Michigan State UniversityObservatory

Sample research projects

There have been more than 25 papers published based upon observations with the MSU 24-inch telescope. Many of these papers were coauthored by students.

Click here for a sample publication list (NASA ADS link).

Variable stars

The main emphasis is the study of variable stars, particularly pulsating variable stars of shorter period. These include RR Lyrae variable stars, which have a pulsation period of about half a day, and Delta Scuti stars, which have a pulsation period shorter than 0.2 days. Much of the observing is carried out by students, both graduate students and undergraduates.

lightcurve of XZ Cygni

The observed light curve of the RR Lyrae star XZ Cygni is shown at left. XZ Cygni has a pulsation period of about 0.466 days. Its light curve is not the same from one pulsation cycle to the next, but changes in a longer 57 day secondary cycle. This secondary variation, called the Blazhko Effect, has been known for almost a century, but is still without adequate explanation.

lightcurve of AN Lyn

The light curve of the Delta Scuti star AN Lyn is shown at right. AN Lyn is a short period pulsating star. It takes only 0.098 days to go through one pulsation. The amplitude of its light curve shows significant changes on a longer year-to-year timescale.