From UNC PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY WEEKLY CALENDAR:
Monday, October 29My daughter just called. She's now Dr. Moran!
12:20 p.,m. Room 258, Phillips Hall (UNC-CH)
Jane Moran (Physics and Astronomy, UNC-CH)
Investigating the Circumstellar Environments of Young Stars with the PROMPT Polarimeter
Abstract: We have designed and built a prototype imaging polarimeter for use on the PROMPT robotic telescopes located at Cerro Tololo International Observatory. The polarimeter uses a Fresnel rhomb and wollaston prism to image two orthogonal polarization states onto a single CCD chip, with an image field of view of 10 x 4.5 arcmin. Using the polarimeter, we have investigated the circumstellar regions of 11 Herbig Ae/Be stars, and done extensive follow-up observations on 3 stars of interest: KK Oph, a well-studied star with previously limited polarimetric data; NX Pup, a star known to vary photometrically but with previously unknown polarimetric variability; and SS73 44, a star with very limited previous photometric data and no prior polarimetric data. We have found polarimetric and photometric variations in KK Oph and NX Pup that are consistent with models of dust obscuration. Both KK Oph and NX Pup show an increase in polarization accompanied by a decrease in visual magnitude and a reddening. However, neither star shows the "blueing" at deep photometric minima and maximum polarization characteristic of the UXor classification of stars. We have demonstrated that SS73 44 has an intrinsic polarization component, but does not display the photometric and polarimetric variations expected from a young star with an evolving circumstellar environment, indicating that this object either has a disk seen in an orientation that has little inclination, or one with no appreciable puffed-up inner rim.
[Photo Credit: (top) PROMPT telescopes in Chile today. (bottom) Jane at the beginning of construction.]