Tim Connors - Project information

This page contains information for all SAO students submitting projects 32: "Are Quasars powered by Supernovae?", 43: "Guest Stars", 59: "Non-Baryonic Dark Matter Searches", 49: "A Great Plot Device", 82: "What Price Clean Images?", and 104: "Ripples in the Cosmic Microwave Background", to me. Come back as necessary, I may have added or corrected links since last time you came.

Please feel free to email me at tconnors+sao@spam.me.not.astro.swin.edu.au (remove the spam to
        mail me!) if you have any questions on project assessment, or on the Projects listed below. Also, mail me if you come across a broken link in this page. And, by all means, mail me if you find some better links!

However, all questions about computers, CD-ROMs, Internet access, etc. should go to SAO helpdesk and ltshelp

For any work submitted to me please make sure you include 1) Your Name 2) SAO Student number 3) Unit (eg. HET603B, HET604, etc) and Semester (ie. S1, 2003) 4) Title of Work.

Work should be submitted as (in order of preference - given that I am using UNIX here) OpenOffice documents, Word documents (ick), or PDF documents (although the latter doesn't allow me to modify the file and return it to you). The RTF format was good in theory, but in practice, has caused lots of troubles. Before sending me your document, please zip it up and see if it is much smaller that way, but sometimes even this causes troubles, because silly firewalls think it is a good idea to remove zip file attachments from email, because they are so <sarcasm>obviously</sarcasm> viruses, especially when they are 5MB in size (Microsoft at least, for all their faults, haven't yet found a way to bring the internet to a crawl with viruses of that size). Since there is nothing worse than trying to hand in your projects on time, and discovering problems, please try to send me your project well before the deadline (this makes good sense normally, anyway), giving me a chance to respond to you if there are problems. You do get penalised for overdue projects.

Assessment Details

Before reading any further please carefully read the SAO Assessment Details in the blackboard information pages. There is a sample essay somewhere in there, where you can find out how to lay out your references.

Key points:

Speeling misteaks! There should not be any of these in this day of computer spelling chequers, err sorry, checkers. (I'll be very hard on this in the projects!) [ I'm not as hard on grammatical errors as I realise that SAO students come from a wide variety of countries, many non-English speaking as first language, although, if I can't understand what you are writing, don't expect me to give good marks!]

I supervise a number of projects. Below I list some web sites and reference books for each Project topic that I am supervising to get you started. The books are not to be regarded as "must buy". They are not required reading for each project, because there is no required reading! I list well known books that I hope can be found in libraries.

I am happy to comment on a summary of what you intend to do (in fact please send me a summary as soon as possible so I know you are on track).

A hint: Start early on your Project preparation. Remember that you will be continuing to contribute to the Newgroup Discussion as you prepare your Project.

[It can help to get someone else to read your Project, especially if you are not brilliant at English. Their comments will show you the weak spots. Please carefully read your Project before you submit it! This sounds obvious but I've noticed simple errors even in the first paragraph of many Projects.]

Caution! The Internet (and how not to plagiarise)

Google is your friend. It is also a good internet search engine. Furthermore, Google now have the google scholar, which even links nicely with ADS and astro-ph. A word of warning/caution to users of Internet/Web resources. Just because information is on a Web page, doesn't mean that it is correct. After a while you will be able to identify the more reputable sites (eg. most .edu.*, .ac.* sites - be slightly warey of any .com.* addresses!). Check the credentials of the author of the site. Has the web site been updated lately? Does it agree with other (non-Internet) information? The truth is out there, but so is a lot of rubbish!

Please don't plagarise. This is especially easy to do from the internet, even accidentally, and you will be very very heavily penalised if I detect any plagarism. Plagarism includes quoting large blocks of someone elses work, without duly referencing them. It even includes just changing a word here and there. This does not mean you can quote a paragraph from one source, reference it at the end of the paragraph, and then write another paragraph directly quoting another source, ad infinitum. This doesn't show me that you have much skill and understanding of the topic! If any paragraphs or sections of your text seem to have the same structure as some published work, then you will have to explain yourself to me.

