COE Observatory Report


Tennessee State University
Center of Excellence in Information Systems
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

This report covers the interval July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017.

The TSU Automated Astronomy Group within the TSU Center of Excellence in Information Systems concentrates on stellar astrophysics using photometric, spectroscopic, imaging, and interferometric techniques to study cool giants, chromospherically active stars, solar-type stars, planetary-candidate host stars, binary and multiple stars, and pulsating variables. Data for these programs have been acquired with robotic telescopes and instrumentation developed in coordination with Louis Boyd, the Director of Fairborn Observatory in southern Arizona. Astronomy staff at the Center during this interval were Geoffrey S. Burks, Francis C. Fekel, Gregory W. Henry, Matthew W. Muterspaugh, and Michael H. Williamson. Burks and Muterspaugh hold joint faculty appointments in the TSU Department of Mathematical Sciences. Edward J. (Ted) Maxwell (Indiana U.) continued as Post-Doctoral Research Scientist working with Muterspaugh. Aubrie Maxwell served as a teaching associate. Student Research Assistants during this period were Dan Fishler, Forrest Hoff, and Randall Seigler. Muterspaugh continued as Interim Center Director.


Center of Excellence astronomers continue to develop and operate automated telescopes and instrumentation at Fairborn Observatory in the Patagonia mountains of southern Arizona. Fairborn Observatory is a non-profit Educational Corporation directed by Louis J. Boyd and dedicated to the design, construction, and operation of automated telescopes at a dark sky site. Operational TSU telescopes include the T3 0.40 m automated photometric telescope (APT) for Johnson BV photometry, the T4 0.75 m APT for Stromgren by photometry, the T8, T10, T11, and T12 0.80 m APTs, also for Stromgren by photometry with 2-channel photometers, the T13 2.0 m automatic spectroscopic telescope (AST) for high-resolution echelle spectroscopy, and the Celestron 14-inch (C14) automated imaging telescope (AIT). The table below gives the number of years each telescope has been operational and their current observing program(s).

TSU Automatic Telescope Summaries

Telescope Type Years Primary Observing Program(s)
T2 0.25 m APT 20 Semi-Regular Variables (Decommissioned 2007)
T3 0.40 m APT 30 Chromospherically Active Stars, Pulsating Stars, Exoplanet Search
T4 0.75 m APT 25 Solar-Type Stars
T8 0.80 m APT 22 Solar-Type Stars
T10 0.80 m APT 17 Solar-Type Stars, Exoplanet Search
T11 0.80 m APT 17 Solar-Type Stars, Exoplanet Search
T12 0.80 m APT 17 Exoplanet Search
T13 2.03 m AST 16 Binary/Multiple Stars, Interferometric Targets, Exoplanet Search
C14 0.36 m AIT 8 Exoplanet Search, Misc. Research, Public Outreach

The 2.0 m AST's operation has been further augmented with the addition of new instrumentation installed over the last year in the new instrument room. After commisioning their new spectrograph EXPERT3 on the AST, Jian Ge's group from the University of Florida (UF) moved it to a dedicated 50 inch telescope on Mt. Lemmon. Muterspaugh continues to collaborate with the UF group on their Multi-object APO Radial Velocity Exoplanets Large-areaSurvey (MARVELS). The UF group delivered a second instrument, FIRST, a spectrograph similar to EXPERT3 but operating at near-infrared wavelengths (0.8-1.8 microns) with R=70,000.

Development of the EDI-Testbed instrument by Maxwell and Muterspaugh was completed, and the instrument was commissioned on the AST at Fairborn. The EDI-Testbed instrument represents a new cutting-edge technology for precision spectroscopy with applications to the discovery of extrasolar planets. It is now in regular use on the 2.0 m AST at Fairborn.


Lacy, C. H. S., Fekel, F. C., Pavlovski, K., Torres, G., Muterspaugh, M. W., "Absolute Properties of the Pre-Main-Sequence Eclipsing Binary Star NP Persei," Astronomical Journal, 152, 2, 2016. (paper)

Willmarth, D. W., Fekel, F. C., Abt, H. A., and Pourbaix, D., "Spectroscopic Orbits for 15 Late-Type Stars," Astronomical Journal, 152, 46, 2016. (paper)

Fischer, P. D., Knutson, H. A., Sing, D. K., Henry, G. W., Williamson, M. W., Fortney, J. J., Burrows, A. S., Kataria, T., Nikolov, N., Showman, A. P., Ballester, G. E., Desert, J.-M., Aigrain, S., Deming, D., Lecavelier des Etangs, A., and Vidal-Madjar, A., "HST Hot-Jupiter Transmission Spectral Survey: Clear Skies for Cool Saturn WASP-39b," Astrophysical Journal, 827, 19, 2016. (paper)

Fulton, B.J., Howard, A.W., Weiss, L.M., Sinukoff, E., Petigura, E.A., Isaacson, H., Hirsch, L., Marcy, G.W., Henry, G.W., Grunblatt, S.K., Huber, D., von Braun, K., Boyajian, T. S., Kane, S.R., Wittrock, J., Horch, E.P., Ciardi, D.R., Howell, S.B., Wright, J.T., & Ford, E.B., "Three Temperate Neptunes Orbiting Nearby Stars," Astrophysical Journal, 830, 46, 2016. (paper)

