STEM Shoutout: Dr. Ylva Pihlström

UNM professor studies the central regions of our Milky Way

Associate Professor Ylva Pihlström from the Department of Physics and Astronomy has an active NSF grant of $306,230.00 until August of 2018. Dr. Pihlström’s research looks at the dynamics of the bulge and bar structure found in central regions of the Milky Way. According to the research abstract the “bar” is a linear structure extending on both sides of the center of our Galaxy. The Milky Way also shows a “bulge” near the center, where stars reach high orbits.

“Such dynamical structures are also seen in other galaxies, and understanding its dynamics and evolution couples to our understanding of how galaxies evolve.” said Pihlström.

Researchers in Pihlström’s lab can test models of the dynamics in the inner parts of the Milky Way by using a large sample of bright masers observed in evolved stars.

“Our project is unique in that we are using radio wavelengths, reaching the most obscured regions of the Galactic plane.” said Pihlström.

According to the NSF’s website, this study also seeks to provide student participation opportunities and education. Pihlström and fellow researchers are inclined to find minority students to work on the project, and in particular, they wish to strengthen female participation.

This study has been funded since September of 2015.