Dr. Todd Vaccaro
Dr. Todd Vaccaro
<b>Department: </b>Physics and Astronomy<br><b>Research Area: </b>Light variability of eclipsing binary stars.

Department: Physics and Astronomy

Research Focus: Light variability of eclipsing binary stars.


Potential Student Project(s):

Investigate the light variations of eclipsing binary stars using archival data from current and past space missions like TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) along with ground-based observations using one of our telescopes on campus or remotely via SARA (The Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy). Variability studies of stars like this allow us to gain insights into interesting astrophysical characteristics of the stars like their size, mass, and temperature along with various system effects like orbital period changes due to stellar activity or the presence of third bodies such as subsolar companions or exoplanets.


Attributes/skills/background sought in undergraduate:

Use of some programs may be required that can be installed onto a personal laptop to analyze data. Manipulation of tables of data in a spreadsheet like MS Excel with some calculations or conversions of data using additional tools that maybe found online. Plotting of data in spreadsheets or other plotting software. If new data is to be obtained from various telescopes, some night-time work may be necessary. Good communication skills and writing especially if results are presented in local or national meetings as posters or short research papers that would be published.


Mentoring Plan:

Chose a particular binary star candidate system to explore. Check for existing archival data online (or in the literature) and/or in hand from previous observations of our research group using campus telescopes or remote scopes through the SARA consortium. Measure the times of minima (middle of eclipses) and plot results over the window of time covered by the data and analyze for any variations. Compare various eras of data that may show changes in the light variations that could be due to stellar activity (e.g. star spots or flaring). If time allows model the data to fully characterize the stars in the system in terms of their mass, size, and temperature.

The student researcher will work 5 h/week on the project including a 1-on-1 interaction with me for at least 1 hour/week.


Contact: 765-285-8870, CP 101