Modeling the Distribution of Comets Around the Star IRC +10216

Abigail Ann Fraeman

Blair Student Finalists in National Intel Science Search 


This project in the space science category was based on the recent discovery of a water vapor cloud around a star, called IRC +10216. Current research suggests that the cloud results from photodissociation of water from the surface of orbiting comets. It is proposed that the reason these orbiting comets are clustered and unevenly distributed is due to the presence of an unseen Jupiter-sized planet that is also orbiting the star. A C++ computer simulation was developed to investigate whether or not such a planet could create an asymmetric system around the star, and the simulation indicates that it could.


Abigail Ann Fraeman is one of Four Montgomery Blair High School students to become finalists in this year’s Intel Science Talent Search, out of 40 in all of the United States.  This is the most finalists from any high school or school district in the nation.  Fraeman plays violin, heads the forensics team and has competed in the junior Olympics and national fencing championships, enjoys acting and music. She was one of only 16 students selected for a ten-day assignment inside Mars Exploration Rover mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. She hopes to become a field geologist on the moon or Mars.