Ma, B., Ge, J., Wolszczan, A., Muterspaugh, M.W., Lee, B., Henry, G.W., Schneider, D.P., Martín, E.L., Niedzielski, A., Xie, J., Fleming, S.W., Thomas, N., Williamson, M., Zhu, Z., Agol, E., Bizyaev, D., da Costa, L.N., Jiang, P., Martinez Fiorenzano, A.F., González Hernández, J.I., Guo, P., Grieves, N. Li, R., Liu, J., Mahadevan, S., Mazeh, T, Nguyen, D.C., Paegert, M., Sithajan, S., Stassun, K., Thirupathi, S., van Eyken, J.C., Wan, X., Wang, J., Wisniewski, J.P., Zhao, B., and Zucker, S., "Very Low-Mass Stellar and Substellar Companions to Solar-Like Stars From MARVELS: VI. A Giant Planet and a Brown Dwarf Candidate in a Close Binary System HD 87646," Astronomical Journal, 152, 112, 2016. (paper)

Williamon, R. M., Dale, H., Evavold, C. L., Langoussis, A., Fekel, F. C., Muterspaugh, M. W., Williams, S., Napier, K., and Sowell, J. R., "Orbital Solutions and Absolute Elements of the Massive Algol Binary ET Tauri," Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 128, 124202, 2016. (paper)

Ge, J., Ma, B., Sithajan, S., Singer, M. A., Powell, S., Varosi, F., Zhao, B., Schofield, S., Liu, J., Grieves, N., Cassette, A., Avner, L., Jakeman, H., Muterspaugh, M., Williamson, M., and Barnes, R., "On-Sky Doppler Performance of TOU Optical Very High Resolution Spectrograph for Detecting Low-Mass Planets," in Ground-Based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VI, SPIE 9908, eds. C.J. Evans, L. Simard, and H. Takami (SPIE: Bellingham, WA), 99086I, 2016. (paper)

Erskine, D. J., Edelstein, J., Wishnow, E. H., Sirk, M., Muirhead, P. S., Muterspaugh, M. W., and Lloyd, J. P., "High-Resolution Broadband Spectroscopy Using Externally Dispersed Interferometry at the Hale Telescope: Part 2, Photon Noise Theory," Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems, 2, 4, 2016. (paper)

Lehtinen, J., Jetsu, L., Hackman, T., and Henry, G. W., "Rotation and Spot Activity of Young Solar-Type Stars," The 19th Cambridge Workshop on Cool Stars, Stellar Systems, and the Sun, id. 24, 2016. (abstract) (poster) (talk) (paper)

Egeland, R., Soon, W. H., Baliunas, S. L., Hall, J. C., Pevtsov, A. A., and Henry, G. W., "Dynamo Sensitivity in Solar Analogs with 50 Years of Ca II H & K Activity," The 19th Cambridge Workshop on Cool Stars, Stellar Systems, and the Sun, id. 73, 2016. (abstract) (poster) (talk) (paper)

Krticka, J., Mikulasek, Z., Henry, G. W., Kurfurst, P., and Karlicky, M., "Torsional Oscillations and Observed Rotational Period Variation in Early-Type Stars," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 464, 933, 2017. (paper)

Fekel, F. C., Hinkle, K. H., Joyce, R. R., and Wood, P. R., "Infrared Spectroscopy of Symbiotic Stars. XI. Orbits for Southern S-Type Systems: Hen 3-461, SY Mus, Hen 3-828, and AR Pav," Astronomical Journal, 153, 35, 2017. (paper)

Wakeford, H.R., Stevenson, K.B., Lewis, N.K., Sing, D.K., Lopez-Morales, M., Marley, M., Kataria, T., Mandell, A., Ballester, G.E., Barstow, J., Ben Jaffel, L., Bourrier, V., Buchhave, L.A., Ehrenreich, D., Evans, T., Garc Munoz, A., Henry, G., Lavvas, P., Lecavelier des Etangs, A., Nikolov, N., and Sanz-Forcada, J., "HST PanCET Program: A Cloudy Atmosphere for the Promising JWST Target WASP-101b," Astrophysical Journal Letters, 835, L12, 2017. (paper)

Kane, S. R., von Braun, K., Henry, G. W., Waters, M. A., Boyajian, T. S., Mann, A. W., "Characterization of the Wolf 1061 Planetary System," Astrophysical Journal, 835, 200, 2017. (paper)

Jetsu, L., Henry, G. W., and Lehtinen, J., "General Model for Light Curves of Chromospherically Active Binary Stars," Astrophysical Journal, 838, 122, 2017. (paper)

Siltala, L., Jetsu, L., Hackman, T., Henry, G. W., Immonen, L., Kajatkari, P., Lankinen, J., Lehtinen, J., Monira, S., Nikbakhsh, S., Viitanen, A.,Viuho, J., and Willamo, T., "Time-Series Analysis of Long-Term Photometry of BM Canum Venaticorum," Astronomische Nachrichten, 338, 453, 2017. (paper)

Aerts, C., Simon-Diaz, S., Bloemen, S., Debosscher, J., Papics, P. I., Bryson, S., Still, M., Moravveji, E., Williamson, M. H., Grundahl, F., Fredslund Andersen, M., Antoci, V., Palle, P. L., Christensen-Dalsgaard, J., and Rogers, T. M., "Kepler Sheds New and Unprecedented Light on the Variability of a Blue Supergiant: Gravity Waves in the O9.5Iab Star HD 188209," Astronomy & Astrophysics, 602, A32, 2017. (paper)