Columbia University Astronomy and Astrophysics



Laura E. Kay

e-mail:kay@astro.columbia.edu

Telephone: (212) 854-7303

Fax: (212) 854-8121



Research Interests:


- Active Galaxies (Seyferts, Radio Galaxies) and other Accretion Powered Compact Objects
- Spectropolarimetry, Polarimetric Instrumentation

My main interest has been the study of Active Galactic Nuclei through spectropolarimetry, an observational technique which allows us to study the spectra and the polarization of an object simultaneously. Polarizations may arise from intrinsic emission processes, or reflection by or transmission through dust grains, or scattering by electrons, or a combination of these effects. The wavelength dependence of the polarization is different for many of these processes; thus spectropolarimetry can yield clues as to the polarigenic origin. By identifying regions of polarized light, spectropolarimetry can tell us information about the kinematics, geometry, and spatial distribution of gas and/or dust in an extended object, and about the continuum emission processes. Recent projects have included spectropolarimetry of luminous IRAS AGN which are also Xray sources, and of radio galaxies with double peaked emission lines. I have been obtaining optical data with an experimental spectropolarimeter used with the RC spectrograph on the 4m telescope at CTIO, and also from Lick Observatory. I have used HST in collaboration with R Cohen to study Seyfert galaxies spectropolarimetrically in the UV, and am presently using HST to conduct polarimetric imaging observations of the inner regions of Seyfert galaxies. I am also using X-ray data to study orientation and obscuration effects in AGN.

Spring 2016 Teaching:

On leave

Fall 2016 Teaching:

Life in the Universe - ASTR BC 1753y

Background:

2010--2013 Chair, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Barnard College, Columbia University.
2009--2014 Ann Whitney Olin Professor, Barnard College, Columbia University
2008--2009 Interim Assoc. Dean for Curriculum and Faculty Governance, Barnard College, Columbia Univ.
2007-- Professor, Barnard College, Columbia University
2006--2009 Chair, Dept. of Women's Studies, Barnard College, Columbia University.
2001--2004 Chair, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Barnard College, Columbia University.
1999--2007 Associate Professor, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Barnard College
1991--1999 Assistant Professor, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Barnard College
1995 Visiting Researcher, CTIO, La Serena, Chile
1995 NSF Intl. Research Fellow, Instituto Astronomico e Geofisico, Univ. São Paulo, Brazil
1991, 1992 ASEE/NASA Summer Faculty Fellow, NASA Ames Research Center
1984--1985 Upper Atmosphere Physicist, Bartol Research Foundation, South Pole, Antarctica
1990 PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz (Astronomy and Astrophysics)
1984 M.S., University of California, Santa Cruz (Astronomy and Astrophysics)
1981, 1982 BS, AB, Stanford University (Physics and Feminist Studies)

Misc:

Eclipse in Rapa Nui, 2010

Polar Resources

Eclipse in Zambia, 2001

Selected Publications:



2015 Dec kay@astro.columbia.edu