Quality-of-Life Changes to Data Reduction Codes for Radio Observation
Haille Perkins '22 majors in Physics and Computer Science and is particularly interested in Computational Astrophysics. This interest led her to the research that she conducted with Dr. Aileen O'Donoghue in the summer of 2020 and 2021. A highlight of working with Dr. O'Donoghue was a trip to the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico where Haille learned more about the process used to observe radio emissions from galaxies. During this time, she was able to explore the types of work that occurs in the radio division of astronomy and hopes to experience other areas in the future.
In February of 2022, the ALFALFA research group began observing galaxies hosting supernovae with the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. The resulting and incoming data requires reduction to extract important information, such as velocity, velocity width, and flux. In this project, we worked on implementing quality-of-life changes to an existing Python package to improve the experience of the researchers that will be using it. I worked on optimizing bottlenecks in the code to reduce calculation runtime, preventing the user from incorrectly using the package, allowing the user to complete reduction of several galaxies in a single program execution, and creating clearer prompts and pop-ups to guide the user. Additionally, through this project, I learned how to construct a Python package for public use, educate undergraduate researchers on the use and importance of the package, and effectively communicate progress and utilize GitHub in a small group setting.