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October 23, 2019

Andrew Heinrich
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Major: Astronomy
Minor: Physics

Congratulations to this week’s #WSGCStudentSpotlight, Andrew Heinrich! Andrew studies astronomy and physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Over the summer, Andrew was awarded an Undergraduate Research Fellowship for his project “Observing Gradients in Synthetic X-ray Maps of Galaxy Cluster in Simulations of AGN Feedback.”

X-ray observations, like those made by NASA’s Chandra Observatory, are a vital tool used in observational astronomy to recognize high-energy phenomena. In galaxy groups and clusters, the high-temperature gas known as the Intracluster Medium (ICM) has been shown to cool over time by emitting X-radiation. These emissions are commonly found near the center where cooled gas is deposited. Through X-ray observations, astronomers have determined that the rate of cooling in the ICM is much lower than expected. There are many theories for the origin of the excess thermal energy, but the most promising source of energy seems to be feedback from active galactic nuclei. 

Andrew’s project uses simulations of the Perseus cluster’s astrophysical jet to analyze the effects of active galactic nucleus (AGN) feedback on the cluster atmosphere. The Perseus cluster is the brightest X-ray emitting cluster, and will therefore provide the best observational data. By comparing the simulated data with the real-world observations taken by NASA’s Chandra Observatory, Andrew will be able to select a time and viewing angle most similar to the Perseus cluster in order to distinguish what structures in Perseus are the result of AGN feedback versus other effects, such as sloshing.

Congratulations Andrew, and best of luck in your future studies!

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