Physics & Astronomy, School of Science, Academics

The Canary Islands are a cluster of seven main islands more than 50 miles west of Morocco. The third smallest island is La Palma, a volcanic ocean island that rises four miles from the Atlantic Ocean floor. If you follow the volcano to its summit, some 8,000 feet above sea level, you'll find the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory - one of the elite locations for optic and infrared astronomy in the world. 

Rose Finn, Ph.D., professor of physics and astronomy, and two of her students made the astronomical observatory their satellite laboratory for a week in February. During 13-hour viewing sessions, they studied images of galaxies riding the "galactic superhighway," moving from rural areas of deep space to galactic cities.

Finn, James Agostino ’19, and Kim Conger ‘19 studied all aspects of the gas in these galaxies to understand how they are affected by their surroundings as they make their way into more “urban” environments.

Finn is part of an international team of astronomers from the United States and Europe participating in this research. The work being done at Siena is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

"I was both awestruck and intimidated knowing that I would help operate the Isaac Newton Telescope, but we quickly adapted to the process and, with the help of terrific seeing conditions, collected many gorgeous images of galaxies with resolved areas of star formation. As I hope to study astronomy at the graduate level, this experience was invaluable, and the memories are among those I will cherish for many years," said Kim Conger '19.