Research Areas

The UW-Madison is known for its status as a research-based institution, and the Astronomy department is no exception. Scroll down to learn more about our different areas of research and the professors that lead them.

Stars & Stellar Systems

As the principal sources of light, energy and chemical enrichment, stars are rightfully regarded as the fundamental building blocks of galaxies. However, a star is so much more than a mere cosmological component.

Plasma Astrophysics

Plasma astrophysics aims to study and help understand how plasmas behave in order to understand the detailed birth, evolution, and death of the wide variety of structures we can see in the universe.

Interstellar & Intergalactic Media

The interstellar and intergalactic media, ISM and IGM, consist of gas, dust, magnetic fields, interstellar radiation fields, and energetic cosmic rays, inside and outside of galaxies.

Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology

Extragalactic Astronomy studies the structure and evolution of other galaxies, including their stellar populations, active galactic nuclei, and interstellar media, and the clustering of galaxies.

Galactic Astronomy

From our vantage point inside the Galaxy, studying the structure and evolution of stars and gas in the Milky Way requires a unique set of tools and resources.

Exoplanets and Astrochemistry

We aim to understand the formation and evolution of our Solar System and planetary systems around other stars.

In this artist’s conception, planets form from the gas and dust in the protoplanetary disk surrounding a young star.


UW astronomers build unique astronomical instruments to investigate properties of the light coming from stars and gas in the Milky Way and in external galaxies near and far.

The sun sets behind the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) in South Africa.

High Energy Astrophysics

High energy astrophysics studies the universe at its most extreme.

Astrophysics in Physics

A range of high-visibility astrophysical research efforts ranges from high energy particle astrophysics in the context of Ice Cube to instrumentation and studies of the ISM.