Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Physics and Astronomy

Document Type



The interstellar medium (ISM) is the dynamic system of gas and dust that fills the space between the stars within galaxies. Due to its integral role in star formation and ga-lactic structure, it is important to understand how the ISM itself evolves over time, in-cluding the process of cooling and condensing required to form new stars. This work aims to constrain and better understand the physical properties of the cold ISM with sev-eral different types of data, including large surveys of neutral atomic hydrogen (HI) 21cm spectral line emission and absorption, carbon monoxide (CO) 2.6mm line emission, and multi-band infrared dust thermal continuum emission. We are developing an algorithm that identifies areas where the gas may be cooling and forming molecules using HI self-absorption, in which a cold foreground HI cloud absorbs radiation from warmer back-ground HI emission, and analyzes the HI spectral line in parallel with the CO and infrared data. From these inputs, the algorithm can determine the gas temperature, density, mo-lecular abundance, and other properties as functions of position.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Steven Gibson


Physics | Stars, Interstellar Medium and the Galaxy