Vincent Woolf, PhD
- Associate Professor
- DSC 128A
B.S., Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
M.A., Astronomy, University of Texas, Austin, TX
Ph.D., Astronomy, University of Texas, Austin, TX
Dr. Woolf joined the Department of Physics in August of 2005 where he is currently an Associate Professor.
As a graduate student he studied chemical compositions of F and G dwarf stars (stars similar to our Sun) and of mercury-manganese stars, a class of high-mass, hot, chemically peculiar main sequence stars.
After completing his PhD he spent 3 years at Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland studying two classes of pulsating helium-rich stars: helium subdwarfs and extreme helium stars. He then spent 3 years at the University of Washington, Seattle studying chemical compositions of M dwarf and subdwarf stars.
He has continued studying M dwarf compositions at UNO, including a statistical analysis of more than 8000 stars that showed that current models of galactic chemical enrichment are incomplete and do not sufficiently match the observed chemical compositions of stars in our Galaxy. He has also collaborated with astronomers in Texas and India to study R Coronae Borealis stars, a class of variable stars with very high carbon abundances.
Primary teaching interests are Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Gateway to Physics (stellar spectral analysis)
PHYS 1050 – Introduction to Physics
PHYS 1110 – General Physics I with Algebra
PHYS 1350 – Principles of Astronomy
PHYS 4350 – Astrophysics
PHYS 3800 – Optics
Dr. Woolf’s recent research interests involve observational studies of stars using telescopes to measure spectra of stars and then using computer models and analysis routines to measure the chemical signatures in the spectra to find out the stars’ chemical compositions.
If, as is true for most stars, the surface chemical composition has not changed since the star’s formation and matches the chemical composition of the Galaxy at the time of formation, this allows us to study the history of chemical enrichment in the Galaxy. M dwarf stars, with masses less than half our Sun’s mass, have lifetimes longer than the current age of the Universe and thus provide an opportunity to study the Galaxy’s composition far in the past.
If stars have changed their surface chemical composition however, which happens for various classes of “chemically peculiar” stars, then their compositions provide opportunities to study nuclear reactions and other processes happening in stars today, sometimes in real-time. For example, R Coronae Borealis stars’ luminosities can change by factors of several hundred or more over weeks or months. The chemical compositions of their outer layers, the parts we can see and study, are highly enriched in carbon and can also change greatly over weeks or months.
1) Naslim, N.; Jeffery, C. S.; Woolf, V. M., “A search for heavy-metal stars: abundance analyses of hot subdwarfs with Subaru”, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Association (MNRAS), 2020, 491, 874.
2) Jeffery, C. S.; Naslim, N.; Woolf, V. M.; Crawford, S. M.; Østensen, R. H., “Subaru and Salt Spectroscopy of Chemically Peculiar Hot Subdwarfs”, Open Astronomy, 2017, 26, 202.
3) Martin, P.; Jeffery, C. S.; Naslim, N.; Woolf, V. M., “Kinematics of Subluminous O and B Stars by Surface Helium Abundance”, MNRAS, 2017, 467, 68.
4) Jeffery, C. S.; Baran, A. S.; Behara, N. T.; Kvammen, A.; Martin, P.; Naslim, N.; Østensen, R. H.; Preece, H. P.; Reed, M. D.; Telting, J. H.; Woolf, V. M., “Discovery of a variable lead-rich hot subdwarf: UVO 0825+15”, MNRAS, 2017, 465, 3101.
5) Kameswara Rao, N.; Lambert, David L.; Woolf, Vincent M.; Hema, B. P., “High-Resolution Optical Spectroscopy of the R Coronae Borealis Star V532 Ophiuchi at Maximum Light”, Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 2014, 126, 813.
6) Kameswara Rao, N.; Lambert, David L.; García-Hernández, D. A.; Jeffery, C. Simon; Woolf, Vincent M.; McArthur, Barbara, “The Hot R Coronae Borealis Star DY Centauri is a Binary”, Astrophysical Journal, 2012, 760, L3.
7) Woolf, Vincent M.; West, Andrew A., “The M dwarf problem in the Galaxy”, MNRAS, 2012, 422, 1489.
6) Naslim, N.; Geier, S.; Jeffery, C. S.; Behara, N. T.; Woolf, V. M.; Classen, L., “The helium-rich subdwarf CPD-20°1123: a post-common-envelope binary evolving on to the extended horizontal branch”, MNRAS, 2012, 423, 3031.