TTU Physics Department.

Astronomy & Astrophysics


Astronomy research at TTU is run by Dr. Ron Wilhelm. The primary research area deals with stellar photometric and spectroscopic analysis of old Population II stars in the halo and thick disk of the Galaxy. This analysis yields important stellar parameters such as chemical abundance, distance and radial velocities for large samples of stars. Our research includes collaboration with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and the Sloan Extension for Galactic Understanding and Exploration (SEGUE) as well as determination of distances to high velocity clouds.
We also conduct observing runs at various major research observatories including McDonald Observatory, Kitt Peak National Observatory and Cerro-Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. Our research involves characterization of halo substructure, such as the Sagittarius Stream and the Canis Major Overdensity, tidal streams around galactic globular clusters and global properties of both the halo and the thick disk of the Galaxy. This research is crucial for the understanding of formation mechanisms for the Milky Way and other external galaxies, understanding of the tidal destruction mechanisms of cannibalized dwarf galaxies and is important for setting constraints on the distribution and nature of the Galaxy's dark matter halo.
Currently the astronomy group has two PhD candidates, one masters candidate and one undergraduate student.

Research Topics
  • Stellar Photometry & Spectroscopy
  • Stellar Populations in the Disk & Halo of the Galaxy
  • Collaborative Member of SDSS/SEGUE
  • Research on distances to halo High Velocity Clouds
  • Determination of Stellar Parameters of Chemical Abundance & Kinematics
  • RR Lyrae Variable Star Analysis

Faculty Members

Dr. Ron Wilhelm


Texas Tech Today: Milky Way Galaxy Wears Two Halos of Stars

Observatory Information: TTU Gott Observatpry

Astronomy & Astrophysics