Physics and Astronomy

Astronomy & Astrophysics

Carina Nebula

The Astronomy Group at Cal Poly Pomona is both very active on-campus and well-connected off-campus through collaborations with research institutions throughout California, across the country, and around the globe. The Astronomy Group maintains a dedicated computer laboratory for the use of our students, featuring powerful Macintosh computers running state-of-the-art astronomy and graphics design software packages. Students engaged in astronomy research gain a depth and breadth of knowledge in astrophysics well beyond our course curriculum and learn fundamentals of data acquisition and analysis, computer programming, communication and presentation skills.

About the Faculty

Shohreh Abdolrahimi
Assistant Professor

Professor Abdolrahmi works on theoretical gravitational physics and computational general relativity. She studies black holes. Black holes are powerful enough that they warp the fabric of spacetime and serve as a natural experiment where researchers can theoretically "test" the validity of Einstein's general relativity, and investigate alternative theories. Some of Dr. Abdolrahimi’s favorite topics include classical and quantum gravity, black hole physics, large extra dimensions and black hole production at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) , quantum field theory in a curved spacetime, and quantum effects in accelerated frames. Students working with Dr. Abdolrahimi study different aspects of black holes, such as the black hole properties, study the images of the black holes, and investigate the motion of charged test particle which is the basis for understanding the influence of the magnetic fields on the accretion phenomena into a black hole.

Black hole trajectory
X-Ray Binary System

Breanna Binder
Assistant Professor

Professor Binder studies the births and deaths of massive stars, both in our own Milky Way and in nearby galaxies. She uses multiwavelength observations to study X-ray binaries — star systems composed of a black hole or neutron star that is gravitationally bound to a normal companion star‚ to better understand their formation and evolution. Students working with Dr. Binder have investigated black hole binaries, supernova "impostors," and the remains of binary merger events. Dr. Binder also collaborates with Dr. Matthew Povich to study massive star clusters and H II regions.

Matthew Povich
Associate Professor

Professor Povich studies the formation and evolution of massive star clusters/associations and their H II regions in our Milky Way Galaxy. His research involves the analysis of large astronomical datasets obtained primarily through survey observations in the X-ray, infrared, and radio. Dr. Povich is a core member of the GLIMPSE and MYStIX research collaborations and lead scientist for the Milky Way Project. He is the Associate Director of CAMPARE and the first Cal Poly Pomona faculty member to receive an NSF CAREER award. Students working with Dr. Povich have pursued a variety of research projects, including triggered star formation, protoplanetary disks, stellar wind bow shocks, citizen science, and SETI.

Milky Way N49M17

Alexander Rudolph

Professor Alexander Rudolph provides numerous research opportunities for students as the Principal Investigator and Director of the CAMPARE summer research program. His own past astronomy research probed the formation of stars and planets and the structure and abundance gradients of the Milky Way, primarily through radio and near-infrared observations. Dr. Rudolph has also been very active in Physics and Astronomy Education Research.

Suketu Bhavsar

Director of the Kellogg Honors College, Professor Bhavsar has a research background in computational astrophysics and cosmology, in particular the formation of superfilaments, the largest structures in the universe. Honors College students interested in astronomy and astrophysics research are encouraged to consult with Dr. Bhavsar or any other astronomy faculty member to lean more about opportunities offered through the Department of Physics & Astronomy.


Binder, B. A. and Povich, M. S., A Multiwavelength Look at Galactic Massive Star Forming Regions. (2018), ApJ, in press (arXiv:1808.00454)

Binder, B. A., Levesque, E. M., and Dorn-Wallenstein, T., No Strong Geometric Beaming in the Ultraluminous Neutron Star Binary NGC 300 ULX-1 (SN 2010da) from Swift and Gemini. (2018), ApJ, in press (arXiv:1807.05309)

M. S. Povich, H. A. Busk, E. D. Feigelson, L. K. Townsley, and M. A. Kuhn, Candidate X-Ray-emitting OB Stars in MYStIX Massive Star-forming Regions. (2017) ApJ, 838, 61, DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/aa5b99

Binder, B., Gross, J., Williams, B. F., Eracleous, M., Gaetz, T. J., Plucinsky, P. P., and Skillman, E. D., The Effect of Variability on X-Ray Binary Luminosity Functions: Multiple-epoch Observations of NGC 300 with Chandra. 2017, ApJ, 834, 128, DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/834/2/128

