Hot Spots in the Andromeda Galaxy

The Andromeda Galaxy is the sibling of the Milky Way, the largest galaxy in the local group of galaxies. The Andromeda galaxy (and the Milky Way) is a massive galaxy, representative of the big galaxies where most stars are forming in the local Universe. As it is so nearby, we can resolve individual stars and star-forming regions in the galaxy, but unlike the Milky Way we are not sitting in the galaxy, so we also get a global picture of the galaxy.   When we look at an infrared image of the Andromeda galaxy, we see large rings and circles telling us where the interstellar dust is in the galaxy. However we also see bright dots in the image. These “hot spots” indicate locations where something interesting is happening; new stars are forming or an old star is dying either in an explosion like a supernovae, or in its death throws shedding a lot of material.
To distinguish these hot spots as new or dying stars, we need to look at other wavelengths of light, from x-rays to radio.  

This project will involve matching other wavelengths with these infrared hot spots to determine what these hot spots are. If they are young, then the student will determine how many stars are forming, and even find these young stars. If these spots are from dying stars, we will determine when these stars died and perhaps determine the previous history of star formation in the Andromeda galaxy.  This project will use existing data and catalogs of the Andromeda galaxy, and require an understanding of the emission mechanism in galaxies for each part of the electromagnetic spectrum. 

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