Andrew Schechtman-Rook Wins Whitford Award

Jan 28, 2013

Graduate student Andrew Schechtman-Rook has received the 2012-13 Whitford Award for his development of techniques to realistically model the three-dimensional distributions of dust and stars in galaxies, which he successfully applied to the edge-on spiral galaxy NGC 891.

This work involved combining a 3-D radiation transfer model with near-infrared WIYN observations to uncover a heretofore undiscovered super thin stellar disk. While the existence of this component is well-established in the Milky Way, Schechtman-Rook’s thesis studies, in collaboration with Professor Matt Bershady and his group, show that super-thin disks are likely to be commonplace in massive spirals, and can be significant factors in how we interpret the light from the disks of giant spirals.

In addition, Schechtman-Rook helped to develop a specialized set of near-infrared narrow-band filters that are designed to separate light from asymptotic giant branch stars from their much younger red supergiant cousins, a distinction that is crucial for extragalactic stellar population studies. He also applied his considerable software skills to helping to produce a photometry data reduction pipeline for the DiskMass survey that has been important in enabling the publication of the first results from this program.

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