MESA-Web: A cloud resource for stellar evolution in astronomy curriculum
Keywords:Stellar Astrophyiscs, Astronomy Education, Computational Models
We present MESA-Web,a cloud resource with an online interface to the Modules for Experiments in Stellar Astrophysics (MESA) software instrument. MESA-Web allows learners to evolve stellar models without the need to download and install MESA. Since being released in 2015, MESA-Web has delivered over 17,000 calculations to over 2,200 unique learners and currently performs about 11 jobs per day. MESA-Web can be used as an educational tool for stars in the classroom or for scientific investigations.
We report on new capabilities of MESA-Web introduced since its 2015 release including learner-supplied nuclear reaction rates, custom stopping conditions, and an expanded selection of input parameters. To foster collaboration we have created a Zenodo MESA-Web community hub, where instructors can openly share examples of using MESA-Web in the classroom. We discuss two examples in the current community hub. The first example is a lesson module on Red Giant Branch stars that includes a suite of exercises designed to fit a range of learners and a Jupyter workbook for additional analysis. The second example is lesson materials for an upper-level Astronomy majors course in Stars and Radiation that includes an assignment verifying some of the expected trends that are presented in a popular stellar physics textbook.