Homer L. Dodge Assistant Professor of Astrophysics
B.S. 2006 University of Illinois
Ph.D. 2011 University of Michigan
Ph: (405) 325-6278
Office: 231 Nielsen Hall
My research is focused on the early stages of the star formation process, when the star itself and proto-planetary disk is still being formed out of a dense, gravitationally collapsing cloud of gas and dust. I am working toward gaining a better understanding of the proto-planetary disk formation process, trying to answer the question of how quickly a proto-planetary disk is established and its properties. I am also investigating the origins of binary and multiple star systems, which are expected to arise early when there is sufficient mass available to form companion stars. Coupled to the formation of a disk is the generation of bipolar outflows and I have also make some recent studies of outflows toward the youngest protostars.
The questions of disk and binary star formation are best answered with large datasets having uniform resolution and sensitivity. To this end, I am conducting several large surveys of young stars in nearby star forming regions with the Very Large Array (VLA) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). These projects are yielding unprecedented statistics on the typical sizes of disks and the frequency of multiplicity during the early stages of star formation. Follow-up of these systems is also being conducted with ALMA to target specific molecular species that reveal the kinematic properties of the infalling/rotating gas to learn more about these systems. Furthermore, these datasets are being augmented by near-infrared imaging and spectroscopy using OU's access to the ARC 3.5m telescope at Apache Point Observatory. Finally, I also use radiative transfer models to make a physical models of the disks and infalling envelopes the better understand their physical structure.