Professor Tremonti wins prestiguous NSF CAREER grant

Jan 21, 2016

Professor Christy Tremonti was recently awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER grant, based on her proposal "Constraining the Chemical Evolution of Galaxies with MaNGA”.   The CAREER award comes with 5 years of funding and is designed to support junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research. CAREER grants are extremely competitive, and an award is a mark of the highest quality of the caliber and promise of the proposed research.

Tremonti’s research will be focused on understanding how galaxies chemically evolve as stars synthesize elements like oxygen and nitrogen in their cores and return them to the surrounding gas when they explode as supernova.  A galaxy’s ratio of oxygen-to-hydrogen is a particularly sensitive barometer of its evolutionary state since most of the oxygen is formed inside stars, while most hydrogen is made in the first few minutes after the Big Bang.

To measure galaxy chemical abundances, Tremonti will make use of spatially resolved spectroscopy of several thousand galaxies from MaNGA [http://www.sdss.org/surveys/manga/],  one of three surveys that comprise the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV (SDSS-IV).  UW-Madison is a participating member of the SDSS-IV collaboration, thanks to generous contributions from our Board of Visitors and work done by our Washburn’s Astronomical Laboratories [http://www.astro.wisc.edu/our-science/research-facilities/instrumentation-labs/]  on MaNGA hardware development and testing.  

The educational component of Tremonti’s proposal will be to build a new interactive exhibit for UW’s outreach center Space Place [http://www.spaceplace.wisc.edu].  The exhibit will help explain how MaNGA obtains spectra and how spectra are used to learn about galaxies.

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