Department of Astronomy Center for Radiophysics & Space Research

Matthew Hankins

Professor Terry Herter
Matthew Hankins

Research Area:  Stellar Evolution, Galactic Center

Research Project: FORCAST 

Biography: My research involves studying evolved massive stars in the Galactic Center region using the Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). I am interested in the environment of the Galactic Center because it is the home to a large portion of the highest mass stars in our galaxy. High mass stars undergo evolutionary phases, such as the Wolf-Rayet phase, or in some cases, the Luminous Blue Variable (LBV) phase, that are different from the evolutionary phases of less massive stars. Many details about the these phases and the transitions between them are not well understood. In particular the LBV phase is exceptionally rare and the mechanism which causes it is unknown. 

I received my BS in Physics from the University of Central Arkansas (UCA). While at UCA, I worked in optical and ultraviolet spectroscopy. As an undergraduate, I also participated in two REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) programs. In the summer of 2011, I was an REU student at the University of Michigan. I worked with the Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment (ROTSE) group. While working with the ROTSE collaboration, I contributed to a supernova candidate discovery (ATEL #3438) and a supernova discovery (CBET 2784). In the summer of 2012, I was an REU student at Cornell University. This is where I began my work with the FORCAST group. 

Press releases:

"SOFIA Spots Recent Starbursts in the Milky Way Galaxy's Center," NASA RELEASE 13-010HQ (Jan. 8, 2013)- http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/SOFIA/13-010HQ.html