Research Projects

Spectroscopic study of the open cluster NGC 2506

Tutor: Frederic Royer

Students: Ekaterina Atanasova, Petr Kabath, Christine Oppegaard, Carmen Sánchez Gil

In this project we use multi-object spectroscopic observations in the open cluster NGC2506, obtained with FLAMES/GIRAFFE @VLT/UT2. The archive data will allow the determination of the radial velocity and the membership of the targets, the identification of binary stars, and for some members the derivation of chemical abundances (Fe, Li ...).

Link to student presentation (PDF)


A galaxy at redshift 10?

Tutor: Mischa Schirmer

Students: Brigitta Eder,Vera Könyves, Juan Carlos Muñoz Mateos, Magdalena Polinska

In 2004, astronomers announced the detection of a galaxy with a redshift of about 10 behind a lensing cluster of galaxies. The existence of this object has subsequently been a hotly debated topic, and triggered a series of follow-up observations for its verification. We will reduce the original ISAAC JHK images, using latest reduction techniques, and see if we can reproduce the detection. Time permitting, these data will be combined with observations from SOFI to push the detection limit. Our analysis will be complemented with ultra-deep archival V-and z-band observations obtained with FORS1 and FORS2, to check for emission below the Lyman limit.

Link to student presentation (PDF)


Embedded star clusters

Tutor: Margrethe Wold

Students: Nadia Draganova, Franz Elsner, Sophia Lianou, Martin Netolicky  

In this project, we will study the nucleus of a nearby starburst galaxy in the mid-infrared using VLT/VISIR data. In particular, we will look for compact regions which may be large clusters of young stars embedded in dusty material, thought to be the precursors of the globular clusters. We will reduce and analyze the data, and give an estimate of how many stars the clusters contain based on the fluxes we measure. We will also search the archive for images from the Hubble Space Telescope of the same galaxy, looking for counterparts to the clusters in high-resolution images taken at shorter wavelengths.

Link to student presentation (only PDF available)


Ultracompact dwarf galaxies in Abell 1689

Tutor: Steffen Mieske

Students: Guillermo Barro Calvo, Emanuela Chiosi, Melanie Hawthorn, Micaela Stumpf 

This project deals with the mysterious "ultracompact dwarf galaxies" (UCDs). UCDs have up to now been confirmed in the nearby Virgo and Fornax clusters.We will use archival data from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in order to look for UCDs in the galaxy cluster Abell 1689, an extreme environment which is also known as the strongest lens in the sky. The aim is to check whether Abell 1689 harbors overluminous UCDs similar to the very compact Andromeda satellite galaxy M32, a galaxy which is sometimes considered as a unique "freak of nature". The project consists of two parts. First, a photometric search for UCD candidates in Abell 1689, using archival images from HST. Second, the spectroscopic confirmation of some of these candidates, using archival data from ESO's VLT.

Link to student presentation (PDF)


Globular Clusters and Low-Mass X-Ray Binaries in a Virgo elliptical

Tutor: Andres Jordan

Students: Sinan Alis, Amelia Bayo, Daniel-Jens Kusterer, Genoveva Micheva 

In this project we will study the globular cluster (GC) system of a giant elliptical galaxy in the Virgo cluster of galaxies. We will also study its X-ray point source population which consists mostly of low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs). The latter are binary systems in which a neutron star accretes material from a low-mass donor and are known to be produced more efficiently in GCs than in the field. The project will involve the retrieval of data from the HST and Chandra archives, the appropriate combination of the data, source detection, measurement of the sources' photometric properties and the matching of sources in the optical and X-ray data. The aim is to assess quantitatively the connection between GCs and LMXBs in an early-type galaxy.

Link to student presentation (only PDF available)