2016 Abstract from Collin

Digital Design for Astrophysics  Detectors    Collin Bradford (Homeschool Student)   ​Dr. Chris Stoughton (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory)   
Abstract    Sensors in particle detectors​ often have to sample at a rate that far outpaces typical computers  today.  One of the solutions for this is to use FPGAs or Field Programmable Gate Arrays to  process and condense the signals from the sensors before sending the result to a computer for  storage and further processing.     This paper reports on the project to​ design a data acquisition system to be used for the Nano  Cam project.  This project uses a phototube attached to a telescope to precisely measure the  photons coming from a star.  The FPGA, or Field Programmable Gate Array, will take the output  from the phototube and process it, looking for spikes in the signal that denote a pulse.     The primary target for this experiment, the Crab Pulsar, is a neutron star that is an estimated 20  Km in diameter.  (​Crab Pulsar. n.d.)​  In addition to the regular pulses that happen at 30 Hz,  there is an extremely fast pulse that happens randomly every few hours.  The pulse comes from  a part of the star about the size of a classroom and it pulses with the intensity of the sun.  By  measuring the star with the phototube, we hope to see if the intensity change is in the visible  light spectrum.