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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

Brunken, N. G. C., Rocha, W. R. M., Van Dishoeck, E. F., Gutermuth, R., Tyagi, H., Slavicinska, K., Nazari, P., Megeath, S. T., Evans, N. J., Narang, M., Manoj, P., Rubinstein, A. E., Watson, D. M., Looney, L. W., Linnartz, H., Caratti O Garatti, A., Beuther, H., Linz, H., Klaassen, P., ... Yang, Y. L. (2024). JWST observations of 13CO2ice: Tracing the chemical environment and thermal history of ices in protostellar envelopes. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 685, Article A27.

Chen, C. Y., Friesen, R., Li, J., Schmiedeke, A., Frayer, D., Li, Z. Y., Tobin, J., Looney, L. W., Offner, S., Mundy, L. G., Harris, A. I., Church, S., Ostriker, E. C., Pineda, J. E., Hsieh, T. H., & Lam, K. H. (2024). Dynamics in Star-forming Cores (DiSCo): project overview and the first look towards the B1 and NGC 1333 regions in Perseus. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 527(4), 10279-10293.

Encalada, F. J., Looney, L. W., Takakuwa, S., Tobin, J. J., Ohashi, N., Jørgensen, J. K., Li, Z. Y., Aikawa, Y., Aso, Y., Koch, P. M., Kwon, W., Lai, S. P., Lee, C. W., Lin, Z. Y. D., Santamaría-Miranda, A., de Gregorio-Monsalvo, I., Phuong, N. T., Plunkett, A., Sai, J., ... Han, I. (2024). Early Planet Formation in Embedded Disks (eDisk). XIII. Aligned Disks with Nonsettled Dust around the Newly Resolved Class 0 Protobinary R CrA IRAS 32. Astrophysical Journal, 966(1), Article 32.

Federman, S. A., Megeath, S. T., Rubinstein, A. E., Gutermuth, R., Narang, M., Tyagi, H., Manoj, P., Anglada, G., Atnagulov, P., Beuther, H., Bourke, T. L., Brunken, N., Caratti o Garatti, A., Evans, N. J., Fischer, W. J., Furlan, E., Green, J. D., Habel, N., Hartmann, L., ... Yang, Y. L. (2024). Investigating Protostellar Accretion-driven Outflows across the Mass Spectrum: JWST NIRSpec Integral Field Unit 3-5 μm Spectral Mapping of Five Young Protostars. Astrophysical Journal, 966(1), Article 41.

Guerra-Alvarado, O. M., van der Marel, N., Di Francesco, J., Looney, L. W., Tobin, J. J., Cox, E. G., Sheehan, P. D., Wilner, D. J., Macías, E., & Carrasco-González, C. (2024). IRAS4A1: Multiwavelength continuum analysis of a very flared Class 0 disk. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 681, Article A82.

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