People: Nicole Sanchez
Nicole Sanchez

The Heinrich Hertz Submilimeter Telescope (SMT), a radio telescope in eastern Arizona. All of the data I processed came from here.


Nicole was originally an art major. She spent a full year at her community college as an animation major before falling in love with astronomy and changing to become a physics major studying astrophysics. Physics has become such a large part of her life that she hopes one day to become a professor at a university to share her passion with other aspiring astronomers and physicists. She spent her summer of 2012 in the CAMPARE program at the University of Arizona Steward Observatory, studying molecular cloud associated with M17, also called the Omega Nebula, a star-forming region in the constellation Sagittarius. This is her story.

During the summer of 2012, I had the wonderful experience of working as a research assistant at the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona. My mentor was Dr. John Bieging and my research was also closely tied to that of Dr. Matt Povich, a new professor at Cal Poly Pomona. Dr. Povich flew out to Arizona for the first week of CAMPARE so both he and Dr. Bieging could discuss with me the data sets I'd be working on. Nicole Sanchez

Me (and the other CAMPARians) as we head towards the Large Binocular Telescope(LBT). The SMT is slightly visible on the left.

I was continuing the work of a previous student, Miju Kang, as I reduced data taken in the spring of 2011 by the Sub Millimeter Telescope (SMT) on Mt. Graham. The data was from particular 10-degree squares in the region of M17, also called the Omega Nebula, an HII region in the constellation Sagittarius. I would be creating three dimensional image cubes of the molecular cloud associated with the HII region. These cubes would then be added to similar image cubes that had been taken and reduced by Miju Kang. By adding the cubes I reduced, we would have a more complete image of the molecular cloud associated with M17. It took about three weeks to complete the reduction of data, but once the image cubes were completed and added to the previous ones, the real fun began. I learned how to sift through national databases such as such as the NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive and find data relating to our fields. From such, I was able to create images displaying not only our molecular clouds but also possible protostars and x-ray objects within the vicinity of M17. I also received data from the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and the Very Large Array (VLA) that described the position of the HII region with respect to the molecular clouds. The possibilities with this data set were and continue to be endless.

Although all of my data had already been compiled by the time I got to Arizona, I still had to opportunity to visit a few of the many telescopes near Tucson. The mentors took our group of students up to Mt. Graham to see the SMT, the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT), and the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT). I also got to spend a night observing at the MMT on Mt. Hopkins.

Nicole Sanchez

Me and only one of the two incredibly large mirrors that make up the LBT.

But Tucson wasn't all work and no play! Our subset of CAMPAREians: Rem, Lindsey, Austin and I had tons of adventures when we weren't trying to decipher the mysteries of the universe. We discovered some amazing local places to eat in the area, particularly noteworthy ones being 1702, a pizza parlor that serves up slices larger than your head, and Maricos Chiahuahua, a Mexican food restaurant that proved to me you don't need an ocean to make magic with seafood. We grocery shopped, we bowled by laser light, we even dressed up and had a fine dinner at the Hotel Congress, the hotel where robber John Dillenger was shot, for Lindsey's birthday. We also explored the Arizona-Senora Desert Museum, the Pima Air and Space Museum and the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. All in all, an amazing trip.

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