Studying the Stars

My name is Zoe Leinhardt I am a junior physics major at Carleton College. I have been doing research with Professor Joel Weisberg in astrophysics for most of the year.

My research interests center around pulsars both their evolution and their physical makeup. There are several questions that I have been interested in studying. First and most basic, what types of star evolution would result in a pulsar? Second, what is the most probable detailed physical makeup of a pulsar? Third, how might we make use of the precise timing of a pulsar's pulses as a tool, a clock, to investigate other aspects of the universe? Fourth, what is the geographic distribution of known pulsars in the universe and why is this the case? Fifth, why do globular clusters produce the majority of millisecond pulsars? In order to begin studying these and other questions I have had to learn how to handle some tools. Last term I learned how to use the SUN workstations efficiently as well as gaining some proficiency in FORTRAN. I have spent some time writing data reduction programs of the Stokes polarization parameters of pulsar data as well as learning to plot data from data files using pgplot. My first successful attempt is a plot of the magnetic field vs period of all the known pulsars from the pulsar database. Recently I have become interested in High Velocity Clouds, though I have not studied them much as of yet.