Research

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The ESO Fellows carry out independent astronomical research with the ultimate goal to understand how planets, stars and galaxies in the Universe form and evolve. 

Below is a description of the main research carried out by each Fellow divided according to the main scientific areas at ESO: Planets and Star Formation, Stellar Structure and Evolution, Stellar Populations, Evolution of Galaxies and ISM, Cosmology and The Early Universe

Planets and Star Formation

Topics covered in this research area

  • Detection and characterisation of extrasolar planets
  • Observational methods to study the earliest stages of star formation
  • The circumstellar environment of high and low mass stars
  • Star formation at the Galactic Centre

Adam Ginsburg: I work on the formation of massive stars and massive star clusters. I use millimeter continuum and heterodyne instruments to look at cold dust and molecules in proto-cluster environments to examine the processes governing their collapse, especially turbulence in the interstellar medium. I am leading a large survey of the Galactic Center using SHFI-1 on the APEX telescope in which we are measuring the temperature of all of the gas in our Galaxy's center. My primary tool is the Formaldehyde molecule, which I have observed at centimeter and millimeter wavelengths in order to determine local gas temperature and density. I am also interested in outflows from forming stars, which I observe in the near-infrared primarily using H2 and FeII lines.

Stellar Structure and Evolution

Topics covered in this research area

  • Stellar evolution, especially the late stages, for example:
    • Mass loss
    • Planetary nebulae
    • Supernovae
  • Stellar surface abundances
  • Stellar surface structures
  • Stellar pulsations
  • Stellar magnetic fields and magnetic activity
  • Low mass stars
  • Black holes and neutron stars

These research topics are covered using observations from X-rays to Infrared, and with many different techniques, e.g., high resolution optical/IR spectroscopy, optical interferometry and polarimetry.

 

Stellar Populations

Topics covered in this research area

Subject in this research area aim at understanding the stellar content of nearby star clusters and galaxies with the goal of understanding their formation and evolution history.

  • Resolved and unresolved star cluster (formation, stellar content, destruction)
  • Resolved stellar populations in the Local Group and nearby galaxies
  • Dwarf galaxies (stellar content and dynamics)
  • Nearby galaxies (integrated light, dynamics, central objects)

Evolution of Galaxies and the ISM

Topics covered in this research area

Subject in this research area aim at understanding the formation and evolution of galaxies from low to high redshift, their mass assembly and enrichment histories, as well as the connection to active galactic nuclei.

  • Evolution of the interstellar medium in galaxies
  • Evolution of galaxy structure and dynamics
  • High-redshift galaxies and galaxy clusters
  • Co-evolution of black holes and galaxies

Timothy A. Davis: My work focuses on the ISM of other galaxies, both in "red and NOT dead" early-type galaxies, and in extreme environments such as the starbursts found in merging galaxies. I work on understanding the origin (accretion, mergers, stellar mass loss) and fate of the ISM (star formation, quenching), and its chemical evolution. I have lead the ATLAS3D CARMA molecular gas imaging survey, and the followups of this survey and the VIXENS project. Furthermore I lead studies which use molecular gas as a kinematic tracer, both of galactic potentials (e.g. for the Tully-Fisher relation) and on smaller scales as a technique for measuring black-hole masses.

Tayyaba Zafar: My research focuses on the dust, gas and metals in the ISM of Gamma-ray burst (GRB) afterglows and intervening absorbers towards quasars sightlines. From the spectroscopic and photometric data, I measure extinction in these objects by determining the amount of light lost. For better estimates, I use X-ray, optical and near-infrared data to build spectral energy distributions. I also estimate from the absorption line properties that how much metals are present in the environment and out of that how much fraction is present in dust and gas phase. All these studies provide details of the ISM of these environments. Furthermore, I try to detect faint absorbers along the line of sight of quasar. This provides galaxy properties of these objects e.g., star formation, morphology etc.

Cosmology and the Early Universe

Topics covered in this research area

Subjects in this research area aim at understanding the dark contents of the Universe (Dark Matter and Dark Energy) with the goal of understanding its expansion history since the Big Bang.

  • Type Ia supernovae as probes of Dark Energy
  • Type II supernovae as extragalactic distance indicators (Hubble constant)
  • X-ray clusters and the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect
  • Weak lensing and the large-scale distribution of Dark Matter
  • Cosmology with the European Extremeley Large Telescope (E-ELT)