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Life & Death of Stars

Interstellar Medium, Molecular Clouds, Star Formation & Evolution, Supernovae & Their Remnants, Long Gamma-ray Bursts, Cosmic Rays

Image credit: ALMA / ESO / NAOJ / NRAO / Alexandra Angelich, NRAO / AUI / NSF.

Stars are the fundamental building blocks and probes of the Universe. They are formed in stellar nurseries enshrouded by dust and gas, and end their lives in violent explosions, creating some of the most captivating events one can witness. Faculty in CIERA study, model, and observe many stages of a star’s life from birth to death, the planets formed around them, how they impact their environments, as well as the compact remnants they leave behind.

Research at CIERA

Evolving to the end states of stellar evolution, Professor Fong’s team uses radio and optical observations to study and model relativistic explosions called gamma-ray bursts and their host galaxy environments, probing star formation from the local neighborhood to the high-redshift Universe.

Professor Tchekhovskoy uses state-of-the-art simulations to study the formation of relativistic jets in core-collapse gamma ray bursts.

Professor Miller’s group uses ground- and space-based telescopes to study the endpoints of the stellar life cycle as punctuated by supernovae. The group uses data science methods, such as machine learning, to support the discovery and classification of these explosions prior to studying their properties in greater detail.

Professor Figueroa-Feliciano’s group studies the X-ray signatures of supernova remnants through the NASA Micro-X Sounding Rocket, a Northwestern-led rocket payload which takes high-energy-resolution spectra of remnants in suborbital flights.

Professor Kilpatrick uses optical, infrared, and X-ray imaging of nearby galaxies to understand the stellar channels that lead to their cataclysmic collapse and explosion as supernovae, focusing on deep, high-resolution imaging and spectroscopy that can be used to study their local environments, nucleosynthetic content, and progenitor stars.


Research Experiences in Astronomy at CIERA for High School Students (REACH) – Summer 2024

Deadline: 11:59pm, March 19, 2024

REACH (Research Experiences in Astronomy at CIERA for High School Students) is a highly interactive, in-person 3-week program (with an optional 3-week extension) that provides high school students experience with astronomy research in an atmosphere of team-style learning, hands-on training, and mentorship from professional scientists. Students enrolled in the program engage in astronomy research projects with

NASA Illinois Space Grant Research Program – Summer 2024

Deadline: 11:59pm, March 22, 2024

Funded by an educational grant awarded by NASA to Northwestern University through the Illinois Space Grant Consortium, Northwestern offers a College Summer Research Program for outstanding undergraduates. The program provides an opportunity for college students to work with a professor in one of several areas of space sciences and astrophysics. It is open to students



Core Faculty

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Research Staff

Graduate Students