The Rosette Nebula (NGC 2247) is a vast molecular cloud region located 5,000 light years from Earth.
Image created by undergraduate student Chris Michael using images taken at the Van Allen Observatory’s Gemini telescope located in southern Arizona.

Astronomy and Astrophysics seeks to understand the composition, origin, evolution, and fate of the Universe as well as celestial bodies within in it. Observational studies use powerful telescopes on Earth and in space to observe comets, moons, planets, nebulae, stars, black holes, galaxies, and the interstellar medium. Emission from these objects is recorded across the electromagnetic spectrum, including x-ray, visible, infrared, and radio. Theories to explain observations draw on a wide range of subdisciplines, including classical mechanics, nuclear and statistical physics, electromagnetism, chemistry, biology, geology, and many others. Astronomy and Astrophysics seeks to understand how the universe works, how we got here, and whether we are alone.

Faculty in our department are deeply involved in construction of astronomical instruments and the analysis of the observations they make. Our department specializes in: studies of X-ray/ultraviolent gratings and detectors for proposed NASA missions; building and flying instruments aboard sounding rockets, CubeSats, Explorers, and beyond; and the use of large observational instruments such as ALMA, the VLA, and the Keck telescopes. Observationally, they are involved in the search for dark matter and unaccounted for baryonic matter and investigate such topics as star formation in the hot galactic center and cool interstellar clouds; galaxy formation, evolution, and interaction; plasma turbulence in the solar corona, solar wind, and interstellar medium; and black holes in the early universe. They have strong collaborations with faculty in the Plasma Physics and Space Physics research areas.

Students in this research area can obtain a physics Ph.D. following the astronomy track. We provide specialty courses on a wide range of astronomy/astrophysical topics, including extragalactic astronomy, the interstellar medium, stellar astrophysics, radiative processes in astrophysics, high energy astrophysics, space and astrophysical plasma physics, and general relativity. A regular astronomy and astrophysics seminar is held.


In addition to the Van Allen Observatory on the roof of Van Allen Hall and Robert L. Mutel Telescope/MACRO Observatory at the Winer Observatory in southern Arizona, we also use these observatories and telescopes.


an astronomical diffraction grating

DeRoo Receives Grant to Customize Reflection Gratings

Tuesday, March 5, 2024
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) awarded a $499,846 grant to Assistant Professor Casey DeRoo for research related to Rapid Electron Beam Lithography Patterning for Customized Reflection Gratings.
Jacob Payne at Mission Design School

Payne Designs Big-Ticket Mission at NASA Design School

Monday, January 8, 2024
Graduate student Jacob Payne went to school—but not just any school. Payne earlier this year attended NASA’s Astrophysics Mission Design School, the first ever in astrophysics offered by NASA that teaches grad students how to write proposals for grand-idea, big-budget missions.
Keri Hoadley and Casey DeRoo

Hoadley, DeRoo Receive Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowships

Thursday, December 21, 2023
Professors Keri Hoadley and Casey DeRoo have been awarded Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowships in Astrophysics for Early Career Researchers.

Faculty Specializing in this Area

Casey DeRoo

Casey DeRoo, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Hai Fu

Hai Fu, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Kenneth Gayley

Kenneth G. Gayley, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Astronomy Graduate Advisor

Keri Hoadley, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Cornelia Lang

Cornelia C. Lang, Ph.D.

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education (CLAS)

Research Staff in this Area

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