Following the success of the Our Place In Space! (OPIS!) Skynet-based laboratory curriculum for undergraduates, a consortium of educators, led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have started development of a new laboratory curriculum initiative, the Multi-Wavelength Universe – MWU! This new curriculum includes a series of optical and radio astronomy activities that target students who have already completed OPIS! that are at a vital point in their academic career when they make the choice to focus their education on a pathway toward a post-baccalaureate career in STEM.
This workshop is centered on the MWU! Pulsar Activity, which introduces students to radio astronomy and the fast time domain properties of pulsars – the rapidly rotating, neutron star remnants of supernovae. Participants will learn how to queue pulsar observations on Skynet’s 20-meter radio telescope and ‘discover’ a strong pulsar by eye from a data set in much the same way they were first discovered by Jocelyn Bell-Burnell and Anthony Hewish in 1967. For weaker pulsars, participants will use a periodogram resource (also used by variable star astronomers) to determine the rotation period of the pulsar, and fold the radio time series at the pulsar’s period to create a profile – a map of the emission versus the rotational phase of the star. Participants will also ‘discover’ the polarization characteristics of pulsars, and investigate the emission geometry thought to be responsible for their observable characteristics.