Site-wide links

Research Overview

The Astrophysical Sciences and Technology program offers students a wide range of research opportunities spanning observational and theoretical astrophysics, computational astrophysics, general relativity and gravitational wave astronomy and the design and development of advanced detectors and instrumentation for astronomy. RIT hosts a vibrant Astronomy and Astrophysics research community of over 40 faculty, post-docs, research fellows and graduate students who participate in three designated research centers:

Faculty and students frequently obtain data from space observatories including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Herschel Space Observatory, and various ground-based observatories such as the twin Gemini telescopes in Hawaii and Chile, the Keck telescopes on Hawaii and the Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico. RIT is also a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, whose goal is to analyze the data taken by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.

Computing facilities include the GravitySimulator supercomputer, dedicated to N-body simulations of galactic nuclei and stellar clusters and the NewHorizons computer cluster, for numerical relativity and relativistic hydrodynamics simulations. Funding has recently been obtained to acquire an even more powerful 600-core cluster (BlueSky). Researchers at the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation also have access to national supercomputing facilities, such as the Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Center for Detectors operates four research laboratories: the Rochester Imaging Detector Laboratory, the Imaging LIDAR Laboratory, the Quantum Dot Detector Laboratory, and the Wafer Probe Station Laboratory. It also has access to state of the art machining and electronic assembly facilities on campus and advanced simulation software.

Faculty involved in the AST program regularly attract substantial external research funding from national and state agencies (e.g., NASA, NSF, NYSTAR), amounting to over $12 million in the last 4 years.

Current research interests include:

  • Strong-field gravitational dynamics of interacting compact objects such as black holes and
    neutron stars
  • Magnetohydrodynamical simulations of the accretion disks and other astrophysical environments around supermassive black-holes
  • Detection of gravitational wave signatures of binary black holes and/or neutron stars in close binary orbits
  • Single Photon Counting Detectors for NASA Astronomy Missions
  • New Infrared Detectors for Astrophysics
  • Microgrid polarizer arrays
  • Young stars and proto-planetary disks
  • Chandra Planetary Nebula Survey
  • Feeding and Feedback in Active Galactic Nebulae (AGN)
  • AGN feedback in galaxy clusters
  • Supermassive black holes in low redshift elliptical galaxies
  • Reverberation mapping the circum-nuclear torus in AGN
  • Stellar dynamics and supermassive black holes in galactic nuclei
  • Hydrodynamical signatures of dark-matter dominated satellite galaxies