|Peter A. Becker||high energy astrophysics, applied math|
|Kirk Borne||astronomy, astroinformatics, data science|
|Harold Geller||astronomy, astrobiology|
|Mike Summers||planetary science, astrobiology, commercial space flight|
|Joseph Weingartner||astrophysics, dusty universe|
The primary objective of astrophysics is to elucidate the nature of the myriad objects that inhabit the cosmos, including stars, planets, galaxies, and the universe as a whole. We aim to understand the structure of these objects as well as how they form and develop over time. We’re continually discovering new types of objects to explore. Astrophysics research in the Department of Physics and Astronomy covers a wide range of distance scales, from the solar system up through our Galaxy and beyond, including both nearby and distant galaxies. Astronomers employ observational, theoretical, and computational approaches. Planetary science research includes chemistry in the atmosphere of Mars and will extend to Pluto when the New Horizons mission arrives there. Topics in our Galaxy include X-ray emission from neutron stars and the physics of interstellar dust, microscopic solid particles that are nearly ubiquitous in the cosmos and play fundamental roles in the processes of star and planet formation and galaxy evolution. Extragalactic astronomy includes infrared, optical, and X-ray observations of galaxies and the intergalactic medium in the local universe as well as of active galaxies, which harbor supermassive black holes in their cores. Another strand of extragalactic research in the department involves developing and applying data mining and data science techniques to large astronomy data collections and sky survey databases.