Dr. Jeonghee Rho studies supernovae and their remnants to investigate the origin of dust and molecules in the early and local Universe. Supernovae play a key role in the chemical and dust budget of galaxies, producing heavy elements and dust in their ejecta and processing dust. These explosions light up regions of stellar birth, trigger the next generation of star formation, return solid material to the gas phase and create the elements necessary for life. Infrared imaging and spectroscopy provide direct information on the composition, amount, and distribution of molecules and dust in the remnants of supernovae.
Dr. Rho and her collaborators have performed infrared observations of young nearby supernova remnants using the Spitzer and Herschel space telescopes. These observations,
as well as grounds-based observations, have demonstrated the presence of significant
amounts of molecules and dust in SN ejecta. One potential project for a student working with Dr. Rho is to study molecule formation and destruction in SN ejecta and heating and cooling in the interstellar medium by using near-infrared observations of a more varied sample of supernova remnants. The data analysis component includes data from ground-based telescopes such as Palomar (http://www.astro.caltech.edu/palomar/hale.html), Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile (CTIO; http://www.ctio.noao.edu/noao/) and the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT; http://www.aao.gov.au/).