H. A. Kobulnicky, W. T. Chick, D. P. Schurhammer, J. E. Andrews, M. S. Povich, S. A. Munari, G. M. Olivier, R. L. Sorber, H. N. Wernke, D. A. Dale, and D. M. Dixon, A Comprehensive Search for Stellar Bowshock Nebulae in the Milky Way: A Catalog of 709 Mid-infrared Selected Candidates. (2016) ApJS, 227, 18, DOI: 10.3847/0067-0049/227/2/18

M. S. Povich, L. K. Townsley, T. P. Robitaille, P. S. Broos, W. T. Orbin, R. R. King, T. Naylor, and B. A. Whitney, Rapid Circumstellar Disk Evolution and an Accelerating Star Formation Rate in the Infrared Dark Cloud M17 SWex. (2016) ApJ, 825, 125, DOI: 10.3847/0004-637X/825/2/125

Binder, B., Williams, B. F., Kong, A. K. H., Gaetz, T. J., Plucinsky, P. P., Skillman, E. D., and Dolphin, A. Recurring X-ray outbursts in the supernova impostor SN 2010da in NGC 300. 2016, MNRAS, 457, 1636, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stw119

S. Abdolrahimi, R. B. Mann, and C. Tzounis, Double images from a single black hole, Phys. Rev. D 92, 124011, (2015) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.92.124011

S. Abdolrahimi, J. Kunz, P. Nedkova, and C. Tzounis, Properties of the distorted Kerr black hole, JCAP, 12, 009 (2015) DOI: 10.1088/1475-7516/2015/12/009

Binder, B., Williams, B. F., Eracleous, M., Plucinsky, P. P., Gaetz, T. J., Anderson, S. F., Skillman, E. D., Dalcanton, J. J., Kong, A. K. H., and Weisz, D. R., The Chandra Local Volume Survey: The X-Ray Point Source Populations of NGC 55, NGC 2403, and NGC 4214. 2015, AJ, 150, 94, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/763/2/128 

Binder, B., Gross, J., Williams, B. F., and Simons, D., Energy-dependent orbital phases in NGC 300 X-1. 2015, MNRAS, 451, 4471, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stv1305

R. L. Griffith, J. T. Wright, J. Maldonado, M. S. Povich, S. Sigurđsson, and B. Mullan, The Ĝ Infrared Search for Extraterrestrial Civilizations with Large Energy Supplies. III. The Reddest Extended Sources in WISE. (2015) ApJS, 217, 25, DOI: 10.1088/0067-0049/217/2/25

R. O. Sexton, M. S. Povich, N. Smith, B. L. Babler, M. R. Meade, and A. L. Rudolph, Extended red objects and stellar-wind bow shocks in the Carina Nebula. (2015) MNRAS, 446, 1047, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stu2143

S. Abdolrahimi, R. Mann, and C. Tzounis, Distorted Local Shadows, Phys. Rev. D, 91, 084052 (2015) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.91.084052

S. Abdolrahimi, J. Kunz, and P. Nedkova, Myers-Perry Black Hole in External Gravitational Field, Phys. Rev. D, 91, 064068 (2015) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.91.064068

S. Abdolrahimi and A. A. Shoom, Distorted Five-Dimensional Electrically Charged Black Hole, Phys. Rev. D, 89, 024040, (2014) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.89.024040

M. S. Povich, M. A. Kuhn, K. V. Getman, et al., The MYStIX InfraRed Excess Source Catalog. (2013) ApJS, 209, 31. DOI: 10.1088/0067-0049/209/2/31

S. Abdolrahimi, C. Cattoën, D. N. Page, and S. Yaghoobpour-Tari, Spectral Methods in General Relativity and Large Randall-Sundrum II Black Holes, JCAP 06, 39, (2013) DOI: 10.1088/1475-7516/2013/06/039

S. Abdolrahimi, C. Cattoën, D. N. Page, and S. Yaghoobpour-Tari, Large Randall-Sundrum II Black Holes, Phys. Lett. B, 720, 405 (2013) DOI: 10.1016/j.physletb.2013.02.034

Binder, B., Williams, B. F., Eracleous, M., Gaetz, T. J., Kong, A. K. H., Skillman, E. D., and Weisz, D. R. The Chandra Local Volume Survey: The X-Ray Point-source Population of NGC 404. 2013, ApJ, 763, 128, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/763/2/128

