Faculty in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics are theorists, observers, and experimentalists engaged in forefront research from cosmology and astroparticle physics to exoplanet science. Click here to download an electronic brochure of faculty research. Graduate students in Astronomy and Astrophysics begin research while completing Core courses through enrolling in ASTR 37100 Pre-Candidacy Research. The course fosters opportunities to explore a wide range of research areas, broaden astrophysical understanding, and engage with faculty on short-term projects that students present as part of their Candidacy Exams. Frequently these projects lead to published papers; however, students may pursue a thesis topic in a different area than their pre-candidacy research.
I’m very proud of the work I’m currently doing with MAROON-X, an instrument that was designed and built by Jacob Bean’s group before I started attending UChicago. MAROON-X is an extremely stable and precise instrument that allows us to detect the gravitational pull of small rocky exoplanets on their host stars, allowing us to measure their masses very precisely. I have been involved with the project (alongside Andreas Seifahrt, David Kasper, and Rafael Luque) since I came here a few years ago. I have stayed up many nights to perform remote observations and spent many hours poring over the resulting data. The project has gotten me involved with other groups and it’s rewarding to help teams get the data they need to publish very exciting science.
Mandy Chen was born and raised in Guizhou Province, Southwest China. Before coming to the University of Chicago she was studying at the University of Hong Kong, where she got bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics and astronomy. This is her fifth year as a PhD student in astronomy and astrophysics. Her research focuses on observations of the diffuse circumgalactic medium—the outermost envelopes of galaxies. She says she “seeks to better understand the dynamical state of this diffuse gas, and its connection to the star-formation/supermassive blackhole activities of galaxies and the cosmic baryon cycle in general.”