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Faculty Members - De Robertis

Michael M. De Robertis
Ph.D. (Victoria)
Professor of Astronomy
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Research Field:
Astrophysics and Astronomy

Research specialization:
Active galactic nuclei; Galaxy formation; Galactic structure.

Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) are the centres of some galaxies which emit tremendous amounts of non-stellar radiation. Such radiation is believed to be generated by the accretion of matter--gas and stars--onto supermassive black holes. This intense radiation has profound effects on gas and stars in the circumnuclear environment of these galaxies. There are numerous members of the AGN family, including relatively nearby Seyfert galaxies and the more distant quasars. Of particular interest to me is the origin of activity in Seyfert galaxies.


When did most galaxies form? How far away or how far back in time do we have to look to find primeval galaxies? With the advent of large ground-based telescopes, space-based telescopes, and improved (imaging) techniques, it has become possible to search the distant universe for an answer to this question which will have important constraints for models of our universe. I am interested in using new techniques to find these elusive systems.


The overwhelming majority of stars in the solar neighbourhood, and indeed in the Milky Way Galaxy itself, are cool, relatively unspectacular stars called late-type (M) dwarfs and subdwarfs. These stars are so faint that they cannot be seen to great distances and are consequently difficult to detect. I am involved in studying how these stars behave within the Milky Way (kinematics), as well as determining their surface temperature and metal abundance using imaging techniques.

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