The Role of Small Telescopes in Modern Astronomy, October 14-15, 1996, Lowell Observatory

Large-Scale Structure with a Small Telescope

Eric G. Hintz1,2 (, J. Ward Moody1 (, Michael D. Joner1 (, Michael Rice1 (, and Kenneth A. Nelson1 (
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Brigham Young University
263 FB
Provo, UT 84602

We have used the Burrell Schmidt Telescope, which is a 0.6/0.9-m telescope, to probe the large-scale structure of the Universe. We have examined rich Abell clusters of galaxies in an attempt to understand their formation and evolutionary histories. We found that luminosity functions of the six clusters we examined showed no significant differences. However, a new quantitative morphological system we have developed showed differences based on the Rood-Sastry type of the cluster. A cD cluster showed more extended objects, while a L cluster showed more compact objects. We believe these differences can be traced directly to the clusters environment and evolution. We are now extending this work to look at more clusters selected based on their Rood-Sastry type and another set selected based on the clusters position within a supercluster.

We have also used the Burrell Schmidt to examine the Boötes Void region in order to determine just how empty it is. We have examined over 100,000 objects in the direction of the Void, down to a magnitude limit of 22.0, and a completeness limit of 20th magnitude. Our data suggests the Boötes Void should be redefined to the southwest of its originally defined location. With this new center we find the Boötes Void to be a completely empty corridor stretching for 460 Mpc at a position of alpha = 14h15m and delta = +42o.5, and having a range in redshifts from cz = 3,000km/sec to cz = 40,000km/sec.

We feel that small telescopes, such as the Burrell, can contribute greatly to studies of the large-scale structure of the Universe, and in some cases do things the larger telescopes just cannot do.

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1Bear Lake Observatory Post-Doctoral Fellow.
2Visiting Astronomer, Kitt Peak National Observatory, National Optical Astronomy Observatories, operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. Observations made with the Burrell Schmidt Telescope of the Warner and Swasey Observatory, Case Western Reserve University.

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