LABS: Measuring the Milky Way with Variable Stars

Saturday, April 6th • 10:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
540 South Marengo Avenue, Pasadena, California 91101
Grade Level: 7-12

Cost: $50 (Staff will invoice for payment after registration.)


Until about 100 years, scientists were very unsure about our position in the universe. Since then, many studies – beginning with Edwin Hubble – revealed the basic structure of our galaxy, the Milky Way, and the position of our star, the Sun, therein.

Nowadays, every night large telescopes around the world, as well as space-based telescopes obtain a flood of new astronomical data. This opens up many opportunities for nowadays astronomers. How are these data gathered and processed? What do these data tell us about the Milky Way?

We will explore various techniques astronomers and astrophysicists use to learn about the stars in our Milky Way, their creation, their evolution and how they formed the Milky Way we see today.

I will use the example of a modern so-called all-sky survey that can trace stars many light years away, to not only explain how our Milky Way is structured, but also to show how modern astronomers work to gather those data and to process them using state-of-the-art computing techniques (so-called machine learning) to reveal their hidden structure.

Please note upon registration, a LABS Series team member will be in touch with you via email to confirm and finalize your child’s enrollment in the workshop.

About the Speaker

Dr. Nina Hernitschek is a German astronomer living in the US. She holds a PhD in astrophysics from Heidelberg University, Germany where she completed doctoral work in the field of large astronomical surveys and machine learning. Since more than two years, she is a postdoctoral researcher at Caltech, continuing her studies of the Milky Way. She is especially interested in the dynamical history of our Milky Way, which can tell us a lot about galaxy formation and evolution in general. As part of her work, she develops high-performance computing algorithms as well as carrying out an astronomical observing program.

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