Understanding the lives of stars and stellar systems is key to many branches of astrophysics. This requires accurate and powerful models that scientists can use to simulate stars. A prime example of this is the Modules for Experiments in Stellar Astrophysics (MESA) software package, the most popular and currently the only open-source stellar evolution code. An important mission of the developers behind MESA is to teach others how to use the code, so they have held summer schools at the University of California's Santa Barbara campus almost every year since 2012.
However, California was not easily accessible to international students, especially those from low-income countries. To address this need, the 2023 summer school was held in Budapest under the direction of Meridith Joyce, an MSCA Widening Fellow working at the Konkoly Observatory, with László Molnár, also a researcher at Konkoly, leading the local organization. The school attracted 50 students from many countries around the world, resulting in the highest attendance in the school's history.
The MESA@Konkoly Summer School follows a well-established protocol: each day begins with a presentation of a scientific topic or problem, which is then explored throughout the day using the modeling software. Students are not only provided with pre-designed lab exercises, but also have a teaching assistant at each table to help them solve problems ranging from interpretation to hardware/software glitches. In 2023, six lecturers and 17 TAs kept the program running smoothly.
This year's scientific program included seismology of red giant stars, nuclear astrophysics, pulsating variable stars, and interacting binaries. The feedback from the students showed that the Summer School was a clear success: they were very satisfied not only with the quality of the scientific program and the laboratory activities, but also with the organization and with Budapest as a location.