Explorations in Multiwavelength Cluster Detection using Chandra
I spent the summer of 2003 as a summer intern in the REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, working with Paul Green and Wayne Barkhouse on automated methods to detect galaxy clusters in wide-field survey data and the Chandra X-Ray observatory archive. The results of this work have been presented at the 2004 and 2005 January meetings of the American Astronomical Society, and further research is ongoing to develop this work into a powerful new cluster detection tool.
In addition to finding several clusters in the Chandra archive directly by applying a preexisting search tool to the "backgrounds" of images taken of other objects, I worked to create a new search method for optical data by applying a series of photometric filters to optical catalog data extracted from wide-field images. I used the Voronoi Percolation and Tesselation algorithm (VTP, see sample at right or a full field) to identify cluster candidates in each sample, and assembled the various results into a list of candidate objects for later visual verification via the presence (or absence) of a red sequence of elliptical galaxies near the cluster core (see below). This work has been greatly expanded since then by Wayne Barkhouse and other members of the ChaMP team and is currently being applied to a large-scale cluster search; first scientific results should be published this year.
Research Report (Currently unavailable)
Center for Astrophysics
SAO Summer REU Program
Chandra Multiwavelength Project (ChaMP)