Spectroscopic Classification of Evolved Star Candidates

Faculty Sponsor

Bruce Hrivnak


Arts and Sciences


Physics and Astronomy

ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Summer 7-30-2018


Spectroscopy is a tool for determining the composition and physical properties of a material. Because stars have atmospheres composed of atomic or even molecular gas, the light emitted from the star interacts with the gas as it passes through the stellar atmosphere on its way to the Earth resulting in absorption lines in the spectrum of the star which can be used as a diagnostic device. In this project, I analyze the spectra of specific evolved stars called proto-planetary nebulae (PPNe), which are stars that have evolved through the red giant phase and are on their way to becoming white dwarfs. The spectra were taken by Professor Hrivnak at Kitt Peak National Observatory in 1992, 1995, and 2000. These targets were selected based on their strong infrared emissions, indicating circumstellar dust which is a characteristic of evolved stars. However, PPNe are not the only celestial objects that emit in the infrared. This project uses spectroscopy to determine whether or not these targets show signatures of an evolved star which will help confirm their identities as PPNe.

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