J. A. Eisner, G. H. Rieke, M. J. Rieke, K. M. Flaherty, T. J. Arnold, Jordan M. Stone, S. R. Cortes, E. Cox, C. Hawkins, A. Cole, S. Zajac and A. L. Rudolph, Time-monitoring observations of the ro-vibrational overtone CO bands in young stars. (2013) MNRAS, 434, 407. DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stt1029

Binder, B., Williams, B. F., Eracleous, M., Gaetz, T. J., Plucinsky, P. P., Skillman, E. D., Dalcanton, J. J., Anderson, S. F., Weisz, D. R., and Kong, A. K. H. The Chandra Local Volume Survey: The X-Ray Point-source Catalog of NGC 300. 2012, ApJ, 758, 15, DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/758/1/15

R. J. Simpson, M. S. Povich, S. Kendrew, et al., The Milky Way Project First Data Release: a bubblier Galactic disc. (2012) MNRAS, 424, 2442. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.20770.x

L. Chomiuk & M. S. Povich, Toward a Unification of Star Formation Rate Determinations in the Milky Way and Other Galaxies. (2011) AJ, 142, 197. DOI:  10.1088/0004-6256/142/6/197

Binder, B., Williams, B. F., Eracleous, M., Garcia, M. R., Anderson, S. F., and Gaetz, T. J., A Deep Chandra Observation of the Wolf-Rayet + Black Hole Binary NGC 300 X-1. 2011, ApJ, 742, 128, DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/739/2/L51

Binder, B., Williams, B. F., Kong, A. K. H., Gaetz, T. J., Plucinsky, P. P., Dalcanton, J. J., and Weisz, D. R., Chandra Detection of SN 2010da Four Months After Outburst: Evidence for a High-mass X-Ray Binary in NGC 300. 2011, ApJ, 739L, 51, DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/739/2/L51

M. S. Povich, N. Smith, S. R. Majewski, et al., A Pan-Carina YSO Catalog: Intermediate-mass Young Stellar Objects in the Carina Nebula Identified Via Mid-infrared Excess Emission. (2011) ApJS, 194, 14. DOI: 10.1088/0067-0049/194/1/14

M. S. Povich, L. K. Townsley, P. S. Broos, et al., Candidate X-ray-emitting OB Stars in the Carina Nebula Identified Via Infrared Spectral Energy Distributions. (2011) ApJS, 194, 6. DOI: 10.1088/0067-0049/194/1/6

S. Abdolrahimi, A. A. Shoom, and D. N. Page, Distorted 5-Dimensional Vacuum Black Hole, Physical Review D, 82, 124039, (2010) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.82.124039

S. Abdolrahimi, V. P. Frolov, and A. A. Shoom, Interior of a charged distorted black hole, Physical Review D, 80, 024011, (2009) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.80.024011

J. C. Carson, K. D. Hiner, G. G. Villar III, et al., A Distance-Limited Imaging Survey of Substellar Companions to Solar Neighborhood Stars. (2009) AJ, 137, 218. DOI: 10.1088/0004-6256/137/1/218

Jeltema, T. E., Binder, B., and Mulchaey, J. S., The Hot Gas Halos of Galaxies in Groups. 2008, ApJ, 679, 1162, DOI: 10.1086/587508

M. S. Povich, J. M. Stone, E. Churchwell, et al., A Multiwavelength Study of M17: The Spectral Energy Distribution and PAH Emission Morphology of a Massive Star Formation Region. (2007) ApJ, 660, 346 DOI: 10.1086/513073

E. Churchwell, M. S. Povich, D. Allen, et al. The Bubbling Galactic Disk. (2006) ApJ, 649, 759, DOI: 10.1086/507015

A. L. Rudolph, M. Fich, G. R. Bell, et al., Abundance Gradients in the Galaxy. (2006) ApJS, 162, 346 DOI: 10.1086/498869

S. Bharadwaj, S. P. Bhavsar, & J. V. Sheth, The Size of the Longest Filaments in the Universe. (2004) ApJ, 606, 25 DOI: 10.1086/382140

A. L. Rudolph, R. Bachiller, N. Q. Rieu, et al., A Molecular Line Study of the HH 7-11 Outflow. (2001) ApJ, 558, 204 DOI: 10.1086/322440

J. P. Bernstein & S. P. Bhavsar, Models for the magnitude-distribution of brightest cluster galaxies. (2001) MNRAS, 322, 625. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-8711.2001.04124.x

J. D. Barrow, S. P. Bhavsar, & D. H. Sonoda, Minimal spanning trees, filaments and galaxy clustering. (1985) MNRAS, 216, 17.