Donald G. York
Horace B. Horton Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Chicago
Ph.D., Astrophysics, University of Chicago, 1971
York's current research interests include: discerning the location of the gas absorption lines seen in high redshift QSOs, determining the element abundances as a function of cosmic time and searching for very large molecules in local interstellar material.
Research in Don York's group focuses on diffuse material in our Universe. Included in the focus are the origins of intergalactic material, the origin of elements in high-redshift galaxies and interstellar material in the disk and halo of the Large Magellanic Cloud and the Small Magellanic Cloud (the two closest star-forming galaxies).
Progress in all these fields is closely tied to progress in understanding interstellar gas and dust in our own Milky Way galaxy. We are especially involved in determining the physical properties of Galactic diffuse interstellar clouds, the abundances and origins of the elements, the identification of non-terrestrial molecules in diffuse interstellar clouds, the Galactic environment of the Sun and the boundary conditions of the heliosphere.
In its journey through space, the Sun actually interacts with interstellar clouds. An important focus is understanding the physical properties of nearby interstellar clouds, which is critical to understanding the history of the solar journey through space.
These research projects require the use of Hubble Space Telescope, large and small ground based telescopes, and, suprisingly, spacecraft in situ meaurements of interstellar matter in the solar system with data from a range of space craft.
York's research deals with the dust and gas between the stars (the Galactic interstellar medium) and the same material in high redshift galaxies (the intergalactic medium, so called because we cannot see the galaxies themselves). Studies of local, Galactic material, where the physics can be studied in more detail, are used to develop techniques for studying galaxies at high redshifts.
Past Scientific Projects: Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS)
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