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Quasar Outflows for Undergraduates and Everyone

Presentation #337.05 in the session “AGN and Quasars 2”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
Quasar Outflows for Undergraduates and Everyone

Using the novel spectral synthesis code SimBAL, our group models quasar spectra using a Bayesian (MCMC) approach. SimBAL analysis produces statistical information about the physical conditions of the outflow gas, which can then be translated to velocity-resolved results including mass outflow rate and outflow kinetic luminosity. Because SimBAL does not need to identify every line individually, it allows modeling of spectra where individual lines overlap or of systems with broad troughs.

To increase accessibility, we are developing a website to supplement the future public release of the SimBAL code and documentation with the goal of enabling undergraduate researchers to understand and use the code. Efficient use of SimBAL requires knowledge of many topics often not encountered by undergraduate students. The science behind the code draws on elements of machine learning, radiative transfer, and data analysis. SimBAL will be more effective in research groups if the documentation can be independently read and understood by undergraduates, who may have the opportunity to participate in research.

We present a preview of the main resources that will be included in the website, which will be released concurrently with the code. Of particular interest to students are the Quick Start Guide and the Undergraduate Science Guide, both written in a code-along format with supplementary Jupyter notebooks. The Quick Start Guide briefly introduces techniques for using the code. It contains links and references to other areas of the website. The Undergraduate Science Guide explores more advanced topics that new researchers will need both to run the code efficiently and to make meaningful contributions in their teams. The strength of this format is that all the elements are interconnected through hyperlinks, creating a more holistic learning experience. These resources will increase students’ understanding, supporting our goal of providing students with an enhanced learning environment.

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