An Undergraduate Research Experience on Studying Variable Stars
We describe and evaluate a summer undergraduate research project and experience by one of us (AA), under the supervision of the other (JP). The aim of the project was to sample current approaches to analyzing variable star data, and topics related to the study of Mira variable stars and their astrophysical importance. This project was done through the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) in astronomy at the University of Toronto. SURP allowed undergraduate students to explore and learn about many topics within astronomy and astrophysics, from instrumentation to cosmology. SURP introduced students to key skills which are essential for students hoping to pursue graduate studies in any scientific field. Variable stars proved to be an excellent topic for a research project. For beginners to independent research, it introduces key concepts in research such as critical thinking and problem solving, while illuminating previously learned topics in stellar physics. The focus of this summer project was to compare observations with structural and evolutionary models, including modelling the random walk behavior exhibited in the (O-C) diagrams of most Mira stars. We found that the random walk could be modelled by using random fluctuations of the period. This explanation agreed well with observations.
Amaral, A., & Percy, J. R. (2016). An Undergraduate Research Experience on Studying Variable Stars. Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (JAAVSO), 44(1), 72-77