Week 4: Almost Halfway Done??

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Monday, June 22, 2015


Rachel Odessey

It’s hard for me to believe that this summer program is almost halfway over—the last few weeks have gone by so fast that I can barely keep track. If the next few weeks keep up like this I will definitely be exhausted by August. This last week has been no exception to the craziness. Last weekend started off the week with a celebration— a Pride party Friday night and the Pride parade in Dupont Circle on Saturday, after which I will probably never run out of rainbow decor or colorful beads again. After resting off the festivities and fanfare, I came in to work on Monday morning only to find that the air conditioning in the building where both Max and I work had broken over the weekend! I went inside to see if I could bring my work laptop home and do some work that way, only to be warded away by civil servants and told to go home for my own sake, so I headed back to Woodley Park to enjoy the air conditioning here.  

The rest of the week the air conditioner was still broken, so the atmosphere in our building was a bit more laid back than usual. I kept myself busy looking at the equivalent widths of different kinds of Hydrogen emissions in Eta Carinae—a measurement that gives information about the intensity of the scattered emission, which I was able to map over the whole Homunculus nebula using the same dataset I’ve been working with in other ways this summer. The script to make the map took a long time to assemble from various pieces of different codes that Mairan had written and pieces that I wrote myself, which made it ever more satisfying when it finally worked. I feel a lot more confident about the analyses I’m doing now than I did at the beginning. The maps showed some interesting features that Ted and Mairan didn’t seem to expect—variations in intensity that might correspond to physical variations in the structure of the nebula, or reflections of the light off of different parts of the nebula. They sent the pictures off to other members of the Eta Carinae team for input. After staring at all these different color-coding maps for such a long time, they’re finally starting to make sense to me—and open up new mysteries. I’m looking forward to continuing to think about these analyses in more depth. I didn’t get much of a chance to start anything new after I’d put together those analyses, though, because the AC broke again on Friday and Mairan advised me to stay home.

I’ve been keeping busy outside of work, too. Good food, of course, played a large role in my week: falafel, gelato, ramen, Peruvian chicken.The interns all found a rock climbing gym in Rockville (incidentally, across the street from my old high school) where we’ve been going occasionally to try out our bouldering skills. I’m not so good at it, but I’ve been really enjoying myself. If the rest of the summer goes like it has so far, I see a lot of joy as well as exhaustion in my future.

Rachel Odessey