Cody and NWC grad reaches for the stars!

(Cody, Wyo.)- In the last year, astronomers from the University of Wyoming have discovered roughly 100 of the fastest-moving stars in the Milky Way galaxy with the aid of images from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, and use of the Wyoming Infrared Observatory on Jelm Mountain near Laramie. When some swift, massive stars -- moving at speeds faster than 50,000 miles an hour -- plow through space, they can cause material to stack up in front of them in the same way that water piles up ahead of a ship or a supersonic plane creates a shockwave in front of it. Called bow shocks, these dramatic arc-shaped features in space are helping researchers to uncover massive, so-called runaway stars. Stephan Munari, a UW student from Cody, was one of five college students in UW’s Research Experience for Undergraduate Program who participated in this work. “I learned more about astronomy, how to conduct research and get some hands-on experience up at WIRO,” says Munari, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering. “What I thought was most interesting was the speed at which these stars were moving. It was a very good experience for me.” Munari says the student work started on campus and consisted of looking through various databases for stars that show different wavelengths of light in infrared. From there, the students found basic bow shock shapes and wrote down their coordinates. The group then traveled to WIRO, pointed the telescope at these stars and obtained more data. Students processed the data and compared the newly discovered stars with those that were already known. “Once we compared them, we could say, for 90 percent of them, we found another bow shock star,” Munari says. “For the other 10 percent, we couldn’t confirm that for sure.” #reboot #news Munari is also a 2014 graduate of Northwest College in Powell.