TTU Physics & Astronomy Department.

Astronomy & Astrophysics


The astrophysics research group at Texas Tech opened in January of 2013. We presently focus on ground-based and space-based data of astrophysics in extreme environments and on the stellar populations of nearby galaxies. As of August 2014 we also focus on the new field of gravitational-wave astronomy.

Research Topics

The group has a few key areas of research. The areas of major current effort are listed below. The members of the group take broad interest in new developments in a variety of additional areas of astronomy, so please contact us if you're a prospective graduate student and don't see your topics of interest listed.

Extreme and Explosive Astrophysics

  • Observational studies and modeling of Gamma-ray Bursts (Corsi)
  • Radio observations of relativistic supernovae (Corsi)
  • Rapid responses to characterize supernovae and other transients (Sand)
  • Reverberation mapping of active galactic nuclei to measure their black hole masses (Sand)
  • Observational studies of dynamics of dense star clusters (Maccarone)
  • Accretion onto black holes and neutron stars and jet production mechanisms (Maccarone)
  • Neutron star structure, oscillations, and microphysics (Owen)

Stellar Populations in Nearby Galaxies

  • Searches for and characterization of low surface brightness dwarf galaxies (Sand)
  • Understanding the X-ray binary populations of nearby galaxies (Maccarone)
  • The Chandra Galactic Bulge Survey, characterizing the close binary populations of the Milky Way (Maccarone)


  • FLOYDS – a pair of spectrographs for the Faulkes robotic telescopes (Sand)
  • Science case development for new X-ray missions (Maccarone)

Gravitational-Wave Astronomy

  • Searches for gravitational waves associated with gamma-ray bursts and magnetars using LIGO (Corsi)
  • Electromagnetic follow-up of gravitational-wave transients (Corsi)
  • Searches for continuous gravitational waves from rapidly rotating neutron stars with LIGO (Owen)

Extrasolar planets (only available for undergraduate research)

  • Transit timing measurements in extrasolar planet systems (Morehead)
Tenure Track/Tenured Faculty Members

Dr. Benjamin Owen, Ph.D., 1998, California Institute of Technology
Dr. Alessandra Corsi, Ph.D., 2007, University of Rome Sapienza
Dr. David Sand, Ph.D., 2005, California Institute of Technology
Dr. Tom Maccarone, Ph.D., 2001, Yale University

Other Senior Staff Members

Denija Crnojevic, Ph.D., 2010, University of Heidelberg, Research Assistant Professor
Robert Morehead, Ph.D., 2016, Penn State University, Instructor and Director of the Preston Gott Observatory
Gwen Armstrong, Lead Technician for the Observatory

Postdoctoral Fellows

Lennart van Haaften, Ph.D. from Radboud Universiteit
Rob Coyne, Ph.D. from George Washington University
Nipuni Palliyaguru, Ph.D. from West Virginia University
Ra Inta, Ph.D. from University of New South Wales
Elisa Toloba, Ph.D. from Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Santiago Caride, Ph. D. from University of Michigan
Leonardo Tartaglia, Ph.D. from University of Padua

Graduate Students

Kavitha Arur
Paul Bennet

Several additional students are working with astrophysics faculty while still taking courses.

Postdoctoral Alumni

Chris Britt, currently doing a second postdoctoral fellowship at Michigan StateUniversity
Paul Sell, currently doing a second postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Crete

Graduate Student Alumni

Kenneth Carrell, assistant professor, Angelo State University

Astronomy & Astrophysics

Graduate studies
Graduate students in astrophysics at Texas Tech study through the MS and PhD programs in physics. The coursework requirements are the same as for other areas of physics, and the students then do theses based on astronomy research. Students interested in applying are encouraged to contact individual faculty members in advance of applying. The department will inform students of whether the department will recommend admission before potential applicants need to pay the application fees.

Undergraduate Research
Our own undergraduate students are also strongly encouraged to do research in astronomy and astrophysics. In addition to working with the faculty, undergraduates may work with postdoctoral fellows if this is of mutual interest.

Introductory Courses and Information for the General Public

Observatory Information from Gwen Armstrong: TTU Gott Observatory

More information will soon be added on public outreach activities at the observatory, etc.