Research in Physics and Astronomy

Astronomy and Astrophysics

UM faculty conduct research in space physics and observational astronomy.

Space Physics Research

The space physics research includes participation in NASA satellite projects including the IBEX, Genesis and Cassini missions. 

Researcher: Paul Janzen, Research Assistant Professor

Observational Astronomy

UM faculty conduct observational astronomy research on star formation in young massive star clusters and the stellar populations of galaxies. This research uses imaging and spectroscopy of the highest resolution from ground-based telescopes equipped with adaptive optics systems and the Hubble Space Telescope.

UM is a member of the Minerva collaboration, along with Caltech and Penn State University. Minerva is a dedicated observatory for the detection of exoplanets around nearby stars. The four-telescope array, to be located on Mt Palomar in southern California, will monitor nearby stars with a purpose-built high-resolution spectrometer to seek Earth-like rocky planets in the habitable zone of their host star. UM faculty and students will operate the UM telescope in the array from campus in Missoula.

Researcher: Nate McCrady, Professor

Plasma Physics

Our faculty are involved in ongoing research in theoretical and computational plasma physics. This research includes the study of equilibrium, stability, and transport properties of magnetic fusion energy plasmas. This work includes theory support for the Madison Symmetric Torus experiment at the University of Wisconsin and the design of the Quasi-Poloidal Stellarator experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


Atomic and Molecular Physics

UM faculty conduct research in atomic and molecular physics. This work is conducted at both the university and at the Advanced Light Source, a third-generation synchrotron located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The projects include investigations of neutron-capture elements for the purposes of improved understanding of stellar chemical evolution and fundamental studies of quantum interactions on a molecular scale.

Researcher: David Macaluso, Assistant Professor