UROP Openings

Have a UROP opening you would like to submit?

Please fill out the form.

Submit your UROP opening

The True Nature of X-rays From the Orion Nebula Cluster




MKI: MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research

Faculty Supervisor:

Norbert Schulz

Faculty email:


Apply by:

October 31th, earlier preferred (assignment will likely extend into spring)


Norbert Schulz: nss@space.mit.edu

Project Description

The Orion Nebula Cloud is one of the closest and brightest star forming regions. Gravity makes gas and dust collapse and form new stars. In the beginning, those stars are surrounded by material that is left from the star formation process. For massive stars, that collapse is pretty fast (a few hundred thousand years), low-mass stars take longer (millions of years). Low-mass stars in this phase have an accretion disk around them where planets form. In this project, you will be looking at X-ray data from these stars. Their X-rays are generated in very hot material in the vicinitiy of the stars, for example in the corona, from material falling into the star, or in the winds of the star. We have many observations of the Orion Nebula Cloud with the HETG instrument on the Chandra X-ray satellite. That instrument was built by our group in labs at MIT. It disperses the light of the stars into lines on the detector. Because the Orion Nebula Cloud has so many bright sources, some of those lines overlap. In this project, you will look at the HETG data to identify such overlaps, mark effected areas, and start to measure physical properties (e.g. the temperature) of the gas that causes this emission. We do have a computer code that predicts where where such overlaps might happen and you will help to (a) test that the code works, (2) find the parameters at which it works best, and (3) treat special cases by hand that the code does not (yet) correctly identify (e.g. three overlapping sources, more complex situtations).


For this work, knowledge of the X-rays in astrophysis, gratings would be helpful, and proficiency in the Python programming language or equivalent is desired but not required.