NYC Students Co-Author Study on Star Collisions Published in Prestigious Astrophysics Journal
Harper Clees-Baron, James Garland, and Alejandro Ahmed with their research poster
Three New York City high school students were featured as co-authors in a study published this month in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Rising high school seniors Alejandro Ahmed (Woodside), Harper Clees-Baron (Prospect Lefferts Gardens) and James Garland (Upper East Side) assisted astrophysicist Dr. Nathan Leigh on the paper as part of the American Museum of Natural History’s Science Research Mentoring Program (SRMP), an initiative where students conduct authentic research under the mentorship of Museum scientists.
During their research, the team tackled the ‘chaotic four-body problem,’ an astrophysical quandary that seeks to predict the movement of four particles when only their initial positions and velocities are known. Guided by Dr. Leigh, the students worked to understand the probability of a collision between stars and developed a range of figures that were included in the final publication. They hope to generalize their results for application to a variety of fields, from better understanding how disease spreads to describing the motion of star systems.
“Throughout the project, I was continually impressed by the team’s creativity and persistence as they worked with numerical simulations to predict the odds of a star collision in exotic, four-star systems,” said Leigh, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Astrophysics at the Museum. “They really rose to the challenge and were able to contribute to published, peer-reviewed science, a level that can take some individuals six years of graduate school to achieve.”#