By Patricia Daukantas
In another example of the increasing collaboration between professional and amateur astronomers, three German high school students and a secondary school physics teacher have published their study of a cataclysmic variable star in a professional journal.
The students and teacher joined three professional astronomers in studying the light variations of EK Ursae Majoris, a close binary system in which one of the stars is pulling matter off its companion. From their home base of Göttingen, the teens participated in remote-control observations of the star with an optical telescope deep in the heart of Texas (U.S.A.). Then they had to learn how to reduce the CCD images and generate “light curves,” or graphs of the brightness of the binary star over the course of two months. Finally, they compared their data with observations taken by two X-ray satellites orbiting the earth.
This statement from the publisher of Astronomy & Astrophysics includes a link to a PDF copy of the four-page journal article, which was accepted for publication in August.
I’m always fascinated by students who pursue research before they get to college, and I wish them all the best in their future endeavors.