Kawailehua Kuluhiwa was born and raised in Kihei, Maui.  She graduated from Maui Community College in the Spring of 2003 with an A.A. degree and transferred to University of Hawaii at Hilo. She completed her internship with the Akamai program in the summer of 2003 at W.M. Keck Observatory. Currently, she is completing her B.S. degree in astronomy at the UH Hilo. Recently Kawai traveled to UC Santa Cruz for the CfAO’s Saturday Open Lab so she could learn more about graduate school opportunities.  She hopes to someday return home to establish employment on the observatories of Maui or Hawaii and to work closely with other astronomers.

Home Island: Maui
Institution when accepted: University of Hawaii at Hilo

Akamai Project: RY Scuti and Its Unusual Nebular Structure Taken in the Thermal Infrared with Keck’s Adaptive Optics System and NIRC2 Imager

Project Site: Keck Observatory

Mentors: David Le Mignant and Randy Campbell

 Project Abstract:

RY Scuti is a massive, eclipsing, binary stellar system that can be considered as one of the most exotic star systems around. The data on this system were taken on 11 June, 2003, using the adaptive optics system and NIRC2 imager on the Keck2 10 meter telescope atop Mauna Kea. The data reduction process was completed using special software for the purpose of eliminating the existing systematics within our images. The systematics that we needed to correct for included the infrared light emitted by the sky and telescope, bad pixels which are those that portray an abnormally high or low response level, and the inconsistency of how each pixel across the infrared detector reacts from one another. We present new 2.3-4.7 µm images of RY Scuti’s nebula in great detail as never seen before in these given wavelengths. These well-resolved images illustrate the central star and its remarkable, clear-cut diffraction pattern as well as a nebular region that could be seen best in the thermal near infrared (3-5 µm). These new observations will be used for further analysis on the system’s unusual and intriguing nebular structure, perhaps supporting the hypotheses that its nebula exists as two parallel dust rings as theorized by Gehrz et. al and Smith et. al.

For more information on the
Gehrz and Smith paper, the following website can be referred to: