Astrophysics

Dartmouth's research in astrophysics is carried out by Professors Brian Chaboyer, Robert Fesen, Ryan Hickox, Jedidah Isler, Elisabeth Newton, and John Thorstensen. Professor Chaboyer is mainly a theorist, and the other five astronomers are primarily observers at radio, optical, infrared, X-ray and gamma-ray wavelengths. Including adjunct faculty, long-term visitors, postdocs, and graduate students, we have a strong research group focused on a variety of fundamental questions about the Universe.

Research areas in astrophysics include the following:

  • Theoretical models of stellar evolution; globular clusters, helio and astro-seismology, and galaxy formation (Brian Chaboyer).
  • Infrared, optical, UV and X-ray studies of supernovae and supernova remnants (Robert Fesen).
  • The cosmological evolution of galaxies and supermassive black holes, through X-ray, optical, and infrared observations (Ryan Hickox).
  • Simultaneous multiwavelength, spectroscopic and (optical) polarization studies of blazars; astrophysical particle acceleration processes and relativistic jets (Jedidah Isler).
  • Spin-down and the magnetic dynamo in low mass stars through spectroscopy and photometry; the evolution of hot, gaseous exoplanets using transit and radial velocity observations (Elisabeth Newton).
  • Optical studies of close binary stars; spectroscopic studies of cataclysmic variable stars (John Thorstensen).

Dartmouth's major ground-based facility is the 11m Southern African Large Telescope in Sutherland, South Africa, which is used remotely via queue scheduling. Our other observing facilities are located at the MDM Observatory situation on Kitt Peak located 50 miles southwest of Tucson Arizona. MDM is operated jointly by Dartmouth, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Ohio University, and Columbia University. MDM has 2.4-m and 1.3-m telescopes and a suite of state-of-the-art optical and infrared instruments. For teaching purposes, the Department has one 12 inch and one 14 inch Meade. These telescopes are located on the roof of Wilder Laboratory.

In addition to SALT and MDM, Dartmouth astronomers, faculty, and students make use of many more of the world's leading space- and ground-based observational facilities, including the Hubble, SpitzerHerschel, and TESS space observatories, Chandra, XMM-Newton, NuSTAR, and Suzaku X-ray satellites, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, W.M. Keck Observatory, MMT Observatory, and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, as well as being involved in the planning of upcoming and proposed missions including NASA's Lynx X-ray mission concept.

You can also find out about cosmology research in our department here.

Our recent astrophysics and cosmology publications (on Astrophysics Data System).