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About Us
is made up of undergraduate students from Columbia and Barnard with a genuine interest in astronomy and who want to engage with other astronomy students, the department here at Columbia and the community at large. We welcome undergrads that are majoring in Astronomy/Astrophysics, other science disciplines, or people who simply have an interest in the subject.

Aug 22, 2011

Columbia Undergrad Research Featured on Astrobites


Our very own Sam Grunblatt's research was recently highlighted in a new series on astrobites for undergraduate research:
I just finished my second year as an undergrad at Columbia University. This summer I was a member of the NASA Academy at Marshall Space Flight Center and did soft gamma-ray astrophysics with the Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor on board the Fermi satellite with Dr. Chryssa Kouveliotou.
Time Resolved Spectroscopy of Bright Bursts From SGR J1550-5418
Magnetars, slowly rotating neutron stars with tremendous magnetic fields (>1014 Gauss), are some of the most extreme objects in our Universe. Less than twenty of these objects have been discovered to date. The sources are dormant most of their lifetimes, but become randomly active, emitting multiple soft gamma-ray (SGR) bursts.  This summer, I performed spectral analysis of bursts from SGR J1550-5418 emitted during a burst active episode between 2009 January 22 – 29. All bursts analyzed were recorded with the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) on board the Fermi Observatory with a photon flux greater than 5 x 10-6 erg/s/cm2 or a fluence greater than 10-6 erg/cm2 in the 8-200 keV energy range. The time-integrated and time-resolved spectra of these bursts were fit to Comptonized, optically thin thermal bremsstrahlung (OTTB), and double black body theoretical models. From these models, we determined distributions of the temperature, peak energy, and surface area of emission, giving a clearer picture of what’s going on in the magnetar when we see these bursts, helping us to further understand the mechanism behind them.

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