Student: Hannah Gulick, Undergraduate Student in Astronomy, Physics, and Creative Writing, University of Iowa
Research Mentor: Dr. Phillip Kaaret
HaloSat: A CubeSat in the Search for Missing Matter
Everything we can see in the universe – stars, galaxies, planets, even people – is made up of luminous matter known as baryonic matter. Baryonic matter is the source of all astronomical observation, but nearly half of it is missing. Astronomers believe this missing matter to be in hot, gaseous halos around galaxies. To test this theory, a team at the University of Iowa built and tested the NASA funded Cube Satellite, HaloSat.
HaloSat is the first NASA CubeSat to have a scientific objective outside of the solar system, as it aims to map the mass and geometry of the Milky Way’s Galactic halo. By observing X-ray’s coming from ionized oxygen, HaloSat will return emission spectra that will be used to determine the amount of baryonic matter in the Galactic halo. HaloSat launched from Wallops Flight Facility in May of 2018, and is currently in orbit around the Earth successfully returning data.