Monday, September 15, 2014

URSP Student Joseph Frias Researches How Group Halo Mass Affects the Properties of the Intergalactic Medium

My work deals with certain astronomical objects called galaxy groups. These are collections of galaxies like our Milky Way that are gravitationally bounded to each other. It’s kind of like those coin wells that are in some shopping malls. In between the constituent galaxies (they are like the coins going around the center), there is hot gas (We call it the Intergalactic Medium, or IGM for short), mostly made up of Hydrogen. It is this gas we are interested in, as it can contain a lot of clues as to how the galaxy group, and also its constituent galaxies, changes over time.

My work so far has been primarily collecting data on the IGM in certain groups using my programming skills. This week started off similarly. We had some preliminary results, but before we started interpreting them we needed to make sure our data sample was based only on gas in the IGM. As a galaxy group has constituent galaxies, the galaxies themselves have lots of gas inside them, and this may not reflect the overall IGM characteristics. So, we took some time to cross check the objects we were measuring with a galaxy catalog based on the groups we were studying. For this I created a program to match specific groups with their constituent galaxies. With this information collected, we are currently using Astronomical programs like TOPCAT to determine how many of our data points are actually associated with the group environment itself.