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Home > Research > Astrophysics


Dartmouth's research in astrophysics is carried out by Professors Brian Chaboyer, Robert Fesen, Ryan Hickox, John Thorstensen, and Gary Wegner. While Professor Chaboyer is mainly a theorist, the other four astronomers are primarily optical/infrared observers. Including adjunct faculty, long-term visitors, postdocs, and graduate students, we have a very strong research group focused on a variety of fundamental questions about the Universe.

Supernova remnant in Cas A 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 (Fesen). The cosmological evolution of galaxies and supermassive black holes, through X-ray, optical, and infrared observations (Hickox). Optical studies of close binary stars; spectroscopic studies of cataclysmic variable stars (Thorstensen). Multi-band observations of the large scale structure and distribution of galaxies, their peculiar motions, and the fundamental plane relation for early-type galaxies (Wegner).

Right: Right: A composite image of the young galactic supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, consisting of a Hubble Space Telescope optical image (Fesen et al.), a 1 Msec Chandra X-ray image (Hwang et al.), and Spitzer Space Telescope image (DeLaney et al.)

Southern African Large Telescope Left: The 10 meter Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere and among the largest 5 or so in the world. It is operated by international consortium of which Dartmouth is a 9% partner. The SALT telescope has a hexagonal primary mirror array 11 meters across comprised of 91 individual 1.2m hexagonal mirrors. Although similar to the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) in Texas, SALT has a redesigned optical system resulting in a larger field of view, improved image quality, and a larger effective collecting area.

Besides the SALT telescope which is used remotely via queue scheduling, Dartmouth's 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, Spitzer, and Herschel space observatories, Chandra, XMM-Newton, 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 NuSTAR and WFXT.

Our recent publications (on Astrophysics Data System).