Campus News

$276,091 NASA grant will fund collaborative, three-year study of star-forming regions

NASA has awarded a team led by two UGA physicists a grant of $276,091.

The researchers will apply their research in advanced computer models to interpret NASA space telescope observations of star-forming regions.

The grant was awarded to Phillip Stancil and Steven Lewis, who will work with collaborators from the universities of Kentucky and British Columbia on the basic theory needed to guide NASA’s space astrophysics program. The award is for a three-year study.

The grant is from the NASA Astrophysics Theory Program to study fundamental atomic, ­molecular and surface processes.

“The last decade has seen great advances in observations of the interstellar medium with the launch of numerous space-based telescopes and improvements in ground-based technology from the far ultraviolet to the radio,” says Stancil.

“Such observations have provided spectroscopy of translucent, dark and diffuse interstellar clouds, star-forming regions, photodissociation regions and other molecular environments at unprecedented resolution.”

Gaining the best scientific knowledge from these observations requires detailed analysis and modeling of the environments as well as accurate and complete knowledge of the underlying microphysics. While much progress has been made in improving the modeling codes, a significant amount of relevant processes have been found to be either lacking or of insufficient quality to meet the demands.

The team led by the UGA researchers will perform theoretical studies in four areas of atomic, molecular and surface physics and apply the results to modeling various environments.

“The results from this work will be critical to development of advanced models that will be essential for interpreting observations from the current and next generations of space- and ground-based telescopes,” says Stancil.