BOONE, N.C. — Faculty members and students from Appalachian State University's Department of Physics and Astronomy are the authors of a new paper in The Astronomical Journal, a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal in the field of astronomy published by the American Astronomical Society. The study, titled "TU Tau B: The Peculiar 'Eclipse' of a Possible Proto-Barium Giant," is featured in the October 2023 edition.
"It’s about a pair of stars we’ve run across where one star appears to be eating material from its orbiting companion, which has puffed up as it’s starting to die. This may help explain a class of stars whose origin has been theorized, but no one has ever seen one being made," explained Dr. Michael Briley, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and co-author of the paper.
Dr. Richard Gray, professor emeritus in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, wrote the paper with Briley; Dr. Adam McKay, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy; Dr. Courtney McGahee, associate professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory; and the Reverend Dr. Christopher Corbally, research astronomer at the Vatican Observatory.
Additionally, undergraduate students enrolled in the spring "Techniques in Astronomical Spectroscopy" course (AST 3002) co-authored the paper, including:
Sydney Andrews, senior physics major from Rocky Point
Nick Barnhardt, sophomore physics major from Salisbury
Hunter Corman, senior physics major from Morehead City
Sabina Gomes, senior physics major from Raleigh
Agastya Jonnalagadda, sophomore physics major from Cary
Theo McDaries, junior physics major from Kannapolis
Ava Mills, senior physics major from Atlanta, Georgia
Will Newsom, senior physics major from Roswell, Georgia
Andrew Slate, senior physics major from Elizabeth City
Michael Watts, senior physics major from Advance
"Also included are a host of amateur astronomers who contributed observations," added Briley.
For the paper, the team used the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope on Mount Graham in southeast Arizona and the 32-inch and wide-field photometric telescopes stationed at the Dark Sky Observatory, an App State research facility used to conduct observational research in astrophysics. Far from major cities, its dark skies provide a good setting for digital imaging and spectroscopy done in stellar and solar system research projects.
About the Department of Physics and Astronomy
The Department of Physics and Astronomy’s curriculum has an applied nature that includes a core of fundamental physics courses and laboratory experiences. The department prepares graduates for a variety of scientific, teaching or engineering professions, as well as future educational endeavors. Learn more at https://physics.appstate.edu.
By Lauren Andersen
September 27, 2023