NSF Fellowship | Gas Cycles in Starburst Galaxies | Advisor: Sally Oey

Anne Jaskot is looking at starburst galaxies and the gas within them to answer two important questions: What causes intense star formation in galaxies? And can such galaxies leak enough UV radiation to explain the ionization of the early universe? In terms of the former, she’s used radio data on neutral hydrogen and optical information for populations of both starbursting and non-starbursting galaxies to show that starburst activity results from galaxy mergers which provide a sudden influx of gas. For the second question, Jaskot is examining the Green Pea galaxies, nearby compact starbursting galaxies similar to those in the early universe. She’s shown that supernovae may be causing these galaxies to leak UV radiation, which may help explain how the early universe was ionized. She’s done this by modeling spectral data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and accounting for the effect of supernova shocks on galaxies' emission. She’s now confirming her analysis with Magellan and Hubble data. Jaskot’s next step is to explore whether there is a “sweet spot” in the age of a galaxy that allows this to happen – young enough for bright stars to emit copious UV light but old enough for supernovae to have created the holes in the gas that allow radiation to escape.

Why Michigan Astronomy?

Research from Day One: “Doing research right away is important. I’ve been doing research since I first got here, and I was encouraged to go to conferences early on to present my results. Even when I’d just finished classes, I was already active in the astronomy community.”