Professor Receives Chandra Grant to Continue Study of Supernova Remnant

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

When talking about the sky, it is hard to mistake the look on Dr. Tracey DeLaney’s face as anything short of excitement.  In fact, spend just a few minutes with this West Virginia Wesleyan College Assistant Professor of Physics and Engineering, and you may begin to wonder why you never studied Science more.

DeLaney, who has spent many of her educational years studying Cassiopeia A, a supernova remnant, has been awarded the Chandra Grant of $50,000, 2+ year allotment of money that will allow further study into this enormous nebula made from the explosion of a star by granting use of archival data taken from ten years of observation from NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory.  This is the seventh grant of this nature that DeLaney has received, however it is the first during her West Virginia Wesleyan tenure.

“I’m very excited about this new grant to continue research,” commented DeLaney. “Cas A is my baby, and this is my project from my brain.  It is very cool.”

DeLaney, along with a team of astronomers from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a trained NASA scientist, and a current School of Science student, will spend the next two years continuing to research the supernova remnant that has sparked interest in the science world for years.  With a partial 3-D computer model already in place from her previous research on Cassiopeia A, DeLaney is ready to figure out what causes stars to explode.

“Every time we continue research on Cas A, it all leads to this,” DeLaney stated.  “All our research is made of bits and pieces that will eventually help to answer this question.”

DeLaney also sees this as a service to her profession and focuses on what this grant could mean for her students.

“When we have students who work on research projects and they apply to graduate school, they carry our name wherever they go,” DeLaney commented.  “Whenever we can give students real-world research experience, it is a great thing for everyone involved.”

DeLaney has also implemented the Planetarium, a bi-monthly program which offers local community education about the stars, moon, and sky.

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched and deployed into space on July 23, 1999 by Space Shuttle Columbia, and it is the most advanced X-ray observatory to date.  This observatory is specially-designed to observe remnants of exploded stars.

To learn more about the School of Science or the Planetarium program at West Virginia Wesleyan College, please contact Dr. Tracey DeLaney, assistant professor of physics and engineering, at 304-473-8330 or Delaney_t@wvwc.edu