Oct 12th – Taking the Temperatures of Hot Gas in Stellar Nurseries

Please join us on October 12th at 8pm to hear CAS member and first-year graduate student at The Ohio State University, Ness Mayker, discuss her latest research! An abstract of her research:

The CHemical Abundances Of Spirals (CHAOS) project has measured the abundances of elements across spiral galaxies by studying the light from star-forming regions captured by the Large Binocular Telescope. By measuring the proportions of the elements found across galaxies, astronomers can learn about how galaxies evolve.

Measuring elemental abundances relies on knowing the temperature of the region where each element is found. These temperatures are called ion temperatures. Star-forming regions can be large, dynamic places containing a wide range of temperatures. Ion temperatures follow specific correlations amongst themselves and within the region, but sometimes there are exceptions. Because there is no “right” temperature for the nebula, it is helpful to have multiple temperature measurements to better study the region and to understand the exceptions.

Recently, I have explored an alternative method of estimating nebular temperatures, using the “Balmer jump” – a spectral feature commonly found in star-forming regions that is sensitive to the region’s average temperature. My work focuses on understanding how this average temperature relates to the ion temperatures within the nebula.

In this talk I will explain how spectroscopy provides a window into the inner workings of these star-forming regions, thereby facilitating a better understanding of galaxy evolution. I will also share the results of my quest to find the “best” nebular thermometer.

More about Ness:

Ness Mayker is a first-year graduate student at The Ohio State University. Ness completed her undergraduate studies at OSU receiving a B.S. in both Physics and Astronomy. Ness has been working with Danielle Berg and Richard Pogge on the CHemical Abundances Of Spirals (CHAOS) project which measures elemental abundance gradients across nearby spiral galaxies. Ness is also working with Adam Leroy and Laura Lopez alongside the PHANGS-ALMA collaboration (Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) to understand the conditions under which supernovae explode and how they affect the star formation rate of their host galaxies. Additionally, Ness is working with James Johnson developing models of galactic chemical enrichment for VICE (Versatile Integrator for Chemical Evolution).

Outside of OSU’s astronomy department Ness is usually spending time with her two kids, Draylen and Amelia. Before Ness discovered her love for astronomy, she was a fiber artist. Ness loves to garden, walk in nature, and ride her bicycle. Ness has a 20lb tortoise named Spica and she names the many community cats in her care after objects in the asteroid belt.