A study of historical, current, and future developments at the Keck Observatory revealed a thriving philosophy of innovation
Besides the sun, the most luminous feature of the solar system is a cloud of "zodiacal" dust released by asteroids and comets that pervades the region interior to the asteroid belt. Similar clouds of dust around other stars—exozodiacal clouds—may be the best tracers of the habitable zones of extra-solar planetary systems. This thesis discusses three searches for exozodiacal dust:1) We observed six nearby main-sequence stars with the Keck telescope at 11.6 microns, correcting for atmosphere-induced wavefront aberrations and deconvolving the point spread function via classical speckle analysis. We compare our data to a simple model of the zodiacal dust in our own system based on COBE DIRBE observations and place upper limits on the density of exozodiacal dust in these systems.2) We observed Sirius, Altair, and Procyon with the NICMOS Coronagraph on the Hubble Space Telescope to look for scattered light from exozodiacal dust and faint companions within 10 AU from these stars. We did not achieve enough dynamic range to surpass the upper limits set by IRAS on the amount of exozodiacal dust in these systems, but we did set strong upper limits on the presence of nearby late-type and sub-stellar companions. We explain the technique of coronagraphy with a discussion of the Fourier optics of a one-dimensional coronagraph.3) The planned nulling capability of the Keck Interferometer should allow it to probe the region
Swinburne's Vice-Chancellor and the Centre for Astronomy and Supercomputing's Director have signed an MOU with Caltech which will see extensive collaboration in radio and optical astronomy over the next 5 yrs. This will include access to the world's largest and most powerful optical telescope: the twin 10m telescopes of the W. M. Keck Observatory for up to 20 nights a year. The observatory is situated at 4205m above sea level (above 60% of the Earth's atmosphere) on the summit of Hawaii's dormant Mauna Kea volcano. Access to this class of telescope will enable Swinburne astronomers to see objects further away and with more detail than has previously been possible for Australian observers. Swinburne astronomers will be the first group in Australia to have guaranteed access to the Keck telescopes.
Senior Program in Science 188L Senior Thesis in Science 190L and 191
The one year ( two seemster) program consists of 188-190 and usually involves a laboratory or field investigation with a faculty member. In 188, a topic is chosen, background materials reviewed, and research started. In 190, research is continued, culminating in a written thesis and a poster presentation. Seminar attandance is required in each semester. Normally this two-semester sequence begins in the fall semester of the senior year. A variation on this is to begin field or laboratory research during the summer between junior and senior year, and to complete the thesis in the Fall odf senior year - this option requires plenty of prior planning and organization with the Keck Science thesis reader early in the Spring of junior year.One special avenue for pre-thesis research exists via the department’s membership in the Keck Geology Consortium, which currently consists of 11 geologydepartments at small, geographically distributed liberal arts colleges in the United States. Operating on the shared premise that active participation in scientific research is a fundamental component of undergraduate education and training, each summer the consortium members pool their faculty, students and resources to run a diverse array of research projects in the United States and abroad. Pomona geology majors interested in applying to this program should speak with a Pomona faculty member no later than the start of the spring semester.