Ashley Zauderer's Research

I study Ultraluminous Infrared Galaxies in many different ways. I am a part of the Laboratory for Millimeter-wave Astronomy group, using the CARMA facility to observe various molecular transitions in nearby ULIRGs. I am also undergoing a global environmental study of a large sample of ULIRGs and using the Arecibo telescope to look at the interstellar medium of ULIRGs and the less-bright LIRGs. The main goal is to better understand the physical mechanism leading to the extraordinarily bright infrared emission, and where ULIRGs fit into the evolutionary picture of galaxy formation.

Environmental Study of ULIRGs
Working with faculty member, Sylvain Veilleux, I began an analysis of the environments of over 100 ULIRGs. These galaxies were imaged in the R-band with the University of Hawaii 2.2-meter telescope. We found that ULIRGs do no reside in environments any more dense than average field galaxies. Our method was to count the number of galaxies within 0.5 Mpc from the ULIRG of interest. To distinguish between galaxies, stars and other objects in the field, we used the Picture Processing Package developed by Howard Yee at the University of Toronto. The figure to the right shows the difference in the point spread function (characterized by the C2 parameter) for a variety of objects in one particular field. We plan to further this study using spectroscopic data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Molecular Line Study of ULIRGs with CARMA
We have undergone a systematic molecular line study of several of the closest and brightest ULIRGs, using the newly commissioned CARMA telescope. The figure to the left shows a recent map of Arp 220 in 12CO(2-1), with the optical counterpart to the right. The optical image is from the Palomar 48-inch Schmidt telescope, DSS.

HI Study
I have begun a project observing ULIRGs and LIRGs in HI using the Arecibo radio telescope, pictured to the right (Image credit: National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Cornell University and the National Science Foundation). We will be observing approximately 50 galaxies over the course of the next few months.

Other Research Interests
The great part about being in a diverse department like the University of Maryland is that there are a lot of ways to get involved in research outside of your particular field of study. I got to participate in observations of Deep Impact at the San Pedro Martir Observatory in Mexico. Furthermore, being in close geographic proximity to Washington D.C. is another great opportunity. Fall of 2006, I participated in a science policy fellowship at the National Academy of Science in Washington D.C. for 10 weeks. During this fellowship, I helped with research and editing of the publication, 'Science, Evolution and Creationism.'