Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Mathematics

Date of Award

Spring 4-10-2023


This thesis explores the relationship between astronomical position data and star cluster membership. Our research project focuses on the mathematical probability of cluster membership for white dwarf stars (WDs), specifically membership candidates within the open cluster Messier 35. Through Gaussian analysis of proper motion data, we examine the membership probability of each candidate. Establishing cluster membership has broad applications and can allow further determination of a star’s characteristics including stellar age and evolution. Of particular interest are two WD member candidates for Messier 35: LAWDS 4, a DB WD with a helium-dominated atmosphere as opposed to the more common hydrogen-dominated atmospheres, and LAWDS 28, a hot DQ white dwarf with a carbon-dominated atmosphere of uncertain origin. Through the application of a two-dimensional Gaussian model to existing proper motion data for LAWDS 4, LAWDS 28, and other potential WD Messier 35 members, this thesis evaluates their respective membership probabilities and examines potential areas of interest for further research. Various existing literature is also referenced that reinforces our approach to membership probability calculation.


Kurtis Williams