Millimeter-wave Astronomy and Circumstellar Disks
The common theme to my research over the years has been to understand how stars and planetary systems form. My interest in these topics began in graduate school, where I imaged the large scale structure of molecular clouds and searched for newly formed star clusters. At Caltech, I have continued this research and expanded into new areas. In particular, I am heavily involved in operating the CARMA millimeter-wave interferometer. Along with graduate student Laura Perez, we are using CARMA to study the formation of star clusters in the Milky Way. Also, Laura, postdoc Andrea Isella, and myself are using CARMA to obtain the highest resolution images to date of the rotating disks of gas and dust that surround young stars. These observations are revealing the initial conditions in disks when planets are in their formative stages. CARMA is a wonderful instrument to learn the fundamentals of interferometry. Students and postdocs are responsible for carrying out all CARMA observations, and they learn first-hand how to operate the instrument.
[Image credits: Gwen Rudie; J. Carpenter]