Juan Rafael Martínez Galarza's Home Page at the
I am currently a PhD student in Astronomy at the
Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands. I am originally from Colombia. Bogotá, my home city, is located in the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, on top of one of the three mountain ranges in which the Andes chain splits up when it reaches my
Here is my CV, a paper I published in early 2009, and also my research reports: undergraduate Thesis (in Spanish), Minor Research Project, and Master Thesis.
Mid-infrared spectroscopy of starbursts: from Spitzer-IRS to JWST-MIRI
Understanding the formation of massive stars in different regions of the Universe is of crucial importance to asses fundamental astronomical issues like the evolution of galaxies throughout cosmic history, the chemical composition of the Universe and the formation of planets and people.
As part of my PhD, I study the mid-infrared (~5-40 microns) spectral properties of systems where massive stars have recently formed. These systems range from giant HII regions in nearby galaxies where a cluster of massive stars has recently formed, like the 30 Doradus region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, up to much bigger and complex systems with an extremely high rate of star formation, such as starburst galaxies and the so-called Ultra Luminous Infrared Galaxies (ULIRGs).
To understand how star formation occurs in these environments, I combine state-of-the-art dynamical and nebular models (Groves et al., 2008) with spectral observations with the InfraRed Spectrometer (IRS) onboard the Spitzer Space Telescope (see, for example, Brandl et al., 2006).
In the future, even more detailed observations at mid-infrared wavelengths will be available, when the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is launched in the summer of 2014. And being prepared for the future is of course a good thing to do if you are an astronomer. Thus, as part of my project I also participate in the calibration of the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), one of the 3 main tools that will fly onboard JWST. I am in charge of the wavelength characterization of MIRI's medium resolution spectrometer. One of the goals of my thesis is to produce accurate predictions about how MIRI's spectral resolving power and sensitivity will help us in the understanding of starbursts.