Science Newsletter AAS 237 Edition

The Green Bank Observatory at AAS 237

For the January 2021 meeting there are approximately 47 presentations, sessions, iPosters, and press conferences featuring Green Bank Telescope data, Green Bank Observatory staff, partner organizations, and REU summer students. This list is evolving as the full breadth of meeting items that mention the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and the Green Bank Observatory are brought to our attention. 

View a PDF of the list here.  We’re using the #AAS237 hashtag on our Twitter @GreenBankObserv to share all of our conference news and resources – be sure to follow along!

A Message from the Green Bank Observatory Director

Looking back on 2020 it was not the year we would have wanted – the many losses of the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of Arecibo being just two of the many catastrophes the world experienced. But it was not all bad. During 2020 Green Bank Observatory hired a number of fantastic new staff members, found new ways of reaching out to the science community and the public through online biweekly science talks, public demonstrations, tours, and workshops, and continued to produce great science throughout the year. 

While pandemic concerns remain our highest priority, 2021 promises to be a productive year for Green Bank Observatory. In the coming year we will begin work on our new data archive and Cyclic Spectroscopy project, both of which are described later in this newsletter. We will also be fully commissioning LASSI, a new laser-based scanning system which will result in significantly improved performance of the GBT’s surface for high frequency observers. And last but not least, we anticipate commissioning two new receivers – a new, higher stability X-band (10-12 GHz) receiver and a new Ultra-Wideband  (0.7-4.2 GHz) receiver.  

Happy New Year, and I hope all of you have a safe and happy 2021. – Dr. Karen O’Neil

Green Bank Observatory Call for Proposals: 2021B Semester

The Green Bank Observatory (GBO) invites scientists to participate in the 2021B Semester Call for Proposals for the Green Bank Telescope (GBT).  

The submission deadline for Semester 2021B proposals is Monday, 1 February 2021, at 17:00 EST (22:00 UTC).

Proposal preparation and submission remain via the NRAO Proposal Submission Tool (PST) available at NRAO Interactive Services. Note that use of the PST requires registration.  Proposers who need assistance with proposal preparation or have questions regarding the Call or GBT capabilities should contact Observatory staff via the Helpdesk.View the complete GBO Semester 2021B Call for Proposals online.

The Decommissioning and Collapse of the Arecibo Telescope

Saddened by the announcement of the decommissioning of the Arecibo Telescope and by its collapse just a few days later, the Green Bank Observatory joined with NRAO to share a statement with the community. See the joint statement here. 

The Arecibo radio telescope had a long and distinguished history of landmark contributions to astronomy and planetary science and often has been a valued partner with NRAO telescopes and the Green Bank Telescope in research projects. Its loss is a blow to science. The staff and facilities of NRAO and GBO stand ready to assist in filling the gap that this absence creates, and offer our best wishes to our colleagues who are affected by this development. See Observatory site director Dr. Karen O’Neil comments in a recent interview.

2021 Training Workshops

February 8-10, 2021: GBT Training Workshop: The application for this workshop is now open at this link. This will be a 2.5-day virtual training workshop. No attendees will come to Green Bank for the event. The priority application deadline is January 13th. Because space is limited, we will notify applicants January 18th of their status to attend the workshop, with preference given to observers with projects beginning in February 2021.

(Tentative Dates) May 24-26, 2021: GBT Training Workshop: We expect to open applications for this workshop in February 2021 at this link. This will be a 2.5-day virtual training workshop. No attendees will come to Green Bank for the event. Because space is limited, we will notify applicants in mid-April of their status to attend the workshop, with preference given to observers with current projects or submitted GBT proposals.

(Tentative Dates) September 13-21, 2021, in Green Bank: The Single Dish Observing School will include a week of astronomy tutorials followed by GBT training workshop. We will update this page as we have more information. We currently plan to hold this 9-day workshop in person at the Green Bank Observatory. Applications for the school will open on July 1, 2021 (tentative) at which point we will announce whether the workshop will be virtual or in-person.

The Green Bank Telescope: 20 Years of Innovation and Discovery 

The Green Bank Observatory is commemorating several milestones of the Green Bank Telescope, which was dedicated twenty years ago. Over the coming months many resources will be shared, from archival photos to videos of the GBT’s construction, and new interviews with individuals fundamental to the creation of the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope. This will culminate in a virtual workshop, “The Green Bank Telescope: 20 Years of Innovation and Discovery,” Wednesday-Thursday April 21-22, celebrating the GBT’s past achievements and its future projects and science. See archival videos from the GBT’s history here.

Summer Student Research Assistantships Applications Open

The application system for 2021 summer positions is open. Applications are due on February 1, 2021.

There are several types of opportunities available.Students who are interested in Astronomy and have a background in Astronomy, Physics, Engineering, Computer Science, and/or Math are preferred. The same on-line application form is used for all three programs, which can be accessed here. Posts at Green Bank include a stipend. Affordable housing is available on-site.

