JHelioviewer – Time-dependent 3D visualisation of solar and heliospheric data [SSA]


Context. Solar observatories are providing the world-wide community with a wealth of data, covering large time ranges, multiple viewpoints, and returning large amounts of data. In particular, the large volume of SDO data presents challenges: it is available only from a few repositories, and full-disk, full-cadence data for reasonable durations of scientific interest are difficult to download practically due to their size and download data rates available to most users. From a scientist’s perspective this poses three problems: accessing, browsing and finding interesting data as efficiently as possible.
Aims. To address these challenges, we have developed JHelioviewer, a visualisation tool for solar data based on the JPEG2000 compression standard and part of the open source ESA/NASA Helioviewer Project. Since the first release of JHelioviewer, the scientific functionality of the software has been extended significantly, and the objective of this paper is to highlight these improvements.
Methods. The JPEG2000 standard offers useful new features that facilitate the dissemination and analysis of high-resolution image data and offers a solution to the challenge of efficiently browsing petabyte-scale image archives. The JHelioviewer software is open source, platform independent and extendable via a plug-in architecture.
Results. With JHelioviewer, users can visualise the Sun for any time period between September 1991 and today. They can perform basic image processing in real time, track features on the Sun and interactively overlay magnetic field extrapolations. The software integrates solar event data and a time line display. As a first step towards supporting science planning of the upcoming Solar Orbiter mission, JHelioviewer offers a virtual camera model that enables users to set the vantage point to the location of a spacecraft or celestial body at any given time.

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D. Mueller, B. Nicula, S. Felix, et. al.
Tue, 23 May 17

Comments: 13 pages, 12 figures, accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics

The Role of Gender in Asking Questions at Cool Stars 18 and 19 [IMA]


We examine the gender balance of the 18th and 19th meetings of the Cambridge Workshop on Cool Stellar Systems and the Sun (CS18 and CS19). The percent of female attendees at both meetings (31% at CS18 and 37% at CS19) was higher than the percent of women in the American Astronomical Society (25%) and the International Astronomical Union (18%). The representation of women in Cool Stars as SOC members, invited speakers, and contributed speakers was similar to or exceeded the percent of women attending the meetings. We requested that conference attendees assist in a project to collect data on the gender of astronomers asking questions after talks. Using this data, we found that men were over-represented (and women were under-represented) in the question sessions after each talk. Men asked 79% of the questions at CS18 and 75% of the questions at CS19, but were 69% and 63% of the attendees respectively. Contrary to findings from previous conferences, we did not find that the gender balance of questions was strongly affected by the session chair gender, the speaker gender, or the length of the question period. We also found that female and male speakers were asked a comparable number of questions after each talk. The contrast of these results from previous incarnations of the gender questions survey indicate that more data would be useful in understanding the factors that contribute to the gender balance of question askers. We include a preliminary set of recommendations based on this and other work on related topics, but also advocate for additional research on the demographics of conference participants. Additional data on the intersection of gender with race, seniority, sexual orientation, ability and other marginalized identities is necessary to fully address the role of gender in asking questions at conferences.

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S. Schmidt, S. Douglas, N. Gosnell, et. al.
Wed, 19 Apr 17

Comments: 16 pages, 8 figures, 2 tables. Submitted to Cool Stars 19 Proceedings. Related resources available at this https URL

An educational distributed Cosmic Ray detector network based on ArduSiPM [CL]


The advent of microcontrollers with enough CPU power and with analog and digital peripherals makes possible to design a complete particle detector with relative acquisition system around one microcontroller chip. The existence of a world wide data infrastructure as internet allows for devising a distributed network of cheap detectors capable to elaborate and send data or respond to settings commands. The internet infrastructure enables to distribute the absolute time (with precision of few milliseconds), to the simple devices far apart, with few milliseconds precision, from a few meters to thousands of kilometres. So it is possible to create a crowdsourcing experiment of citizen science that use small scintillation-based particle detectors to monitor the high energetic cosmic ray and the radiation environment.

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V. Bocci, G. Chiodi, P. Fresch, et. al.
Thu, 30 Mar 17

Comments: N/A

Robotic Telescopes in Education [CL]


The power of robotic telescopes to transform science education has been voiced by multiple sources, since the 1980s. Since then, much technical progress has been made in robotic telescope provision to end users via a variety of different approaches. The educational transformation hoped for by the provision of this technology has, so far, yet to be achieved on a scale matching the technical advancements. In this paper, the history, definition, role and rationale of optical robotic telescopes with a focus on their use in education is provided. The current telescope access providers and educational projects and their broad uses in traditional schooling, undergraduate and outreach are then outlined. From this background, the current challenges to the field, which are numerous, are then presented. This review is concluded with a series of recommendations for current and future projects that are apparent and have emerged from the literature.

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E. Gomez and M. Fitzgerald
Fri, 17 Feb 17

Comments: 42 pages, 16 figures, 2 tables

Street lights as standard candles: A student activity for understanding astronomical distance measurements [CL]


Astronomers measure cosmic distances to objects beyond our own galaxy using standard candles: objects of known intrinsic brightness, whose apparent brightnesses in the sky are then taken as an indication of their distances from the observer. In this activity, we use street lights and a digital camera to explore the method of standard candles as well as some of its limitations and possible sources of error.

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M. Possel
Thu, 9 Feb 17

Comments: 7 pages, 7 figures

Strangeon and Strangeon Star [HEAP]


The nature of pulsar-like compact stars is essentially a central question of the fundamental strong interaction (explained in quantum chromo-dynamics) at low energy scale, the solution of which still remains a challenge though tremendous efforts have been tried. This kind of compact objects could actually be strange quark stars if strange quark matter in bulk may constitute the true ground state of the strong-interaction matter rather than Fe^56 (the so-called Witten’s conjecture). From astrophysical points of view, however, it is proposed that strange cluster matter could be absolutely stable and thus those compact stars could be strange cluster stars in fact. This proposal could be regarded as a general Witten’s conjecture: strange matter in bulk could be absolutely stable, in which quarks are either free (for strange quark matter) or localized (for strange cluster matter). Strange cluster with three-light-flavor symmetry is renamed strangeon, being coined by combining “strange nucleon” for the sake of simplicity. A strangeon star can then be thought as a 3-flavored gigantic nucleus, and strangeons are its constituent as an analogy of nucleons which are the constituent of a normal (micro) nucleus. The observational consequences of strangeon stars show that different manifestations of pulsar-like compact stars could be understood in the regime of strangeon stars.

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X. Lai and R. Xu
Tue, 31 Jan 17

Comments: Proceedings CSQCD5, 23-27 May 2016 GSSI and LNGS (L’Aquila, Italy)

Teaching the Doppler Effect in Astrophysics [CL]


The Doppler effect is a shift in the frequency of waves emitted from an object moving relative to the observer. By observing and analysing the Doppler shift in electromagnetic waves from astronomical objects, astronomers gain greater insight into the structure and operation of our universe. In this paper, a simple technique is described for teaching the basics of the Doppler effect to undergraduate astrophysics students using acoustic waves. An advantage of the technique is that it produces a visual representation of the acoustic Doppler shift. The equipment comprises a 40 kHz acoustic transmitter and a microphone. The sound is bounced off a computer fan and the signal collected by a DrDAQ ADC and processed by a spectrum analyser. Widening of the spectrum is observed as the fan power supply potential is increased from 4 to 12 V.

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S. Hughes and M. Cowley
Wed, 18 Jan 17

Comments: 9 pages, 5 figures, published in Eur. J. Phys