As Rupali Chandar studies the origins of the universe, she is focusing on nature's biggest building blocks – galaxies. An expert in galactic formations and life cycles, Chandar's research is casting aside the long-held belief that dense star clusters, once formed, endured for billions of years. These clusters may well begin to disperse after just a few million years, her research has shown. Additionally, Chandar, a National Science Foundation Career Award grantee, is using her status to encourage more young girls to explore astronomy and the natural sciences.
"The conventional wisdom has been that when these monsters form, they will be nearly impossible to destroy, hanging around for billions of years. It took us awhile to wrap our minds around the fact that 80 or 90 percent of them may actually be destroyed quite quickly, after only 10 million years. We're starting to think those old large globular clusters that we see are just the skeletal remains of a much larger population, the lucky survivors."
Astronomy researcher challenges star cluster lifecycles
Girls in science
"We still have a real problem attracting and maintaining women in science. While the numbers have improved over the last couple decades, they're still pretty bad. When you're losing representation from half your population, that's not good for the advancement of science."
Astronomy program encourages girls interested in science