Star Clusters

My name is Stephan T. and I am a rising senior at Kelly high school. I am a part of ASM’s Adler Citizen science ambassadors and our group focused on the Milky Way galaxy project and open star clusters. Our website can be found here:

One interesting thing I learned from the project was that star clusters actually get smaller over time, rather than expanding as it gets older. This only applies to open star clusters. If given the chance, I would like to study what happens to globular star clusters (the opposite of an open star cluster) as they age. I am curious whether or not they will become smaller in diameter like open star clusters, or actually become bigger in diameter.

Star Cluster Age vs Diameter

Throughout this project, there were many fun and new experiences as well as some new and challenging obstacles. Some fun experiences I had were working with new people, learning about new topics and trying to understand them. There were also some tough and challenging obstacles to overcome throughout the program. It was challenging trying to learn python and implementing what we learn into our project. Not to mention how tough it was trying to understand scientific papers and topic other scientists had written before.

One very fun new experience I had during the project was working with new people and learning new topics. If I were working on this project by myself, I do not think that I would have enjoyed it as much because there would not be anyone to bounce ideas off of. By having my group members however, I was able to learn and look at these topics from different perspectives. I also love solving problems. While we were working on codecademy, I came across many problems and code related issues during the course. It was tough trying to solve them but it was also a very fun and rewarding experience.

There were some tough and challenging aspects of this project. The first challenging part of this project was understanding the science behind the Milky Way Galaxy project. We read papers written by researchers about star clusters, star forming regions, and a whole bunch of information related to them. It was a lot of information to take in at first, but we were able to slowly understand what the research papers were about. The second challenging aspect of the project was the coding part. The basics of python were pretty simple, but as soon as we jumped into plotting the data and formatting it, things got a bit complicated and it was harder to understand some of the topics the scientists were talking about. It took some time, but our group was able to successfully input and program all the data we had on star clusters into a nice graph and table to present to others.

Line of Best Fit

Before attending this program, I never would have thought much about stars or star clusters and how interesting they were. I recommend that anyone interested in astronomy and coding apply and take part of this program because of how engaging and fun the experience is.


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