Central virginia governor s school university of virginia department of astronomy
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Central Virginia Governor’s School. Central Virginia Governor’s School + University of Virginia Department of Astronomy. Astronomy Is…. The study of objects and energy beyond Earth.

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Central virginia governor s school university of virginia department of astronomy





Central Virginia Governor’s School+University of Virginia Department of Astronomy

Astronomy is
Astronomy Is…

  • The study of objects and energy beyond Earth.

  • A blend of physics, chemistry, engineering, mathematics & computer science, and statistics applied to understanding everything from the Moon to the Big Bang!

The Milky Way and Other Galaxies

The Structure and Origin of the Universe

Stars and

Star Clusters

The Solar System

The Cosmic

Microwave Background

Io and Jupiter

The Pleiades

M31, the Andromeda Galaxy

Astronomy is1
Astronomy Is…

  • An observational and descriptive science --- the Universe is our laboratory, but we can’t exactly perform typical experiments…

  • CVGS researchers use computers to study and analyze data already collected by a variety of telescopes, both here on Earth and in space:

Green Bank Telescope (radio)

Chandra X-Ray Observatory

Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared)

Infant stars
Infant Stars

  • How stars form is one of the hottest research problems in astronomy right now!

  • Newborn stars glow brightly in infrared and x-ray radiation, and the relationship between these contains information on the physical processes happening deep within the star.

NGC 3576, a very active star-forming region (infrared)

Infant star with disk and polar jets (artist drawing)

Clusters and unusual emission
Clusters and Unusual Emission

  • Plenty of exploration left to do in our own galaxy – too much dust in the way to see everything!

  • Star clusters, dust “bubbles”, and star formation show up at infrared wavelengths.

Star clusters, dust bubbles, infrared emission objects, and galaxies hidden to our eyes by thick Milky Way dust.

Hydrogen gas in distant galaxies
Hydrogen Gas in Distant Galaxies

  • Much of a galaxy’s mass is in hydrogen gas sitting between the stars.

  • Measuring how much gas there is tells us how massive the galaxy is!

  • Measuring what the gas is made of tells us how galaxies form and chemically evolve!

A cluster of galaxies

Light from gas in a galaxy with LOTS of new stars forming.

Hydrogen gas in distant galaxies1
Hydrogen Gas in Distant Galaxies

  • Measuring the speed at which this gas is rotating can tell us what type/shape of galaxy it is, and even fundamental things like how fast the Universe is expanding!

Gas in a galaxy rapidly spinning around a central super-massive black hole (artist drawing)

Images of a galaxy with water emitting radio light

Molecules in space
Molecules in Space

  • We search for “pre-biotic” molecules (those necessary for life) in comets and enormous interstellar clouds of gas.

  • Want to find out where the precursors to life came from, and how common they are in the Universe!

Comet West

M42, the Orion Nebula


(Sadly, not quite like this)

  • But it’s always good to get your hands a bit dirty!

2010-2011 CVGS researchers + UVa mentors visit the Green Bank Radio Observatory