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Research Projects

Please also check out my publications!

Current Projects in Progress:

We are building a sample of (U)LIRGs observed with integral field units that complement each other: OSIRIS with its AO-enabled high spatial resolution and WiFeS' wide field. From this we will trace small-scale outflows to identify their effects on the rest of the galaxy. This has the potential to quantify the power of feedback from AGN versus star formation in our local universe. Read about the first example in Medling et al. 2015a.

Building on my thesis work (see below), I am working to expand the GOALS-OSIRIS sample to trace black hole growth during gas-rich major galaxy mergers. We measure black hole masses using kinematic maps that resolve inside the spheres of influence of the black holes, where the models are simpler. See Medling et al. 2015b for evidence that black hole accretion happens earlier (or takes longer!) than we think.

As a member of the SAMI team, I have been getting involved in larger-scale tracers of outflows, to identify what kind of gas flows go on in normal isolated galaxies. I am working on several ways to identify (automatically) where outflows are present, so that we can understand better what drives outflows. See Ho et al. 2014 for one example.

The SAMI Galaxy Survey is a rich dataset full of exciting science you can work on! I coordinated the emission line fitting and value-added data products like star formation rate maps and extinction maps for the Public Data Release 1. Explore the data release here.

The FIRE (Feedback in Realistic Environments) galaxy evolution simulations are among the most sophisticated available, with detailed multiphase treatment of the interstellar medium. Careful prescriptions such as these are required for predicting gas inflow and outflow, and how these affect star formation and black hole growth and their respective feedback processes. The high spatial resolution of FIRE's predictions begs for matched high resolution observations of gas and stars: exactly the kind of observations we have been working on with OSIRIS.

PhD Thesis:

I spent my PhD investigating the nuclear regions (inner kpc) of late-stage nearby gas-rich galaxy mergers nearby. These galaxies were pulled from the GOALS survey of infrared-luminous galaxies and selected so the two nuclei are not more than 5" apart. I observed these galaxies with the integral field spectrograph OSIRIS and laser guide star adaptive optics at Keck Observatory to obtain stellar and gas kinematics at high spatial resolutions (20-80 pc). We used the kinematics to resolve inside the sphere of influence of a supermassive black hole (see our dynamical mass measurement of the south black hole in NGC 6240, Medling et al. 2011), identifying a black hole even when it shows no nuclear activity (being quiescent or buried). We have found and characterized small-scale nuclear disks (Medling et al. 2014) like those seen in high-resoultion merger simulations. Some collaborators: Vivian U (UH/CfA), Claire Max (advisor; UCSC), Lee Armus (Spitzer), Javiera Guedes (ETH Zurich)