My research group studies the amount and distribution of baryons (stars, gas) and dark matter in galaxies and clusters of galaxies. This research lies within the wide-ranging field of galaxy formation and includes major topics of current interest such as the nature and distribution of dark matter and the metal enrichment of the universe. Clusters of galaxies and the most massive galaxies possess a hot intracluster / interstellar medium (T = 10-100 MK) that emits radiation at X-ray wavelengths. This hot gas / plasma usually extends to larger radii and, always in the case of clusters, contains even more baryonic mass (and metals) than the stars. X-ray measurements of the thermodynamic and kinematic properties of the hot gas allow the total underlying mass distribution to be mapped in these massive galaxy systems.
Student projects for these topics are available involving the analysis, interpretation, and modeling of X-ray observations, especially with data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the XMM-Newton satellite.
My goals in designing research projects in X-ray astrophysics are both to prepare the student for graduate studies in astrophysics and, equally importantly, to provide the student with a broad range of research skills that will help prepare them for a career in any field that uses quantitative analytical methods of data analysis.
Physics 61C is required (Introduction to Astrophysics).
Programming experience (C++ or Python) is strongly recommended but not required.
Students are expected to update me regularly with their progress. This will be achieved sometimes through one-on-one meetings with me in my office, at group meetings, or by email. Occasionally the student will report their progress with a short presentation at a group meeting. Upon completion of the project, the student will write up the results (e.g., in a thesis) and make a formal presentation at a group meeting.
I do not require a specific time commitment, since it will vary depending upon the student and circumstances. As a guide, typically the student should aim to begin by spending at least 5-10 hours / wk. This effort should gradually increase so that during the later stages of the project, the student is spending roughly double that amount of time.
Students who enroll in P195/P196/PH196 will have their grade determined primarily by their regular progress reports and ultimately their written and oral presentation on the completed project. Other qualitative factors (e.g., attitude, enthusiasm, participation in group meetings) will also be considered.
2176 Reines Hall