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Harish Khandrika stands next to a poster of his award-winning science fair project, which used data from NASA's RXTE spacecraft to study the remains from a star explosion.
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Courtesy of NASA

Student Astronomer Reaches for Exploded Stars
News story originally written on July 22, 2002

Student astronomer Harish Khandrika of La Jolla, California has done some amazing research! This high school student has been working with Dr. Richard Rothschild of the University of California, San Diego to on a project to learn more about supernovae.

For his project, Harish investigated gamma rays emitted by radioactive titanium in a supernova remnant called Cassiopeia A. To study Cassiopeia A, he needed to look at data from a NASA spacecraft called the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE).

Harish’s conclusion, which is consistent with the research of others, is that the supernova produced a huge amount of radioactive titanium, about 40 times the mass of Earth. He presented this project and won many awards at the San Diego Science Fair and the Intel International Science and Technology Fair.

You may wonder how a kid on Earth got started making discoveries about supernovae. “I’m very passionate about studying the universe,” said Harish, who spent last summer searching for people who could help him follow his interest. “I knocked on the doors of scientists at the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences (CASS) at the University of California, San Diego, to ask if anyone would be kind enough to let me work in his or her laboratory,” describes Harish. Harish found Dr. Richard Rothschild who suggested he look at data from the RXTE and his research project was born!

Congratulations to Harish on his excellent research! We know he is not the only student astronomer out there. Tell us about a research project you have done and we will tell you how to highlight it in our Student Projects page.


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA