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Katherine Kornei: Star Formation and Galactic Winds

Star formation is pervasive across the universe. Understanding why some galaxies form stars more quickly and in a greater quantity than other galaxies is a fundamental question in astronomy.

I use a sample of distant galaxies to investigate how star formation proceeds and how the process of star formation affects the shape of galaxies. Specifically, I use data from the Hubble and Keck telescopes to study how star formation can cause bubbles of gas and dust to be blown out of galaxies ("galactic winds").

I investigate the prevalence of these galactic winds as a function of galaxy properties and find that galaxies with a higher surface density of star formation possess more galactic winds.

These findings imply that high densities of stars (i.e., clusters of stars) are necessary in order to expel gas and dust from galaxies.

By removing gas and dust from galaxies, the fuel necessary for star formation is removed. Galactic winds accordingly act as a feedback mechanism that regulates star formation in galaxies.

Dr. Katherine Kornei earned her Bachelor's degree in astrophysics from Yale University in 2006 and her doctorate in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2012.

Her doctoral thesis focused on star formation in distant galaxies and the morphologies of galaxies.

Katherine has worked at NASA Ames Research Center as a research assistant and has obtained data from the Hubble and Keck telescopes.

Katherine currently works as a science educator for OMSI and The Lawrence Hall of Science (at UC Berkeley).

Katherine also works as an editor for The Astrophysical Journal, where she has edited over 150 research manuscripts.

Since joining the RCA in January 2013, Katherine has helped to develop the RCA Youth Astronomy Academy.