Astronomy Research

Welcome to the Roanoke College Astronomy research homepage headed up by Matt Fleenor!

Above: The Hor-Ret constellations are in close proximity to our nearest neighbors, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. These irregular galaxies (and also the HRS) can only be observed from the Southern Hemisphere.

While all related in some direct way to the HorologiumReticulum supercluster (HRS) of galaxies (e.g., see Lucey et al. 1983), there is a wide array of astrophysical phenomena with which I am interested.

Optical Spectroscopy of Galaxies

The primary portion of my research in the HRS is related to the 3D structural arrangement of galaxies.  To determine the approximate locations of the intercluster galaxies in the HRS, we have utilized the six-degree field (6dF) wide-field spectrograph in conjunction with the 6dF galaxy survey (6dFGS).  To date, we have obtained ~3000 optical redshifts of intercluster galaxies within the realm of the HRS that are used to determine HRS members and their general star-forming characteristics.

There are three specific projects that have resulted from the initial survey stage:  interactive supercluster visualization software (GyVe), galaxy morphologies within intercluster filaments of HRS galaxies, and multi-wavelength studies of galaxy cluster outskirts (radio-optical-Xray).

Interactive Supercluster Visualization

In a collaborative project with the Computer Science department at UNC under Russell Taylor’s implementation, Jameson Miller and Cory Quamen teamed up with Jim Rose and myself to create visualization software for viewing the HRS arrangement of galaxies.  GyVe (Galaxy Viewer) is an interactive tool that allows for identification, rotation, and zooming of the intercluster galaxy structure.  Click on GyVe snapshot to the right to view a short promo for the software.  GyVe is used extensively to gain an intuitive understanding of the supercluster landscape.

This research is published in the IEEE special publication for the 2006 VIS conference.

GyVe is available for both Windows and LINUX platforms by following this link via SourceForge.

Galaxy Morphologies within Intercluster Filaments

Since the observations of several large-scale structures exhibiting filamentary nature (e.g., Giovanelli et al. 1981) coupled with the theoretical discovery by Bond et al. (1996) that filaments are a natural consequence of the Universe, galaxy filaments have become a major area interest within observational survey programs.  Specifically, we are currently interested in the baryonic (and non-baryonic) density of the regions between rich clusters, where filaments are thought to be most plenteous.  The effects of density changes are readily observed by the morpho– logies of the individual galaxies (Dressler 1980).  Therefore, by determining the morphological type of galaxies within already known filamentary regions of the HRS, we are able to characterize the relative density of the surrounding environment.

To carry out this research in the HRS, we are seeking to utilize a combination of large and small telescopes in the Southern Hemisphere.  We have obtained recent images with the SOAR telescope in Chile and plan to acquire more imaging time at the Advanced Technology Telescope in Australia.

Furthermore, I have also placed a number of links to outreach opportunities in the area.
University of Virginia, Department of Astronomy
Roanoke Valley Astronomical Society (RVAS)
Antikythera Mechanism and a related page of historical links
Lynchburg College Observatory