Using a Go!Link, the Instrumentation Amplifier, and Logger Pro software

Students at Madonna High School, in Weirton, WV, recently applied Vernier hardware and software to the task of locating a massive black hole believed to exist at the center of our galaxy.

Using a short wave radio, some custom circuitry, the Vernier Instrumentation Amplifier, a Go!Link and Vernier Logger Pro software, students were able to monitor electromagnetic radiation emanating from Sagittarius A* (pronounced “Sagittarius A-star”), a radio source in the area around the black hole. These radio waves are apparently produced by the destruction of matter in an accretion disk surrounding the black hole. The EM radiation is distributed broadly across radio frequencies; students chose to monitor 87.10 MHz, a short wave band near the frequency reserved for radio astronomy. Sampling at a rate of 500 samples per day over four days, students recorded the time of day when the peak in EM intensity was observed. Students were able to compare their results to astronomical data, verifying that their measurements correlated with the right ascension ofSagittarius A*.

A composite of the mean intensity of four days of sampling at 500 samples per day shows two maxima, one for the zenith of the Sun, and one for the right ascension of Sagittarius A*.