akron) – Karen O’Neil – A RFI Detection Device for the VLA Science Center

Michael Munnelly (University of Oklahoma) – Toney Minter – VLA Observations of Compact High-Velocity Clouds

Rachel King (West Virginia University) – Jacob Turner – Pulsrs an the Ionized Interstellar Medium

Sofia Robertson (Robert Mudd College) – Thomas Chamberlin – Live View of GBT Position

Juan Cardenas (Cornell University) – Pedro Salas – The GBT L-band Drift Scan Survey

Mahmoud Hallak (Brown University) – Kasey Purcell – Optimizing Dynamic Queries for Large RFI Data Sets

Nana Nyarko (Notre Dame of Maryland University) – Graham Doskoch – A FRB and Single Pulse Search Activity for the GB 20-m

2024 Jansky Fellows Awarded

As a part of its central mission to nurture and inspire the next generation of radio astronomers, the National Science Foundation’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) has selected two outstanding early career professionals for its 2024 Jansky Fellowship. 

The Jansky Fellowship encourages early career astronomy and engineering professionals to pursue their personal research interests through the lens of radio astronomy, and with the support of NRAO’s observatories and research and engineering resources. Appointed for two years, with the opportunity to renew for a third year, Jansky Fellows develop broad skill sets and establish themselves as innovative, independent research scientists and engineers, and top leaders in the field by deepening their understanding of radio astronomy while collaborating with NRAO scientific staff and their colleagues in the global astrophysics community.

Read the full press release and learn more about the two Jansky Fellows, Adam Dong and Kyle Massingill

New GBO Staff

Dr. Emily Moravec, Assistant Scientist – Dr. Emily Moravec received her Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Florida, then moved to Prague in the Czech Republic for her first postdoc, where she worked at the Astronomical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences as a researcher and as a support scientist at the Czech node of the European ALMA Regional Center. Then she came back to the United States for her second postdoc at Green Bank Observatory. Her scientific interests are galaxy clusters, active galactic nuclei, and investigating the connection between the two. She also enjoys being involved in science policy.

William Wallace, Microwave Engineer – William Wallace brings to the Observatory a wealth of experience in antenna design, electromagnetic material properties, RF plasma, additive manufacturing, and antenna measurement. Previously, he worked at the Naval Air Warfare Center, Cuming Microwave, Optisys, Orbit Advanced Technologies (MVG), and founded Adaptive Electrodynamics. He graduated from West Virginia University and later obtained an MSEE from Johns Hopkins University, having studied antenna engineering and MMIC design. At GBO, under the mentorship of Galen Watts, he is taking on the engineering role for ngRADAR, ngVLA feed testing, maser and timing center electronics, the Ka-band receiver, and GBT IF electronics.

Green Bank Observatory Inspires Blenko Glass

Blenko Glass Company announced its 2024 West Virginia Day Piece, “Wavelength.” This year’s ‘Birthday’ piece is a 15-inch charger (wide, shallow bowl) in classic Crystal with intricate white glass powder tracework in a diamond optic pattern to create a beautiful, radiating geometric design. The charger was designed by Creative Director James Arnett to echo and honor the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Radio Telescope. Read the complete press release here

Visit the GBO Science Center

The Science Center welcomes the public with interactive exhibits in the Catching the Wave Exhibit Hall and shopping and dining in the Galaxy Gift Shop and the Starlight Café. Presentations and site tours are offered at regular intervals throughout the day, and additional programs are scheduled throughout the month, including High Tech tours of the Jansky Lab, SETI tours, star parties, indoor StarLab programs, family science labs, and other special events. 

Classrooms and a computer lab are available for hosting school groups. Visitors are also welcome to take a self-guided walking tour of the Observatory. The Science Center is free, but fees are charged for all tours and some special events. Advanced registration is required for field trips and large groups. Days of operation and hours change seasonally. Learn more here

Green Bank Observatory Bi-weekly Science Community Webinars

GBO shares news and information about its operations and science in a bi-weekly Zoom webinar every other Wednesday at 1 pm EST (except where noted). The recordings are linked at our website, and include a description of topics and presenters in the recording descriptions. If you would like to watch live, you can also register at our website to be subscribed to the presentations. 

GBO Flickr & YouTube Resources

If you ever need images of GBO or the GBT, or any of the Observatory’s major events, you can find them on the GBO Flickr account page, which is accessible from the GBO homepage and links embedded here. You can also watch our bi-monthly GBO Community Zooms, science lunches, and recordings from meetings and workshops on the GBO YouTube Channel.