Research Areas

Star Formation

Stars are enormous balls of hot gas that generate their energy through nuclear reactions. The processes that allow the accumulation of gas, that later results in the origin of stars have not been established. The study of stars in their different star formation stages is one of the strategies followed by scientists to understand the origin of stars. Our group studies stars in their different stages of star formation, starting from the study of dense molecular clumps, and including the study of newly born stars that are still hidden in their parent cloud. We wish to understand and characterize the processes and stages that define the star formation of internediate mass stars and high mass stars (stars that are much greater than the Sun). To do this we use telescopes and instruments in the infrared, millimetric, sub-millimetric and radio wavelengths. Since stars in formation are hidden in the depths of molecular clouds it is not possible to study them efficiently using the optical.

Extragalactic Astronomy

Since the beginning of the 20th century, humans extended their vision of the Cosmos as they understood that the Universe is not constituted only by our Galaxy, the Milky Way. Our Universe contains billions of galaxies similar and different to our own. Since then the study regarding all aspects related to galaxies has not stopped. This field of astronomy is known as extragalactic astronomy. Our group works on problems related to the large scale structure of the Universe, that is, what is the distribution of galaxies in the Universe, what are the motions they present, how they are related among each other and the history of the Universe. Since the Sun (our star) is located within the Milky Way it is not easy to observe all the Universe from our location, since part of the view is obstructed by our own Galaxy. We know very little about the part of the Universe that lies towards the direction of the disc of the Milky Way. Our research concentrates in the exploration of this part of the Universe. We wish to understand the structure of the Universe in its totality and to do that we study the zone of the Universe that is obscured by our Galaxy using instruments and telescopes in the infrared and radio.

Education

Astronomy is a science that can inspire the youth to become interested in scientific and technologic careers. Our main efforts are concentrated on working with college level students. We have general astronomy courses for students interested in learning the basic principles of this science. We offer the opportunity to undergraduate and graduate students to work in research in astronomy and complete related courses as part of the Physics Program.

Astronomy is of great interest to the general public. Dr. Daniel Alschuler was the recepient of the pretigious Andrew Gemant Award (2010) from the American Institute of Physics for his contributions in communicating Physics and Astronomy to the general public. We offer public talks and teacher and student workshops regularly. Dr. Carmen Pantoja (UPR) and Dr. Gloria Isidro (Caribbean U.) work developing strategies to facilitate the teaching of astronomy for persons with low vision or blind.