Applicants from members of underrepresented groups in STEM are strongly encouraged. We have a commitment to providing an inclusive, exciting educational experience for all young scientists.  Summer students who would like to encourage future summer students can also opt in to be a Mentor in PING: (which stands for Physics Inspiring the Next Generation) Camp for rising 9th graders interested in STEM. This program happens during Green Bank Observatory summer student experiences. Be sure to select the “PING” option on the application.

Ultra Wide-band Project Research Internship for Undergraduate STEM students

The Green Bank Observatory is developing exciting ultra-wide bandwidth radio technology. Removing radio frequency interference in real time will help us to get the most out of these new technologies.

Research Interns will directly contribute to the development of this new cutting-edge receiver by characterizing novel cyclostationary RFI plots to be used in machine learning algorithms.

We are seeking up to 20 rising college freshmen and sophomores who are or will be majoring in science, computer science or engineering to participate in a paid 2-week internship in summer 2021. We are especially interested in students who are first in their family to go to college, or who are otherwise members of groups who are under-represented in STEM. Unless COVID-19 issues prohibit it (in which case the internship will continue virtually), the internship will take place on-site at the Green Bank Observatory, and interns will be immersed in the STEM research community there. Room and Board will be covered. Interns will also receive a $600.00 stipend. Internship dates are August 1-14, 2021. Applications are now open, with a priority deadline of April 1, 2021. Apply now.

group photo of 2019 PING campers

Physics Inspiring the Next Generation (PING) Summer Camp

June 25th – July 3rd, 2021 Physics Inspiring the Next Generation (PING) Investigating the Cosmos is a collaboration between the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP), and Green Bank Observatory to expose traditionally underrepresented minorities (URM) to science and engineering with a focus on physics and radio-astronomy. While the program targets specifically two former White House initiatives, My Brother’s Keeper which is working to address the education needs of young men of color, and a second effort to promote interest in science among girls, all current 8th graders are welcome to apply.

Students will be on location in Green Bank, immersed in the research activities of this national research center. While in residence, students will work in small teams supported by an undergraduate student mentor and a staff scientist (astronomer, physicist, engineer, etc.) to conduct research by observing the universe with a 40-foot diameter radio telescope. Supplemental educational activities, including bench experiences building electronic circuits, and coding activities complement the primary research theme. In addition, fun whole group activities like swimming, hiking, and biking take place on the Observatory campus under the supervision of staff.Applications available online now. The deadline to apply is April 30, 2021.

2021 Green Bank Observatory Facilities Booklet

Did you know that each year we release a full color 20 page booklet all about the Observatory? This year’s version is an interactive PDF, jam packed with links to all the resources listed inside. Download your copy today! Need a printed resource? We can do that! Email jmalusky@nrao.edu to receive free copies by mail for your office, department, classroom, or group. 

Scientists from 15 Countries Visit GBO Virtually for Argus-144 Workshop

This past fall, the Observatory hosted a virtual three-day workshop to discuss the scientific and technical aspects of a planned 144 element 3mm band spectroscopic radio camera, Argus-144. Larry Morgan, who chaired the workshop committee, was more than pleased by the response of the scientific community and its participation in this first virtual workshop to be held at the Observatory. Of the 103 individuals who participated, 67 were not affiliated with the Observatory, and 15 countries were represented. In all, many more participated than is usual for an in-person meeting.

View recordings of the presentations on the Observatory’s YouTube Channel, see them linked from the workshop schedule here.

Image credit: M. Lam (RIT); Data from Arecibo Observatory (NSF)

GBT to Use Cyclic Spectroscopy to Enhance Real-time Ultra-wideband Pulsar Observations

A new $1.3 million award from the NSF will fund GBO to develop a powerful new system for studying pulsars, combining real-time cyclic spectroscopy and ultra-wide bandwidths. The new backend system for the GBT will be one-of-a-kind, and will enhance the study of gravitational waves, multi-messenger astronomy, precision pulsar timing, and studies of the interstellar medium. Read the full release here.

The Future of Multi-Messenger Astronomy is in the Green Bank Observatory’s New Data Archive

Thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation, the Observatory will begin construction of a new data archive in 2021. This new project will allow archival data collected from GBT observations to be more easily accessed by the greater astronomy community. Multi-Messenger Astrophysics will be enabled to conduct historical and time-constrained searches for variable and transient phenomenon, while large pulsar surveys can be re-processed to yield newly discovered millisecond pulsars that are critical for the study of gravitational waves. Read the full press release here.

Image credit CHIME.

Unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos: New telescope at Green Bank Observatory will improve localization of Fast Radio Bursts

West Virginia University recently announced that a $1.7 million National Science Foundation grant will be used to construct a new telescope at the Green Bank Observatory. This new instrument will be used in association with the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME, telescope, which is located half a continent away in British Columbia. One of CHIME’s goals is to discover and monitor transient phenomena like Fast Radio Bursts, or FRBs.The new instrument at Green Bank will work with the existing CHIME telescope to pinpoint the locations of FRBs. Read WVU’s full announcement here.

