UH astronomer to use research award for galaxies study


POSTED: Monday, May 10, 2010

Rolf-Peter Kudritzki, director of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, has received a Humboldt Research Award honoring his lifetime achievements in research.

He will use the award to investigate the physics of galaxies during a 2011 sabbatical in Germany.

He announced earlier this year that he will leave the astronomy institute director's post at the end of 2010 and return to the institute as a faculty member to teach and do research.

Kudritzki will use the brightest stars as tools to dissect galaxies and analyze spectra of hundreds of supergiant stars in distant galaxies, according to an astronomy institute news release. Supergiant stars are those with radii as large as 300 times the sun and a hundred thousand times brighter, the institute said.

Kudritzki will apply new methods developed with his collaborators, UH astronomers Fabio Bresolin and Miguel Urbaneja, to use the spectra to determine the chemical compositions of galaxies and their distances from Earth.

“;This project is entirely new,”; he said. “;Nobody has ever done anything like this except Fabio, Miguel and me. Thus, I am truly excited and look forward to spending all my energy and time on it.”;

He said he will use the largest telescopes in the world for the project, including those on Mauna Kea and in Chile and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Humboldt Research Award winners are invited to spend up to one year cooperating on a long-term research project with specialists at a research institution in Germany.

Kudritzki will split his time between the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching and University Observatory Munich.

The Institute for Astronomy's David Sanders and J. Patrick Henry were previous winners of Humboldt Research Awards.