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Astronomy Research

Faculty in the department are active in many areas of astronomical and astrophysical research:

  • Dr. Lyle Ford studies the rotation properties of asteroids using observations from Hobbs Observatory. He has also investigated the spectra of gamma-ray bursts.
  • Dr. Lauren Likkel is involved with near-infrared spectroscopy of planetary nebulae and studies of millimeter emission from molecules in circumstellar envelopes.
  • Dr. Nathan Miller uses data from the NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the ESA's XMM-Newton satellite to understand the powerful winds of hot stars. He is developing spectroscopic monitoring program for emission-line B stars using Hobbs observatory.
  • Dr. George Stecher makes photometric observations of asteroids and eclipsing binary stars using Hobbs Observatory's 24" telescope.
  • Dr. Paul Thomas creates computer models of solar system phenomena. His research and some of his students projects can be seen on the UWEC Planetary Science page.

Current and recently completed projects involving UWEC students include:

  • Gravitational lens computer models
  • Measuring the rotation period and orbit of the asteriod Aten
  • Photometric measurements of the stars AP Aurigae and XY Leonis at Hobbs Observatory.

Projects that may be available for students to participate in

  • Image processing of near-infrared images (see Dr. Likkel)
  • X-ray and optical spectroscopy of hot stars (see Dr. Miller)
  • Determination of the rotation axis orientations of asteroids  (see Dr. Ford or Dr. Stecher)
  • Computational modeling of comet and asteroid impacts on planets (see Dr. Thomas)

Faculty at UWEC use the following ground-based and space-based facilities:

  • The 3.5-meter ARC telescope at Apache Point Observatory near Cloudcroft, New Mexico
  • BATSE (Burst And Transient Source Experiment) aboard the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory satellite
  • BIMA (Berkeley-Illinois-Maryland Association) millimeter array near Hat Creek, California
  • UWEC's 24" Newtonian/Nasmyth and C-14 telescopes at Hobbs Observatory near Fall Creek, Wisconsin
  • UWEC's comprehensive library of planetary images from spacecraft on CD-ROM
  • The High-Energy Transmission Grating of NASA's orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory
  • The Reflection Grating Spectrometer of the European Space Agency's X-ray Multiple-Mirror-Newton telescope
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