Image credit NSF/GBO/P.Vosteen

Blowing in the Wind: Fast Molecular Clouds in the Galactic Center

The GBT was part of an international study that discovered carbon monoxide molecules in the Milky Way’s nuclear wind. Most large galaxies like the Milky Way have hot fast winds blowing from their centers, but only in the Milky Way can these winds be studied up close and in detail. This finding gives new information on the mass flow and energetics of the wind, and on its origin and fate. Read the full release here.

More than Meets the Eye: Complete Imaging of Cluster Collision

Image credit: PI Nobuhiro Okabe; Subaru Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan/HSC-SSP collaboration; National Science Foundation/Green Bank Observatory/Green Bank Telescope; European Space Agency/XMM-Newton/XXL survey consortium.

This composite image of a giant cosmic collision was created by an international team of astronomers using radio, X-ray, and optical data collected with the MUSTANG-2 receiver on the GBT, the European Science Agency’s (ESA) XMM-Newton Satellite, and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan’s (NAOJ) Subaru Telescope in Hawaii. The dazzling colors reveal a dramatic temperature increase resulting from the collision-induced shock – a rise from 40-million°C in the overall body of the cluster, to a whopping 400-million°C. Read the full release here.

GBO Community Zooms: Operations Updates & Science News

The Observatory has been offering bi-monthly Zoom meetings to the scientific community to share updates on operations and projects. 

Never miss an update! Sign up for announcements here.  Recordings are archived at the Observatory YouTube Channel. See them all here.

Galaxy Gift Shop Special AAS 237 Discount

AAS attendees are invited to use the following discount code GBODIG10 to save 10% off purchases at the Green Bank Observatory Galaxy Gift Shop

Welcome New Observatory Staff

Dr. Flora Paganelli is a Radar Assistant Scientist at Green Bank Observatory (GBO). As Radar Scientist, her work focuses on developing the full research case for the planned radar systems, as well as training on, documenting, and aiding the observations with current (bistatic receive) systems. Her research interests are asteroids characterization through radar ground-based and space-based observations data analytics, and SPICE application; exoplanets characterization through Kepler and K2 missions’ time series and LBTI ground-based observations.

Charles Cole is the new Division Head/Facility Engineer in support of Observatory Operations. He is a Green Bank native and a 1992 graduate of Pocahontas County High School. Charlie worked at the Observatory for five summers while attending college, in maintenance and as a tour guide. He attended West Virginia Institute of Technology majoring in Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technology. For the past 23 years he worked as a power engineer for several national communications companies. He is a veteran of the US Army Reserves serving 12 years with deployments to Bosnia (1997) and Iraq (2003). He is excited to return to his roots and learn new technologies at the Observatory.

Brenne Gregory joined the Observatory this summer as a Scientific Data Analyst. She comes to West Virginia after completing a Masters degree in astrophysics at the University of Glasgow, in Glasgow, Scotland. Previously she attended Beloit College, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in physics and minor in anthropology. Her research interests include gravitational waves and multi-messenger astronomy.

Jesse Bublitz is a new Post Doc. He received his PhD from the Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Program at RIT, under the advisement of Dr. Joel H Kastner, where he studied the effects of Ultraviolet and Xray radiation on the molecular chemistry of nearby evolved stars, planetary nebulae. He utilizes Radio telescopes and interferometers to identify the spatial structure and formation drivers of molecules that eventually make their way into new star and planetary systems like our own. Jesse is currently in his first year of postdoctoral research.

Ben Bafaloukos is an AmeriCorp funded staff member who is part of the Education and Public Outreach Department through the fall of 2021. He is developing interpretation for the site trails and new nature programs. He has an environmental science degree from North Carolina State University.

Swathi Mukkamala has been hired for an internship in our Observatory software division through West Virginia’s NewForce program. She grew up in Parkersburg and graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelors in Anthropology and Cognitive Science with a concentration in Computer Science. She has received training in software development from NewForce and cultivated specific interests within programming and UI/UX research and design through wanting to understand users’ needs and be able to implement solutions in a way that is relevant to them.

Apprenticeships/Internships, Summer Jobs & Permanent Employment

The Observatory offers apprenticeships and internships on a rolling basis. These positions are available for a wide range of positions, from machinists, mechanics, and trades to engineering, computing, and science. 

The Observatory hires for many summer roles, from seasonal positions in telescope maintenance and painting, to tour guides for the Science Center. Applications open in late winter, and this is the perfect opportunity for a wide range of job seekers from recent high school graduates, to undergraduate and graduate students, to retirees, to see what it’s like to work in Green Bank.

Over the next several years, the Observatory will be hiring a number of full-time, permanent positions. Keep an eye on our employment page to apply for these opportunities. Green Bank, West Virginia is an inclusive, creative, and tight-knit community. Our award winning staff come from the surrounding area, the country, and around the world, and they are proud to call this place home.More information about our apprentice program and careers can be found online.

2020 Publications

GBT data has been cited in over 80 publications in 2020. Our list is frequently updated. See what’s here now. Do you have an item to share? Let us know! Email jmalusky@nrao.edu.