Physics Department: REU Projects - Astronomy/Astrophysics

Prof. Timothy Beers

The Chemical Evolution and Assembly of the Milky Way: Prof. Beers and his group work on exploring the history of the element production in the Universe, making use of stellar probes from large-scale surveys for metal-poor stars, including the recent trove of information from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). For example, studies based on these data have shown recently that the very first generations of massive stars produced copious amounts of light elements, such as carbon and nitrogen. The REU student will become involved with the analysis and inspection of the stellar spectra from SDSS, as well as other recent surveys, in order to contribute to a number of ongoing projects specific to the assembly of the Milky Way galaxy and the nature of its constituent populations.

Prof. Jeffrey Chilcote

Professor Jeffrey Chilcote studies focus on the construction of astronomical instruments and the direct detection and characterization of extrasolar planets. While thousands of planets have been discovered to date, most are only observed by their effect upon their parent star. Direct imaging of extrasolar planets involves blocking, suppressing, and subtracting the light of the bright parent star so that a planet hundreds of thousands of times fainter can be seen and studied in detail. Prof. Chilcote’s instrumentation lab works with telescopes in Hawaii and Chile to construct and deploy these sophisticated instruments on sky. REU students may be involved with ongoing instrumentation work and/or the analysis of astronomy and instrument performance data from these high contrast instruments.