UW Astronomy Prof Dr Jessica K Werk receives prestigious Sloan Award

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 9.12.26 PM“When I look at the sky I see lots of different atomic transitions that I’m trying to piece together into a coherent picture,” – Jessica K Werk, Alfred P Sloan Fellow in Astronomy

‘Assistant Professor Jessica Werk studies the extended gaseous components of galaxies and the role they play in galaxy formation and evolution. She is primarily an observational astronomer with expertise in optical and ultraviolet spectroscopy, and uses both ground and space-based telescopes to carry out her research. She works closely with theorists in defining observational constraints for cosmological simulations (such as those generated in the UW N-Body shop), and in physically interpreting her own observations.

‘Professor Werk’s current research focuses on the “invisible” ionized gas* of galaxies in two largely unexplored regimes: (1) the dark matter halo and (2) the disk-halo interface. Ultimately, she would like to understand the complex galactic ecosystems in which baryons cycle through many physical phases over hundreds of kiloparsecs, from the interiors of stars to the intergalactic medium..’ – relevant excerpts from the UW News 15FEB18

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 10.56.33 PMA snapshot of parallel simulations by Prof Werk on The Dark Matter Halo


Key publications in her research:
(1) “The Large, Oxygen-Rich Halos of Star-Forming Galaxies Are a Major Reservoir of Galactic Metals”, J. Tumlinson, C. Thom1, J. K. Werk, J. X. Prochaska, T. M. Tripp, D. H. Weinberg, M. S. Peeples, J. M. O’Mear6, B. D. Oppenheimer, J. D. Meiring, N. S. Katz, R. Davé, A. B. Ford, K. R. Sembach, SCIENCE, 18 Nov11, 334:6058.

(2) “The COS-Halos Survey: Physical Conditions and Baryonic Mass in the Low-Redshift Circumgalatic Medium”, Jessica K. WerkJ. Xavier ProchaskaJason TumlinsonMolly S. PeeplesTodd M. TrippAndrew J. FoxNicolas LehnerChristopher ThomJohn M. O’MearaAmanda Brady Ford, et. al. The Astrophysical Journal, 01SEP14, 792:8.



*[One can spend many precious, freezing cold nights nursing 16″ and 40″ Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes at LARC-Northwestern University in surplus USAF flight suits pumped with warm air and biting spiders (if you were a spider where would you hide on a cold, clear Chicago winter’s night?) producing your undergraduate thesis in Astronomy/Physics on intergalactic H II regions (ionized hydrogen gas) that flow from one galaxy to another.  Trust me on this.  Anyone as Prof Werk, who leads such research as an observational astronomer deserves our immense respect and thanks].

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