Raja Guhathakurta’s research is focused on the formation and evolution of galaxies. One approach is the study of the local “fossil record”. His group at UCSC has been leading the SPLASH survey of red giant stars in our closest large neighbor, the Andromeda spiral galaxy (M31; see image below). They have developed a sensitive method for identifying rare red giants in the remote outskirts of M31. Studies of stellar kinematics, chemical abundance, and age distribution are used to investigate the merger history of M31’s halo, tidal disruption of dwarf satellites, the dark matter content of M31 and its satellites, and Local Group dynamics. A second approach is based on “direct look-back” to distant galaxies. With colleagues Faber and Koo at UCSC and Davis at UCB, we have recently completed the DEEP2 survey of 50,000 distant galaxies using the DEIMOS spectrograph on the Keck II telescope. An extension of this survey has been started in the Extended Groth Strip, and the spectra have been augmented by a truly panchromatic data set from the Chandra, GALEX, HST, and Spitzer telescopes to create AEGIS, the largest deeply imaged panchromatic region on the sky. Other research interests include interstellar dust grains and their interaction with radiation, stellar populations of globular clusters, and optical transients.
OpenLab Visualization Team
Claire Dorman, Astrophysics Graduate Student
Nathan Kandus, Art & Physics Lab
Lyes Belhocine, DANM Research Associate
Anahi Caldu Primo, Astrophysics Research Associate