Starburst Galaxies

Why are they interesting?

In 4 billion years, the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy, the two biggest galaxies in the local universe, will collide with one another. The Sun and Earth will remain intact, but to an observer outside the galaxy the event would appear as a majestic display of gas and dust lighting up the sky. Galaxy collisions cause gas clouds to collapse upon themselves to form new stars at an exceptionally high rate. Once formed, the energy released from these stars causes the gas clouds around them to get pushed away and evolve over time.

This evolution causes galaxies to change their shape, or morphology, along with their color. The resulting galaxies are often classified as blue compact galaxies (BCGs), green pea galaxies, or ultra luminous infrared galaxies (ULIRGs). Research on starburst galaxies allows us to understand the fate of our own galaxy and others very similiar to it. Below, I've outlined a few of the broader questions that our group is interested in investigating.

Questions to Answer

  • In starburst galaxies, how does the light emitted by stars evolving secularly differ from the light emitted by stars evolving in a binary star system?
  • How do the properties of micron sized particles, known as dust, vary in starburst galaxies?
  • What connection do starburst galaxies have to active galaxies?