Worcester R. and Cornelia B. Warner Professor of Astronomy
Degree: Ph.D. in Astronomy, University of Michigan, 1992
Professor Chris Mihos uses observational data from ground- and space-based telescopes combined with state-of-the-art computer modeling to study the evolution of galaxies and galaxy clusters.
Mihos leads a variety of projects using the Hubble Space Telescope to study stellar populations in nearby galaxies, including studies of the outer disk of the spiral galaxy M101 and ultradiffuse galaxies in the Leo Group and Virgo Cluster. He also studies the outskirts of galaxies using multi-wavelength data, imaging, and spectroscopy to probe their assembly history, star forming properties, and stellar populations. Mihos led the Burrell Schmidt Deep Virgo Survey, which surveyed the nearby Virgo cluster of galaxies for the ghostly intracluster light that traces the history of galaxy collisions inside the cluster, and is also a member of the Next Generation Virgo Cluster Survey, an international project studying the structure and evolution of galaxies within Virgo.
Mihos has also developed computer simulations to study the evolution of colliding galaxies, as well as galaxies orbiting within massive galaxy clusters. These simulations have shown how colliding spiral galaxies can merge to trigger starbursts and quasar activity and transform spirals into elliptical galaxies. Other simulations have shown how the intracluster stars found strewn throughout galaxy clusters have been torn out of their parent galaxies by gravitational encounters between cluster galaxies, and how the kinematics of these stars can be used as signatures of past encounters.
Many CWRU Astronomy students, including both undergraduates and graduate students, have been involved in these projects, taking and analyzing data from CWRU’s Burrell Schmidt telescope in southwest Arizona, using Hubble data to study stellar populations in galaxies, modeling the evolution of galaxies in clusters, and studying the kinematics of colliding galaxies.