Proper references

References are there for the audience to follow up on a point that interests them. If the referenced article isn't accessible by the audience, (in this case, the audience is me -- your humble marker), then the reference isn't doing a very good job. In astronomy, you can assume the reader will have access to astro-ph, ADS including all major journals, and a lot of minor ones (not necessarily regional ones like Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan), websites, authoritative text books, etc. If there's an encyclopaedia that requires registration just to read an article (rather than to search for an article), then it probably is not suitably accessible to all readers. In the case of all web related articles, be sure to include a full link to a permanent URL, rather than saying "search for '...' on '...'".

And don't say "well, it seems my audience won't be able to read this referenced article, so I just won't reference it at all then", because that would then be plagiarism. The idea of science is you are trying to pass your knowledge on. If you find something out, then you want to tell your audience where they can find out more about what you just talked about.

All work that is not your own (ie, any finding that does not come from your own scientific work, and is not completely self evident) must be referenced both within the text, and in the bibliography.

Please do not use your unit text books ("Universe") and CDROM lectures as research material for your project. We want to know that you can fully research your topic without just referring back to the material given to you in lectures.

Astronomy Resources

Resource Lists or Astronomical Resources on the World Wide Web: A Guide to Surfing (thanks to Glen for these)

General References

Project #104. Ripples in The Cosmic Microwave Background

The writeup for this project is as follows:
One of the hottest topics in astronomy at the moment is the study of anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Explain how these anisotropies were produced, how we detect and study them, and what we have learnt from these measurements. To get high marks, you should also discuss the polarisation of the CMB and efforts to detect it.

Some useful links I found in about 5 minutes while searching on google for "cmb anisotropy polarization" (note that American's spell polarisation as polarization, and hence you won't have much luck searching for "polarisation" with an s) Start at the Planck (Planck is a mission to detect the anisotropies and polarisation) web page. From there you may find http://astro.estec.esa.nl/Planck/report/redbook/polar.htm and http://astro.estec.esa.nl/SA-general/Projects/Planck/science/science_top.html and http://astro.estec.esa.nl/SA-general/Projects/Planck/science/performance/perf_top.html. You can also come across such gems as http://www.phys.ksu.edu/~tarun/CMBonWeb.html which point to pages on polarisation. There is a lot out there.....

There are plans for several ground based and space based polarisation observations as well, which I didn't search on. Come on - you have to do some work too! ;)

Update - 25/Sep/02

I was doing my weekly visit of Astro-ph, and came across these, among others, which mention a few more experiments: 0209491 and 0209478.

Update - 2 Oct 03

You will want to look at the series of results from WMAP: Look at the papers in volume 148 of ApjS -- go to ADS journal query to get the results. Supplement this with followup papers from Astro-ph

Update - 23 Oct 03

A new paper -- 0310650 -- could provide a bit of review of polarisation.

Project #32. Are Quasars powered by Supernovae?

The writeup for this project is as follows:
Despite the apparently overwhelming evidence for massive black holes, a group of astronomers led by the respected astrophysicist Roberto Terlevich still maintains that quasars could be powered by supernovae. Could they be right? You will need to find out about the theories put forwrad by Terlevich, and then decide for yourself, possibly backed up by some web searches, whether his model can explain the observed features of quasars, at several wavelengths.

I did a brief search on Astro-ph, which is free to use pre-print server, and came up with these results: 9609055 9608110. Some people might not be able to access ADS, but these (1, 2, 3) papers are on the starburst model. Mail me if you have trouble getting the ADS files.

I found a page here cautioning against believing redshifts must be wrong - the whole thing was quite a good read.

That should do to get you started....

