Physics and Astronomy

    Dr. John Laird uses spectral analysis to determine the chemical composition of stars. He and his collaborators have developed a technique for analyzing very low-quality, noisey spectra, allowing measurements of much fainter and more distant stars than with conventional techniques. More detailed chemical analyses are used to measure individual elements. All of these data are used together to probe the origin of the chemical elements and the history of the Milky Way galaxy.

Star Chart

Above:Matching calculated spectra to a star's observed spectrum to find its composition

Right:The M31 Galaxy (Andromeda)


   The underlying theme of Dr. Andrew Layden's work is to determine how our Galaxy (the Milky Way) formed. This research has taken several directions:

m54 Star Field

The globular cluster M54 in the nearby Sagittarius galaxy (left) and the brightness variations of an RR Lyrae star (right).