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Colorful Mystery Objects in Space

Astronomers at Iowa State work at the forefront of a variety of research areas including particle astrophysics, extragalactic astronomy, stellar astronomy, the interstellar medium, star formation, and extrasolar planetary systems. Our current research effort is summarized below, and we encourage you to contact individual faculty for more information about their research.

Stellar Astronomy (Kawaler)

ISU played a leading role in the Kepler Asteroseismic Investigation, which has been responsible for extracting asteroseismic results from the unprecedented time-series photometry provided by NASA's Kepler mission. This work continues with NASA’s ongoing TESS mission.  Current work includes exploiting these data to study white dwarf stars, and looking at stellar analogs to solar flares and activity. This computational and observational work is done in collaboration with scientists from around the globe. 

Exoplanetary Systems (Kawaler, Simon)

The detection and characterization of extrasolar planetary systems is a relatively young and growing area of research in astronomy. ISU astronomers are experts in the investigation of transiting planets using photometric data from Kepler and TESS, and the application of high-performance computing to study how planets are born in disks around young stars.

Star Formation & Interstellar Medium (Kerton)

Recent work in this field at ISU has focused on radio and infrared observational studies of star formation associated with massive star-forming regions in the Milky Way. Star formation in interacting galaxy systems is also being explored using multiwavelength observations and population synthesis modelling. The group is also interested in studies of physical processes in the ISM such as the formation of giant molecular clouds and the gas dynamics associated with star formation.

Particle Astrophysics (Krennrich, Weinstein)

Research at ISU in particle astrophysics includes neutrino and gamma-ray astrophysics and explores the origin of cosmic rays, AGN astrophysics, dark matter detection, supernova detection and cosmological radiation fields (the Extragalactic Background Light and the Diffuse Supernova Neutrino Background). ISU is a member of the VERITAS collaboration (an array of ground-based Cherenkov telescopes used to observe TeV gamma-ray sources), a member of DUNE (Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment), and a member of ANNIE (Accelerator Neutrino Neutron Interaction Experiment). ISU's current focus is on techniques and instrumentation used for the neutrino detection of individual supernovae and the cumulative neutrino background emission from all past supernovae.


Emerita/Emeritus Faculty

Graduate Studies in Astrophysics

Are you interested in pursuing cutting-edge research in astrophysics? We welcome applications from undergraduate students with a background in physics and/or astronomy. You are strongly encouraged to contact faculty directly to discuss possible research opportunities before applying for the graduate program. Our graduate program is designed to give you a solid foundation in graduate-level physics and astronomy and to allow you to develop your skills as an independent researcher. For more information about the program please contact Dr. Charles Kerton or see the Guide to Graduate Programs in Physics & Astronomy.

Undergraduate Studies in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Our faculty teach a wide range of courses in Astronomy & Astrophysics from introductory-level survey courses perfect for any ISU student interested in astronomy to advanced astrophysics courses for students planning on Ph.D. level research in their future. We offer a minor in astronomy that, when combined with a physics major, provides the necessary academic preparation for graduate-level studies in astrophysics. The minor is also useful for engineering students seeking employment in space-related fields. For more information about our undergraduate astronomy program please contact Dr. Charles Kerton.