Project #43. Guest Stars

The writeup for this project is as follows:
The Crab Nebula is believed to have been formed in a dramatic event recorded by ancient astronomers on 4 July, 1054. Discuss the arguments which link the Crab Nebula and other celestial objects to historical records. How credible are the claims of such associations? To obtain high marks, you must explan what we learn from these objects by making such connections.

A very cursory search gives these: Some data on historical supernovae. A book. More data. Info on 1054.

Project #59. Non-Baryonic Dark Matter Searches

The writeup for this project is as follows:
Describe past, ongoing, and future experiments designed to detect non-baryonic dark matter. If the universe really is dominated by such matter, why is it so difficult to detect? To achieve a high grade for this project you will need to succinctly describe the scientific motivation for such searches, and present a clear understanding of the engineering difficulties that must be overcome in order to detect this supposedly ubiquitous component of the universe.

First off, what is non-baryonic dark matter? More than meets the eye. A good overview of the science of detection might be Particle Dark Matter, or Non-Baryonic Dark Matter Searches.

John Ellis, a particle physicist involved in dark matter searches, has a useful presentation called Dark 2002 and Beyond.
There is also the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search homepage, and a bit of information starting chapter 1.5 of Formation Of Structure In The Universe.

The presense of a large amounts of non-baryonic dark matter seems to be pretty much accepted as fact in the modelling community, so I have not attempted to find anything on the science of non-BDM. The focus of this project is more on detecting something that we think ought to be out there.

Update - 18/Oct/02

I just found another astro-ph article, which, although I have not looked closely at it yet, could be appropriate. It is talking about neutrinos.

Update - 2 Oct 03

You may want to look at the series of results from WMAP: Look at the papers in volume 148 of ApjS -- go to ADS journal query to get the results. Supplement this with followup papers from Astro-ph

Project #49. A great plot device

The writeup for this project is as follows:
General Relativity has proven to be a real boon for Science Fiction writers: Black Holes, Worm Holes, Time Travel... But most of the time, they don't quite get all the facts right. In this project, choose a number of Science Fiction movies which feature elements of General Relativity, and discuss where the science goes wrong. To get a good mark for this project, you will also need to consider what the visual effects of Relativity are.

There are a few people at ANU who like to visualise the effects of Special Relativity - see here. And there are a huge number of general relativistic visaualisations here.
Notice how you can include some effects of relativity, but it gets increasingly complicated.

Please please please don't go on about the cinematic technique - concentrate on the science.

Project #82. What Price Clean Images?

The writeup for this project is as follows:
No less than the Hubble Space Telescope has been a slave to the seemingly miraculous ability of sophisticated image deconvolution routines to improve less-than-optimal imaging data to remarkably high quality. Considering the successes of such algorithms, one might wonder why they aren't employed automatically all of the time! To achieve high marks in this project, you will need detail the inner workings of several of the most popular of image deconvolution techniques, including the Maximum Entropy Method, Lucy-Richardson, and Wiener algorithms. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of such image deconvolution, drawing from the rich astronomical literature on the subject.

The place I personally started on learning cleaning was the miriad documents for deconvolution. It's quite mathematical, and certainly isn't the best place to start out.

Theres lecture notes here on deconvolution.

For a demonstation of how the UV (Fourier) plane affects radio synthesis imaging, and hence why cleaning is (absolutely, for radio synthesis imaging) necessary, there is a Java applet that operates on any image file you choose to upload, and can demonstrate what an incomplete sampling of the UV plane, and how this can be cleaned at this VRI page, along with the help file (that page also points to some miriad help on generating UV images - it's probably not wise to go downloading miriad yourself and playing with it, because it is quite large, and has a bit of a learning curve).

Updated: 21 Apr, 2004
There's an annual review article here (title: Maximum Entropy Image Restoration in Astronomy, year, 1986) which is quite good, but I don't know whether you can access it. If not - mail me, and I will give it to you.
Also, try this.

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tconnors+sao@spam.me.not.astro.swin.edu.au (remove the spam to mail me!) - Tim Connors

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Last modified: Mon May 2 16:48:20 EST 2005