BYU Astronomy Research Group Joins the Astrophysical Research Consortium (ARC)

As of January 2021 BYU will be a member of the ARC Consortium (Link to Consortium) with access to the ARC 3.5-m telescope and the 0.5-m ARCSAT telescope.  The primary use of the ARC 3.5-m telescope time is for graduate student projects.  This provides a wide array of instrumentation that is currently being used to study objects in the solar system all the way to studies of the large scale structure of the Universe.

Other BYU Astronomy Facilities

In addition to our telescope time from the ARC consortium, we operate a number of our own astronomical facilities

West Mountain Observatory (West Mountain)

This is our mountain observatory at about 6600 ft above sea level.  This consists of three telescopes: 0.9-m, 0.5-m, and a 0.32-m. It is a 40 minute drive that ends in a 5 miles drive up a dirt road. The mountain itself can be seen from campus.

Orson Pratt Observatory

The Orson Pratt Observatory is named for an early apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  It is our campus telescope facility and contains a wide variety of telescopes for student research and public outreach. We operate a 24" PlaneWave telescope in the main campus dome, plus a 16", two 12", one 8", and a 6" telescope on our observation deck.  The telescopes are all fully robotic. Beyond this we have a large sections of public telescopes.

Royden G. Derrick Planetarium (Planetarium)

This is a 119 seat, 39" dome planetarium with acoustically treated walls to allow it's use as a lecture room. We will shortly upgrade to an E&S Digistar7 operating system with 4K projectors.  The planetarium is used for teaching classes, public outreach, and astronomy education research projects.

Selected Publications

BYU Authors: Eric G. Hintz, Michael D. Joner, and Chulhee Kim, published in Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac.
New photometric (uvby beta) observations of V1162 Orionis are reported. We derive a reddening value of E(b - y) = 0.021 mag and a metallicity of [Fe/H] = +0.1. Intrinsic (b - y) and c(1) values indicate a mean effective temperature, [T-eff] = 7540 K, and a mean surface gravity, [log g] = 3.96. Theoretical evolutionary tracks, along with pulsation models, indicate the mass of V1162 Ori is 1.8 M. and the age is 0.60 Gyr. New V magnitude CCD observations are also reported. A time of maximum light analysis shows that V1162 Ori has experienced a period break. In addition, the amplitude has dropped from Delta V = 0.2 before the period break to Delta V = 0.1 after the break.
BYU Authors: Michael D. Joner, Eric G. Hintz, and Matthew W. Collier, published in Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac.
We report 15 new times of maximum light for the delta Scuti star IP Virginis (formerly known as SA 106-1024). An analysis of all times of maximum light indicates that IP Vir has been decreasing in period at a constant rate of -7.4 x 10(-9) days day(-1). Evidence is also presented that IP Vir is a double-mode variable with a period ratio of pi(1)/pi(0), = 0.774. This period ratio predicts a [Fe/H] value of -0.3. From photometric (uvby beta) observations, we find a foreground reddening of E(b - y) = 0.008 mag and a metallicity of [Fe/H] = +0.05. It is shown that [Fe/H] = -0.3 is most likely the correct value. Intrinsic (b - y)- and c(1)-values, plotted in a model atmosphere grid, indicate a mean effective temperature, [T-eff] = 7400 K, and a mean surface gravity, [log g] = 3.89. All of these physical parameters support Landolt's initial conclusion that IP Vir is an ordinary delta Sct star.
BYU Authors: Eric G. Hintz, J. Ward Moody, Michael D. Joner, and Benjamin J. Taylor, published in Astron. J.
We have embarked on a long term project to obtain high precision photometry on individual galaxies in 45 rich clusters of galaxies. Data from the first set of six clusters have yielded BVRI photometric information on 961 galaxies and 384 stars. These objects come from the central one Mpc of Abell 576, 957, 1185, 1377, 2063, and 2657, each of which is of richness class R greater than or equal to 1. Each object was examined with two radial surface brightness fitting functions, and an asymptotic magnitude was determined. One fitting function produced a shape parameter beta which, when taken in. combination with the color index (B-I), shows a breakdown of the three basic morphological types (E, S0, and S) into four beta types and a set of peculiar galaxies. Our results match previous studies well, and also provide some new insights into the clusters. In addition, we have examined the effects of plate scale on the determination of these photometric parameters. All parameters were found to repeat across plate scale differences. We also examined the effects of co-adding frames in an attempt to understand the degradation or improvement of the photometric parameters with increasing signal-to-noise. (C) 1997 American Astronomical Society.
BYU Authors: Eric G. Hintz, Maureen L. Hintz, and Michael D. Joner, published in Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac.

We have examined the short-period, double-mode variable star AE Ursae Majoris. Using time-series ensemble photometry we have determined six new times of maximum light. We also applied a Fourier decomposition to the data to determine the component frequencies of the light curve. Using our data, along with archival data, we find that the period of AE UMa is continually decreasing at a rate of -1.14x10(-10) d d(-1). However, from the Fourier decomposition we find that the period ratio P-1/P-0 has remained constant at 0.773. We also find that AE UMa is incorrectly classified as a SX Phoenicis star.

BYU Authors: Eric G. Hintz and Michael D. Joner, published in Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac.

The three dwarf Cepheid variable stars CY Aquarii, XX Cygni, and V798 Cygni were examined with CCD time series ensemble photometry. The Fourier decomposition of the light curves showed no evidence that any of the three stars was a double-mode variable. CY Aqr was fit with a nine-term harmonic series with a residual error of 10 mmag. XX Cyg was fit with a ten-term harmonic series with a residual error of 10 mmag. V798 Cyg was fit with a four-term harmonic series with a residual error of 7 mmag. In addition, we examined a set of double-mode dwarf Cepheids with the same Fourier decomposition techniques. We present evidence that these double-mode dwarf Cepheids fill the gap in the amplitude-ratio distribution reported by Antonello et al. (1986, A&A, 169, 122) and Poretti et al. (1990, A&A, 228, 350).

BYU Authors: Eric. G. Hintz, Peter W. A. Roming, and J. Ward Moody, published in Astron. J.
A high galactic latitude nebula, Lynds Bright Nebula 434, was found to lie over part of the rich cluster of galaxies Abell 2657 [Hintz et al. AJ (submitted) (1997)]. To examine the effects of this nebula upon the cluster we have mapped the excited gas and dust in the region of the cluster using an H alpha filter and CCD. Additionally, UBVR observations were taken to estimate the reddening in this region. Using late-type stars in the field of the cluster we found a maximum E(B - V) value of 0.(m)35 within the visible nebulosity. We show that this amount of reddening is sufficient to cause the effects on the luminosity function of Abell 2657 detailed in Hintz ct al. (1997). In addition, we estimate that the nebula is approximately 250 pc in distance and has a physical diameter of about 7 pc. (C) 1997 American Astronomical Society.