Abstract by Ian Clark
Physics and Astronomy
An Exploration of Detecting the Periods of ZZ Ceti Stars with a 0.4 Meter Telescope
This project aims to determine if a 0.4 meter telescope is large enough to adequately detect white dwarf pulsations. White dwarfs are the end result of stellar evolution for most stars and many will pulsate at some point in their lifetime. These pulsations are generally low amplitude, so the telescope used must be fairly large in order to detect them. Just how large the mirror must be is a topic worthy of exploration. Various exposure times (120 s, 60 s) and different period analysis methods (e.g. fast Fourier transform or phase dispersion minimization methods) were also tested to find which combination is most likely to detect the expected periodicity of two white dwarfs, ZZ Psc and PY Vul. We found that all period analysis techniques were able to detect one of ZZ Psc’s periods while most could detect two or three of PY Vul’s.