Student: Nicolas Trueba, Undergraduate Student in Physics, Iowa State University
Research Mentor: Massimo Marengo
Calibration of RR Lyrae Period-Luminosity Relation via Advanced Statistical Method
The Carnegie RR Lyrae Program seeks to first calibrate the theoretical relation that makes RR Lyrae variables particularly reliable distance indicators in the mid-infrared, and second, to utilize this high precision relation as part of the cosmic distance ladder, ultimately determining the Hubble constant independently from the distance scale obtained with Cepheid variables. My research project consists on developing my own software that utilizes an advanced statistical method (known as Feldman-Cousins in high-energy physics) in order to determine the way different sources of uncertainty affect the calibration of the RR Lyrae theoretical relation. Dr. Marengo and I developed this application in consultation with Dr. Mayly Sanchez who works on high-energy physics. The software I developed applies the method by producing millions of synthetic datasets, a task that requires extensive optimization. Using data from NASA space observatories such as Spitzer Space Telescope and WISE, the software is able to determine distances and interstellar extinction of individual calibrator stars in the absence of accurate parallax data.