Hard x-ray detectors are used to study black holes, neutron stars and active galactic nuclei. In xenon gas the energy of an incident x-ray gets converted to scintillation light, the strength of which is proportional to the energy of the x-ray absorbed. In the laboratory we have been studying this process.
We acquire hundreds or thousands of images of a rich star field in a given night. We then perform a statistical analysis of the signal (“apparent brightness”) each star in the field over the course of the night. While this work should prove useful for the study of everything from meteors to near-earth asteroids to variable stars, we are primarily interested in searching for foreground objects that pass between us and a distant star, leading to a sudden and brief decrease or increase in the flux measured from the background star.
There are also a variety of student research projects within the Astronomy field.