Luca Beale
 

Luca Beale


Hi there! I am an observational astrophysicist (and graduate student at the University of Virginia) with a passion for dwarf galaxies and how they evolve in our Universe!

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Research Interests

I primarily use radio telescopes to study the gas content of dwarf galaxies and how the cosmic environment impacts their evolution. Some of my other research interests: kinematics of globular clusters and how they help reveal the interaction history of their host galaxy; ultra-diffuse galaxies with anomalous dark matter properties; large-scale structure in the Universe, especially in a topological framework.


Below are summaries of my general research interests.
Click here to read further about my current projects.

Credit: EngineerGirl

Dwarf galaxy evolution is influenced by both external and internal processes. However, the exact relationships are not always clear. Does the environment of a dwarf galaxy play a dominant role in its formation and evolution? Or do internal processes (such as stellar feedback) dominate? Interferometers like the Very Large Array (pictured above) can help us answer these questions by giving us detailed information about the gas in these dwarfs. The structure and motions of this gas can help us tease out these complex relationships.

Credit: Astrobites

Historically, dwarf galaxy discoveries are based on observing the stars (since we think all galaxies have stars!) but this becomes difficult when the galaxy is small and faint. With the advent of (nearly) all-sky surveys of gas in the local Universe, we can systematically pick out dwarf galaxy candidates by instead looking for their gas content. With these new dwarfs in hand, we can begin to ask questions about their statistical properties, how they compare to their optically-selected cousins, and how they broaden our understanding of galaxy formation and evolution.

Credit: APOD/NASA/G. Benintende

The Triangulum galaxy (also known as M33, pictured above) is a small spiral galaxy in our cosmic neighborhood. In fact, it is so close to our nearest neighbor Andromeda that we see evidence (using radio light) of material streaming between the two! This should affect the "halo" of the galaxy — the stars, clusters, and gas that are very far away but still bound to the galaxy. By studying the motions of globular clusters in M33's halo, we can get a better understanding of how such gravitational interactions affect the stars and gas.

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Outreach & Education

Outreach and education are important components in any scientist's career. Here are few of the opportunities I have been involved in:

  • Dark Skies, Bright Kids — I was a volunteer with Dark Skies, Bright Kids, a non-profit, volunteer-run outreach program dedicated to enhancing science literacy for elementary school students in Virginia.

  • Astronomy on Tap — I helped organize Astronomy on Tap in Charlottesville, an informal program dedicated to bringing astronomy to the community in a relaxed setting.

  • LatinX Graduate Student Association — In 2018, I was the outreach co-chair for LGSA, a recently-formed organization offering resources, opportunities, and friendships to the LatinX folx at UVa and in the broader Charlottesville community.

  • Charlottesville-area Public Nights — I am frequently involved in public nights at the two observatories run by the University of Virginia, assisting with running telescopes, demonstrations, and answering questions.

  • Central Virginia Governor's School — For the 2017-2018 academic year, I mentored two high school students at CVGS, introducing them to science research and data analysis.

Click  here  to learn about citizen science with the Galaxy Zoo Project! Credit:  Zooniverse

Click here to learn about citizen science with the Galaxy Zoo Project! Credit: Zooniverse

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Teaching

Training the next generation of scientists is a pretty cool part of my job. Here is a list of my teaching experiences:

Current Courses:

Teaching Assistant — Observational Astronomy (UVa undergraduate)

Recent Courses:

Instructor — Introduction to the Sky & Solar System (UVa undergraduate)
Teaching Assistant — Observational Astronomy (UVa undergraduate)
Teaching Assistant
— Science & Controversy in Astronomy (UVa undergraduate)
Teaching Assistant
— Introduction to Cosmology (UVa undergraduate)
Teaching Assistant
— Stars, Galaxies, & the Universe Beyond (UVa undergraduate)

Past Courses:

Lab Instructor — Introduction to Astronomy (SUNY Geneseo undergraduate)
Lab Instructor — Stars & Galaxies (SUNY Geneseo undergraduate)
Lab Instructor — Introduction to the Solar System (SUNY Geneseo undergraduate)

Click  here  to see the current list of course offerings in astronomy at the University of Virginia.

Click here to see the current list of course offerings in astronomy at the University of Virginia.


Click  here  to see the current list of course offerings in physics & astronomy at SUNY Geneseo.

Click here to see the current list of course offerings in physics & astronomy at SUNY Geneseo.

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Contact Info

Department of Astronomy
University of Virginia
530 McCormick Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903, USA

(434) 924-7933
lucabeale[@]gmail[.]com
lb5eu[@]virginia[.]edu

Say hi to me!

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