|| Caty Pilachowski's Research Page
Professor Catherine A. Pilachowski investigates the evolution of
stars and the chemical history of the Milky Way Galaxy from studies
of chemical composition of stars and star clusters. As stars evolve,
chemical elements are synthesized by nuclear processes in the stars'
interiors. These newly created elements appear in the stars'
outer layers, where we can observe them. Changes in the surface
composition of stars help us to understand what's going on
inside the star, and to understand the process of stellar
Professor Pilachowski also uses her data on
the compositions of stars to explore the chemical history
of the Milky Way Galaxy. Since its formation 13.8 billion
years ago, the Galaxy has been gradually enriched in the
abundance of chemical elements as these elements have been
produced in stars. Studies of the abundances of the chemical
elements in the oldest stars can reveal the nature of the first
generation of stars formed in the Galaxy, and the compositions
of old stars can also tell us about the history of the Galaxy.
|| Globular Cluster Abundances -
Studies of abundance variations among stars in
globular clusters tell us about physical process involved
in the formation of the cluster and during stellar evolution.
The evolution of stars can be examined in detail
through changes in the abundance of elements at the
stellar surface from nucleosynthesis and mixing
inside a star. These changes tell us about the physical
conditions inside the star and about processes that
create and bring new elements to the surface.
In collaboration with Guy Worthy, we are extending this work
to examine multiple stellar populations in Andromeda globular
| Odd-Z Elements -
Spectroscopy of Galactic disk stars and stars in open star clusters are being analyzed
to determine the abundance of the little-studied odd-Z elements
fluorine, chlorine, and phosphorus as a function of metallicity.
These elements do not have absorption lines in the optical part
of the spectrum, so we use high-resolution infrared spectra
from different telescopes, including the Kitt Peak 2.1-m telescope
and 4-m Mayall telescope, the Gemini Observatory, the IRTF
telescope on Mauna Kea, and McDonald Observatory facilities.
In addition, we have an
archive of infrared spectra from the
Mayall 4-m Fourier Transform Spectrometer.
Current Graduate Student: Zachary Maas
|| Instrumentation -
A precision radial velocity spectrometer is being built for the
Wyoming Infrared Telescope,in collaboration with astronomers
at the University of Wyoming.
Construction is funded by a NASA EPSCOR grant to UWyo.
The spectrograph should begin routine observations sometime in
the second half of 2020.
for more information.
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