Dwarf Galaxies | Advisor: Eric Bell

PhD Research: Colin Slater combines computational modeling with data from Pan-STARRS and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to explore the properties of local dwarf galaxies. One question he’s asking is whether the unusually high number of stars in parts of the Milky Way’s disk represent shredded dwarf galaxies or “native-born” populations. He’s also investigating why most isolated dwarf galaxies are star-forming, yet those near the Milky Way and Andromeda are not. In terms of the latter, he’s already shown that passing near to a large galaxy has the potential to turn off star formation in dwarf galaxies; he’s also helped quantify how near the passage must be. His next step is to combine diverse data sets to determine if the mass of the dwarf impacts whether its star formation is affected by such an encounter. Through his work, Slater recently discovered a previously unknown dwarf satellite of Andromeda.

Why Michigan Astronomy?

Strength of Faculty & Collaborators: “My main draw to U-M was the strength of the faculty. They were all doing exciting work and pushing science forward. What I didn’t realize was that my advisor would have a whole set of Pan-STARRS collaborators working on the structure of the Milky Way that I could link into immediately. This is a very intellectually productive environment.”