Emily Silich, Undergradaute student, Physics and Astronomy
Observes supernova remnants
• Hometown: Epworth, IA
• Faculty mentor/advisor: Philip Kaaret, Professor and Departmental Chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy
• What is your degree program and expected graduate date? I am majoring in astronomy and physics, and I plan to graduate in May 2021.
• Please describe your research: I work with Dr. Kaaret on the HaloSat mission. HaloSat is a CubeSat, or small satellite, that was built at the University of Iowa and is currently taking observations of the X-ray sky from orbit around Earth. I have used observations from HaloSat to investigate global properties such as luminosity, temperature and elemental abundances of the Vela Supernova Remnant, a structure leftover from a massive stellar explosion.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? Supernova remnants are very interesting astronomical objects; Carl Sagan once said, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth … were made in the interiors of collapsing stars.” By studying the aftermath of these stellar explosions, we can better understand our own origins.
• How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I began performing research in the Department of Physics and Astronomy during my first semester at the University of Iowa.
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Being involved in research has provided a platform for me to put the knowledge I’ve acquired in the classroom to the test in order to answer fundamental questions about our universe. Through research, I have developed skills in the laboratory, in analyzing and interpreting astronomical data, and in science communication, all of which have made me a better student and scientist.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I plan to pursue a PhD in astrophysics, and ultimately perform research in experimental astrophysics at a NASA facility or university.
Banner location: online—