Our astronomy research is centered on observational stellar astronomy with applications in binary stars with accretion disks and in galactic structure and kinematics (primarily red dwarf stars). Thom Robertson
and Tom Jordan
are working on the detection of low mass stars using spectroscopic and photometric techniques.
Spectroscopic observations have been obtained at the National Observatories at Kitt Peak in Arizona at Cerro Tololo in Chile, and photometric observations made at the National Undergraduate Research Observatory (NURO) in Flagstaff, Arizona. Current observations are being made at the SARA (Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy) telescope in Arizona and in the Ball State observatory in Muncie, Indiana. These photometric observations are made using sophisticated charge coupled device (CCD) cameras coupled to broad- and intermediate-band filters. Such observations are used to identify and determine temperatures, luminosity classes, and distances for red dwarf stars using photometric parallaxes. Ron Kaitchuck
is an expert in the study of accretion disks around cataclysmic variable (CV) stars. In his research, he uses photometric and spectroscopic data from SARA, Ball State, the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) satellite and a variety of other sources. The results of Kaitchuck's research help to describe the structure and evolution of accretion disks in these close binary systems.
All of the above projects have involved both undergraduate and graduate students in a wide range of research activities which include formal research projects at the undergraduate level and thesis programs for graduate students majoring in physics. Bob Berrington
does research on galaxy clusters and the influence of substructure on the cluster environment as well as the structure and dynamics of elliptical galaxies via the fundamental plane. In addition to observational astronomy he is involved in developing computational models of these systems