2010 Student Research Conference:
23rd Annual Student Research Conference

The Origin of Asymmetry: In Search of a New Paradigm for Explaining the Lopsided Light Curves of Some Eclipsing Binary Systems
Nicholas J. Wilsey
Dr. Matthew M. Beaky, Faculty Mentor

Most professional astronomers have moved on to bigger and badder things: gamma-ray bursts, dark energy, exoplanets. But there remain many unresolved problems in now-abandoned areas of research. This is where undergraduates and amateur astronomers can still make an impact on the field. In this project, we have developed algorithms for measuring maxima asymmetry in the light curves of eclipsing binary systems. For some well-studied systems, the asymmetry has been confidently attributed to starspots, circumstellar material, or gas stream accretion impacts. But some publications attribute these same explanations to systems without nearly enough rigorous justification. The problem is swept under the rug. Our research has aimed to investigate maxima asymmetry with a two-prong attack: by statistically analyzing a random sample of light curves gleaned from all-sky surveys, and by more closely examining and interpreting light curves with extremely large asymmetries. The methodology and results of our research will be presented.

Keywords: light curve, eclipsing binary, asymmetry, o'connell effect, observatory, maxima, starspot, measurement

Topic(s):Astronomy
Physics
Statistics

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 33-1
Location: MG 1096
Time: 1:15

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