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Leslie W Looney

Profile picture for Leslie W Looney

Contact Information

123 Astronomy Building, MC-221
1002 W. Green St.
Urbana, IL 61801
Director - Laboratory for Astronomical Imaging, Professor

Research Description

My group studies the cutest stars - big and cuddly protostars only 10,000 to 100,000 years old, before they turn punky and begin to fuse hydrogen into helium in their core in about 1 million years. These stars are surrounded by envelopes of dust and gas that give us direct evidence of how stars form and how early planetary systems are going to form.  Lately, we have been most excited about 1) how circumstellar disks evolve from the earliest stages and what impact the disk has on the evolution of planets via dust grain growth, and 2) the polarization of light from the circumstellar disk which arises from three mechanisms, aligned dust grains via magnetic field, aligned dust grains from radiation, and/or scattering.   

The sources we study are usually deeply embedded in gas and dust, which means that they can only be observed at wavelengths longer than 10 microns.   Thus, our  group typically utilizes ALMA, SOFIA, and VLA observations to peer into stellar nurseries.

However, lately I am also considering variability of sources in LSST.

Current Graduate Students:

Frankie Encalada

Rachel Harrison

Past Graduate Students:

Shiya Wang (2008)

Yu-Shao "Jerry" Shiao (2008)

Woojin Kwon (2009)

Jonathan Seale (2010)

Hsin-Fang Chiang (2011)

I-Jen "Katherine" Lee (2013)

Ian Stephens (2013)

Dominique Segura-Cox (2017)

Erin Cox (2018)

Additional Campus Affiliations

Professor, Astronomy

Recent Publications

Klein, R., Reedy, A., Fischer, C., Looney, L. W., Colditz, S., Fadda, D., Tielens, A. G. G. M., & Vacca, W. D. (2023). The Photodissociation and Ionization Fronts in M17-SW Localized with FIFI-LS on Board SOFIA. Astrophysical Journal, 945(1), Article 29.

Lin, Z. Y. D., Li, Z. Y., Yang, H., Munoz, O., Looney, L., Stephens, I., Hull, C. L. H., Fernández-López, M., & Harrison, R. (2023). (Sub)millimetre dust polarization of protoplanetary discs from scattering by large millimetre-sized irregular grains. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 520(1), 1210-1223.

Nayak, O., Green, A., Hirschauer, A. S., Indebetouw, R., Meixner, M., Wong, T., Chevance, M., De Marchi, G., Lebouteiller, V., Lee, M. Y., Looney, L. W., Madden, S. C., Roman-Duval, J., Fukui, Y., Hacar, A., Jameson, K. E., Kalari, V., Oudshoorn, L., Rubio, M., & Sabbi, E. (2023). Massive Star Formation in the Tarantula Nebula. Astrophysical Journal, 944(1), Article 26.

Yang, H., Fernández-López, M., Li, Z. Y., Stephens, I. W., Looney, L. W., Lin, Z. Y. D., & Harrison, R. (2023). Eccentric Dust Ring in the IRS 48 Transition Disk. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 948(1), Article L2.

Cox, E. G., Novak, G., Sadavoy, S. I., Looney, L. W., Lee, D., Berthoud, M., Bourke, T. L., Coudé, S., Encalada, F., Fissel, L. M., Harrison, R., Houde, M., Li, Z. Y., Myers, P. C., Pattle, K., Santos, F. P., Stephens, I. W., Wang, H., & Wolf, S. (2022). The Twisted Magnetic Field of the Protobinary L483. Astrophysical Journal, 932(1), Article 34.

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