Astronomy is often called the oldest science -- in many
ways, it is also one of the newest! Astronomers today rely on
cutting-edge technology and computer programming skills to
generate and analyze the enormous data sets we use to examine the
universe around us. Our business is studying the physics of objects
like exoplanets, stars, gas, black holes, and galaxies in the
observable universe, which is why we are sometimes referred to
Scientists who study
the surfaces of planets in our solar system are more typically found
programs, while scientists who specialize in the study of upper
atmospheres and magnetospheres of solar system planets, and the
regions between these planets, are generally housed
University of Kansas Observational Astronomy Group includes five
full-time astronomy professors: Dr.
(Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics), Dr.
(Astronomy Education Research), Dr.
(Quasars and Galaxy Evolution), Dr.
Medium and Galaxy Centers), and Dr.
(Galaxy Formation and Evolution), as well as two adjunct faculty (Dr.
of Benedictine College and Dr.
of Washburn University). KU astronomy research
spans the universe: from planets around other stars near the sun, and
the gas and dust surrounding the Milky Way’s supermassive black
hole, to distant black holes that are as bright as a billion suns,
and the formation of the earliest galaxies that are some of the most
distant objects we can see. Astronomers at KU use telescopes all over
the world: Kitt
Peak National Observatory
in Arizona, the
Very Large Array
in New Mexico, Cerro
Tololo InterAmerican Observatory,
and the Gemini
in Chile and on Mauna Kea, the W.
M. Keck Observatory
on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, and the
Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
(ALMA) in the high northern desert of Chile. At KU, we even have
access to a telescope of our very own: the 1.0m telescope at Mt.
in collaboration with San Diego State University. However,
astronomy at KU isn’t limited to the surface of the earth: we also
use some telescopes that are literally out of this world, flying
through the stratosphere like SOFIA,
a telescope on a Boeing 747, or orbiting far above our planet like
Space Telescope ,
the James Webb Space Telescope
Exoplanet Survey Satellite
addition to the observational astronomy group at KU, there are a
number of active departmental research groups led by faculty that
focus on related areas of astrophysics. Dr.
Hume Feldman, Dept. Chair
and emeritus Dr.
which attempts to understand the large-scale structure of the
Universe through computer modelling and comparisons between
simulations and the results from ongoing extragalactic surveys.
This observational work is complemented by the
theoretical work in areas of plasma astrophysics led by
uses NASA support and collaborations to study the plasma physics of
the solar system as represented by a mixture of cometary and
On the experimental side, astroparticle physics has also been the
focus of Dr.
Dr. Besson is part of a multinational research effort at the South
Pole to build and operate the
a large-scale radio-detection instrument that will identify radio
waves cast off from high-energy neutrinos far underneath the
Antarctic ice shelf.
formerly of the Cosmology group, is now devoted to full-time
investigations in Astrobiology.
Please explore the rest of our website for further information on
astrophysics theories and observations being conducted at the
University of Kansas.